By Jasmine Baker
COMMERCE, TX— A team led by Dr. Bao-An Li was awarded a grant of $570,800 from the National Science Foundation for their project “Physics and Astronomy Scholarships for Success (PASS).” Dr. Cheri Davis and Dr. Matt A. Wood are Co-PI’s on the project.
“After working almost three years on the proposal, we are excited about the opportunities this grant will bring to our students and its potential impacts on the physics program at TAMU-Commerce,” said Dr. Li.
Students majoring in Physics at A&M-Commerce may be eligible to receive up to $7,800 per year for up to three years, plus $500 per year to travel to present research results at scientific meetings. Texas A&M University-Commerce will implement the Physics and Astronomy Scholarships for Success (PASS) project to provide at least 45 scholarships over five years to academically talented physics majors with demonstrated financial need at an “R2: Doctoral Universities–Higher Research Activity” institution in rural Texas.
A&M-Commerce focuses on students transferring from 23 regional community colleges serving high percentages of underrepresented minorities. The PASS project will implement new strategies for increasing recruitment, retention and graduation of physics majors and provide innovative support for them to enter top graduate schools in physical sciences or find rewarding jobs in a field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The gathered knowledge on how to address complex issues of providing student support for the targeted populations gathered has tremendous implications for other rural institutions attempting to increase the retention and graduation of physics majors through both financial and other innovative support strategies. The PASS project will also help meet the broadly recognized national need for more high-quality physics majors.
“We are very excited to be able to offer these NSF scholarship and research opportunities to our students. Physics graduates are extremely competitive in the job market, as they’re qualified for all manner of technical jobs, and we’re working to substantially increase the number of top physics graduates in the northeast Texas region,” said Dr. Wood, Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.