Vote of Confidence

National Science Foundation invests $650,000 in teaching science the Longwood way

Personal support and mentoring from faculty. Special opportunities inside and outside the classroom. The kind of supportive and nurturing learning community you won’t find at big research universities.

Call it teaching science the Longwood way, and the National Science Foundation is investing $650,000 in the approach.

The second-largest federal grant in Longwood’s history, the funding will launch a new program building on Longwood’s teaching strength and providing financial and academic support for students in the sciences.

The grant will financially support 24 Longwood students throughout their undergraduate careers in one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors, with the first 12 students beginning their studies in fall 2017 and the remainder in fall 2018. Called LIFE STEM (Longwood Initiative for Future Excellence in STEM), the program will provide scholarships and special academic programming designed not only to keep students on track in their majors but also provide critical professional development for postgraduate success. The program will focus on recruiting underrepresented minorities and scholars from Southside Virginia.

“The program this grant supports is a natural fit for Longwood,” said Provost Dr. Joan Neff. It combines a firm foundation in citizen leadership with comprehensive academic support in one of the fastest-growing areas of study in the country. As we move forward, it could provide a template from which we can build courses and initiatives across our curriculum.”

The experiential, in-the-field learning that has long been a hallmark of a Longwood education will be present from the outset with special programs and classes designed to help students build a toolbox of scientific skills. At the same time, they will be learning how to develop and act on a sense of inquiry.

“The grant was really built around the idea of a lifetime of science,” said Dr.Wade Znosko, assistant professor of biology, who will teach the entering research classes planned for the students’ freshman year.

The grant will also fund student travel to attend or present original research at professional conferences.

—Matthew McWilliams