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Georgia Southern Professor tapped for national project to foster retention and advancement of diverse STEM faculty

Sarah Zingales
Sarah Zingales

Georgia Southern Associate Professor Sarah Zingales, Ph.D., has been named a National Science Foundation (NSF) ASCEND Faculty Fellow as part of a $1 million grant to support mid-career women faculty members in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“It is a great honor to be chosen as a participant for this project,” Zingales said. “One of the major focuses of this grant is to help close the achievement gap for women in STEM by helping mid-career women in STEM faculty persist and become promoted to full professor or obtain leadership positions in academic administration.”

The NSF project  — Advancing STEM Careers by Empowering Network Development (ASCEND)  — is a collaborative initiative that involves nine project leaders, 60 faculty participants and 15 administrator participants from colleges and universities across the Southeast, Northwest and Midwest. The leadership team comes from various universities including Willamette University, Gonzaga University, Claflin University, Furman University and The Citadel.

“The women in this alliance will receive mentorship and support to achieve our goals for furthering our careers,” said Zingales. “We will also give feedback about barriers to our success and help administrators in the leadership team come up with institutional solutions for how to close this achievement gap.”

Zingales has been a faculty member on the Armstrong Campus since 2013. She teaches organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry and she is active in organizations that mentor women in STEM. She is a founding member of the Alliance for Women in STEM on the Armstrong Campus, which has expanded to the Statesboro Campus.

“Having a diverse faculty is very important for recruiting and retaining STEM students,” she said. “Representation allows for students to see themselves in that discipline or career.”

The NSF grant supporting the fellowship project will run for the next four years. Zingales will participate in monthly virtual meetings of the Southeastern regional alliance and attend an annual in-person conference.

“I will also be taking surveys as part of the evaluation process to measure the efficacy of the program and giving feedback,” Zingales said. “I hope that the solutions that are devised through this diverse collaboration will be broadly applicable and things that I can bring back to the department and the University to help other women in STEM across our campuses.”

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 26,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

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