Education Faculty, Yu April Chen, Receives NSF Career Award Examining Post-transfer Success for Minority STEM Students

April 19, 2022

April Chen
Yu April Chen, PhD, Assistant Professor in the LSU School of Education

BATON ROUGE, LA – School of Education Assistant Professor Yu April Chen, PhD, is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Career Award for her project titled Leveling the Playing Field in STEM: Post-transfer Success for Underrepresented Racial Minority Community College Transfers. The grant totals $497,713 and will span five years. The NSF Faculty Career Development (CAREER) Program offers the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Chen’s award is the first NSF CAREER grant awarded to the LSU College of Human Sciences & Education. 

"Dr. Chen’s research perfectly complements LSU’s Scholarship First strategic plan and our commitment to preparing STEM professionals who will ultimately serve our state,” said LSU College of Human Sciences & Education Dean Roland Mitchell. “Her research will shed light on a critical need at higher education institutions across our state and nation – how to retain minority transfer students and support them in their collegiate journey.” 

Community colleges offer a crucial transfer pathway toward bachelor’s degrees in STEM for many underrepresented racial minority (URM) students. Although previous studies have focused on creating a seamless STEM transfer pathway connecting sending community colleges and receiving four-year institutions, significant issues remain unsolved after transfer students arrived at the receiving four-year institutions. Transfer students may experience credit loss, transition challenges, and lower degree attainment rate at the four-year institution. 

Chen’s project aims to examine influential psychosocial factors of post-transfer success for URM STEM transfer students and to develop tailored institutional strategies to foster the transfer receptive culture in four-year institutions. The project will boost the four-year degree completion rate of URM transfer students and promote racial equity in STEM fields. Chen will collaborate with multiple LSU departments to implement a transfer student success program as well as to develop evidence-based strategies for transfer student recruitment and faculty professional development.  The research and educational components of the project will contribute to the statewide STEM initiative in Louisiana by emphasizing STEM students’ transition, retention, and degree completion in four-year institutions.

“The most exciting part of the project is to collaborate with colleagues from LSU Division of Student Affairs, LSU Discover, and LSU Admission," said Dr. Chen. "We will develop tailored programs and strategies to optimize the experiences of URM transfers at LSU. Getting an NSF CAREER grant as an education or a social science researcher is extremely difficult and challenging.  I feel privileged and grateful as this will open up amazing opportunities for me to advance my research agenda, translate scholarship to practice, and benefit the communities of science and practice at LSU and beyond.” 

Chen is an Assistant Professor in the LSU School of Education. She uses both advanced quantitative and qualitative methods to study (a) community college transfer students, (b) STEM success among underrepresented student populations, and (c) the experiences of international students. 

Her scholarship has been published in top-tier higher education journals such as Research in Higher Education, Community College Review, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, and Journal of College Student Retention. Chen has delivered more than 40 scholarly presentations at premier national research conferences such as the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Association for the Studies of Higher Education (ASHE), and the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC).  

"Dr. Chen is an invaluable part of our higher education administration faculty,” said School of Education Interim Director Laura Choate. “This grant will allow Dr. Chen to explore strategies to promote success for community college students who intend to pursue educational pathways toward STEM focused careers. Her findings will be critical to inform four-year institutions in creating transfer receptive cultures for underrepresented community college students. Dr. Chen's research will ultimately promote student retention, graduation rates, and a much-needed pipeline of STEM professionals.”  

Chen received the LSU Alumni Association Rising Faculty Research Award in 2020 for her outstanding records of scholarship and published research. She currently serves as the editorial board member for the Journal of The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition (2021-2023) as well as on the program committees for ASHE (2021-2022) and CSCC (2020-2021, 2021-2022).

About SOE 
The LSU School of Education (SOE) offers graduate and undergraduate programs in Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership and Research, and Counseling, including two completely online master’s programs. SOE offers a range of professional and academic degree programs that focus on preparing students for careers in education, research, policy formation and implementation, as well as program oversight. The School’s mission is to prepare P-12 educational professionals to be leaders, practitioners, and scholars knowledgeable in contemporary educational issues. SOE is part of the College of Human Sciences & Education. Visit the School of Education at
About CHSE 
The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The college is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, the School of Library & Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs, 18 graduate programs, and 7 online graduate degree and/or certificate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 1,120 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is committed to improving quality of life across the lifespan. Visit the College of Human Sciences & Education at


Alison Satake
Research Communications 

Mary P. Woods
Communications LSU College of Human Sciences & Education