Posted: 6/05/20

Rep. Cuellar Announces $1.6+ Million in National Science Foundation HSI Funding for STEM Initiatives at TAMIU


Congressman Henry Cuellar
Congressman Henry Cuellar ('82)  

On Friday, Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) announced $1,649,197 in federal funds to Texas A&M International University  (TAMIU) to help develop and expand Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning opportunities for Hispanic and Low-Income students in the region. 

Funding was awarded through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) grant program, established by Congressman Cuellar in 2018. 

Congressman Cuellar said the program, dubbed “Building Capacity:  An Undergraduate STEM-Enrichment Program in TX,” will help create a new generation of creators, innovators and pioneers. 

“Students in South Texas must be career-ready to meet the demands of the our country’s STEM industries,” said Congressman Cuellar, “This federal investment will be used to prepare students to graduate and work in critical STEM sectors such as energy, health care and medicine, cyber and information technologies, and national security. As a senior appropriator, I will continue to fund educational programs that will create a new generation of innovators, creators, and pioneers. I want to thank TAMIU President Pablo Arenaz and the rest of his staff for their dedication to expanding educational opportunities for our students.” 

TAMIU president Dr. Pablo Arenaz called the program visionary and said it will drive brighter futures for TAMIU students.

“We are deeply appreciative of the leadership and partnership provided by Congressman Cuellar in helping secure this generous NSF grant.  We know that our students have tremendous capacity to succeed in STEM fields, and this visionary grant will provide them with ample opportunities to realize their full degree potential and advance their careers. In turn, their success will drive a brighter future for our community, state and country,” Dr. Arenaz said.

Principal Investigator for the Grant is Dr. Claudia San Miguel, dean of TAMIU’s College of Arts and Sciences.  Co-Principal Investigators are Dr. Marcus Ynalvez, associate dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Ruby Ynalvez, associate professor of Biology; Dr. Angelique Blackburn, assistant professor of Psychology,  and Dr. Deepak Ganta, assistant professor of Engineering. Senior grant personnel include: Drs. Runchang Lin, Jennifer Coronado, and Marcela Moran. Other team members include Julian Peña, Youssef Elmasry, and Miguel Rangel.

Dr. San Miguel said she believes the grant will offer a national and global strategy for STEM Enrichment for other minority student populations.

“This grant is innovative as it longitudinally tracks how creative STEM enrichment experiences can impact psychosocial outcomes, STEM aptitude, and STEM graduation of minority students.    Specifically, the funding will help implement several enrichment strategies at TAMIU with the aim of improving GPA and time to degree. It will include a pre-college summer camp to provide a head start on STEM-introductory classes critical to progressing in their majors, a two-semester STEM research methods seminar series, and an undergraduate STEM research experience. The grant also supports tutoring and other supplemental instruction sessions. Professional developmental opportunities, such as STEM-internships, will also be provided,” San Miguel explained.  

 “This researching and programming initiative will lead to novel learning strategies to enhance minority students’ STEM academic performance and progress toward timely graduation. Through novel high-impact STEM enrichment experiences, it will prepare students to graduate and work in critical U.S. sectors such as agriculture and food, energy, health care and medicine, cyber and information technologies, and national security. We are confident that our research will generate a new template of STEM learning activities for STEM students at TAMIU and other universities and colleges—nationally and globally,” she concluded.

Co-principal investigator Dr. Marcus Ynalvez said  securing a highly competitive Grant from the NSF is an impressive feat. 

 “We are so proud to receive this Grant on behalf of TAMIU. It was a highly competitive grant mechanism as NSF is the gold standard for scientific research,”  Ynalvez noted. 

As a senior member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, Congressman Cuellar has secured $45 million in the 2020 final spending bill for the NSF and efforts to support Minority-Serving Institutions, a $5 million increase from 2019. In FY18 final spending bill, Congressman Cuellar secured language that authorized the NSF to coordinate and grant funding to Hispanic Serving Institutions for the first time. 

For additional information on TAMIU’s “Building Capacity:  An Undergraduate STEM-Enrichment Program in TX,” please contact Dr. San Miguel at csanmiguel@tamiu.edu or phone 326-2460. 

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