Grant to benefit ECU biology, biochemistry majors

GREENVILLE (02/21/2012) – A national grant totaling more than $500,000 will fund scholarships for 24 high achieving, financially needy students to study biochemistry and science at East Carolina University.

The National Science Foundation provided $599,945, guaranteeing three years of funding for students admitted to the new BioExcellence Scholarship Program. Six freshmen will be awarded renewable scholarships at the $10,000, $7,500 or $5,000 level this year. Another nine freshmen will join BioExcellence in 2013 and nine more in 2014. To qualify, students must be admitted to ECU with an intended major of biology or biochemistry, demonstrate financial need and have at least a 3.0 high school GPA. That GPA must be maintained during their time at ECU. Dr. Mary Farwell, BioExcellence administrator and director of Undergraduate Studies, said they also hope to attract students from areas with limited academic resources and students whose parents did not attend college.

Required coursework will be accompanied by support programs including peer tutoring, career counseling and block scheduling during their first two years, followed by undergraduate research mentoring and internship opportunities prior to graduation. Each recipient will also be required to spend two years residing in the on-campus Bio Living-Learning Community. No site has been identified to house the community at this time.

The goal is for recipients to complete their bachelor’s degrees in four years, leading to a career in biosciences. “We really think this is going to be a way to say to the best students in the east that this is a good place for you to go to school and get these opportunities,” Farwell said.

This grant is the latest in a series of efforts to bring students interested in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – to ECU. Other examples include:

  • Expanding Engineering in Eastern North Carolina offers scholarships to income-eligible and in-state freshmen accepted to the ECU Department of Engineering
  • Physics is Essential trains teachers from Wayne, Craven and Beaufort county schools how best to teach physics to grades K-8.

For more information, view the award abstract from the National Science Foundation.