CSUB awarded $5.2 million in grants for increasing science enrollment, ecological research project

October 10, 2008
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu

California State University, Bakersfield has been awarded a total of $5.2 million in grants from the United States Department of Education and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. These grants follow the announcement last week of a $10.4 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The federal $4.9 million grant, to be funded over the next two years, will be used to develop the priorities of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act Hispanic Serving Institutions Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics grant program.

Julio Blanco, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, will be working closely with Bakersfield College to design a seamless pathway for Hispanic student success in these disciplines. Blanco reports both institutions serve a region that is on the frontlines of the national crisis in Hispanic under-preparedness for and underrepresentation in STEM degree completion. The goal is to gain a 20 percent increase in the number of Hispanic students who enroll and successfully transfer from BC to CSUB to complete STEM degree programs.

The second grant, totaling $300,000 over the next three years, was awarded to biology professor Brandon Pratt from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant will support Pratt's research efforts aimed at understanding post-fire vegetation recovery in southern California and South African shrublands. Pratt's work will increase understanding of how native vegetation responds to fire, which will be critical for predicting how wildland ecosystems will change in response to altered fire regimes, and how best to manage wildlands disturbed by fire. The focus on southern California and South Africa is particularly important because these areas are classified as "hot spots" of biodiversity and are ranked as global conservation priorities.

The funds from the grant support the hiring of a post-doctoral research scholar who, together with Pratt, will spearhead the research efforts in North America and Africa. In addition, two master's students will be funded (one at CSUB and one in South Africa at the University of Stellenbosch) and at least six CSUB undergraduate students will be involved in the study.

For additional information about these grants, contact Bob Horton in the office of grants, research and sponsored programs, at (661) 654-2231.