Sonoma State awarded $1.3 million to improve the performance of underrepresented minorities in STEM courses

June 21, 2019
Sonoma State STEM grant
Carmen Works and Jennifer Lillig

Professors of Chemistry Carmen Works (left) and Jennifer Lillig-Whiles (right) at Sonoma State's 2019 Commencement.

Sonoma State STEM grant
Carmen Works and Jennifer Lillig

Sonoma State University is in line to receive $1.3 million in conjunction with three other colleges as part of a project to close equity and achievement gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Sonoma State chemistry professors Carmen Works and Jennifer Lillig-Whiles will work alongside professors at UC Berkeley, College of Marin and Diablo Valley College to create online transferable modules for gateway STEM courses that will be accessible to college faculty across California. The project will look to create more equitable and inclusive classrooms and combat evidence that shows underrepresented students, such as female students and students of color, leave science in greater numbers than majority students. 

“Jenn and I are both very excited to do this meaningful work with great collaborators, especially Paul Daubenmire from College of Marine, for coordinating a dynamic team,” said Works. “We have both spent almost two decades at SSU developing these types of learning and teaching approaches and feel grateful that our efforts have been recognized.”

The online modules will focus on introductory-level STEM courses, specifically in chemistry. Works, Lillig-Whiles and the six other co-principal investigators will develop modules and classroom strategies for engaging underrepresented students and helping increase their access to support networks. In addition, they will create faculty development modules to educate chemistry faculty so that they support student learning and a student’s sense of belonging.

The award is part of the California Education Learning Lab awarding a total of $7.5 million to six CSU campuses: Fullerton State, Humboldt State, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal State San Marcos and Sonoma State. The Learning Lab has an annual budget of $10 million to increase learning outcomes and close equity and achievement gaps across California’s public higher education segments. This year, the focus is on curricular innovations that combine educational technologies with the science of learning to reduce equity and achievement gaps in online and hybrid STEM gateway courses.  

The research phase of the project will begin over the summer, with the grant extending through June 2022. For more information on the other projects the Learning Lab has funded, visit the CSU.

Media Contact

Nate Galvan