LS LAMP program increases minority recruiting and mentoring in STEM programs

Four faculty members from three colleges at Louisiana Tech have secured grant funding focused recruiting and mentoring students from minority groups in order to increase their participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Dr. Laura Bostick, Dr. Marsha Cole, Dr. Jamie Newman, and Dr. Lindsey Vincent were awarded a subgrant through the Louisiana Board of Regents, the grantee agency. The statewide project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for five years (2020-25) and is led by Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge (SUBR). The project, called Louis Stokes Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation (LS LAMP), is one of several similar alliances across the country.  The LS LAMP program seeks to increase the number of minority students enrolling in and completing bachelor’s degrees in STEM and pursuing graduate degrees in those fields.

“As a former Grambling State University LS LAMP Scholar, I can attest to the support that I received from the faculty involved in the LS LAMP program,” said Cole, a Lecturer of Chemistry in the College of Engineering and Science (COES). “Not only were we uplifted to our greatest potential as students, through travel support to conferences and exposure to amazing scientists from underrepresented backgrounds and/or from lower socioeconomic communities, but also we received financial support to offset book and supply costs.”

Cole added that students in the program like herself were offered research stipends to participate in research with faculty and given GRE prep courses to support their graduate school endeavors.

“Without LS LAMP and the Grambling faculty, I surely wouldn’t have my PhD in chemistry,” Cole said. “This program helped me in ways that my family and upbringing could not, and for that I am eternally grateful.”

Newman, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Applied and Natural Sciences (ANS), said by engaging with students through this program and outside of the classroom, Tech has an opportunity to show them science in a way that is exciting, engaging and different from what they see in the classroom.

“There has always been a need to have more representation in the STEM fields,” Newman said. “It is critical that we encourage all students, when they are young, that they can be anything they want to be and that they can see themselves in professions related to science, technology, engineering and math. Making these disciplines exciting and providing examples and role models can go a long way in helping students stay on track.”

Bostick, Associate Director of UTeachTech in the College of Education, said the group effort of the colleges displayed the collaborative spirit of Tech.

“Having people with different backgrounds and experiences on a project team allows for creative thinking that simply wouldn’t happen if we all stayed in our own silos,” Bostick said. “It only makes sense that a team focusing on diversifying the nation’s STEM workforce would need to be diverse itself. Including the cross-curricular team from Louisiana Tech, LS LAMP is an alliance of 14 public and private educational institutions across Louisiana, all with a common goal — to increase significantly the number and quality of minority students earning a bachelor’s degree in a STEM discipline and to guide a growing number of our STEM BS degree holders to the successful pursuit of PhD degrees in STEM or stimulating high technology careers.”

This grant allows collaboration with researchers from other institutions. Dr. Patrick Mensah, LS LAMP project director, Formosa Endowed Professor, and Associate Dean for Research at Southern University in Baton Rouge, said he is glad to partner with Tech with this project.

“LSLAMP is delighted to have Louisiana Tech, one of the premier institutions in the state, join the alliance to expand our efforts in broadening the participation of minorities in STEM,” he said.

Dr. Lindsey Vincent, Associate Dean for Research, Outreach and Innovation in the College of Education, said engagement with this alliance has long term impact for the University and our communities.

“We look forward to collaborating in order to connect resources and opportunities to the exceptional students who will become our Louisiana Tech graduates, leaders in their fields, and ultimately mentors for the next generation of STEM leaders in our communities,” she said.