UWM receives $980,000 Shaw Scientist grant to increase diversity in sciences

MILWAUKEE – The Greater Milwaukee Foundation has given the UWM Foundation a $980,000 grant to increase diversity among faculty members and graduate students. This grant is designated for the benefit of the College of Letters & Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The five-year award, given through the Foundation’s Shaw Scientist Program, is named in honor of the late Dorothy Shaw, who left a bequest supporting research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the fields of biochemistry, biological science and cancer research after losing two sisters to cancer.

“This gift exemplifies the long-standing partnership between UWM and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation,” said UWM Chancellor Mark Mone. “We share a vision for engaging in activities that have broad community benefit. I am deeply grateful for their steadfast support of scholarships, research and teaching at UWM. Like our previous Shaw Scientist Awards, this grant will allow us to attract and retain promising faculty and graduate students who strengthen our research efforts, create new knowledge and solve societal issues.”

About half of this latest award — $500,000 — will be used to recruit and provide research funding for an associate professor in the Biological Sciences Department whose research focuses on neuroscience. UWM will be searching for someone early in their career with both an established research record and the potential to grow their research portfolio.

The remaining funds — $480,000 — will provide research stipends for doctoral students, who must complete research projects to earn their degrees. The $8,000-$10,000 yearly, renewable stipends will supplement UWM’s existing support for doctoral students and are expected to help four or five students per year.

“We are incredibly grateful for this gift, which will will benefit first-generation college students and students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in graduate biological sciences programs,” said Scott Gronert, dean of the College of Letters & Science.

The stipends will be available to students in all the biological and related sciences in the College of Letters & Science, but preference will be given to those studying neuroscience.

“Expanding opportunities matters, and this funding will help UWM recruit and support more graduate students of color, contributing to greater equity in the fields of health and science,” said Ellen Gilligan, Greater Milwaukee Foundation president and CEO. “What’s more, accelerating the research of promising junior faculty is attuned to Dorothy Shaw’s legacy as a champion for advancing biomedical research and launching careers for the next generation of brilliant minds. The Foundation is honored to continue our stewardship of Mrs. Shaw’s tremendous generosity.”

The recruitment of the new faculty member and the support for graduate students aligns with UWM’s plan for a new bachelor’s degree in neuroscience to start in Fall 2021. The program will focus on the nervous system and the resulting physical and behavioral thoughts and actions that impact living organisms. The area of study is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing on courses in biology, chemistry, biophysics and psychology to understand how the brain works and to address causes and therapeutics for malfunctions of the nervous system. The new program will create more courses in neuroscience, provide research opportunities for undergraduates in the field and enhance existing neuroscience research in the psychology and biological sciences departments.