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The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) has announced that the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program has awarded Afiya Fredericks, Ph.D. nearly $1.6 million to fund her research on the impact of a teacher’s beliefs in teaching science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines to people of color.

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Fredericks is an assistant professor of psychology at UDC and works in the social and behavioral sciences division in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is the first recipient of this significant award, which will sponsor three years of research into the role of STEM faculty beliefs and classroom culture on undergraduate minoritized students’ experiences, achievement, and persistence in STEM.

“I am both humbled and excited to be a recipient of this prestigious award,” Dr. Fredericks said in a UDC statement. My passion for utilizing my expertise and research to support others in reaching their unlimited and unknowable potential fueled my drive and persistence to apply.”

The National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program, which is known as CAREER for short, is a foundation-wide activity that offers National Science Foundation awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

“UDC is extremely grateful for this grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to Dr. Afiya Fredericks to fund her groundbreaking research on the impact of a teacher’s beliefs in teaching STEM disciplines to people of color,” said Dr. Victor R. McCrary, vice president for research at UDC, in a statement. “As America faces a ‘Sputnik II moment’ in terms of global competition, Dr. Fredericks’ research is of strategic importance to the nation, as America must develop a diverse, domestic STEM workforce to address the critical challenges we face as a country for the sake of our science and engineering enterprise and future generations.”

Dr. Fredericks’s research interests include understanding the impact of growth mindset —belief in the malleability of intelligence and abilities — the impact of social and emotional learning (SEL) on achievement and motivation, and the best strategies in teaching and implementing growth mindset and SEL in various contexts.

“Ultimately, I look forward to leveraging this award to learn from HBCU [Historically Black College and University] STEM professors and their students about evidence-based strategies, to support myself and so many others, cultivate more growth mindset learning environments, supporting minoritized students to persist and thrive in STEM careers,” said Fredericks.

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