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‘SEISMIC’ Shift

NSF-funded program continues to assist STEM majors

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Some in the program say it was the $6,000 scholarship that initially caught their eye, but since being admitted to the Students Engaging in Scientific and Mathematical Interdisciplinary Collaborations (SEISMIC) program, the young scholars agree it offers more than just financial relief. 

“When I saw the scholarship I was sold, but this has turned out to be much more. It provides many opportunities,” said Gabe DeOliveira of Hanson. 

It is the second year SEISMIC has been active on the BSU campus. Dr. Thomas Kling directs the program along with Drs. Colby King and Stephen Waratuke. The trio also receives assistance from the Center for Advancement of STEM Education Director Jennifer Aizenman.

The program is funded through a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation. 

SEISMIC scholars must be science or mathematics majors to participate, and each receives a $6,000 scholarship annually, renewable for up to three years. 

This year’s scholars were accepted to the cohort-style program last fall. In addition to Gabe, they are Abigail AdamsCarine FreireFatiana GoncalvesAndrew MeyerRobertho OzerusManuel PinaAbony Reid and Jeremy Woodward

The students are currently participating in the program’s required five-week, second-year summer seminar and interdisciplinary undergraduate research portion of the program. 

The goal of the SEISMIC program is not restricted to just one area, there many layers, said Dr. Waratuke. 

“It’s always about student success and retention, but the goal is to give them opportunities. It is up to them to capitalize on them,” he said.

Scholars are exposed to talented mentors and faculty, gain research and lab experience, and learn how to focus on their communication and writing skills. 

“Some come in intimidated and are concerned about their ability to write, to communicate, or worry about their lack of lab experience,” Dr. Waratuke said. “But this program helps them build self-confidence and shows them they’re capable of doing hands-on lab work and to speak about science.”

Until this summer, Carine, who lives in Brockton, had never worked in a laboratory before.

“Working in the lab has been beneficial for me. They are actually teaching me things and how to use instruments properly,” she said.

Junior Alec Milordis entering his second year of the program., and said there is much to be gained by participating in SEISMIC. He encourages those who qualify to apply during their freshman year. 

“I’ve gained a lot. I’ve been able to see what level of focus and work ethic is required to conduct actual research,” he said.  

On top of the introductory summer seminar, SEISMIC scholars must also participate in courses each fall semester. In the first year they must take a writing-intensive course that examines the role science plays in society; in the second year they are required to take a speaking-intensive STEM-focused social science course, and finally in the third year they must partake in a specially designed collaborative research capstone project and work together as a group to find solutions to significant problems. 

To stay in the program scholars must maintain a 2.8 GPA in science and mathematics courses, and overall take part in assessment activities to remain eligible for scholarships. Those that apply also much meet certain financial requirements. (Story and photos by Heather Harris Michonski, University News)

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