UofL wins grant to improve STEM equity


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to the University of Louisville to improve faculty equity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.  

    The grant will be used for a three-year campus-wide initiative called Advancement Through Healthy Empowerment, Networking, and Awareness (ATHENA), to help promote success for women faculty in STEM fields.

    “This grant will help the University of Louisville meet its strategic goal of promoting equity for all faculty,” said UofL President Neeli Bendapudi. “The STEM fields play such a critical role in the future of our commonwealth. We must ensure that our female faculty have every opportunity to progress in their careers so they can inspire the next generation of leaders and innovators.”

    ATHENA is a broad initiative supported by the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, School of Medicine, Vice Provost Office for Faculty Affairs, Human Resources, the Office of Diversity & Equity and others. Together, they will implement five key interventions: 

      • Changing search, recruitment and hiring practices to increase diversity and excellence; 
      • Creating a faculty mentoring program with an emphasis on improving opportunities for mid-career promotion;
      • Establishing a program to support the career progress of faculty experiencing major life events;
      • Implementing data collection to support evaluation and monitoring efforts; 
      • Educating faculty about gender and ethnicity biases that affect the advancement of women in STEM disciplines through theatre-based workshops.

    “The hope is that these interventions will help, not only women faculty in STEM, but everyone to grow, advance and succeed,” said Olfa Nasraoui, associate professor in the computer science and computer engineering department and principal investigator on the grant. “We have people working on diverse subjects related to equity research all across campus. ATHENA brings them together.”

    ATHENA is funded by NSF’s ADVANCE program. UofL is one of only two schools in Kentucky to be awarded under this program.

    For more information, contact Nasraoui at olfa.nasraoui@louisville.edu.


    Janet Cappiello covers student success for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, including working for The Associated Press and magazines such as Vegetarian Times and Sustainability: The Journal of Record. She has been at UofL since 2014.