IHCC's Amphibian Research Team Leaves for Washington, DC to Attend Innovation Boot Camp

Amphibian Research Team Finalists in National Science Foundation Community College Innovation Challenge
Inver Hills biology students Sarah Kline, Amy Blise, Jack Bauer and Anabonita Martinez, IHCC’s Amphibian Research Team, leave for Washington, DC this week to participate in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Community College Innovation Challenge.  The CCIC is a contest in which students enrolled in community colleges propose innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM-based) solutions to perplexing, real world problems.
In April, the Amphibian Research Team was named one of ten finalists in the Community College Innovation Challenge.  The team is composed of biology faculty advisor, Lisa Tracy, and students Sarah Kline, Amy Blise, Jack Bauer and Anabonita Martinez.  John Moriarty, wildlife researcher with Three Rivers Park District, serves as community collaborator.
The team will participate in a three day Innovation Boot Camp.  This professional development workshop on innovation and entrepreneurship, featuring experts in a variety of related fields, is designed to hone skills applicable to commercializing ideas, using technology for social applications, communicating with stakeholders and creating business strategies.
The team has been studying the effects of an environmental pathogen that has been causing amphibian declines worldwide.  They have found the fungus Bd (Batrachochytrium dendrobatis) in nearlybeekers all the frog samples from the Inver Hills campus.  Students detect the presence of this pathogen by swabbing frogs and completing a series of molecular biology techniques.  Their next step is to test for the presence of a protective chemical that may be helping some of the frogs.  This project broadens participation in novel STEM research by including the students from introductory biology and environmental science courses.
A video that tells their story can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsezFdQ6w34 or on YouTube by searching Amphibian Research at Inver Hills Community College.
The Amphibian Research Team from IHCC is entered in the category of broadening participation in STEM.  By expanding research to include general biology and environmental science students on a diverse campus, many underrepresented students are engaged in STEM on a deeper level. Over 200 IHCC students and 140 students at our sister colleges have participated in this research so far.   Undergraduate research is one of the high-impact practices, or teaching methods, that have been shown to increase student retention and student success, particularly in groups that are under represented at the college level.
On Wednesday, there is an event on Capital Hill where each team’s work is displayed for Senators and Representatives.  NSF provided IHCC with $500 to develop a display, which will include a poster (below), video and hand-on opportunities for participants to try the molecular biology techniques used in the study.    The contest runs through Thursday.  Winners will take home a $3,000 award each.
Students gain skills in molecular biology techniques, field biology techniques and scientific study design.
“I am very proud of these students,” noted Tracy. “They have worked hard since September, sometimes as early as at six o’clock in the morning, dedicating hours of their time and creativity to this work. In addition, they take their skills into the classroom where many students are involved in this novel research.”
For more information about the contest, visit the challenge website for the full eligibility criteria, entry guidelines, time line and prize information.
To view poster click on CCIC

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