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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras
  • Elizabeth A Dvorsky
  • (787) 764-0000
Award Date:07/20/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 500,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 500,000
  • FY 2021=$500,000
Start Date:10/15/2021
End Date:09/30/2024
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.076
Primary Program Source:040106 NSF Education & Human Resource
Award Title or Description:Preparing the Next Generation of Environmental Scientists through Research-based Coursework and Community Internships
Federal Award ID Number:2122417
DUNS ID:143960193
Parent DUNS ID:090051616
Program:HSI-Hispanic Serving Instituti
Program Officer:
  • Michael Ferrara
  • (703) 292-2635

Awardee Location

Street:18 Ave. Universidad, Ste.1801
City:San Juan
County:San Juan
Awardee Cong. District:00

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus
Street:18 Ave. Universidad Ste 1801 San
County:San Juan
Cong. District:00

Abstract at Time of Award

There is a critical need for a more robust environmental workforce in Puerto Rico that mirrors similar demands across the United States in multiple sectors, including energy generation, food cultivation, and environmental protection. Additionally, a larger cohort of well-prepared professionals could positively impact the island’s future ability to respond to unexpected environmental catastrophes including increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes, flooding, coastal erosion, coral reef mortality, and reduced biodiversity. To address this opportunity, this project - with support from the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI Program) - aims to provide experiences that will engage undergraduate students in the study of environmental science and lead to an expansion of this critical workforce. In particular, the project targets students during their first two years as undergraduates, which are known to be crucial in fostering positive student perceptions towards the discipline and successful academic outcomes. Incoming freshman will participate in a summer research project that will provide hands-on experiences to build excitement and contribute to a more thorough understanding of future careers. Throughout their course of study, students will engage in four content-rich courses with substantial field work components and will have opportunities to participate in community-facing internships. The proposed courses and experiences will be embedded in the regular environmental science undergraduate curriculum, thereby enriching the current degree requirements while providing innovative academic strategies for students through practical experiences created with the purpose of improving student retention. The proposed project has three main objectives. First is to create annual El Verde Field Station (EVFS) Summer Research experiences to attract 30 incoming freshmen. Second is to design an Environmental Analysis Training curriculum to improve technical skills. And third is to develop a paid internship program to bring environmental science undergraduates and local employers together. A longitudinal, quasi-experimental study will be employed to evaluate the hypothesis that the treatment sequence in the program will contribute to improving environmental science student retention, enhancing content knowledge, and expanding students’ technical skills. Quantitative and qualitative approaches will provide evidence-based data to determine if there is an individual and/or additive effect of the project components on participant students’ attitudes and persistence in environmental science undergraduate studies. Expected products include student-generated environmental science research videos demonstrating techniques and documenting their experiences in the program, conference presentations, journal publications, and meetings and workshops at University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras with high school teachers and counselors to share project outcomes. Furthermore, curricula, educational resources, and research instruments will be available for sharing with teachers and researchers. The HSI Program aims to enhance undergraduate STEM education, broaden participation in STEM, and build capacity at HSIs. Achieving these aims, given the diverse nature and context of the HSIs, requires innovative approaches that incentivize institutional and community transformation and promote fundamental research (i) on engaged student learning, (ii) about what it takes to diversify and increase participation in STEM effectively, and (iii) that improves our understanding of how to build institutional capacity at HSIs. Projects supported by the HSI Program will also draw from these approaches to generate new knowledge on how to achieve these aims. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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