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Connecticut College receives NSF grant for successful Science Leaders program

Connecticut College has received a $436,307 grant from the National Science Foundation to continue support for the college's Science Leaders Program. Connecticut College established Science Leaders in 2007 with a grant from the National Science Foundation. The program's goal is to increase the number of underrepresented students graduating from Connecticut College with research experience in chemistry, physics, environmental science, neuroscience, and laboratory-based biological sciences.

"We recently graduated our first cohort of Science Leaders. In these students' accomplishments we clearly see the importance of this program and the evidence of its success. I am delighted that the National Science Foundation has renewed its support for Science Leaders, and I sincerely appreciate all that the NSF has done to help the college enhance our rigorous science programs and support students in the sciences," said President Leo I. Higdon, Jr.

Students admitted into this challenging undergraduate program take an intensive first-year seminar with other Science Leaders and receive enhanced scholarships, research opportunities, additional support, career preparation and assistance applying to graduate school. The program prepares Science Leaders for a wide range of science-related careers as well as a solid foundation for graduate study or medical school.

Marc Zimmer, the college's Jean C. Tempel '65 Professor of Physical Sciences and the project director for the program, designed Science Leaders based on his work with inner-city high schools with high percentages of minorities and other underrepresented populations.

"The program is designed to attract science students to Connecticut College and help them succeed in areas of technological importance," said Zimmer.

All prospective science majors at Connecticut College who are U.S. citizens and who qualify for need-based financial aid are eligible for the program, but admission priority is given to women, students of color, students with disabilities, first-generation college students and students who are economically disadvantaged.

The college's Class of 2012 included an impressive group of Science Leaders from a variety of scientific fields, including biology, chemistry, behavioral neuroscience and physics. Each of the students completed multiple internships and conducted research with faculty members, with some attending conferences across the U.S. and contributing to scientific research papers.

"Some of the recently graduated Science Leaders have already secured spots in graduate school or medical school, while others are planning post-graduate internships or fellowships before they embark on further study," said Higdon. "This program's success is characteristic of Connecticut College and the kind of personalized education we offer on a broader level."

This program is 70-percent federally funded.

July 6, 2012