UTSA, Alamo Colleges partnership provides research opportunities for students

students in lab

In the UTSA College of Engineering lab of Rena Bizios are (at left) Kim-Briana Lorine, a pre-med biology major from San Antonio College, and Madeleine Farrer, a UTSA biomedical engineering major.

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(July 28, 2014) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio and Alamo Colleges have launched a new partnership this summer that is giving community college students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in top-tier research laboratories.

The 10-week Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) CIMA Undergraduate Research Program is one of only two in the country funded by a three-year, $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant. The program increases the success rates of minorities studying in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields at the Alamo Colleges.

The NSF funding supports student undergraduate research, peer and faculty mentoring, tutoring, the creation of STEM study centers, STEM student clubs, faculty professional development and training for college recruiters.

Alamo College students have been paired with UTSA faculty mentors from the UTSA College of Sciences, College of Engineering and College of Liberal and Fine Arts. The students and mentors are working side-by-side on a variety of research projects in biology, chemistry, computer science, geological science, physics and psychology.

"This is an exceptional opportunity for students to gain research experience and learn what campus life is like at a top-tier institution," said Gail Taylor, associate director of STEM initiatives in the Center for Research and Training in the Sciences. "The Alamo Colleges best students are coming to UTSA, getting research experience and connecting with our faculty and students. Having a connection with a faculty member at a four-year institution greatly increases retention of community college students once they arrive on campus."

In addition to the research underway in the UTSA laboratories, the students took tours at Southwest Research Institute, where they observed the drug development process and tissue engineering.

"We see the need to make an effort to help minority students who may not always feel comfortable going from a community college to a university, especially those studying subjects in the tough STEM fields," said Maureen Cartledge, St. Philip's College interim vice president for academic success. "We really feel privileged to be a part of this grant to be a stepping stone for perhaps an academic future or career that students otherwise would not have considered."

The LSAMP CIMA Undergraduate Research Program will end Aug. 8 with the students making oral and scientific poster presentations about the research they conducted with their UTSA faculty mentors over the summer.

Established by Congress in 1991, LSAMP is aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of students successfully completing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) baccalaureate degree programs, and increasing the number of students interested in, academically qualified for and matriculated into programs of graduate study. LSAMP supports sustained and comprehensive approaches that facilitate achievement of the long-term goal of increasing the number of students who earn doctorates in STEM fields, particularly those from populations underrepresented in STEM fields.

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