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 College of Engineering and Architecture and the Turtle Mountain Community College, Belcourt, North Dakota in 1998. A team of North Dakota State University STEM faculty worked with the five ND tribal colleges to develop a proposal to increase science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education opportunities for American Indian students. The effort paid off when the Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC), Belcourt, North Dakota, in partnership with NDSU, was awarded a five year grant (1999 - 2004) An Adaptive Systemic Initiative of Tribal Colleges-University Collaboration for Increasing American Indian Participation in Mathematics, Science and Engineering Programs by the US Office of Naval Research (ONR). 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 seek careers in those fields. 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 wings after the funding from ONR ended in 2005. Since then, the program assumed the new title NATURE.


  • the activities previously developed have been improved in terms of quality and expanded in terms of participation.
  • a new tribal college undergraduate student research mentoring component was added in 2007.
  • ND EPSCoR has created a new Tribal College Liaison position to improve the effectiveness of the university-tribal college communication and collaboration.
  • University of North Dakota has joined the collaboration

Click here for a 2009 slide show presentation on NATURE by Dr. Padmanabhan and Dr. Carol Davis, who were instrumental in developing and building NATURE.

Participating Institutions:

  • Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC), Belcourt, ND
  • Sitting Bull College (SBC), Fort Yates, ND
  • Fort Berthold Community College (FBCC), New Town, ND
  • Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC), Fort Totten, ND
  • United Tribe Technical College (UTTC), Bismarck, ND
  • North Dakota State University (NDSU), Fargo, ND
  • University of North Dakota (UND), Grand Forks, ND