McNair Scholars Program receives DOEd grant to prepare underrepresented students for graduate school

Posted on Categories Awards

The Augsburg McNair Scholars Program has been awarded five additional years of funding through the US Department of Education’s Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program.

Grant funds totaling $1,161,310 ($232,262 per year) will be used to increase the number of doctoral degrees attained by Augsburg students from underrepresented backgrounds (low-income, first-generation, and/or underrepresented in graduate education) through high impact graduate school preparation activities.

The program will maintain a cohort of 26 Scholars each year. Scholars will complete an intensive 21 months of curriculum and activities designed to prepare for and achieve success in doctoral study. Project components include academic counseling; rigorous research and scholarly activities; graduate school preparation seminars and workshops; high quality summer research internships with mentor guidance; research presentation in at least one conference setting; internship opportunities; and individualized tutoring for academic excellence. Participants will also receive guidance in completing quality applications to graduate programs, finding financial assistance, and choosing programs that best fit their graduate aspirations.

The McNair Scholars Program is one of eight federal TRIO programs. The McNair Scholars Program was created by the U.S. Congress in honor of Dr. Ronald E. McNair, the astronaut and physicist who was among the first African Americans in the U.S. space program.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, please contact the project director, “Tina” Maria Tavera or visit Augsburg’s McNair Program website.

Editor’s Note: This project is funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Education. Federal dollars support 75.5% ($1,161,310) of total project costs over the five year period; institutional dollars support the remaining 24.5% ($307,538).

Augsburg professor and student plan to implement 3D Printing module in middle school for mathematics education

Posted on Categories Awards

Dr. Matthew Haines, associate professor of mathematics at Augsburg College, is working alongside Nora Helf (teacher at Sanford Middle School) and Lewis Istok (Augsburg undergraduate) in order to develop an interdisciplinary unit in a middle school STEM support course utilizing 3D printing. This module’s objective is to enhance middle school student’s learning in mathematics by exploring the implementation of 3D printing into the classroom. The investigators received funding from the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 2016, providing the project with a 3D printer and 3D printing supplies. Lewis Istok, a mathematics major, is working toward his teaching license to teach high school math and served as the TinkerCAD expert on this project. The module was implemented in Nora Helf’s classroom at Sanford Middle School in February 2017. Augsburg undergraduates Lewis Istok and Lexander Boukal volunteered their time to help facilitate the implementation of the module in Helf’s STEM class.

Augsburg Awarded $237,851 to Collaborate with Partner Disciplines on Calculus Curriculum

Augsburg College has been awarded $237,851 over 5 years as part of a $2.6 million National Science Foundation grant to fund the project Collaborative Research: A National Consortium for Synergistic Undergraduate Mathematics via Multi-institutional Interdisciplinary Teaching Partnerships (SUMMIT-P) led by Dr. Susan Ganter at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  Eleven colleges and universities, including Augsburg, will form a consortium to renew the lower division undergraduate mathematics curriculum based on research about the needs of partner disciplines. The project studies the role of interdisciplinary and inter-institutional faculty learning communities in building collaborations for meaningful curricular change. At each institution, mathematics and partner discipline faculty will collaborate to understand recommendations from the (prior) Curriculum Foundations (CF) project, determine how these recommendations can be used to effectively improve the content of affected courses, introduce modifications in pilot sections, work with a central evaluation team to measure the effectiveness of new approaches especially as pertains to students from underrepresented groups, offer workshops and support for instructors using these new curricula (locally, regionally, and nationally), and scale-up these new offerings within the consortium and through dissemination to additional campuses.

The CF recommendations rest on two pillars: contextualizing problem solving and active learning, both of which align with Augsburg’s curriculum and commitment to student learning.  The Augsburg team, headed by Dr. Suzanne Dorée, will work with science and economics/business faculty to renew the 3-semester calculus sequence.  They will increase the relevance and frequency of applications in the courses; adapt and develop materials to make the quantitative labs the primary focus of the courses; and examine the ordering of topics to better mesh with the timing needed by the partner disciplines. The team will also support mathematics review when needed in introductory courses in the partner disciplines and the existing calculus workshop that has successfully supported students from underrepresented groups in STEM, and will bolster the transition from pre-calculus to calculus. The Augsburg team includes Dr. Jody Sorensen and Dr. Pavel Bělík, also from Mathematics & Statistics; Dr. Joan Kunz from Chemistry; and Dr. Stella Hofrenning from Economics.  Drs. Dorée and Hofrenning also serve on the national leadership team for the project where Dr. Hofrenning will lead multiple institutional collaborations with Business, Economics, and Social Science.

