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Student Research and Broadening Access to Science
Each of the component programming proposed herein emphasizes our intentional practice of studentsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ undertaking complete research experiences. Students will be exposed and trained into each phase of the scientific process from literature review and hypothesis-crafting to proper experimentation and data analysis. Additionally, each of these student-centered programs will require both oral and written dissemination of findings including presentations at local and national conferences. We are purposefully integrating the PHILTER and Catalyst programs such that students of all ability and experience intermix promoting peer-mentoring partnerships.
Consistent with the Earlham College mission to support collaborative student/faculty undergraduate research experiences we propose placement for 20 students per summer. The increase of opportunities is independent of our current success in securing external funding (USDA, Keck, and NIH) supporting summer research, but is dependent on placing 10 of these students into established laboratories of alumni and friends of the NSD. A brief selection of on-campus topics include: bioinformatic approaches to correcting malaria genomes, post-genomic approaches to analyzing differential gene expression in plants, isolating and characterization of antioxidants, and gene expression in neural crest specification. Students will be selected by a committee evaluation of student applications during the Fall prior to each summer. HHMI-funded student researchers will be expected to present their research publicly at our Annual Earlham College Research Conference.
The Catalyst program will continue the rewards gained from our former Bridge to Science Excellence program. Transformed into a May term experience for rising sophomores, this programÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s goal is to retain and excite students into the biological sciences. Students will be immersed in a themed research project at the same time being engaged in biological ethics and the proper use of the scientific method. Target populations will be groups underrepresented in the sciences, including first generation college students, women, and African Americans. Students will be selected as a result of performance and potential in our introductory core courses in Biology and Chemistry. Catalyst students will earn academic credit for successful completion of the program and graduates will be carefully monitored throughout their careers as one mode of assessment.
Offered concurrently and integrated with the Catalyst program, the PHILTER program is an innovative program of student research and education in the field of Public Health. Upper-level pre-health minded students will either choose the Local or Tanzania arm of this joint venture to address real world problems. The Local participants will undertake a research endeavor to improve regional public health under the committed support of Reid Hospital and the Wayne County Health Department. In Tanzania, students will become engrossed in understanding the health-related ramifications caused by HIV, Malaria, and Tuberculosis afflictions. Student research projects guided by Tanzanian health professional contacts involving these diseases will be a capstone experience. Students of both arms will be united at the beginning, where students are instructed in fundamentals of Public Health, and at the end where students debrief their research experiences. The research experiences of the PHILTER program will fulfill the research requirement of our growing Biochemistry interdepartmental major.
Student participants in all the above programs will be housed together (except those abroad) creating a science community. Common social events will allow students to relate experiences resulting in increased excitement and attractiveness of the HHMI-supported programs. As the PHILTER participants will serve as peer models for the Catalyst students, we expect a population of Catalyst graduates to become future PHILTER participants.
New, Current, and Future Faculty Development
Current NSD Faculty will attend national workshops to become adroit in currently possessed and requested contemporary instrumentation. This training is essential for our Faculty to continue to incorporate modern technologies into course and lab modules. The requested instrumentation, in addition to our DNA Genetic Analyzer, will allow us to engage students in emerging practices resulting from conquering genomes. Furthermore, this allows our students direct examination of gene sequence and gene expression (transcription and translation).
One workshop will further our DNA applications beyond automated DNA sequencing. The LI-COR 4300L DNA Genetic Analyzer, obtained through previous NIH funding, also has AFLP and SNP analysis capabilities. These techniques are currently beyond the skill-sets of our current faculty. Two faculty members will travel to LI-COR headquarters to be trained on-site on the expanded utility of this instrument. We are requesting travel cost only, course registration and tuition is provided through the host.
Described in some depth below and in the narrative, we are requesting a microarray scanner (GenePix 4200A) for student exploration into large-scale expression studies and as the resource necessary to become a scanning facility as part of the GCAT initiative. We seek support for three faculty attending NSF funded microarray training to become properly trained in performing and analyzing microarray datasets. It is imperative that we gain knowledge in the computational and statistical reliability of such data and pass this information on to our students. To maintain consistency and proper procedure of an established successful program, we will also attend a workshop at Davidson College to become trained as a GCAT scanning facility.
Finally, we will send four total Faculty from Biology and Chemistry Departments to be trained in the broad utility of the JMS-T100DART AccuTOF-D Mass Spectrometer. One of many applications, this instrument will allow us to perform protein expression studies. The manufacturer (JEOL) provides off-site training and we are requesting support for travel and tuition (for two of the four individuals).
Combining the capabilities of these three instruments will allow our students to perform experimentation at each level of the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology and beyond. Student research experiences will be bountiful and rewarding. To increase pedagogical usage of these technologies we will host training workshops for additional Earlham faculty and regional professionals. We request financial support to host formal workshops on campus.