Merrimack College Awarded NSF Grant for MACHS Scholars Program

Merrimack secures NSF grant for new STEM program to support high-achieving, low-income students.

Merrimack College is pleased to announce that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the College a $999,523, five-year grant to support the Merrimack Achieves Collegiate Holistic Support Scholars (MACHS Scholars) program.

Led by Principal Investigator Dr. Rickey Caldwell, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, the program is designed to help high-achieving, low-income students with unmet financial needs obtain the education and skills necessary to launch a fulfilling career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). In addition to providing financial scholarships, the grant will empower students by funding a variety of wraparound support services, including faculty mentorships, focused workshops, research opportunities, and mental health resources.

“This award underscores Merrimack College’s dedication to its founding values of teaching, learning and serving – which includes equality, education and discovery for all,” said president Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D. “This program will create an opportunity for deserving and talented low income students to advance their STEM education and become the next generation of problem solvers. We are grateful for the support of the National Science Foundation and are excited for those students who will be supported by this program.”

“We don’t only want to give deserving students the opportunity to come to college; we want to provide the holistic support they need to thrive once they’re here,” Dr. Caldwell said. “Through our program, students will gain the tools they need to be successful after graduation, in whatever area they choose.”

Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the program, a number of cross-departmental collaborators join Dr. Caldwell as Co-Principal Investigators, including Dr. Gwyne White (Psychology), Dr. Brandi Baldock (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Dr. William McDowell (Biology), Dr. Russell Olwell (Education and Social Policy), and Dr. Julia St. Goar (Mathematics). In addition to serving as mentors, the team will study how MACHS Scholars program interventions affect student outcomes. Research findings will provide valuable insights for building a robust STEM talent pipeline — both at Merrimack and at other universities across the nation.

The NSF grant will fund 20 MACHS Scholars participants — who will be divided into three cohorts — over the course of five years. Merrimack plans to welcome the first cohort of seven high-achieving students to campus in fall 2021.

“There are many talented students who want to study science and engineering, but don’t come to Merrimack due to finances or other barriers,” said Dr. Olwell, associate dean of Merrimack’s School of Education and Social Policy. “The MACHS Scholar program will allow us to tap into a group of deserving, capable students who will be positioned to make significant STEM contributions.”


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