Evanseck Leads Group That Funds NSF Undergrad Chemistry Research Sites

Posted on August 7, 2013

Dr. Jeffrey Evanseck, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will serve as the principal investigator for the Leadership Group, a body that oversees the National Science Foundation (NSF) funding of more than 60 chemistry research sites nationwide.

Dr. Jeffrey Evanseck

Dr. Jeffrey Evanseck

For more than a quarter of a century, the NSF has provided research experiences for undergraduates, known as the REU program. Overseeing more than 600 students per year at the chemistry REU sites led to the creation of the Leadership Group, formed by proven REU site directors. Overall, the Leadership Group makes the REU program better and more efficient, promoting new ideas, providing communication between the sites and the NSF, and establishing a common infrastructure.

Evanseck, as past chair of the Leadership Group, is now principal investigator for the coming year’s Leadership Group budget. In this capacity, he received a $270,000 NSF grant to funnel funds to the entire group as it coordinates events across the nation to systematically improve scientific research and access to research facilities.

NSF’s target is to provide meaningful research experiences for undergraduates and prepare them for careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields to strengthen the U.S. workforce. Specifically, the REU program provides access to research-quality equipment and research-oriented faculty to minority students and to institutions, including historically black colleges and other schools without a research infrastructure. For instance, one of the Leadership Group’s goals is to explore increased collaborations with the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, create a common application and enhance communications among site leaders.

In addition to the overall grant, Evanseck—along with co-investigators Drs. Jeffry Madura and Ellen Gawalt—have extended Duquesne’s REU site for a fourth consecutive funding cycle this year for $300,000. The University has been involved with the REU program for more than 12 years, hosting students and outside faculty for 10 weeks during the summer, incorporating them into the Bayer School Undergraduate Research Program. The unusual program:

  • Excites, motivates and prepares students for graduate school and/or the U.S. workforce
  • Assists faculty from other institutions in continuing their research programs
  • Increases the research presented and published by Duquesne faculty.

“It builds Duquesne as a regional resource and an intellectual centerpiece for area schools,” said Evanseck, who has been involved with so many initiatives to increase diversity.

Dedication to this cause, he said, is part of his work. “I became a professor so I could inspire others and help them improve their lives,” said Evanseck.

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