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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Representing the 25th District of New York

Slaughter Announces Federal Award to Help Students with Learning Disabilities Succeed in the STEM Fields

March 6, 2018
Press Release
Funding for the University of Rochester will train educators to help students thrive in their careers

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (NY-25) announced that the University of Rochester has received an $800,000 grant award from the National Science Foundation to help students with disabilities succeed in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Despite the potential for academic and career success in STEM, students with learning disabilities participate in and pursue STEM careers at much lower rates than their peers. This funding through the Faculty Early Career Development program will be used to develop a faculty focused on broadening these students’ participation and success in these fields.

“I congratulate the University of Rochester on receiving this federal award. This funding will help ensure that students with learning disabilities get the support they need to enter into and ultimately succeed in careers in the growing STEM fields. I’m proud that our region is playing a leading role in training educators so all our students can fulfill their potential,” said Slaughter.  

This project will focus on the motivational beliefs of middle and high school students with learning disabilities, a largely neglected but likely powerful influence on whether a student decides to pursue science. Overcoming these roadblocks will contribute to the goal of fostering an inclusive STEM educational system and workforce.

Its research will take place in three phases. In the first phase, national data will be analyzed to investigate the relationship between motivational beliefs of high-school students with learning disabilities and subsequent pursuit of advanced science coursework and careers. In the second phase, a mixed-methods study with 80 middle-school students with learning disabilities will investigate how science instructional experiences shape motivational beliefs. The third phase will focus on the teacher perspective, working with a group of science educators to understand teachers' perceptions of learning disabilities and to co-develop practical resources for use in science classrooms.

As the only microbiologist in Congress, Slaughter has long been a prominent voice for eliminating biases in the sciences. In 2013, she pushed the GAO to audit six federal agencies in which Yale researchers found evidence of gender discrimination. In 2015, celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the National Office of Research on Women’s Health, an office she helped establish after discovering the disconcerting lack of research on women’s health issues at NIH. Slaughter also allocated the first $500 million in federal funding for breast cancer research at the NIH. In 2013, Congresswoman Slaughter was awarded the “Champion of Science” award by the Science Coalition in honor of her strong commitment to supporting basic scientific research. She was also honored with the “Foremother Award” by the National Center for Health Research in recognition of her central role in taking on the central health and science issues of our time.