The Pacific Northwest Circle of Success: Mentoring Opportunities in STEM (PNW COSMOS) is an Alliance funded in 2014 by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Transformation program.
The common goal for this Alliance is to increase the number of American Indian/Alaska Native students who complete science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate programs. Besides the University of Montana, there are three Alliance institutions, Washington State University, University of Idaho, and Montana State University; and four partnering institutions, Heritage University, Montana Tech, Salish Kootenai College, and Northwest Indian College. Together, they will create, apply and study a model of culturally compatible recruitment and mentoring for American Indian/Alaska Native to support their unique needs.
The PNW-COSMOS Alliance selected the Camas plant as its logo. Camas (Camassia quamash (Pursh) Greene) is native to the Pacific Northwest and Plateau Regions, which are the ancestral lands of many American Indian People. The Camas stem supports the plant in much the same way that Indigenous and STEM knowledge support our students and their communities.
The Camas roots are a solid and enduring part of the Camas plant community. The Camas bulb is a true prize for those animals (including humans) that use the Camas plant as a food source. Camas does not grow alone; it grows in a vibrant community that is abundant in water, various grasses, sunshine and clean air. All are important for the growth of Camas, which in turn contribute to the health of its community.
The focus of the PNW-COSMOS Alliance is the students. The Alliance recognizes that, like the Camas plant, students need a vibrant community to “grow” and thrive. STEM and Indigenous knowledge are woven together to support our students and their communities, enabling them to thrive in both their academic and home environments. The students’ “roots” are in their home communities, while the “bulb” is the knowledge they gain in their graduate studies and outside the classroom to share with the human community. We truly are all related, interconnected, and essential to each other and the natural world.
The Alliance website can be found at pnwcosmos.org for more information on all institutions in this effort and upcoming events at each institution.
For information about the grant, its activities and personnel, please contact our Principal Investigator, Sandy Ross at 406-243-4560 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find him at Interdisciplinary Science Building (ISB) room 219.