Press Releases

Loyola University Chicago Receives $1.2 Million to Recruit Future High School STEM Teachers


CHICAGO — Loyola University Chicago was awarded an additional $1.2 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to continue the LUC-Noyce Scholars program over a five-year period, beginning in May 2023. The LUC-Noyce Scholars project, Teaching, Learning & Leading with Schools and Communities, prepares talented science and math teachers to serve in Chicagoland high-need classrooms. 

The award is part of the NSF’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, which provides grant funding to recruit and prepare STEM majors and professionals in the field of math and science education. Loyola’s Noyce team is placing an emphasis on attracting STEM majors who had not previously considered secondary teaching, particularly from a diverse and qualified pool of applicants that includes people of color, first generation college students, community college transfers, veterans, and bilingual candidates. 

Established in 2017, the LUC-Noyce Scholars program has been awarded over $2.3 million from the NSF and has supported a total of 30 Noyce Scholars to date. 

“The cost to attend college can be a barrier for so many prospective teachers. This scholarship program creates access to a world-class education and a network of support for one of the most important and fulfilling careers a STEM major can pursue–teaching,” said Lara Smetana, PhD, a full professor in Loyola’s School of Education and principal investigator on the grant.  

In this interdisciplinary project, Loyola’s School of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Environmental Sustainability, and the Center for Science and Math Education partner with Illinois District 219 and Chicago Public Schools to identify and attract high-achieving, STEM majors for the LUC-Noyce Scholars program.  

“The individuals in this program have advanced scientific training and diverse life experiences that lead to them being transformational assets in our community’s classrooms,” said Michael Grillo, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology and senior personnel for this grant. “This program provides a path for STEM professionals to pursue their interest in teaching and prepares them to become difference-makers.” 

The five goals of the LUC-Noyce Scholars program are outlined below: 

  • Increase the number and diversity of STEM majors and professionals entering teaching 
  • Provide financial and other support to high-achieving prospective biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics teachers who commit to teaching in high-need schools 
  • Prepare candidates to work with culturally and linguistically diverse students, ensuring all scholars fulfill requirements for the Illinois English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement 
  • Retain teachers in Chicagoland high-need schools through meticulous preparation combined with robust induction support 
  • Study program data to inform understanding of urban STEM teacher preparation, mentoring, and induction support 

Scholars encounter coursework that reflects a commitment to rigorous, relevant, and equity-centered content and pedagogy preparation. The project provides multi-dimensional mentoring and professional learning communities designed to support the development of teachers’ deep understanding of both subject matter and how it can be transformative to students’ lives. 

Assisting Smetena and Grillo’s efforts on the program, include co-principal investigators Mary Talbot, research assistant professor of the Center for Science and Math Education, Sandra Helquist, senior lecturer of chemistry and biochemistry, Julie Jacobi, assistant director for science programs for the Center for Science and Math Education, and Eric Chang, a lecturer the department of mathematics and statistics. The grant is also supported by senior personnel Tania Schusler, advanced lecturer for the School of Environmental Sustainability, and Timothy Stoelinga from the Center for Science and Math Education. 

Adam Davenport and Audrey Brinkers, two LUC-Noyce Scholars alumni, have shared their experiences from the program and how their time in the Noyce program prepared them to make a difference in their classrooms and community.  

More information about the project can be found here, including scholarship details and how to apply 


About Loyola University Chicago
Founded in 1870, Loyola University Chicago is one of the nation’s largest Jesuit, Catholic universities, with nearly 17,500 students. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy, as well as course locations in Vernon Hills, Illinois (Cuneo Mansion and Gardens), and a Retreat and Ecology Campus in Woodstock, Illinois. The University features 15 schools, colleges, and institutes. Ranked a top national university by U.S. News & World Report, Loyola is also among a select group of universities recognized for community service and engagement by prestigious national organizations including AmeriCorps and the Carnegie Foundation. To learn more about Loyola, visit or follow us on Twitter via @LoyolaChicago