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January 4, 2017 media

Press Release: Nevada EPSCoR Launches STEM Mentor Network

Group photo of Nevada STEM Mentors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Lori Brazfield
Nevada System of Higher Education
702.522.7080

Nevada EPSCoR Launches STEM Mentor Network

New online resource provides access to Nevada’s finest mentors and premier research projects

Las Vegas, Nevada, January 4, 2017 – Nevada students in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields will now have improved access to experienced research mentors thanks to a new online resource launched by the state’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) office. The Nevada STEM Mentor Network (https://stemmentor.epscorspo.nevada.edu/) provides an extensive searchable database of faculty research mentors together with access to research opportunities and partnerships in STEM via a single interactive, user-friendly website.

“With this website the intent is to engage students further in STEM research opportunities and ultimately help build the STEM workforce in Nevada,” says Michele Casella, the Education, Outreach and Diversity Administrator for the Nevada System of Higher Education Sponsored Programs & EPSCoR Office.

Already the system provides access to more than a hundred mentor profiles, a number that is soon to grow to nearly two hundred. Students are able to search this statewide database for mentors by county, institution, discipline or a variety of other terms. For each mentor they find, the students will be able to view details about the researcher’s background, expertise, mentoring experience, academic history and find out how to contact them through various modes including their social media sites.

“I knew an interactive website could really help the students get to know a mentor before meeting them,” says Casella, who has steered the project to improve on the previous flat-formatted database. “We really wanted them to feel more confident and comfortable in reaching out as they take the journey through a mentoring relationship.”

The network also aims to serve the STEM faculty in Nevada. In the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) many researchers are already active as mentors. Now these mentors can easily submit their profile and any current opportunities they have in STEM research. The researchers can also use the resource to connect with other members of the NSHE to share research opportunities and collaborations.

“We’re committed to connecting students and faculty to research opportunities statewide,” Casella says. “So what I wanted was a one stop place that was engaging and helpful that could be viewed as a resource not only by the students, but by the faculty themselves.”

Casella hopes that the network will help break down any barriers that exist in some student’s minds about investigating a STEM career, as it will help students gain real hands-on experience in a STEM field. “I think such opportunities will diversify our STEM workforce bringing in more people,” Casella says. “Hopefully it will help to bridge some of the breaks in the STEM pipeline.”

The network also aims to be a site of inspiration for future mentees by highlighting currently mentored students on the website. There will also be profiles and videos of the researchers that mentor the students.

“We value the time and the dedication that it takes for a faculty member to mentor a student and we want to provide recognition of that effort,” Casella says. “Having that information on the website is just a nice way to say thank you to those that are working hard in STEM in Nevada.”

The Nevada STEM Mentor Network has been developed, tested and is now fully functional and available for use by students, faculty and prospective mentors.

“Creating successful role models in STEM fields can have a tremendous impact on students,” said John V. White, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. “Matching students with faculty mentors will increase student success, confidence, and persistence in these important fields. The STEM Mentor Network is an outstanding statewide resource for students at all NSHE institutions.”

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIA-1301726

About The Nevada Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)

The goal of Nevada EPSCoR is to support collaborative research partnerships between higher education institutions and private industries to create long-term improvements in scientific research and infrastructures, strengthening our research and development capacity in Nevada and at a national level. Nevada EPSCoR programs enhance graduate education, stimulate undergraduate student research, and promote the involvement of women and underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. For more information on Nevada EPSCoR please visit: https://epscorspo.nevada.edu

About The Nevada System of Higher Education

The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) — comprised of two doctoral-granting universities, a state college, four comprehensive community colleges and one environmental research institute — serves the educational and job training needs of Nevada. NSHE provides educational opportunities to more than 107,400 students and is governed by the Nevada Board of Regents.

For more information about the NEXUS project, visit: https://solarnexus.epscorspo.nevada.edu/media/

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