Saint Mary’s College awarded National Science Foundation Grant, in collaboration with Notre Dame

April 4, 2019 (Notre Dame, Ind) — Saint Mary’s College is proud to announce that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Bettina Spencer, associate professor of psychological sciences, in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame, a grant to host a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site. The grant funds three years of computational social science research for 10 students nationwide, with four spots reserved for Saint Mary’s students this first summer.

For 10 weeks, students will receive training in statistical techniques and software. Students from underrepresented backgrounds have been prioritized, and this year a diverse pool of women, students of color, and first generation students have been selected. Participants will work with a faculty member at Saint Mary’s College or the University of Notre Dame to do their own individual research projects linked to the topic of the mentor’s work and have the opportunity to present their research at a symposium in July.

The award promotes the progress of social science discoveries through the application of advanced computational applications. This REU training environment will develop multidisciplinary social scientists with the appropriate expertise to solve problems of national interest such as personality analysis (psychology), interpersonal networks (sociology), family savings (economics) and interdisciplinary perspectives on equality and diversity.

“This grant supports the great social science research being conducted at Saint Mary’s,” Bettina Spencer, co-principal investigator of the grant, said. “This program takes what is unique about Saint Mary’s, the close faculty-student mentorship, and puts it on a national scale, for students from all over the country to have access to our exceptional education.”

Interim President Nancy Nekvasil is proud Saint Mary’s has received this funding. “Funding to establish an REU site provides an excellent opportunity for Saint Mary's students to participate in research that prepares them well for a career or graduate school,” Nekvasil said. “The training in problem solving, collaborative research, and statistical work provides a rich experience that truly characterizes a Saint Mary's education.”

The grant will have a broad impact on students’ professional development as social scientists. With the rapid growth of computational social science as an approach to analyzing the social world, the program is committed to supporting students from underrepresented groups. In addition to the research, the program will provide opportunities for students to develop professional connections with research peers and faculty.

About Saint Mary's College: Celebrating 175 years of empowering women to make a difference in the world, Saint Mary’s College is recognized as a pioneer in the education of women. A Catholic, liberal arts institution in Notre Dame, Indiana, the College offers more than 50 academic programs and also offers co-educational master’s degrees in data science, speech language pathology, autism studies, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Contact for News Media: Haleigh Ehmsen, Assistant Director of Integrated Communications, Saint Mary’s College, hehmsen@saintmarys.edu (574) 284-5343