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From Lack of Time to Stigma: Barriers Facing Faculty at Minority-Serving Institutions Pursuing Federally Funded Research

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Faculty Development Division Poster Session

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Faculty Development Division

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Paper Authors

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Rocio C. Chavela Guerra American Society for Engineering Education


Carolyn Wilson Southeastern Universities Research Association Orcid 16x16

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Carolyn Wilson is the Special Projects Manager for the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA). Before moving into scientific contract management work, she has focused her research on the changing dynamics of the STEM workforce, as well as the postsecondary education and development of the future STEM workforce. Prior to SURA, Carolyn worked as a Senior Research Associate for the American Society for Engineering Education, as a Research Analyst for the American Geosciences Institute, and as a Science Assistant for the National Science Foundation. Carolyn holds a MS degree in Oceanography from Texas A&M University.

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Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) in higher education serve a high proportion of students from underrepresented minority groups, particularly within STEM fields. Increased research funding awarded to faculty within MSIs would bring in new research perspectives, as well as help to diversify the science and engineering workforce. Federal funding agencies, like the National Science Foundation (NSF), have recognized the need to diversify their funding portfolios to increase the engagement of under-participating institutions, including MSIs. With this in mind, a conference was held in February 2020, funded by NSF, with the goal to increase the number and competitiveness of proposals from MSI faculty to core programs within NSF’s Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). While informative, the conference, along with the pre-conference survey sent to all participants, revealed multiple challenges and barriers MSI faculty face as they attempt to secure and conduct research funding.

Based on the responses from over 90 conference attendees representing MSI across the U.S., this paper presents a discussion of the various barriers to securing research funding from federal sources, experienced by faculty at MSIs. Many of these challenges surround issues related to a lack of time and experience for writing federal research grants. MSI faculty tend to have larger teaching loads leaving very little time to research funding opportunities, write proposals, and conduct funded research. Many of these institutions also do not have the infrastructure in place to support faculty as they write grant proposals or help with the administration of funded projects. MSI faculty that do secure funding tend to be part of a large research collaboration with their contribution focused within the broader impacts of the project. MSI faculty want training on best practices for developing competitive proposals and developing stronger collaborations and partnerships.

This discussion on challenges and barriers facing MSI faculty as they pursue federal research grants will include recommendations to mitigate these challenges and suggestions for MSI academic leaders to support their faculty as they pursue research funding opportunities.

Chavela Guerra, R. C., & Wilson, C. (2021, July), From Lack of Time to Stigma: Barriers Facing Faculty at Minority-Serving Institutions Pursuing Federally Funded Research Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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