Thursday, January 21, 2016

Vol State to share in funding for undergraduate research

The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.5 million to a network of community colleges that includes Volunteer State Community College for the expansion of research opportunities to students.

The grant was awarded to the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI), a project launched by Finger Lakes Community College in upstate New York. FLCC received a $3.35 million grant in 2011 to share its model for teaching science through research with other community colleges across the country.

Over the last four years, FLCC provided training and support for Vol State to launch its own research projects. Students in several Vol State science classes are learning scientific principles and procedures as part of green and microscale organic synthesis, water quality analysis, genomic annotation of prokaryotes and biodiversity using non-invasive camera trapping.

“I didn’t think I was going to enjoy my environmental geology class, but the research helped me to understand how this is so important,” said Vol State student Genna Batchelder. “It brought together my chemistry, physics and geology classes. It meant more to me when I had a practical application for what I was learning”

“At FLCC, we believe he best way to teach science is to do science,” said James Hewlett, FLCC professor biology and director of CCURI. “Vol State has been a great partner in implementing this approach across the country.”

Vol State will share in the latest four-year $1.5 million grant, along with FLCC and dozens of other schools in the CCURI  network, including Mesa Community College in Arizona, Ivy Technical Community College in Indiana, Oklahoma City Community College, Moreno Valley College in California, and Seminole State College in Florida.

The grant is part of the National Science Foundation’s fund for improving undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). For more information on the grant project, called “Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative, Creating a Culture of Change,” visit www.ccuri.org

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