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USM’s ‘STEM Mentoring and Equity for Women’ grants awarded to faculty

Four USM professors received the initial grants from the university's "STEM Mentoring and...
Four USM professors received the initial grants from the university's "STEM Mentoring and Equity for Women" program.(University of Southern Mississippi)
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 4:29 PM CDT
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From University of Southern Mississippi Campus Communications

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Four University of Southern Mississippi professors were awarded grants from the school’s “STEM Mentoring and Equity for Women” program.

The inaugural grant awards came from a program was established by the College of Arts and Sciences to act as a commitment to a more diverse, equitable and inclusive industry.

The grant recipients included:

  • Alyson Brink, assistant professor in the School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences
  • Sara Lee, director/professor in the School of Computer Sciences and Computer Engineering (CSCE)
  • Kristina Mojica, assistant professor in the School of Ocean Science and Engineering
  • Julie Pigza, assistant professor in the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

“The grants awarded support projects that focus on breaking down barriers for those excluded or marginalized based on diverse demographics or any aspect of their personal identity that has been a source of bias in STEM,” aid Janet Donaldson, associate dean for research and graduate education at USM.

Brink plans on starting a diversity, equity and inclusion initiative called “Recruit, Retain, Train” that is geared towards women and BIPOC within or interested in the geology program at USM.

“I want to be part of the change that needs to happen,” said Brink. “I know that I can help by mentoring, advising, supporting, and helping to prepare and train women, not only in the field of paleontology, but geology in general.

“As these women go into the workforce or to graduate school, I’ll be proud that I had a small part in helping them be successful.”

Lee plans on hosting the “Payne Women in Computing Science Bridge,” a three-day program for 20 cis- and transgender women who are incoming computing major freshmen. Participants will hear from female industry leaders and on-campus employees while receiving a near-peer mentor for their first year of college.

“This will support our aforementioned goal to establish the School of CSCE as the computing program in the state of Mississippi know for providing a safe, welcoming, and engaging environment for all persons.,” Lee said.

Mojica aims to isolate host-virus systems from the marine environment to further understand how lytic virus infection of microbial hosts influence marine biogeochemical cycles.

The project also will allow for two undergraduate students at USM to gain training in microbiological techniques and gain valuable research experience.

Pigza seeks to acquire WebMO, a cloud-based program that will interface with the existing, high-performance computing cluster at USM.

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