Di Xu, UCI assistant professor of education, will use her NSF CAREER grant to explore ways of improving learning in online STEM gateway courses at community colleges. Fang Zhang

Di Xu, assistant professor of education, has received a prestigious CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation. The five-year award, totaling $655,237, will fund her research into improving distance-learning experiences in community college STEM gateway courses. Xu will collaborate with two large community college systems to document typical online instructional approaches offered, as well as to identify promising intervention strategies to promote student engagement and learning in online-only coursework. “This is a great honor for me,” Xu said. “It will allow me to focus on determining ways to help improve outcomes for students enrolled at community colleges, particularly those from low-income and underrepresented groups.” NSF grants such as hers are awarded to early-career faculty who have the potential to become leaders in both research and education.