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King Receives Tensor Grant for Women and Mathematics

Tensor Grant for Women and MathematicsBRISTOL, Tenn., Aug. 5, 2015 – King University was recently awarded a Tensor Grant for Women and Mathematics by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).

“We are excited to receive this grant. The funds will be utilized to increase women’s participation in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) fields,” says Dr. Han Chuan Ong, dean of King University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Participation in the sciences at King by women is strong. We hope this grant will increase involvement by women in the other areas of STEM as well.”

The grant funds will create an on-campus Women in STEM Club (WISC) and a professional speaker series titled “STEMulating Conversations.” The project will be led by Assistant Professor of Mathematics Wendy Traynor, Assistant Professor of Biology Laura Kelly Vaughan, and Instructor of Mathematics Martha Liendo. The grant is $4,000. King is matching up to $3,355, bringing the total grant amount to $7,355.

“The objectives of WISC are to increase the number of female undergraduates who major or minor in Mathematics and Physics, and to inspire students to complete undergraduate degrees in mathematics or science by increasing their exposure to successful professional females in these fields,” says Traynor. “Nationally there is a shortage of women in STEM fields, but the most extreme shortages are in the fields of Math and Physics.”

WISC will meet once a month on King’s main campus and be open to all female students majoring or minoring in Mathematics or Science, or any student interested in learning more about these programs. The topics explained and discussed at these meetings will include applied math, coding, cryptology, modeling, biostatistics, epidemiology, and engineering. WISC will address content related to increasing awareness of gender stereotypes in math and science and the challenges and opportunities faced by women.

The Women in STEM Club will also include a service component. Members will engage in on-campus math mentoring and off-campus tutoring at Girls Incorporated, a non-profit organization serving girls in grades K-12 from low-to-moderate income households in Bristol, TN/VA.

Traynor adds, “Our hope is this will lead to increased recruitment and serve as a community building program. In addition to WISC serving our female students at King, we will include activities with Girls Incorporated and the YWCA’s TechGYRLS after-school program.” TechGYRLS is specifically designed to broaden a girl’s technical knowledge. The program develops girls’ confidence to use technology tools, discover links between enjoyable technology projects and STEM subjects, and enhance their critical thinking skills.

Through STEMulating Conversations, King will invite women from math and science professions to engage club, campus, and community members in conversations on STEM topics. WISC will host one speaker per semester from various fields and organizations, including biostatistics, math, coding, epidemiology, National Security Agency, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, NIMBioS, and the Mathematical Association of America.


King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.