Skip to main content
Climate and Diversity

Climate and Diversity Seed Grant Program


The Eberly College of Science Climate and Diversity Seed Grant program was created in 2021 with support of the Dean. Its purpose is to promote diversity and inclusion activities within the college, inspire departmental climate and diversity committees to take positive action, and encourage collaboration across units. The seed grants are intended to fund events or projects with a specific goal of enhancing the climate and diversity in the unit. Projects may include (but are not limited to) speakers, workshops, events, art, and food to support participation. These awards aim to allow us to celebrate the diversity of our College while promoting a more inclusive culture.


Application and Award Process

Complete the online application during the call for proposal dates. The Awards Selection Committee of the College’s Climate and Diversity Committee will review the proposals and select awardees for the Climate and Diversity Seed Grant Program.


Seed Grant Criteria

To submit a proposal, you must:

  1. work in direct collaboration with the department climate and diversity committee;
  2. the department climate and diversity committee must submit the proposal or have approved all content in the proposal prior to submission;
  3. you must concisely state a goal to promote diversity and inclusion (not a purely social event) to receive a full review


Proposals will be prioritized for funding if they include:

  • Collaboration between groups, including between climate and diversity committees from different departments, student organizations, or between departmental and college climate and diversity committees.
  • Budget under $1000.
  • Co-funding by departments.
  • A timeline to complete the activity during the current academic year.

If awarded, the money will be administered by the department climate and diversity committee. 


Online Proposal Form

The deadline for the 2023 seed grant is November 17, 2023. You can apply up to the deadline using the online application.

The proposal asks for the following information:

  1. Title of the proposal.
  2. Abstract of the proposal.
  3. A description of the proposal including the goals of the project, intended partnerships, connection with the college's strategic plan, date/timeline, target audience, why this project is necessary, and who it will be advertised to and how. 
  4. The potential impacts on diversity and inclusion.
  5. Who will implement the proposal and how.
  6. Proposed budget.


2022 Seed Grant Winner

The Role of Faculty in Implementing Accommodations and Supporting Students with Disabilities

Math Climate & Diversity Committees

The students with disabilities (SWD) population in higher education has been increasing throughout the years (Newman et al., 2011). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights statute that ensures that SWD will have the opportunity to participate in postsecondary education without discrimination. Faculty members play an essential role in the campuses' shared responsibility for ADA compliance and are critical to supporting SWD in their classes. Although SWD depends on faculty to implement their accommodations, many faculty members often lack knowledge and experience with SWD needs, and they may not feel confident about their actions in supporting SWD in their classrooms. The literature about the accommodation experience of SWD (Wenzel & Rowley, 2010; Zeedyk, Bolourian, & Blacher, 2019) highlights that the positive experience these students have with their professors in class can make the difference in their college experience. Thus, this project aims to identify the knowledge of mathematics faculty members about SWD and learn directly from faculty what their needs are in order to teach SWD successfully. This project aims to create two training sessions for the math department faculty to gain more knowledge about their role in the accommodation process. The training sessions will empower faculty to be proactive and display an understanding attitude when encountering students with disabilities in their classrooms. The training sessions will also provide a space for faculty members to gain and share knowledge about the diverse spectrum of students with disabilities they have encountered or will encounter in their teaching practice. At the end of the training sessions, we expect mathematics faculty members to be more comfortable about their responsibilities in supporting the College's strategic plan concerning equity and accessibility and how to meet the SWDs' accommodation needs.


Questions about the seed grant should be direct to Tiffany Mathews and Melissa Rolls.

Past Seed Grant Winners

Posters for Osmond and Davey Labs

Astronomy and Astrophysics and Physics Climate & Diversity Committees

Women remain underrepresented in the Physical sciences, with the degree of underrepresentation increasing with academic rank/stature, and being most extreme at the highest echelons of “achievement.” For example, just two Physics Nobel Prizes have been awarded to women in the last 58 years. The situation with academia’s underrepresented minorities is perhaps even more dire. In this context, highlighting the achievements of minoritized scientists and women serves multiple purposes: (1) It establishes representation for students who are otherwise exposed, almost exclusively, to the achievements of “dead white (cis) men” in their classes; (2) It demonstrates that diversity of achievement has been an underemphasized feature of the physical sciences for centuries; and (3) It subtly reinforces that the “named prizes” are not the only metric of achievement in the physical sciences, and that in fact, the historical record of these prizes reveals profound bias and – in many cases – suppression of the foundational work of non-white, non-(cis)male scientists.  Together, the Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Physics department will design, produce, and display new posters for Osmond and Davey Labs illustrating notable underrepresented minorities and women from astronomy and the physical sciences spotlighting and celebrating their contributions.

