June 29, 2021
Wheaton College was recently awarded nearly $192,000 from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and Scholarship & Christianity in Oxford (SCIO).
Launching a podcast, starting a science club for students, spearheading diversity training for professors, and sending three faculty members away for research are just some of the activities Wheaton College has planned with the nearly $192,000 in funding it received from CCCU and SCIO as part of a grant titled Supporting Structures: Innovative Collaborations to Enhance STEM Research at CCCU Member Institutions.
“It’s really the gift that keeps giving,” said Dean of Natural Sciences Dr. Becky Eggimann, who is administering the grant on behalf of the College.
In late 2020, CCCU and SCIO received a $2.1 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to launch a new grant program, Supporting Structures: Innovative Collaborations to Enhance STEM Research at CCCU Member Institutions. CCCU-member schools were then invited to apply for funding, which Dr. Eggimann did, also submitting a detailed plan on how the funds would be used.
“The grant enhances stem education on CCCU campuses by providing these ‘structures’ that support faculty and student research,” she said.
One of those structures is paid research leaves for Wheaton faculty. Three junior faculty members—professors who haven’t yet received tenure—receive funding to take a semester off from teaching and pursue their research at an R1 institution.
During the next three years, Assistant Professor of Geology Dr. Kathryn Maneiro will collaborate with researchers at Boston College and the University of South Carolina; Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry Dr. Allison Dick will collaborate with a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Assistant Professor of Physics Dr. Jim Schroeder will collaborate with a researcher at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.
“This enables them to go and spend a semester in an R1 research lab doing work that is interesting to them and also interesting to their collaborative partner,” Eggimann said. “It’s also an opportunity for them to launch their research program at Wheaton and to establish a partnership that can be enduring.”
With the funding, these faculty members will also participate in regular conversations moderated by SCIO, as well as spend a week in Oxford, England at a seminar tackling the intersection of science, religion, and society.
In addition, the Supporting Structures grant gives the Division of Natural Sciences at Wheaton College the money to start a Science and Faith podcast, a student chapter of the American Scientific Affiliation, a diversity training seminar for Wheaton’s science faculty, and hire Wheaton students to help with research.
“This is a great win for the natural sciences at Wheaton,” Dr. Eggimann said. “Funds from the Supporting Structures grant will help launch the research trajectories of three of our junior faculty and amplify Wheaton's voice on issues at the interface of science, Christian faith, and society."