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Robust 2016 Funding Fuels Spelman’s Rigorous Research, Programs, and Initiatives Focused on STEM Share a Spelman College Press Release

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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Joyce Davis
(404) 270-5871
Twitter: @spelmanmedia

STEM StudentsATLANTA (Jan. 4, 2017) – Through robust science, technology, engineering and math programs, faculty highly active in STEM research, outstanding undergraduate research outcomes and cutting edge internship opportunities, Spelman College continued to attract vigorous funding from the National Science Foundation, other notable funding organizations and the philanthropic community throughout 2016. 

As the highest ranked institution from which Black women science and engineering doctorate recipients earn bachelor's degrees, Spelman is an exceptionally strong training ground for women who go on to careers in which they lead and excel in the traditionally male-dominated fields of STEM. This excellence was reflected in the College’s ability to attract a broad range of funding, awards and recognitions during the year.

Spelman faculty have built and sustained a strong record of instilling intellectual excellence in Black women, while using the unique formula of a Spelman education – undergraduate research, global studies, creativity, leadership and sisterhood – to transform students into solution-oriented global change agents.

“Spelman is grounded in a rich history of developing generations of leaders who challenge – and change – cultural norms and biases that foster inequalities," said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman, who was recently named a 2016 White House "Champion of Change for College Opportunity."

 “Our growing role as an epicenter for the arts and innovation is now combining with our strength in STEM to sharpen our students’ academic experience and improve their career opportunities."


2016 awards and grants demonstrate the college’s national reputation for its impact in developing global change agents.

Spelman Among HBCUs Awarding Most Degrees in STEM 
Spelman is among the eight historically Black colleges and universities that awarded the most degrees in science and engineering from 2008 to 2012, according to a 2015 report by the National Science Foundation. The College also ranks No. 4 on the list recently published by the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions.


Spelman Chemist Receives $100,000 Apple HBCU Faculty Grant to Prepare Students for STEM Careers

Yassin JeilaniYassin Jeilani, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, was awarded a $100,000 faculty grant from Apple to enhance instruction and prepare talented science, technology, engineering and mathematics students for the workforce. The award will fund Dr. Jeilani’s project, “Transforming STEM Faculty Talent.”

Chemist and Interim Associate Provost Awarded $1.1 Million Grant to Study Students’ Metacognitive Skills in Chemistry

Leyte Winfield Leyte Winfield, Ph.D., associate professor, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and interim associate provost of research, was awarded a three-year, $1,166,831 grant to study students’ self-regulated engagement and metacognitive skillfulness in chemistry courses. In keeping with Spelman’s intentional focus on fostering a collaborative, results-oriented environment, Dr. Winfield will work with Lisa Hibbard, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry; Shannon Sung, Ph.D., assistant professor of education; and Suazette Mooring, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry at Georgia State University.

Chemistry Professor Receives $300,000 Grant to Advance Technique Invented at Spelman

Peter ChenPeter Chen, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and biochemistry, received a $319,451, four-year grant to work with student researchers in further developing and exploring the capabilities of a new laser spectroscopic technique recently invented at Spelman. The grant will fund his research project, “High Resolution Coherent 3D Spectroscopy.”

Professor Awarded $399,000 Grant to Train Faculty in Data Science

Brandeis MarshallBrandeis Marshall, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of Computer and Information Sciences, was awarded a $399,903 grant to provide data science training to faculty at Spelman and Morehouse colleges.  Participating faculty will develop and implement the data science curriculum at the undergraduate level, boosting awareness of data science in underrepresented minorities.  


Foundations and organizations recognize Spelman’s commitment to preparing Black women to become global leaders through educational and intellectual excellence.


Spelman to Use $1.25 Million Grant to Improve Career Outcomes of Graduates
Spelman College has received a $1.25 million UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative implementation grant to increase the number of students who transition to meaningful jobs in their chosen fields after graduation. Spelman is one of 24 institutions that will benefit from this transformative effort to design and implement programs to improve the employment outcomes of graduates.


White House Initiative Names Two Spelman Students 2016 HBCU All-Stars
Ashley Reid, C’2017, and Brianna Fugate, C’2018, have been named 2016 HBCU All-Stars by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Reid and Fugate were recognized by the Initiative for their achievements in academics, leadership and civic engagement. Students will use the experience from serving as ambassadors for one year to advance academic excellence at their respective schools. 


Spelman Students Win First Place in Nielsen Case Study Competition
Four Spelman students placed first in Nielsen’s annual case study competition, during which the students focused on how the company uses data and insights to provide its clients with solutions to some today’s biggest business challenges.


