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Laura Lapham awarded grant to help girls advance in STEM

September 20, 2017

Laura Lapham, assistant professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, was awarded one of ten Changing the Face of STEM (CTFS) mentoring grants from the L’Oréal USA For Women in Science program.

The program supports former L’Oréal USA For Women in Science (FWIS) fellows in their efforts to inspire the next generation of girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Members of the alumni network were invited to apply for $2,500 grants to help fund new or existing mentoring projects in their communities.

A 2008 L’Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellow, Lapham was awarded the Changing the Face of Stem grant to support the Tiny Bubbles Mentoring Project, a hands-on research experience for STEM students that she created at the College of Southern Maryland in LaPlata, Maryland. The Tiny Bubbles Mentoring Project is working to change the face of science by advancing interest in first-year students at the local community college.

In spring 2018, Lapham will give a lecture on methane biogeochemistry to 30 students in Assistant Professor Lori Crocker’s biology class at the College of Southern Maryland. Next, she will bring 10 of the same students on research cruise on the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s research vessel Rachel Carson, built especially for Chesapeake Bay research, to give each of them a hands-on experience as a marine scientist. Finally, she will choose one female student to conduct a summer internship in her lab to analyze the samples collected on the research cruise and report their findings.

“This project will give community college students the chance for a hands-on experience in a STEM field. Who knows, maybe it will inspire a bright, young mind to pursue a career in marine sciences,” said Laura Lapham. “I also think it’s generous that L’Oreal is giving previous fellows the chance to give back to the next generation.”

Lapham works on understanding the impact of environmental changes on emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, into aquatic environments like the Chesapeake Bay estuary, Arctic freshwater lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico hydrocarbon seeps.  

The award will be administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), L’Oréal USA’s official For Women in Science partner.      

The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program is a global philanthropy that recognizes and rewards women scientists around the world at critical stages in their career. Since the worldwide program began in 1998, more than 2,250 scientists in over 110 countries have been awarded for their work. In the U.S., the For Women in Science program rewards post-doctoral women scientists for their contributions in STEM fields and commitment to serving as role models for younger generations. Now in its 14th year in the U.S., the program has awarded 65 post-doctoral women scientists more than $3 million in grants.