Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education (NATURE)

The Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education (NATURE) program is an education outreach project. NATURE aims to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education among middle school, high school, and tribal college students, and to build a pathway for American Indians living in North Dakota who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM disciplines. NATURE builds on activities of a long-term collaboration between tribal colleges in North Dakota, North Dakota State University, and the University of North Dakota. NATURE programs are currently funded by the State of North Dakota and the National Science Foundation EPSCoR Track-1 Cooperative Agreement OIA #1946202.

If you are a student, teacher, or college/university faculty and want to participate in a NATURE activity, please contact ND EPSCoR at

NATURE programming includes the Tribal College Summer Camps, Sunday Academy, Bridge Camp, and University Summer Camps. The ND EPSCoR State Office funds STEM workforce development programs across the educational continuum from elementary through graduate school. Since 2014, 2,762 students (of whom 2,723 were American Indian) have participated in our NATURE programs.

History of NATURE

The origin of the program Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education (NATURE) can be traced to an informal collaboration between the North Dakota State University Colleges of Engineering and Architecture and Turtle Mountain Community College, Belcourt, North Dakota in 1998. A team of North Dakota State University (NDSU) science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty worked with the five ND tribal colleges to develop a proposal to increase STEM educational opportunities for American Indian students. The effort paid off when Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC), in partnership with NDSU, was awarded a five year grant from the Office of Naval Research (An Adaptive Systemic Initiative of Tribal Collaboration for Increasing Native American Participation in Mathematics, Science and Engineering, 1999-2004), to support activities designed to stimulate the interest of Indian youth from North Dakota reservations in careers such as engineering and those involving higher level mathematics, science and technology skills. This project allowed the team to develop and implement activities such as summer camps, Sunday Academy, workshop for tribal college faculty, and a scholarship program to create new, and strengthen existing, pathways for American Indian students to pursue STEM education successfully and to seek careers in those fields. After the Office of Naval Research grant ended in 2004, the activities were funded piecemeal by NSF TCUP (Tribal Colleges and Universities Program) grants written by TCUs as well as Dr. G. Padmanabhan (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at NDSU) and individual NDSU faculty. This project also received support from NASA PACE program (TMCC), 2002-2005, ND EPSCoR FLITE equipment funding, 2001-2004, and NSF BRIDGES program planning grant, 2004. Though it had provided partial support initially, ND EPSCoR took the program completely under its wing in 2006 after the funding from ONR had ended. At that time, the program assumed the new title NATURE. Since then,

  • ND EPSCoR has a Tribal Partnerships Manager who works to improve the effectiveness of the university-tribal college communication and collaboration,
  • the University of North Dakota joined the collaboration, and
  • the quality of activities previously developed has improved and participants numbers have increased.



      Cankdeska Cikana Community College	logo    Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College logo    
  Sitting Bull College logo        
     Turtle Mountain Community College logo       United Tribes Technical College logo    

North Dakota State University logo
University of North Dakota logo
Cankdeska Cikana
Community College
    Nueta Hidatsa
    Sahnish College
  Sitting Bull
Turtle Mountain
Community College
United Tribes
Technical College
    North Dakota State
 University of
 North Dakota


NATURE University/College Contacts

Coordinator of NATURE Sunday Academy
Britt Heidinger, Ph.D., Associate Professor
North Dakota State University
Department of Biological Sciences
Stevens 225
Fargo, ND 58105
(701) 231-5377

Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College (NHSC) Site Coordinator - NATURE
Kerry Hartman, Ph.D., Academic Dean, Chair Sciences
220 8th Ave. N.
New Town, ND 58763
(701) 627-4738, Ext. 8053
Geographic area: Fort Berthhold Reservation

Associate Coordinator of NATURE University Summer Camp at UND
Hallie Chelmo, Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of North Dakota
Upson Hall II Room 266
Grand Forks, ND 58202 (701) 777-6515

Sitting Bull College (SBC) Site Coordinator - NATURE
Mafany Ndiva Mongoh, Ph.D., Ag & Science
9299 Hwy 24
Fort Yates, ND 58538 
(701) 854-8051
Geographic area: Standing Rock Reservation

Associate Coordinator of NATURE University Summer Camp at NDSU
Giancarlo López-Martínez, PhD., Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
North Dakota State University
Stevens Hall 120
Fargo, ND 58102
(701) 231-7087

Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC) Site Coordinator - NATURE
Austin Allard, Ph.D., Pre-Engineering Instructor
10145 BIA Road 7
Belcourt, ND 58316(701) 477-7815
Geographic area: Turtle Mountain Reservation

Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC)Site Coordinator - NATURE
Brent Voels, Ph.D., Instructor - Science
214 1st Avenue
PO Box 269
Fort Totten, ND 58335
(701) 766-1358
Geographic area: Spirit Lake Reservation


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