National Science Foundation Awards $255,000 Grant To UNC Researchers

Image Credit: UNC

Image Credit: UNC

August 30, 2016 – University of Northern Colorado biologists have received a $255,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project that addresses a U.S. presidential call to increase the number of scientists and engineers.

Assistant Professors Sue Ellen DeChenne-Peters and Ginger Fisher will conduct the three-year study that will determine whether a research-based class at UNC boosts retention in science. For the study, three other colleges and universities will also incorporate the class into their curriculum.

In their project proposal, DeChenne-Peters and Fisher note that half of college students interested in science leave the discipline before graduating. In an attempt to solve this problem, Fisher and DeChenne-Peters developed a Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) for an introductory biology course at UNC. Initial results indicate that participation in the CURE increases students’ content knowledge and improves their motivation to learn biology, both of which have been shown to increase retention.

By expanding the class at other universities and studying outcomes, DeChenne-Peters and Fisher will be able to further determine the impacts of CUREs on student research skills and retention in science at a diverse set of institutions of higher education.

About the Award

  • Project title: “Collaborative Research: Infusing Authentic Research in the Introductory Biology Curriculum-A Multi-Institutional Study”

  • Grant award: $255,150 (award starts Sept. 1, 2016, and ends Aug. 31, 2019)

  • Funding agency: National Science Foundation

  • Researchers: Sue Ellen DeChenne-Peters (principal investigator) and Ginger Fisher (co-principal investigator) in collaboration with University of Texas at El Paso faculty

  • Of Note: As part of the study, UNC’s course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) will be offered at University of Texas at El Paso, Wartburg College, and Mount Mary University. “With such a diverse student population, this project will determine if this CURE improves students’ content knowledge, research skills, motivation towards learning biology, and retention in biology,” according to the researchers’ project proposal.