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May 19, 2020

Biology Professor Receives NSF Grant

Associate Professor of Biology Michele Malotky is a co-principal investigator on a multi-institutional project entitled, “Collaborative Research: Developing Service-Learning Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences to Increase Student Interest in Research by Targeting Communal Goals.” 

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the grant provides more than $235,000 in funding over three years. The work is being conducted in conjunction with colleagues at N.C. Agricultural &Technical University (Dr. Kelsie Bernot, principle investigator, and Dr. Angela White, co-principle investigator), with collaborators at N.C. State University (Dr. Maura B. Nsonwu) and the University of California-Santa Barbara (Dr. Mike Wilton and Dr. Eduardo Gonzalez Nino). 

The proposal is the product of preliminary studies carried out by Kelsie and Michele on an inter-institutional course combining two high impact practices, course-based undergraduate research (CURE) and service learning (SL), which engages students in ongoing community based participatory research projects in the Greensboro area.  

This course, originally funded through an implementation grant from SENCER, the signature initiative of the National Center for Science & Civic Engagement, provides biology, public health, and health science students with exposure to authentic research experiences while working with community members on health disparities issues. The overarching goal of the grant is to measure the impact of this hybrid (SL-CURE) design on the recruitment and retention of underrepresented populations of students in STEM fields.

Michele, Kelsie, and their collaborators recently published their initial findings in a paper entitled, “Fostering inclusion through an inter-institutional, community-engaged, course-based undergraduate research experience.” Authors on the paper also included community members and students who played a vital role in the conception and assessment of the course design.
Over the next three years, the research team will apply survey and assessment tools to gauge the impact of their SL-CURE course in an effort to dismantle the misconception of science as isolated academic exercise by emphasizing the communal nature of research endeavors. As the current pandemic illustrates, the disparities which exist between different populations in regard to health-care outcomes negatively impact underrepresented populations. Solving these problems will require a innovative solutions through a diverse work force that brings equity to classroom, workplace, and community.

Paper citation: Malotky M, Mayes K, Price K, Smith G, Mann S, Guinyard M, Veale S, Ksor V, Siu L, Mlo H, Young A, Nsonwu M, Morrison S, Sudha S, Bernot K. 2020. Fostering inclusion through an interinstitutional, community-engaged, course-based undergraduate research experience. J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. 21(1): doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.1939


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