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UNC Asheville has been awarded $599,850 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that will provide 31 chemistry students with scholarships and implement a program to enhance educational support in the chemistry major. The program will include recruiting motivated and promising students, providing opportunities for undergraduate research, offering faculty and peer mentorship, and educating and grooming students for success as chemistry professionals.

The NSF grant funding will be provided over five years. Scholarships for chemistry majors will be based on academic merit as well as financial need, and will begin in the fall semester 2011.

“UNC Asheville students are bright and accomplished, and they are eager to use their talents to improve the lives of others. These new scholarships will assure that more of them will be able to fulfill that dream, across North Carolina and beyond,” said UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder. “This follows last year’s NSF award to our biology department, further demonstrating the scientific community’s recognition of the quality of UNC Asheville’s faculty and curriculum in the sciences.”

UNC Asheville offers multiple concentrations in its bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degrees in chemistry, and graduates nine or ten chemistry students each year. “UNC Asheville’s student-centered chemistry curriculum and focus on learning through undergraduate research has prepared our graduates for careers in industry, medicine, and teaching, and admittance to some of the best graduate schools in the country,” said Sally Wasileski, assistant professor of chemistry, lead author of the NSF grant and director of the scholarship program. “The enhanced educational support we can now offer with this grant will take our department to the next level as we strive to make our chemistry major the best in the southeast.”

The new program in chemistry is designed to recruit top-notch students and shepherd them from specially tailored freshman courses through graduation and into future studies or the workplace. Students who take part in this learning community will go on to become mentors, along with the faculty, for new students. “This type of personal involvement coupled with academic rigor and interdisciplinary learning is one of the hallmarks of a UNC Asheville education,” said Keith Krumpe, UNC Asheville dean of natural sciences and professor of chemistry.

With about 3,700 students from 42 states and 19 countries, UNC Asheville is one of the nation’s top public liberal arts universities and one of the 17 institutions in the University of North Carolina system. Known for its commitment to teaching, undergraduate research, and interdisciplinary learning, UNC Asheville offers more than 30 majors leading to bachelor of arts, bachelor of science and master of liberal arts degrees.

Kathleen O'Nan

Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press.

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