URI professor receives $1.1M federal grant to develop new URI ESTEEMED program

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – A University of Rhode Island professor was recently awarded a seven-figure federal grant to help students from underrepresented groups pursue their respective educations in bioengineering and bioscience research programs.

URI recently announced that Samantha Meenach received a four-year, $1.1 million National Institutes of Health grant to establish the URI Enhancing Science, Technology, EnginEering, and Math Educational Diversity program, also known as “URI ESTEEMED”.

Meenach, the university’s Victor Baxt Endowed Professor who holds a dual appointment in chemical engineering and pharmacy, said in a statement students could enroll in multiple majors at URI as long as the programs have a connection to treating diseases. Such majors students can consider in URI ESTEEMED include biomedical engineering, pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, cell and molecular biology, chemistry and physics, URI said.

Plus, the program will provide significant stipends. First-year students will get $10,000 stipends and sophomores will receive $12,000 stipends, URI said. Five students are in the program for the upcoming academic, URI said, and the goal is to enroll up to 10 URI students each year.

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“The focus of this program is to reach students earlier, to get them interested and involved in science so by the time they reach their junior and senior years they are properly equipped and able to begin conducting their own research,” Meenach said. “Ultimately, the goal is to have them enroll and succeed in doctoral programs.”

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.