Now more than ever, we need to show our students that they deserve to be at Penn State and are integral to the success of the scientific endeavor at The University. ‘You Belong in Science!‘ is proposal with two complimentary parts that work towards a common goal: To demonstrate to our trainees from all demographics that “You Belong in Science!”. The proposed project is designed to celebrate diverse examples of scientists through high-profile in-person visits to The College and, through an enduring poster campaign that will highlight the diversity of scientists and their stories, both at Penn State and beyond. In the first part, visiting scientists would be asked to speak on their journey as a scientist, and to participate in a discussion panel alongside a group of Penn State scientists and experts. The speaker/panel will be assembled in collaboration with the TaMIS Biology (Towards a More Inclusive Science, Biology) initiative, and will discuss a theme of relevance to their common experience (e.g. systemic racism in academia). Recognizing that each speaker would be a one-time intervention, the second part of this proposal will present an ongoing visual display of posters highlighting a diverse selection of individual scientists and their stories to be displayed in our classrooms and corridors. This constant visual reminder will validate our trainee’s presence in the scientific space and help counter stereotype threat. Consistent with the ECoS mission, the campaign will acknowledge the value of diversity in the sciences, help develop a fully inclusive environment.

The increased effort in diversity and inclusion still has not bridged the gap of visibility, an unmet need among black professionals in STEM. To achieve this, we propose a Black History Month virtual seminar series to celebrate black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. This four-part weekly seminar series will occur in February 2022 and take the form of virtual research talk, a follow-up virtual meet-and-greet and an in-person networking mixer. The Pennsylvania State University organizations NOBCChE and MGSinSTEM will partner to implement this seminar series. The seminar series aims to highlight research from successful black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, provide a safe space for black experiences and voices in STEM, and create a network to build black professional connections in STEM. By creating this platform for black research, voices, and connections this seminar series will motivate the young black Chemists and Chemical Engineers with similar ambitions to persist against the odds. Therefore, this visibility platform will establish a future legacy of black professional empowerment.

Stereotype Threat Workshop

Chemistry and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Climate & Diversity Committee 

The psychological phenomenon “stereotype threat” was coined by psychologist Dr. Claude Steele as highlighted in his recent book Whistling Vivaldi. Stereotype threat describes the additional mental barrier an individual must overcome when acting against a negative stereotype of their identity (gender, sex, sexuality, race, etc.). In the sciences, multiple stereotypes persist of scientists themselves (workaholics, uncreative, anti-social, masculine, etc.) that have a direct effect on how we communicate to the public, perform scientific outreach with youth, and publish our research designs. Moreover, the threat of negating countless harmful stereotypes facing women and underrepresented minorities in the sciences, such as poor math/visualization/test-taking skills, authoritative leadership styles, etc., adds mental strain on individuals pursuing such careers, exacerbating the current gap in STEM representation. Acknowledging the existence and dissuading outright stereotype propagation helps create a more inclusive work environment but does not speak to the societal strain placed on underrepresented groups. Education of stereotype threat provides an understanding of how a false stereotype affects our actions, the systematic practices in place that encourage stereotype propagation, and the creation of thoughtful community guidelines on DEI progress. As departments in the physical sciences, this workshop will educate our academic community on the existence of stereotype threat and encourage empathy between community members’ individual experiences. Most importantly, the workshop will encourage both CHEM and BMB departments to brainstorm actionable items our community members can implement within the classroom and mentorship practices, led with direct examples of trust building, abolishing “advantage engineering”, and scientific stewardship.

Menstrual Products in Davey, Osmond and Whitmore Restrooms

Physics and Astronomy and Astrophysics Climate & Diversity Committees 

Menstruation happens. Yet for a number of our students, postdocs, staff and faculty, menstrual products provide a cost challenge or are simply not readily available when needed. When an individual is unable to obtain menstrual products in a time of need, they can effectively be excluded from participating in our unit activities (educational, research and administrative). If the difficulty is due to cost, this exclusion can run over several days. Thus, aligned with the College's strategic plan (increasing retention efforts, elevating the quality of the educational experience for all students, increasing diversity and gender balance), and as a part of our broad push for educational equity, we propose that we also support period equity by providing free menstrual products in all restrooms (women's & men's) in Davey, Osmond and Whitmore. These are the primary homes for faculty and staff associated with astronomy and physics, as well as the classroom buildings for both majors and non-majors taking our classes.

This effort will join others already underway on campus like Days for Girls at Penn State. By joining this collective effort we will not only provide immediate benefits to those associated with our program, but also be a part of the push to get the university to fund this program across all our campuses.