I am new to the Community College Biotech world, and so am learning a lot about its successes and challenges every day. I had a chance (thanks Sandy Porter) to read a great article about increasing diversity in Biotech, and how incorporating research into biotech teaching is so crucial. The article, Setting the Foundation for Success: Undergraduate Research at Community Colleges by R. Deborah Overath, PhD, from Del Mar College, was posted on the SACNAS website over the summer (July 13, to be exact). What, I wondered, was SACNAS? SACNAS stands for Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science.
The article makes the point that a large percentage of Hispanic and Native American undergraduates are at community colleges. These colleges could be a vital source of diverse STEM participants, if we can retain the students in the STEM disciplines. The article goes on to demonstrate how research is not outside the teaching mission of community colleges, but rather an integral part of education--just as nursing students practice nursing, and music recording students actually record musicians as part of their coursework.
Some community colleges are already incorporating undergraduate research into their curricula, but it can be an uphill battle. If you want to start, or expand your college’s research program, read the article and see what resources will help you get to where you want to be!
Article Synopsis (for the time challenged)
To strengthen and diversify STEM programs and ultimately the STEM workforce we must look toward community college programs.
Incorporating research into community college STEM courses will help retain students and provide valuable experience for their careers.
Teaching and research can work hand in hand to provide the best education for students, and there are resources to help make that cooperation possible.