Hands-On Head Start
The key to building a strong foundation in the sciences is learning by doing. NSF-STEP gives underrepresented incoming first-year Dickinson students seeking to pursue science majors opportunities to actively engage in scientific research and experimentation.
“Many of the minority students who come in with an interest in the sciences get through that first semester and decide to pursue a non-science track,” explains Associate Professor of Biology David Kushner, one of the NSF-STEP faculty mentors. “Some of them make that decision because they want to do something else, and that’s fine. But there are a number who just feel like they don’t have the background or the tools or help they need, and they leave the natural sciences.”
Since cohort I began in summer 2010, following are examples of student/faculty research collaboration:
Bria Antoine (cohort III) and Cody Nichols (cohort II) worked with Professor Chuck Zwemer, associate professor of biology, on a project with Dickinson Public Safety and the Carlisle Police Department that looked at the biomechanics involved when an officer pulls his/her gun on a subject.
Kimani Keaton and Bri Brown (both cohort III) worked with Professor Teresa Barber, associate professor of psychology, to study the effects of memantine, a memory enhancement compound, on learning in day old chicks. Professor Barber is a behavioral neuroscientist.
Slay Sudah (cohort II) worked with Professor Missy Niblock, assistant professor of biology, to study whether male and female mice have the same level of response to carbon dioxide at a receptor in the brain stem that is related to the regulation of breathing. Their work is part of a larger project that looks at why some babies die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
JT Stoner and Chieuanh Nguyen (both cohort II) worked with Professor Mike Holden, professor of chemistry, on specific steps in the synthesis of compounds that may have possible activity as drugs. They worked on reactions of organoiron compounds that lead to molecules that are parts of compounds known to have pharmacological activity.
Some students in cohorts II and III have also been placed in labs for this summer:
Raheem Chowdhury will work with Professor Hans Pfister, associate professor of physics, in the summer of 2013. They will work on developing a solar reheater to remove humidity from Rector and Tome in the summers.
Ed Padilla will work with Professor Tim Wahls, associate professor of computer science, on a computer science project that will help the College Farm.
Lia Plascencia may be working with Professor Ben Edwards, associate professor of earth science, on the collection of volcanic rock samples from the Kamchatka Peninsula.
Angela Medrano and Bri Brown will be working with Professor John Henson, professor of biology, on studies of echinoderms and the effects of climate change on their development.
Alma Garcia-Perez will work with Professor Dave Kushner, professor of biology, on an ongoing project to study plant viruses.
Bria Antoine is going to continue working with Professor Chuck Zwemer, associate professor of biology, on the biomechanics project.