UW-River Falls Receives NSF Grant to Increase Graduates in STEM Fields

September 16, 2013--The University of Wisconsin-River Falls has received an $884,999 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The program funded by the grant, The GREAT (Graduate-Retain-Engage-Advise-Teach) Falcon Project, seeks to increase by 30 percent the number of UW-River Falls students graduating in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields of biology, biotechnology, broad field science, chemistry, environmental science, geology, mathematics, and physics. 

The activities proposed by The Great Falcon Project – active learning, peer-led team learning, and proactive advising – have been shown to increase student engagement and overall success. 

"This award from the NSF acknowledges and enhances UWRF's already exceptional math and sciences programs," said Brad Caskey, dean of the UWRF College of Arts and Sciences. "UWRF students will see their classroom and laboratory experiences change to interactive, flexible, and student centered learning, including our new high technology Active Learning Classroom." 

UW-River Falls has historically strong programs in chemistry, physics, education, and the agricultural sciences. Compared with 261 other public comprehensive institutions nationally from 1976 to 2006, UWRF ranks fifth in sending students on to receive a Ph.D. in agricultural sciences, ninth in physics, and twelfth in Chemistry. STEM related corporations such as 3M and Medtronic serve as major employers of UWRF graduates.   

The Great Falcon Project will directly impact 900 students per year enrolled in STEM programs, and lead to an additional 40 graduates per year in the STEM fields. The project impacts an additional 1,200 students in the agricultural sciences at UWRF through introduction of student-centered active learning pedagogies. The project will also improve K-12 STEM education through modeling best practices to STEM education students. 

Michael Kahlow, professor of chemistry at UWRF, serves as the principal investigator for the grant. Caskey and Jamie Schneider, assistant professor of chemistry at UWRF, serve as co-principal investigators. 

"We are very excited about the positive impact these funds will have on our ability to retain and graduate outstanding students for years to come," said Caskey. 

For more information, contact Kahlow at 715-425-3339 or

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