FOCUS, which stands for “Focusing on Cultivating Scientists,” is in its 10th year at Carleton.  FOCUS is designed for students interested in science and aims to promote diversity in the sciences. FOCUS supports students through their entry into the study of science/math at Carleton and as they continue in the curriculum by creating a cohort which enrolls in classes together (in so far as this makes sense), meets regularly in a colloquium throughout the first and second year, and has an opportunity for work study in the sciences. Cohort activities continue throughout a student's four years at Carleton.

Students typically apply for FOCUS membership the summer before their first year - however, exciting expansion opportunities will double the number of students enrolled in the program from 2016-2020, starting with the recruitment of a Winter 2017 cohort. See below for a link to the Winter 2017 application page.

Benefits for FOCUS students include the following:

  1. Membership in a cohort of science-interested students.
  2. Placement into science-based Argument and Inquiry seminar in fall term of first year.
  3. FOCUS coordinator (a science/math faculty member) organizing events, publicizing opportunities, and working directly with student participants.
  4. Priority registration into one science or math course in winter and spring terms of first year.
  5. Full-year colloquium in first and second year taught by FOCUS coordinator with an emphasis on science-based activities, projects, research opportunities, and field trips as well as on strategies for success at Carleton. Students earn credits equivalent to a single course distributed over the first year, and equivalent to half of a course over the second year, creating a “cushion” for future terms in which students may want to take a reduced load.
  6. Personalized science advising with FOCUS coordinator in addition to regular academic advising.
  7. Student mentors available for science/math courses in which FOCUS students are enrolled.
  8. Work-study opportunities in the science/math areas for approximately 50% of work contract, plus opportunities to serve as science/math peer mentor (paid).
  9. Targeted recruiting for summer opportunities.

Interested in becoming a part of FOCUS? We are recruiting a SECOND First-Year cohort for Winter 2017. On-campus first-years are encouraged to apply with the Winter 2017 FOCUS Application Form. The application form opens Monday, October 3rd and closes Monday, October 19th.

A FOCUS student’s first-year program includes the following:

Fall term

  • A science based Argument and Inquiry seminar; for 2016: BIO 100: Viruses: Invisible Invaders – 6 credits
  • FOCUS colloquium – 2 credits
  • 2 additional courses of student’s choice – 12 credits (likely including 1 math course)

Winter term

  • Math or science course* – 6 credits
  • FOCUS colloquium – 2 credits
  • 2 additional courses of student’s choice – 12 credits

Spring term

  • Math or science course* - 6 credits
  • FOCUS colloquium – 2 credits
  • 2 additional course of student’s choice – 12 credits

The Sophomore year colloquium is 1 credit per term and meets bi-weekly to work collaboratively on an Academic Civic Engagement research project. The topic of the research project, chosen by the FOCUS faculty mentor, is broad enough to encompass an interdisciplinary investigation from several angles and viewpoints. Students work with community organizations and members for these projects, culminating in a published FOCUS journal. Past Sophomore projects have included Light Pollution, Air Pollution, and Addiction.

FOCUS Schedule

The cohort is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the NSF's Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP).


Contact Information

FOCUS Adviser: Deborah Gross, Professor of Chemistry, Mudd Hall 172, x5629   *Check out Deborah Gross' website

FOCUS Coordinator: Chloe Bergstrand '16, Educational Associate, Mudd Hall 167, x6205

Alternate FOCUS contacts:

Cindy Blaha, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Marjorie Crabb Garbisch Professor of the Liberal Arts, Goodsell Observatory 202, x4429, Mentor for 2016 cohort

Sam Patterson, Professor of Mathematics, Center for Math and Computing 325, x4373 Mentor for 2017 cohort.

Trish Ferrett, Professor of Chemistry, Mudd Hall 176, x4408 Mentor for 2018 cohort.