National Science Foundation Awards a Nearly $1 Million Grant to Minnesota State Mankato for New Program in Biology


February 13, 2018 | Announcement

Mankato Free Press coverage

Mankato, Minn. – Four faculty members in Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Department of Biological Sciences along with a University dean have been awarded a National Science Foundation S-STEM program grant in the amount of $999,963 to establish and implement a new program in biology.

The new program—the Research Immersive Scholastic Experience in Biology—is referred to as “RISEbio,” and $600,000 of the grant is for student scholarships.

The program is aimed at incoming freshmen who demonstrate academic ability and financial need. Eighty incoming RISEbio scholars (20 per year for four years) will each be awarded $2,500 for their first three semesters ($7,500 total per individual).

Students selected for the program will become part of a unique experience that integrates learning community structure with an immersive research experience.

In their first semester, scholars will take a RISEbio-specific research methods class. In their second semester, scholars join one of two research streams and begin to contribute to a genuine research project that continues into their third semester. One stream addresses questions centered around understanding how the brain controls behavior, while the other investigates questions centered around cancer and immunity.

Following two semesters of stream research, a subset of scholars will be selected to mentor incoming RISEbio students, creating a sustainable and vertical mentorship model, said Minnesota State Mankato faculty member David Sharlin, an associate professor in the University’s Department of Biological Sciences and the University’s RISEbio coordinator.

Sharlin said the overarching importance of RISEbio is to enhance first-time pass rates for core courses, improve retention and increase four-year and five-year graduation rates for low-income, academically motivated students.

“The overlapping and integrated nature of the RISEbio objectives provide a catalyst for developing work-force driven professional and technical skills that will ultimately improve student marketability for post-baccalaureate employment and graduate school,” said Sharlin.

The first scholarships will be awarded for students beginning classes in the fall 2018 semester. Prospective freshmen may apply now at The priority application deadline is April 1, with a final application deadline of Aug. 1. Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis, so students are advised to apply early.

In addition to Sharlin, faculty members awarded the grant include Associate Professors Rachel Cohen and Brittany Smith and Assistant Professor Allison Land, as well as Brian Martensen, dean of the College of Science, Engineering & Technology.

For more information, please contact Associate Professor David Sharlin by phone at 507-389-1085 or by email at

Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Department of Biological Sciences is part of the University’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 14,712 students, is part of the Minnesota State system, which includes 30 colleges and seven universities.


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