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NSF S-STEM: Iona Development of Excellence in Science through Intervention, Resilience, and Enrichment (DESIRE) Program

The Iona NSF DESIRE scholar recipients.

Please visit the NSF DESIRE Scholar Spotlight page for a list of recent recipients.

Iona College has been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to recruit, support and retain undergraduate students majoring in Biochemistry, Chemistry and Computer Science. The goal of NSF S-STEM Program – Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is to increase the number of undergraduates on a successful path to pursue further education and careers in STEM.
The award will support economically disadvantaged students with high academic aptitude, for scholarships in Biochemistry, Chemistry and Computer Science, through the Iona College Development of Excellence in Science through Intervention, Resilience, and Enrichment (DESIRE) Program.
The objectives are to:
  1. Recruit, to the Iona DESIRE Program, new academically talented students with significant demonstrated financial need.
  2. Develop the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills of STEM students, as well as their social conscience and ethical viewpoints, in order to support and integrate the five dimensions for success in STEM fields: Academic, Professional, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal and Intercultural.
  3. Support retention in STEM, degree completion, and the professional success of Iona DESIRE scholars.

Project Team
  • Principal Investigator (PI): Sunghee Lee, Ph.D., Chemistry
  • Co-PIs: Lubomir Ivanov, Ph.D., Computer Science; Kathleen Kristian, Ph.D., Chemistry; Smiljana Petrovic, Ph.D., Computer Science; Mychel Varner, Ph.D., Chemistry
  • Senior Personnel: Katherine Zaromatidis, Ph.D., Psychology; Jason Diffenderfer, Institutional Effectiveness and Planning; Bernadette Wright, Ph.D., External Evaluator, Meaningful Evidence, LLC, Washington, D.C.

See program details for more information.

The Iona S-STEM Scholarship program is supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF-SSTEM Award No. 1643737.       

Contact: Sunghee Lee, Ph.D. at

"I am very excited that this award will allow us to recruit, support and retain academically capable but financially needy students. All scholars will be supported through cohort activities carefully designed to support students quality experience in interdisciplinary field between chemistry and computer science. We hope our program will provide an exemplary model that can be adapted to many other higher education disciplines and demonstrate successful STEM graduates."
– Sunghee Lee, Ph.D., Chemistry

"The S-STEM grant represents an outstanding opportunity for select motivated students to achieve academic, professional, and personal success at Iona by working in close collaboration with faculty from the Computer Science and Chemistry departments. The students will engage in cutting-edge research on faculty-led interdisciplinary projects, which have the potential to further scientific knowledge and to benefit people everywhere. For the S-STEM faculty, the grant presents an excellent opportunity to work with bright students, and to be able to influence their academic and professional careers."
– Lubomir Ivanov, Ph.D., Computer Science