UCSB will use some of a $2 million grant to throw the coolest science slumber party ever.

The California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCSB announced Feb. 26 it had received the grant from the National Science Foundation. The money will be used to fund a five-year program called Expanding Pathways to Science, Engineering and Mathematics (EPSEM), aimed at convincing more students to pursue undergraduate degrees in those fields.

CNSI will work with Allan Hancock College, Oxnard College, Santa Barbara City College, Ventura College and eight high schools in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. EPSEM will feature a two-week summer residence program, where students will stay at the UCSB-owned Santa Ynez Apartments.

“They will participate in group projects, lab projects, and they will be going on field trips,” EPSEM project coordinator Ofelia Aguirre said. “Then, during the year, we’ll bring them back to campus for lab tours to meet scientists and socialize with the graduate students and faculty they met during the summer.”

Aguirre said the program would accommodate only 50 students its first summer, but that number should increase to 120 students in subsequent years. Fiona Goodchild, education director of CNSI, said the program would ideally consist of equal numbers of incoming college freshmen, current community college students and current UCSB students.

Goodchild said students in the program would also benefit from “mentorship” opportunities.

“We’ll be linking seniors with incoming students,” she said. “We’ll be linking students with current researchers to look at research happening here.”

Aguirre said that EPSEM recruitment would try to actively recruit students from disadvantaged situations, but not exclusively.

“We want a diverse population of students,” she said. “That provides a richer environment for students. So we do want to have a lot of students from disadvantaged and under-served backgrounds, but that will not be our complete focus.”