Award Information

ADVANCE Adaptation: Enabling Minorities’ Prime Outcomes with Education & Research (EMPOWER) at Florida Atlantic University 

Initial Amendment Date: July 6, 2022

Award Number:  2204462

Award Instrument: Standard Grant

Program Manager: Keri Sather-Wagstaff, EES Div. of Equity for Excellence in STEM, EDU Directorate for STEM Education

Start Date: September 1, 2022

End Date: August 31, 2025 (Estimated)

Awarded Amount to Date: $ 999,853.00

Investigator(s):  Alka Sapat (Principal Investigator), Chad Forbes (Co-Principal Investigator), Evonne Rezler (Co-Principal Investigator), Karin Scarpinato (Co-Principal Investigator), Russell Ivy (Co-Principal Investigator)

Sponsor: Florida Atlantic University 777 GLADES RD BOCA RATON, FL 33431-6424 (561)297-0777

NSF Program(s): ADVANCE, HIS-Hispanic Serving Institution

Program Reference Code(s): 7650, 8209, 9178

Program Element Code(s):  016Y, 077Y


The absence of an inclusive and diverse STEM faculty significantly hurts the education of a STEM workforce by the lack of role models to help educate the diverse group of students at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). Demographically unrepresentative science can also negatively impact and neglect research in areas that communities and societies need. Prior NSF ADVANCE CATALYST funding provided significant knowledge and initiated changes in the hiring processes. However, inclusive support for underrepresented and intersectional minorities in hiring, retention, and promotion will make a significant difference in the institutional landscape and culture. An NSF ADVANCE adaptation award will allow Florida Atlantic University to undertake new initiatives, build on current policies and data collection activities, and transform FAU into an equitable, inclusive, and diverse place of academic teaching and research. This project will seek to advance: (1) self-sustaining interventions for diverse hiring; (2) transparent and equitable policies, (3) information through a longitudinal demographic data dashboard of faculty; and (4) strategic communications. These interventions will focus on inclusive support for gender diversity and intersectional minorities (most visibly, Latina and African American women) in hiring, retention, and promotion. The process will adapt evidence-based practices and innovations from sister ADVANCE institutions. To aid institutional integration and long-term sustainability, the project team will prioritize practices that will be bootstrapped with ADVANCE support and synergized with ongoing efforts and existing institutional infrastructures for diversity. 

The specific aims of the project are to 1) generate evidence-based research to scan and identify inequitable policies, the relationships that they entertain with each other, and their change over time; 2) develop a reproducible and transferrable process for building a policy database (with a website portal consisting of two key sections- an open-access section that allows for policy transparency and a secured section for internal use aimed at flagging inequity); and (3) a scalable longitudinal faculty dashboard to collect long-term trends in equity. The project will focus the competencies on Complex Systems and Data Science to identify interconnected factors that influence systemic change. This will be done with adaptive analytic approaches that are capable of processing large numbers of variables that dynamically interact on multiple levels over time. The successful implementation of this project for institutional change aims to achieve a more representative and participatory STEM faculty and accelerate institutional competitiveness in education and research. The crucial outcome of this transformation will be the mitigation of STEM workforce shortages with implications for local industries (in particular biotechnologies, aerospace, health, aging, agriculture, international trade, marine environment, information technology and security, and financial services). 

This project was supported by a co-funding from the HSI Program. The HSI program aims to enhance undergraduate STEM education, broaden participation in STEM, and build capacity at HSIs. Achieving these aims, given the diverse nature and context of the HSIs, requires innovative approaches that incentivize institutional and community transformation and promote fundamental research (i) on engaged student learning, (ii) about what it takes to diversify and increase participation in STEM effectively, and (iii) that improves our understanding of how to build institutional capacity at HSIs. 

The NSF ADVANCE program is designed to foster gender equity through a focus on the identification and elimination of organizational barriers that impede the full participation and advancement of diverse faculty in academic institutions. Organizational barriers that inhibit equity may exist in policies, processes, practices, and the organizational culture and climate. ADVANCE "Adaptation" awards provide support for the adaptation and adoption of evidence-based strategies to the academic, non-profit institutions of higher education as well as non-academic, non-profit organizations. 

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria. 

To learn more about FAU's prior NSF ADVANCE IT-CATALYST award click here.