Siena Heights University (SHU) was recently awarded a six-year federal grant totaling $1.5 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support low-income STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students. SHU is the only private institution in Michigan to receive this NSF grant in 2022, and the award is the largest academic grant in university history.

The grant will fund SHU’s SHAPE STEM program, which will provide scholarships to full-time undergraduate students who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in biology, chemistry, environmental science, environmental engineering, general engineering, cybersecurity, data analytics, and mathematics. First-year students will receive up to four-years of scholarship support.

“We are extremely pleased to receive this grant and would like to thank all who were involved in this process,” said SHU President Sister Peg Albert, OP, Ph.D. “To be the only private institution in Michigan to receive this grant in 2022 is quite an honor. We look forward to implementing this grant and educating future leaders in the STEM field. And we are excited to show what impact the ‘Siena Effect’ can have on these students.”

The project aims to increase student persistence in STEM fields by linking scholarships with a holistic approach that uniquely integrates a four-year comprehensive research experience and positive psychology practices with other STEM supports to reduce stress and improve emotional wellbeing. The project intends to improve students’ STEM identity and exposure to career paths by providing access to STEM professionals through alumni mentorships, internships, and career panels.

SHAPE STEM will address the national need for well-educated scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technicians by supporting the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students with demonstrated financial need.

SHAPE STEM will attract students with interests in addressing environmental problems. “This NSF support will help SHU recruit and educate students who will be able to address environmental challenges related to sustainable food production, drinking water, soil chemistry, air quality, clean energy, resilient infrastructure, chemical recycling, biodiversity and other ecological concerns that impact our social well-being and national security,” said Dr. Jun Tsuji, who is the principal investigator on the faculty grant team.

Co-principal investigators include Dr. Heather Moody, Dr. Steven Wathen, Dr. Patricia Rousselo, and Melissa Tsuji who will lead the student research experiences, positive psychology practices, and career development opportunities.

The project has the potential to produce diverse STEM graduates who can contribute to workforce needs and apply their knowledge of environmental stewardship in their occupations to help address environmental problems that disproportionately impact low-income communities.

SHAPE STEM builds on the successes of a prior grant awarded to SHU in 2018. The project will begin this month.

For more information about the grant or about Siena Heights University, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at