The National Science Foundation has awarded to $1.5 million to a network of community colleges that includes Muskegon 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.
“MCC has been a part of CCURI for the last 4 years. It is exciting that we will continue as a national partner and will be able to take part in the national dialogue and data collection related to student research at community colleges.” said Darren Mattone, instructor of biology at MCC and one of the co-principal investigators for the CCURI grant.
At MCC, the monies will be used for faculty development, supplies for conducting student experiments, and student travel to present their findings at research colloquiums.
““Most undergraduate research that’s conducted by students in their undergraduate years is done usually during their junior and senior year at a four-year institution,” said Mattone. “MCC is unique in that we are starting students very early in their college career doing research, starting with a question, researching the question, developing a hypothesis, and carrying out and researching their topic on their own. This isn’t a canned lab activity. They are actually defining the problem that they want to investigate and designing the experiment to collect the data relevant to their hypothesis.”
MCC’s new Science Center, which opened in Fall 2015, enhances those unique opportunities.
“This new facility has a dedicated space for research projects or honors projects,” explained Mattone. “This expands the opportunities that students are going to be able to participate in, whether it’s inquiry-based course offerings, research-focused classes or higher level STEM classes.”
The NSF grant is part of its 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.