Prior Success of Pitt-Greensburg NSF Grants

Before SLICE, there was SLC

In 2015, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg a Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) grant to increase students' retention and graduation rates in Biology, Chemistry, and Biochemistry through the creation of the Science Learning Community (SLC) Scholarship Program. The SLC Scholarship Program aimed to attract, recruit, retain, and graduate academically talented STEM students from rural areas with baccalaureate degrees in biological science, chemistry, or biochemistry. Program aims were accomplished by utilizing a year-long first-year Science Seminar course sequence, science learning communities, academic orientation, academic advising, journal clubs, career learning experiences, and tutoring in STEM fields to mitigate or remove existing academic barriers.

Spring 2019: First Cohort Graduates

In Spring 2019, Pitt Greensburg graduated its first cohort of SLC scholars, and the impact of the SLC program was substantial and immediately felt:


SLC Scholars - Cohort 1

Matched Controls

4-Year Graduation Rates

75% - all with STEM degrees

27% - only 5% with STEM degrees




100% of Cohort 1 SLC scholars who graduated have been accepted to various graduate programs or have entered STEM careers. For example: In STEM employment, one is employed at West Virginia University as a research technician and another is employed at Pace Analytical in Greensburg, PA. Example graduate studies include Masters in Biological Science and Doctor of Pharmacy programs.

Six students (four standing, two seated) posed with Bruiser Bobcat statue

SLC Celebration Dinner: April 23, 2019

A dinner was held with the SLC Scholars and families, Faculty mentors, and Pitt-Greensburg Administration to honor the first SLC scholars’ accomplishments. Top Row (From Left): Darius Eicher-Peebles, Sterling Sin, Syed Raza Zaidi, Joseph Maier. Bottom (From Left): Samantha Ursiny and Carissa Berg.

Twelve individuals (ten standing, two seated) posed with Bruiser the Bobcat statue.

Top Row (From Left): Barbra Barnhart, Dr. Mark Stauffer, Beth Uhrinek, Darius Eicher-Peebles, Sterling Sin, Syed Raza Zaidi, Joseph Maier, Dr. Olivia Long, Dr. Brooke McClendon. Bottom (From Left): Samantha Ursiny, Carissa Berg, and Dr. Sharon Smith

Seven student in graduation regalia holding diplomas.

Top Row (From Left): Syed Raza Zaidi, Joseph Maier, Sterling Sin. Bottom (From Left): Carissa Berg, Kassie Hickman, Samantha Ursiny and Darius Eicher-Peebles.


"I would like to thank the National Science Foundation for the opportunities they have given me by allowing me to be an SLC scholar at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. It is with their help that I was able to complete bachelor’s degree without financial stress. Being an SLC scholar also gave me many opportunities I likely would not have had otherwise, such as journal clubs. They significantly helped me in being able to read and understand scientific articles, which helped in my research and other courses. Additionally, I was able to attend multiple off-campus research conferences including presenting my research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences at UMBC. I truly believe I had a greater college experience thanks to the SLC-Program." – Kassie Hickman, Class of 2019 (SLICE Cohort 1)

For additional information about the SLICE Program or to start a SLICE program at your institution, please email

Support for the SLICE Scholarship program is being provided by the National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program under Award No. 2130102. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.