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P120A190064: Program of Excellence in STEM-Environmental Research

(PE-STEM-Environmental Research)


The Program of Excellence in STEM_Environmental Research (PE-STEM-Environmental Research) Program will provide the valuable link between the STEM science and education curriculum and real-world experience in various fields of STEM at Florida A&M University (FAMU), to aid increase the participation of all students in STEM disciplines related to environmental areas, and thereby increasing the overall percentage of minorities and women who are involved in STEM fields. The overall purpose of the PE-STEM_Environmental Research Program aligns itself with that of the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP) from the U.S. Department of Education by seeking 1) to provide long range improvements in science and engineering education at FAMU, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU); and 2) to increase participation of underrepresented ethnic minorities, particularly minority women, into science and technological careers, especially in relation to environmental fields.


On the national level, there is the opportunity at FAMU to improve its STEM enrollment and degree conferment by improving the numbers of students involved in environmentally related STEM disciplines. Presently, the number of FAMU students, of which >83% are African American, enrolled in environmental STEM majors has increased over the last 5 years with a majority of them being female. As FAMU has the largest enrollment of African Americans at the baccalaureate level in the state of Florida and due to its present success with the PE-STEM program, its hosting of the PE-STEM_Environmental Education Program will continue to positively impact the statistics in areas of underrepresented groups’ matriculation in the environmental-related areas, and STEM disciplines overall.

The Program of Excellence in STEM_Environmental Research Program focuses on minority undergraduate sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are studying in environmentally-based STEM fields attending FAMU and involving them in research and internship opportunities related to their field. Research involvement is a major component of this program as often, students do not focus as much on learning in early foundational courses because they fail to see their relevance to the applied environmental work they seek in the future. These laboratory experiences will help give their coursework greater relevance which allow students to gain better perspective of what their prospective major and environmental career would entail. It would also allow them be involved in experimental research on relevant environmental issues with innovative methods to help students connect their theoretical coursework to real-world applications. The PE-STEM-Environmental Research Program will provide structured mentoring and a learning community within STEM to support matriculation and eventual graduation in environmentally-focused STEM areas of discipline.


The overall goal of the PE-STEM_Environmental Research Program is to provide a structured model for increasing the success, retention, and graduation of FAMU’s STEM majors with environmental applications, through concentrated mentoring, tutoring, advisement, research opportunities, and professional development of participants, especially in areas related to Environmental Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Chemistry, Atmospheric Sciences, Soil/Water Sciences, and Sustainability. The approach is to focus the intervention provided by the proposed MSEIP on traditionally underrepresented students majoring in STEM during the sophomore, junior, and senior years at FAMU.


This program goal will be accomplished by the following 3-tiered approach:

  • Providing directed laboratory research experiences in STEM environmental disciplines with FAMU faculty;

  • Provide internship opportunities with environmental STEM-based entities and companies; and

  • Exposing participating students to opportunities and careers in the STEM disciplines through tours and guest lecturers.


  • Establishing a student cohort in the various environmental STEM disciplines, that can be advised and guided successfully throughout the college curriculum;

  • Provide tutoring for STEM based courses during the academic year to enhance student achievement and success, especially in the environmental fields; and

  • Involving students with qualified and motivated mentorship from STEM faculty, graduate and undergraduate students.


  • Providing students with opportunities to participate in innovative, environmentally relevant research that can be used to enhance their college portfolio;

  • Assisting students in strengthening their presentation and public speaking skills
    through program activities; and

  • Utilizing professional connections through PE-STEM faculty mentors to connect
    former students with graduate fellowship and scholarship opportunities, as well as
    career placement.


These broad initiatives are mapped and depicted in the following Program Objectives:

  • Increase the GPAs of students within environmentally-related STEM disciplines, especially in foundational courses (Calculus, Chemistry, Biology, Intro to Engineering, Physics, and Intro to Programming), prior to reaching upper division (junior) status, through summer supplementary courses, tutoring during academic year, program workshops, and academic research opportunities;

  • Increase the retention of these students within environmentally-related STEM disciplines through advisement, mentoring, and research & internship opportunities;

  • Increase the number of students completing their degrees in environmentally-related STEM disciplines;

  • Increase the number of these undergraduates participating in conducting, reporting, and presenting on research within STEM disciplines; and

  • Increase the number of STEM faculty involved in mentoring students involved in undergraduate research, especially focused on significant environmental issues.

Program Highlights (to date)​
  • TBA

  • Undergraduate Participants
    • Tajah Billingsley
    • Haley Howard
    • Melvin Jordan
  • Graduate Participants
    • Nemmi Cole
    • Sherita Ingram
    • Joy Jefferson-Yager
    • Niya King
    • David Perez

2020-2021 Research Mentors:

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