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NSF funding to support student research

August  16, 2013

Dr. Kimberly Murphy

A research project at Augustana College funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) could change the way students learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the so-called STEM subjects.

The project will engage students in authentic science experiments on the leading edge of knowledge in order to prepare them for real-world careers in science, according to Dr. Kimberly Murphy, an assistant professor of biology at Augustana who was awarded the NSF grant.

“The opportunity for Augustana students excites me the most,” said Dr. Murphy.

The project is expected to touch close to 200 students over three years, she said, and will include experiments and laboratory work in her genetics class and a class in molecular genetics taught by her collaborator at Augustana, Dr. Lori Scott, professor of biology.

“We will be addressing real-world research questions, and our students will actually be contributing to the larger scientific community,” she said. “It will help them understand the whole process of science, and how scientists think, and the sense of excitement of being part of that.”

Also contributing to the NSF project are faculty and students at the University of Arizona, Seattle Pacific University and Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio.

The larger objective has broad implications. The curriculum and assessment tools that are developed as a result of the project will be shared and made available to any college or university in the country, feeding a growing interest in forging closer connections between students and real-world careers.

Augustana College already has a strong reputation in the sciences, according to Dr. Murphy, particularly with the placement of students in medical schools and other graduate programs for advanced degrees. Now, Dr. Murphy hopes to see that success extend to careers in scientific research.

The NSF grant award for $527,000 will be shared among all four institutions and spread across three years. It is part of an NSF program called “Transforming Undergraduate Education.”

Sam Schlouch
Director, Public Relations and Arts Promotion
(309) 794-7833
samschlouch@augustana.edu