WV State University College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Convocation Will Feature NSF Officer Claudia Rankins


WV State University College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Convocation
Will Feature NSF Officer Claudia Rankins

INSTITUTE W.Va.  Dr. Claudia Rankins, a physicist nationally known for her work with the structure of atomic particles, will be the featured speaker for West Virginia State University’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics convocation Sept. 25 at 12:30 p.m., WVSU Hamblin Hall auditorium.   

The audience will benefit from her experience  as a scientist and educator, as well as her perspective as Program Officer in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Rankins manages the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) that provides awards to enhance Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and research at HBCUs, such as WVSU. Since 1998, Rankins has secured more than $10 million in external grants that supported precollege activities as well as undergraduate education and research in STEM.

Rankins also manages the Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program which provides a substantial source of federal support for research in minority-serving institutions. By facilitating research projects in the STEM disciplines, the goal of CREST is to build research competitiveness among institutions and recruit students of diverse backgrounds in to STEM study and STEM-based career. 

Her remarks will address pathways to graduate school or a career in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) areas.  She will focus on the vital role that Historically Black Colleges and Universities play in successfully preparing undergraduate students in STEM majors for graduate school and for the workforce.  Secondly, Rankins will present strategies she has used in her personal experience as a mathematics and physics, professor, a department chair and a dean.  These strtegies focus on what students can do to successfully prepare for their next step - college, graduate school, professional school or entry into the workforce in STEM areas.

Prior to her post with the NSF, Rankins served at Hampton University for 22 years as an endowed university professor, chair of the Department of Physics, assistant dean for research, and dean of the School of Science. She also directed STEM enrichment and research programs for students ranging from middle school through post- baccalaureate studies.

Her formal education includes military training, certification as a translator and interpreter for German, French and English, a Bachelor of  Science  in Mathematics from Christopher Newport University, a Master of Science  in Statistics from Old Dominion University, a Master of Science in Physics, and a doctorate in Physics both from Hampton University. 

Her current research interests focus on the underrepresentation of women faculty of color in STEM disciplines in higher education.  According to statistics from the National Science Foundation, minority women, collectively, make up only 10.6% of all the recipients of Bachelor's degrees in the STEM disciplines.  This percentage falls quickly at the Master's and doctoral levels to 7.1% and 5.4%, respectively.  At the faculty levels, a similar declining trend is observed.  Through NSF Rankins is focused on correcting this trend.

The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics fall convocation is open to the public. For additional information call Dr. Micheal Fultz (304) 549-7404.

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