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Oklahoma State University

Minority scholars program wins $3.9 million NSF grant

Monday, August 26, 2019

2018 OK-LSAMP symposium attendees pose together at the Noble Research Center in Stillwater. This year’s symposium will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 5 at the OSU student union.
2018 OK-LSAMP symposium attendees pose together at the Noble Research Center in Stillwater. The 2019 symposium will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 5 at the student union.

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $3.9 million grant to the Oklahoma Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (OK-LSAMP), ensuring that the Oklahoma alliance will be able to continue its mission of preparing minority scholars to enter STEM fields and engage in research around the world. 

The new grant, which will benefit Oklahoma State University, as well as 11 additional higher educational institutions in Oklahoma, was awarded to Dr. Jason F. Kirksey, vice president for institutional diversity and chief diversity officer at OSU. Kirksey, who serves as principal investigator for OK-LSAMP, said the five-year grant for Phase VI enables the OK-LSAMP program to expand on 25 years of success. 

Kirksey said the program, which is named after the late congressman and civil rights pioneer Louis Stokes, opens the eyes of students to STEM fields and the research opportunities available at OSU and all Oklahoma Alliance institutions. 

“We’re helping OK-LSAMP Scholars understand that there are different ways that research happens, and it’s not always what you imagined or what you were told,” he said. “So when our scholars get to see and hear industry professionals talk about where they started, the students  recognize that their backgrounds, including the struggles of their parents, are exactly the same. At that point, our students become motivated and inspired that they are able to accomplish the achievements of the career professionals talking to them.” 

Kirksey said the program does more than  merely open the door — it keeps the door open, and it instills not just awareness but confidence. 

“This program creates an opportunity to really fuel those passions and lets the students experience things that few programs offer,” he said. 

NSF implemented the LSAMP program nationally in 1991. he Oklahoma Alliance was established in 1994 to develop programs aimed at increasing the number of students from underrepresented populations earning degrees in STEM disciplines. With Oklahoma State University as the lead institution, OK-LSAMP now includes 12 universities across the state, which have awarded a total of more than 13,000 bachelor’s degrees to underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. 

OK-LSAMP was required to demonstrate continued growth and forward momentum to secure this round of funding from the National Science Foundation, Kirksey said, and the program continues to boast strong numbers. 

The enrollment of underrepresented students in OK-LSAMP institutions increased 370 percent since 1994. 

As one of eight senior alliances, which are those in existence at least a decade, OK-LSAMP places greater focus on international research, and its numbers reflect that priority. From 2015-18, 62 scholars participated in 69 research experiences in 25 countries and over 40 locations. In addition, scholars participated in study abroad seminars, panel discussions and workshops to more effectively equip them for these scientific and cultural experiences.

The university community is invited to attend the OK-LSAMP 25th Annual Research Symposium on Saturday, Oct. 5 to experience research conducted by OK-LSAMP scholars. The symposium will include oral and poster presentations of OK-LSAMP scholars’ research conducted all over the world. This year's symposium is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the OSU Division of Institutional Diversity.

For more information about OK-LSAMP, visit okla.st/OK-LSAMP.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Dr. Jason F. Kirksey | Vice President for Institutional Diversity | 405-744-9154 | jason.kirksey@okstate.edu

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