Central Wyoming College to share in funding from National Science Foundation for undergraduate research

The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.5 million to a network of community colleges including Central Wyoming College, for the expansion of research opportunities to students.

Austin Chase

Central Wyoming College student Austin Chase studies the impact of climate change while on an interdisciplinary expedition into the Wind River mountains.

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 has provided training and support to colleges launching research projects.  The funding could support students in a number of field-and-lab based projects at CWC including: Thermophiles in hot springs, and high-altitude landscape development, with Suki Smaglik; the impact of climate change on Wind River glaciers (ICCE), with Jacki Klancher and Darran Wells, high-altitude archaeology (ICCE) with Todd Guenther; polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in Native American women, with Tara Womack and  Micro Plastics in fresh water with Kirsten Kapp.

Jose Gonzalez captures the temperature of a hot spring in Yellowstone on a field trip with Professor Suki Smaglik.

Jose Gonzalez captures the temperature of a hot spring in Yellowstone on a field trip with Professor Suki Smaglik.

“This research effort has helped students better connect with both classroom material and with their instructors; the results serve everyone. Connected students try harder, go farther and do it with enthusiasm. The research these students perform at CWC may well have permanent implications for their academic and professional pursuit of study and work in the sciences,” said Jacki Klancher, Assistant Professor, Environmental Technology and GIS.

CWC 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.

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

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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