Professor assisting student in science lab
Story STEM

STEM-NET: Elevating Research and Collaboration Across the CSU

Janessa Thropay

Faculty and students expand their STEM knowledge and experience through systemwide affinity group focused on research and providing sustainable funding.

Professor assisting student in science lab

The California State University (CSU) has produced more than 300,000 STEM graduates from more than 1,200 STEM degree programs since 2000. Consistently graduating top-tier talent to California's renowned high-tech companies including Apple, Google and Microsoft, the CSU fuels the state's workforce at an unmatched scale with graduates of vibrant diversity.

STEM research and education plays a critical role in the innovation economy and the future of our nation, and the CSU is ensuring that STEM students have the resources and tools necessary to successfully step into the STEM workforce following graduation.

To bolster these efforts, the CSU launched the STEM-NET systemwide affinity group in 2018 to enable faculty to share university best practices and produce scholarship and advancements that will power California's future. By connecting and strengthening faculty research and educational collaborations across the CSU system, STEM-NET expands opportunities for active learning and supports faculty in developing grant proposals with potential for scaling and sustainability.

“It is exciting to be an entity that can be a powerful force for impactful and positive change in STEM fields promoting diversity, equity and innovation," says Frank Gomez, Ph.D., executive director of STEM-NET. “STEM-NET has the potential to increase access to STEM education and careers for underrepresented groups, such as women and minorities, by providing resources and networking opportunities."

STEM-NET hosted its first in-person CSU-wide convening of faculty and staff focused on STEM disciplines in March 2023 to respond to system and state goals, share best practices and grow sponsored program activities. The Becoming More than the Sum of Our Parts conference covered topics such as inclusive and culturally responsive teaching, connecting university STEM programs for student success and the CSU CREATE Awards.

Numerous studies suggest that hands-on undergraduate research promotes student success and retention, and STEM-NET places an emphasis on CSU student-directed research throughout the STEM disciplines. CSU Chancellor Jolene Koester affirmed these efforts during her livestream address at the STEM-NET conference: “Through STEM-NET, you are equipping our students with interdisciplinary perspectives and real-world applications and skills that will empower them not only to solve some of our most urgent and complex challenges, but also to become strong leaders, advocates and stewards of our communities and the environment."

Since its inception, STEM-NET has made significant investments in the CSU's STEM research and education to ensure its viability, as well as improve its diversity. From establishing a virtual research café focused on collaboration, to a podcast discussing all things STEM, faculty and students are encouraged to explore their passions and push the boundaries of their imaginations. In the 2021-22 academic year alone, STEM-NET facilitated the development and submission of over 7 multi-campus proposals, awarded funds to 11 faculty members at 11 universities, and provided $83,023 directly to CSU faculty and students.

STEM-NET continues to support CSU faculty in various areas of research and education. By way of the Faculty Fellows Grant Program and the new Faculty Interdisciplinary Collaborative Research SEED Grant Program, STEM-NET is able to provide sustainable funding and partner with CSU faculty to develop collaborative proposals, as well as provide grant proposal services. From project ideation to proposal submission, faculty and students have access to the necessary support and resources to bring their innovative projects to life.


Learn more about how the CSU is elevating STEM research and collaboration at the STEM-NET website, and discover how the university is empowering women in STEM.