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The Math and Science Center (MSC) is designed to strengthen the math and science skills of participating students. The goal of the program is to help these students recognize and develop their potential to excel in these subjects, to encourage them to pursue postsecondary degrees in related disciplines, and, ultimately, to obtain careers in the many professional fields of math and science.

Program services are delivered in three major components: the academic component, the summer component, and the bridge component. During the academic component, program participants receive services and participate in Saturday academic sessions at UT Knoxville.

The summer component is the residential experience during which students live on the UT Knoxville campus and participate in academic classes and lab research with math and science mentors. They receive intensive research training, counseling and advisement, exposure to university faculty members who conduct research in mathematics and the sciences, computer training, participant-conducted scientific research under the mentorship of faculty members or graduate students, and education or counseling services designed to improve the financial and economic literacy of students.

Top participants are selected as Bridge Scholars and receive a scholarship covering all costs for college credit courses in the summer after they have graduated from their respective high schools.


At least two-thirds of the project participants must come from a low-income, first-generation background. This federal grant is specially designed for students who are limited in English proficiency, students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education, students with disabilities, students who are homeless children and youths, students who are in foster care or are aging out of the foster care system, or other disenfranchised students.

Former Students

Mario D. Ball first learned of the biomedical engineering field when he was a program participant in 1999. He went on to earn a degree in biomedical engineering from Morehouse College and Georgia Tech. Mario assesses patients who are scheduled for implantation of pacemakers or defibrillators and makes a recommendation to the surgeon on which specific device will best serve the patient in question. He is also present in the operating room when the device is implanted in case the surgeon needs to consult with him during the procedure. Once the surgery is completed, Ball programs the device to function most effectively for the individual patient.

Asha T. Wilson was a program participant in 2001 and is now achieving her career goal to become a dentist. She graduated in May 2011 from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Following graduation, Asha accepted a dental residency program at the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Macon Carroll, a program participant in 2003 and 2004, Macon Carroll plans to become a pharmacist. Macon graduated in 2008 from UT with a BS in biochemistry. He is now completing his final year of pharmacy school at UT. Throughout his educational journey, Macon has made an effort to give back to CAPS programs. He served as a resident assistant in 2007 and as an instructor and scientific research mentor in 2010 and 2011.

Service Area

The project currently serves students from Campbell County High School, Grainger County High School, Jefferson County High School, Loudon High School, Pigeon Forge High School, and Union County High School.

Through the Years

When the US Department of Education published a request for proposal (RFP) for this new discretionary grant in 1985, Dr. Ernest W. Brewer and Dr. Connie Hollingsworth Bronson submitted a grant application that was awarded funding during the first year of competition. The project—originally dubbed the Math and Science Regional Center—was funded to serve high school students in eight states in Region IV of the United States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee). Dr. Denise Decker, Dr. Connie Thomas, and Dr. Nancy Headlee Gregg each served as director of the regional center.

When Jennifer Allen assumed the role of director, Dr. Brewer redesigned the program from an eight-state regional grant to one serving East Tennessee counties closer to UT Knoxville due to increasing costs for travel, lodging, and food associated with the summer residential program.

Leigh Ann Elkins The program is now the Math and Science Center, and Leigh Ann Elkins is the current director. Since the initial year of funding, the project has served more than 1,000 program participants. The majority of these participants have continued their education in major universities with concentrations in math and science programs. A significant number who graduated with baccalaureate degrees went on to graduate programs or medical schools.

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