Editor’s Note: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1625142. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


$150,000 Bush Foundation Grant Builds Capacity to Support Diversity in Teaching

Augsburg College’s Department of Education was recently awarded a $150,000 grant from the Bush Foundation as part of their Teacher Effectiveness Initiative (TEI) to support diversity in teaching. Augsburg was one of five schools selected to receive this one time award. Dr. Peg (Margaret) Finders, Chair and Associate Professor of Education, will lead the project in partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), and St. Paul Public Schools.

The goal of the project is to build capacity to recruit and support students of color moving through multiple educational institutions towards a degree in teaching. The team will create a coordinated, sustainable infrastructure that will reduce attrition and recruit high quality teacher candidates. The new infrastructure will help the partner institutions foster smooth transitions into teaching, engage in proactive recruitment of teacher candidates of color from multiple entry points, and improve experiences for teacher candidates of color.

This project builds on strengths of the Education departments’ East African Student to Teacher program and Special Education program.

Psychology professor receives NSF award to research eyewitness identification errors

Dr. Nancy Steblay, Professor of Psychology, has been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation for the project, “Collaborative Research. RUI: Understanding and Predicting Eyewitness Identification Errors: Studies Using a Unique Set of Materials from Actual Lineups.” (NSF ID: SES -1420135). Total funding for the project is $397,600. The research will be conducted over the next three years in collaboration with Dr. Gary Wells at Iowa State University. Augsburg College will receive $134,219 in support of faculty-student research.

To better understand eyewitness identification errors, the research team will conduct a series of laboratory experiments using eyewitness data sets and lineup audio files from 855 real police investigations. Continue reading “Psychology professor receives NSF award to research eyewitness identification errors”

Dr. Engebretson awarded NSF funding for collaborative space physics research

The National Science Foundation recently awarded Dr. Mark Engebretson, Professor Emeritus of Physics, and his team $396,635 over three years to support the project, “Collaborative Research:  Studies of ULF Waves Associated with Solar Wind Coupling to the Magnetosphere and Ionosphere.” (NSF ID: PLR-1341493)

In collaboration with Dr. Marc Lessard at the University of New Hampshire, Dr. Engebretson will continue to operate and analyze data from four ground-based induction magnetometers located in Antarctica (including South Pole Station) and two in the Arctic. The stations in this project are key links in arrays of ground-based ionospheric and magnetospheric observatories in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. These observatories, together with both low-altitude and high-altitude NASA satellites, provide the data with which Engebretson, Lessard, and members of their team work to characterize and understand the physical processes occurring in Earth’s space environment.

The study of the Earth’s space environment has become increasingly important to our technologically–driven society.   Continue reading “Dr. Engebretson awarded NSF funding for collaborative space physics research”

Chemistry Professor to collaborate on Department of Energy Grant

Dr. David Hanson, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, is collaborating with Dr. Jeffrey Pierce at Colorado State University to develop computer models that will improve the representation of growth rates of newly formed atmospheric particulate matter. This research, “Collaborative Project: Contributions of Organic Compounds to the Growth of Freshly Nucleated Atmospheric Nanoparticles” is made possible by a $485,434 grant through the Department of Energy (Award # DE-SC0011780). Continue reading “Chemistry Professor to collaborate on Department of Energy Grant”

Augsburg Awarded $150,000 Career Ready Internship Grant

Augsburg College recently received a $150,000 Career Ready Internship grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation.  Internships provide students with valuable workplace skills and networking opportunities that often lead to job offers after graduation. Grant funds will create up to 38 new paid internships for the 2014-2015 academic year ensuring more Augsburg students can participate in paid experiences that allow them to graduate with a competitive edge.

This project will be led Keith Munson, Rebekah Dupont, and Elaine Eschenbacher, who will collaborate to identify and build lasting partnerships with local businesses and nonprofits to develop new paid internships for students who receive financial aid. Continue reading “Augsburg Awarded $150,000 Career Ready Internship Grant”

Chemistry Professor Receives Grant for i-NMR Software

Dr. Michael Wentzel, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, recently received an Implementation Grant from the Chemistry Collaborations Workshop and Communities of Scholars Program (cCWCS). This $1,000 matching grant will allow Dr. Wentzel to purchase i-NMR software for interactive spectroscopic analysis of organic compounds. This software will provide students in organic chemistry with a more active and realistic experience with data and an increased understanding of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR).
If you’d like to learn more about this project, please contact Dr. Wentzel at

Engebretson and MACCS team receive $425,919 grant from National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation has awarded a new three-year $425,919 research grant (NSF AGS-1264146) to Augsburg College’s Physics Department for continued operation of the Magnetometer Array for Cusp and Cleft Studies (MACCS), a longitudinally-extended array of 8 magnetometers located in Arctic Canada, and for space science research based on MACCS data. Continue reading “Engebretson and MACCS team receive $425,919 grant from National Science Foundation”