Skip to main content

Scholarship-focused grant is largest NSF S-STEM amongst Ohio universities; JCU is one of two Ohio institutions with two active S-STEM grants


UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, OHIO – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $2.5 million grant to John Carroll University for its INnovation for STEM Pre-Professionals: Identity, Research, and EDucation (INSPIRED) program to provide scholarships for high-potential, low-income students pursuing degrees in STEM. The grant is the largest in John Carroll University history, the largest NSF S-STEM grant amongst Ohio universities, and one of only two S-STEM grants made in Ohio this year. 


“This National Science Foundation award further distinguishes John Carroll University as a leading institution for students pursuing degrees and careers in STEM fields,” said Alan R. Miciak, Ph.D., president. “In keeping with our Jesuit Catholic mission, the INSPIRED program grant will support student belonging while offering scholarship support, career development opportunities, and intentional relationships built with faculty, staff, and peer mentors.”


Funded via the NSF’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program, the INSPIRED program grant will provide up to $15,000 per year to first-year students with demonstrated financial need and academic promise to succeed as Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Data Science, Mathematics, Physics, or Psychology majors at John Carroll. 


Scholarships are combined with student support programming, faculty, staff and peer mentoring, a residential STEM living learning community, and career preparation and professional development opportunities through coursework, research, and internships. Through these initiatives, INSPIRED aims to support academic performance, retention, and graduation rates of its scholars, and encourage an institutional culture of inclusion and belonging on John Carroll’s campus through professional development for STEM faculty.


The INSPIRED award follows a successful five-year, capacity-building Molding Identity & Raising Retention through Opportunities for Reflection in STEM (MIRRORS) NSF  grant that was awarded to John Carroll in 2018. The MIRRORS grant, in conjunction with similarly aligned Choose Ohio First grants from the Ohio Department of Higher Education, led to a significant uptick in first-year retention for students within these programs, from 47% to 99%. Prior to the grant, for students who completed their degrees at John Carroll, only 38% remained in STEM majors. With support made possible through the MIRRORS grant, the four year STEM graduation rate for students in the program has risen to 89%. 


High school students interested in pursuing an INSPIRED scholarship at John Carroll University should first apply for admission to the institution and indicate an interest in pursuing a STEM major.


INSPIRED not only builds on the previous NSF MIRRORS award, but also a strong culture of successful grant-getting at John Carroll. The university has multiple funded programs supporting innovative faculty research and undergraduate and graduate student scholarships. Through the Ohio Department of Higher Education, JCU has multiple Choose Ohio First programs, which support Ohio residents in building a pipeline of STEM graduates and career professionals, as well as an Addressing Educator Shortages in Ohio grant, which provides scholarships for graduate students in initial teaching licensure programs. JCU also has funding to support graduate students in our Clinical Mental Health program through the Great Minds Fellowship, which aims to increase the number of licensed mental health professionals in areas of greatest need. Overall, in the past five years, JCU has been awarded $4,754,622 dollars from these granting agencies.  


The principal investigators on the INSPIRED program grant are Pamela Vanderzalm, Ph.D., associate professor of Biology, Rebecca Drenovsky, Ph.D., interim associate academic vice president, dean of graduate studies, and professor of Biology, Mike Martin, Ph.D., professor of Biology, Chrystal Bruce, Ph.D., associate dean for STEM, and professor of Chemistry, and Christopher Sheil, Ph.D., professor of Biology. 


Award Information

INSPIRED (NSF 2322446)

MIRRORS (NSF 1741814)

Building an Innovation Pipeline Choose Ohio First Program (ODHE 16-79)

Choose Ohio First STEMM Professional Preparation Program (ODHE 21-20)

Addressing Educator Shortages (ODHE 063776)

Great Minds Fellowship (ODHE)