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NSF Grant to Provide STEM Scholarships at AAMU

STEM Scholarships
December 10, 2021

Scholarship Support for 30 STEM students

Through the grant Diversity and Excellence in Food, Environment and Natural-resource Disciplines (DEFEND), the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences (CALNS) at Alabama A&M University (AAMU) has garnered $1.38 million (2021-2026) from the Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program (S-STEM) through the National Science Foundation (NSF). These funds will continue to assist minority STEM majors at the University.

Assisting Dr. Elica M. Moss, Environmental Science/Environmental Health Science (PI & Project Director), will be a team of able Co-PIs:  Dr. Armitra Davis, Food and Animal Science; Dr. Kozma Naka, Forestry; Dr. Wubishet Tadesse, chair, Biological and Environmental Sciences; and Dr. James Walke, director, Institutional Planning, Research and Effectiveness.

The DEFEND project will contribute to the national and global need for well-educated scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technicians by supporting the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students with demonstrated financial need at AAMU.   Moss stated that over its five-year duration, the project will fund scholarships to 30 unique full-time students who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in food science, environmental science and natural resource disciplines.

Moreover, first-year students at AAMU and transfer students from Lawson State and Calhoun Community College will receive four-year scholarships.

To increase student retention and STEM degree completion, the project will offer activities of support that include mentoring, service learning, advising, tutoring, financial counseling, undergraduate research experience, and participation in discipline-specific conferences. Additionally, individual development plans will serve as a significant tool, said Moss.

This project compares the overall success rate of high school students directly entering AAMU to community college transfers and also compares the success rate of the DEFEND scholars with other students within CALNS. It aims to improve the education of future STEM workers, and to generate knowledge about academic success, retention, transfer, graduation, and academic/career pathways of low-income students. Ultimately, this project has the potential to advance understanding of which interventions are most effective for motivating and retaining African-American and students from other underrepresented groups in STEM.

Lastly, DEFEND will increase the number of underrepresented students who are globally and competitively trained to subsequently diversify the STEM workforce. For further information, please contact Dr. Elica M. Moss at or call (256) 372-8219.