College of Science and Health secures grant to provide scholarships for low-income STEM students


Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus.

DePaul secured a $1 million grant to help provide resources to a group of incoming science, technology, engineering and math freshmen that will make up the Engage and Persist in STEM Project (EPISTEM). 

The effort to secure the funds was led by DePaul College of Science and Health professor Jim Montgomery with assistance from his CSH colleagues  Bernhard Beck-Winchatz, Luciano Berardi and Susan McMahon. 

The group applied for the grant through the National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency founded by Congress in 1950 as an initiative to “promote the progress of science and grow health, welfare and national defense initiatives.”

DePaul’s EPISTEM program will provide annual scholarships to two cohorts — eight students each — of incoming freshmen enrolled in a STEM program within the College of Science and Health.

“Student[s] who are selected as EPISTEM Scholars are those who have excelled academically in high school but who have a demonstrated financial need,” Montgomery said. 

Financial need for participation in the program is defined by the student being Pell Grant eligible. 

Montgomery added that the EPISTEM program is just one example of how the College of Science and Health is pursuing the university’s Vincentian values — making an education in STEM more affordable and accessible. 

The first cohort of EPISTEM scholars will set foot on DePaul’s campus with a $10,000 scholarship in fall 2021, followed by the second cohort of freshmen in fall 2022 with the same award.

Alongside the scholarship award, EPISTEM scholars will receive mentorship from over 20  DePaul STEM professors; other resources will enhance their education, too, such as focal point and scientific writing seminars, according to DePaul Newsline.

“A learning community gives STEM students a supportive environment to explore their interests, network with each other and develop new networks within DePaul and the STEM fields,” Berardi told Newsline. “This community will help shape each student’s identity as a STEM scholar and give them a place to belong within the university.”

The initiative is a cross-departmental initiative that spans a number of departments within the College of Science and Health, from environmental sciences to physics to math. 

Other departments outside of the College of Science and Health will also be involved, such as the Office of Admissions, Institute for Research and Market Analytics and the Career Center. 

“The College of Science and Health provides … degree programs in STEM fields, health science, and new health-related fields including neuroscience, occupational therapy and speech language pathology,” Montgomery said.

In recent College of Science and Health news, professor Kenshu Shimada completed wave-making research regarding the Megalodon shark. Shimada’s research was also funded by the National Science Foundation, which commented on the use of diversity initiatives in the makeup of undergraduate research assistants.