University of Rochester

University of Rochester Wins $2.5 Million Graduate Assistance Grant

May 11, 2006

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded four University of Rochester departments a total of $2.7 million to support graduate research and teaching over the next three years. The Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) grant provides fellowships, through academic departments to assist graduate students with excellent records who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue the highest degree available in a field designated as an area of national need. At the University, the departments of chemistry, nursing, optics, and physics were identified as high-need disciplines.

The Department of Chemistry was awarded $760,000 to establish six graduate fellowships in order to increase the number of doctoral recipients in chemistry who intend to pursue teaching and research careers. These fellows will participate in all aspects of the traditional graduate experience in chemistry as well as a new program of supervised teaching and research, including an innovative graduate seminar that addresses topics important to the professional development of graduate students. These topics include how to teach effectively, how to read scientific literature critically, and how to communicate aspects of research effectively.

The University of Rochester School of Nursing, one of the first nursing schools to receive a GAANN grant, also is set to obtain $760,000 over the next three years. The school will use the award to increase the number of University faculty with doctoral degrees in nursing by facilitating full-time study and timely program completion. Up to four fellowships will be awarded in in the 2006-2007 school year. If funding is renewed, two new fellowships will be awarded in 2007-2008 and two more in 2008-2009.

"There is an acute nursing faculty shortage, and producing more Ph.D.s in nursing at a faster rate to join the ranks of faculty is an important goal nationally," said Margaret H. Kearney, director of Ph.D. and M.S./Ph.D. programs at the school.

Because the grant is designed to prepare faculty, recipients will take courses on curriculum and course design and participate in a teaching seminar while serving as teaching assistants. Recipients are expected to complete dissertation proposal defenses by within three and a half years of enrollment and complete the doctorate in five years or less.

The Institute of Optics was awarded $381,000 over three years to support three new optics doctoral students. The Institute of Optics, which is the oldest degree-granting optics department in the nation, is one of the world's leading centers of optics research.

"Optics is a major focus of national need," says Gary Wicks, associate director of the Institute of Optics. "We're one of the primary optics programs in the country, so there's a terrific demand for our optics graduates. It's very rare for one of our doctoral students to graduate without a job already lined up."

The Department of Physics and Astronomy will receive $633,000 for the next three years and will support five GAANN fellowships each year.

The GAANN areas of national need also include biology, computer and information sciences, engineering, geological and related sciences, and mathematics. The award consists of a stipend of up to $30,000 per year, plus partial tuition support of about $12,000.