Spelman women are at the center of innovation and the arts. The College has a well-documented, deep history in the arts and under the leadership of President Campbell, a nationally recognized leader in the arts, the College is increasing its focus on integrating the arts and innovation as critical elements in the student academic experience and career outcomes. This focus comes via the Arts@Spelman initiative and the forthcoming arts & innovation center.
NEH Awards $100,000 Access Challenge Grant
The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art Internship Program will receive support to expand, formalize, and pursue sustainability through a $100,000 Access Challenge Grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant – which marks the first NEH grant that Spelman has received in several years, coupled with the recent launch of the Curatorial Studies Program – will play an instrumental role in creating a pipeline of future museum leaders. Over time, the program will help increase the diversity of the field. 

NEH Awards $6,000 Preservation Assistance Grant
The NEH has approved for funding "Documenting Our Stories: Preserving the Archival Collections of Spelman College." The $6,000 grant was awarded to the Spelman College Archives to support a consultant providing a preservation assessment of the archival collections, which will inform preservation priorities and other critical conservation projects for the Archives.

The Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program Selects Spelman Student
Kéla Jackson, C'2019, an Ethel Waddell Githii Honors Program student and art history major, has been selected as a 2016-2018 Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellow at Atlanta's High Museum of Art, the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. She is one of 10 students from across the country selected for the third class of Mellon curatorial fellows at five partnering U.S. museums. The program supports Spelman's goal to help close the national diversity gap in the arts. 


Spelman’s reputation for academic, intellectual and educational excellence is nationally recognized by several prestigious rankings.

Spelman Recognized as No. 1 HBCU for 10th Straight Year, Among Top Women’s Colleges, Green Schools 
Spelman has been recognized as the top historically Black college and university in the country for 10 consecutive years and is listed among the top 100 national liberal arts colleges, according to the recently released “Best Colleges” rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

Sierra Magazine
Spelman has been named among the greenest schools in the nation, according to Sierra Magazine. It is one of three Georgia schools noted for its sustainability efforts.

The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education
Spelman is ranked in the top 10 percent of colleges in the nation for student engagement, student outcomes and learning environments.

Peace Corps’ Volunteers for 2016
Spelman was named No. 2 on the Peace Corps’ 2016 list of Top Volunteer-Producing Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Spelman is ranked in the top 10 Best Colleges for women by the website.  The listing cited the National Science Foundation’s recognition of Spelman and its role as one of the top schools graduating Black women who pursue doctoral degrees in the sciences.


Spelman sends more students of color to participate in undergraduate study abroad programs conducting high-level research than any other school in the country. The college has made having a curricular or co-curricular international experience a requirement for every student.

Top 40 Colleges With the Most Study Abroad Students
Spelman is ranked among the nation’s top 40 baccalaureate colleges with the highest number of students studying abroad. According to a 2014-2015 Open Doors report recently released by the Institute of International Education, Spelman is 29th in the rankings and the only historically Black college or university to make the top 40 list of baccalaureate colleges.

Gilman Scholars
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program aims to support students who have been traditionally underrepresented in study abroad. Spelman’s Gilman Scholars are:

•Dyamon Ashby, C'2018 -- $3,000 for South Africa
•Janeal A. Hightower Fordham, C'2018 -- $4,000 for Morocco
• Krystol Sanders, C'2018 -- $4,000 for Spain
• Erin Sawyer, C'2018 -- $8,000 for Japan

Alternates are Bria Hardin-Boyer, C'2018, for Dominican Republic and Amber Cowan, C'2018, for England.

UNCF Towles Scholars
The Joseph A. Towles Scholarship allows students to receive academic experience and exposure within African cultures by providing financial assistance for them to study at an established university within the continent of Africa. Spelman's UNCF Joseph A. Towles African Study Abroad Scholars are:

Betanya Mahary, C'2018 -- Tunisia, $5000
Janeal A. Hightower Fordham, C'2018 -- Morocco, $10,000
Dyamon Ashby, C'2018 -- South Africa, $10,000
Sakinat Godje, C'2018 -- Morocco, $10,000 

Spelman anticipates continuing to attract support from leading institutions and foundations in 2017 that recognize its success in fostering strategic partnerships that afford the opportunity to advance research, programming, and initiatives.

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a highly selective, liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman; Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer, Broadway producer Alia Jones, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, Harvard professor Evelynn Hammonds, author Pearl Cleage and actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For more information, visit  


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