Grant allows Fairmont State to immerse first-generation students in STEM

Fairmont State University’s College of Science and Technology has received an almost $25,000 grant from the First2 Network along with an addition $5,000 match from Chemours Washington Works and Fairmont State University. 

“This grant will provide a unique opportunity for 12 incoming first-generation freshmen to be immersed in STEM research, in hopes that it will improve student success upon entering college,” Dr. Mark Flood, professor of Biology and Forensic Science, said. “It is our hope that we can help first-generation students, ones who might not have support from their families into what goes on in college, become more comfortable with STEM research.” 

Professors Matt Scanlon, Kristy Henson, and Flood will be assisted by three current undergraduate mentor students to work with the incoming freshmen interns on research projects at Fairmont State and Chemours Washington Works plant near Parkersburg, W.Va.

The freshmen interns will get the experience with chemistry and science faculty in addition to interacting with current Fairmont State STEM mentors. All expenses will be paid for by the First2 Grant, however the experience will be one they will truly never forget, Flood said. 

“We believe our First2 experience is more unique because of the wide variety of research projects that we can offer our interns,” Flood said. “We also believe our success will show in terms of students who have this experience will complete their STEM degrees as a result of their research experiences before they start college, as well doing research while in college.”

Student interns will be learning about and conducting various lab protocols and will be required to undergo safety training conducted by the faculty. All interns and First2 mentors will be provided and required to wear safety glasses, nitrile gloves, and lab aprons. They will also be required to dress appropriately for the lab.

Interns will keep detailed lab notes in a lab notebook that contains carbonless duplicate pages.  The duplicate pages will be collected each day and they will receive feedback the next day. At the end of their immersive experience they will be able keep their notebooks.

“We feel like the connection with an industry partner like Chemours Washington Works will give our interns a unique experience this summer. Students will have access to several types of equipment that are not available on our campus, and get feedback from industry sources on their cover letters and resumes,” Flood said. “Thus, the students will not only get exposure to academia, but also see what types of industry jobs are available for STEM majors after obtaining their undergraduate degree.”

First2 aims at improving the college enrollment rate and success of undergraduate STEM students, with emphasis on rural first-generation students through their first two years of college. 

More information about First2 can be found by visiting

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