​$125K  Awarded to ASU to Increase K-12 STEM Teachers in High-Need Schools

News Date
Dr. B.K. Robertson and NSF logo


By Hazel Scott/ASU

An interdisciplinary team led by Dr. B.K. Robertson, professor of Microbiology and director of Graduate Programs and EnvironMentors in the Department of Biological Sciences at Alabama State University, has received a one-year $125,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant was made possible through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program (Noyce) and is designed to expand STEM (science, technology engineering and mathematics) in partner school districts.

"This grant will expand our reach to current students and help diversify the teacher population in high-need schools,” Robertson said. "This will increase the number of K-12 highly qualified, culturally reflective STEM teachers in the high-need, Black Belt region of Alabama. This capacity-building grant will open new pathways to teaching careers.”  

Robertson is the principal investigator on the team, which includes co-principal investigators Dr. Gulnaz Javan, ASU’s nationally acclaimed expert on forensic science; Dr. Lisa Cothran, associate professor of psychology; and Dr. Alethea Hampton, associate professor in the College of Education.

“Noyce, a highly competitive prestigious award recognized and valued by school districts, provides funding to institutions of higher education to provide scholarships, stipends and programmatic support to recruit and prepare STEM majors and professionals to become K-12 teachers in high-need school districts,” Javan said.

ASU will partner with  two Alabama school corporations -- Trenholm State Community College and the Lowndes County Public School System -- in the implementation of the initiative,

In Alabama, Javan noted, there are thousands of unfilled math and science 6th- to 12th-grade teaching positions with race disparity in the teacher workforce worse than it was 60 years ago. Published research suggests that fully staffed schools that employ culturally reflective teachers are more successful at supporting students’ achievement and well-being.

“With this grant, we are developing a teacher scholarship program that will help alleviate the critical need for highly-effective, culturally-reflective secondary school STEM teachers. It is both exciting and humbling that, through our efforts, Alabama’s schools and children may be enriched,” Javan emphasized.