Undergraduate Education Program

Grant Abstracts 2015

California Lutheran University

David Marcey
Thousand Oaks, CA
December 2015

The Departments of Biology and Exercise Science at California Lutheran University have evaluated their programs in the light of national STEM education recommendations and their own successes in developing inquiry based courses and activities.  As a result, they plan to add research-based activities that will positively impact all biology and exercise science students.  The W. M. Keck Foundation is providing funds for the acquisition of an advanced instrumentation suite comprised of a flow cytometer, next generation DNA sequencer, spinning disk confocal microscope and motion capture analysis system.  This suite will be used to: 1) incorporate modern research methods into existing, advanced laboratory courses; 2) develop and implement a modern, research-based laboratory class for all biology majors; 3) expand methodologies used in faculty-mentored, student research projects; and, 4) integrate introductory biology and exercise science laboratories with advanced ones.  The project will engage a significant portion of life sciences undergraduates in modern, computationally based, investigative methods in life science research and will increase science literacy, encouraging more students to pursue graduate and professional careers.

California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo

Stephen Klisch
San Luis Obispo, CA
December 2015

A team of faculty at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo recently established a laboratory to study human motion biomechanics in projects with clear clinical and educational outcomes.  The Keck grant will support interdisciplinary student-faculty teams that will integrate research and education with inductive learning as a guiding principle in the Biomedical Engineering, Kinesiology, and Mechanical Engineering Departments.  The project includes three objectives: 1) engage an interdisciplinary team of students in targeted biomechanics research; 2) develop an interdisciplinary undergraduate course to engage students in biomechanics research; and, 3) develop inductive learning modules for use across several existing courses.  To achieve these objectives, the project team will mentor students in research efforts that will be integrated with a proposed new course, “Interdisciplinary Study in Biomechanics,” to generate the inductive learning modules, and operate the laboratory’s motion analysis system during course activities.

California State University, San Marcos

Joely Proudfit, Kristine Diekman
San Marcos, CA
December 2015

Support from the W. M. Keck Foundation will enable a faculty team at California State University, San Marcos to develop the American Indian Digital Media and Culture Project.  They will work with undergraduate liberal arts faculty and 180 undergraduate students to create, research, design and produce digital media arts projects with the assistance of tribal community subject matter experts and digital media artists.  The overall goals are: 1) to create an international model for the presentation of tribal cultural knowledge through the delivery of interdisciplinary undergraduate media arts based projects; and, 2) to provide tribal community members, students, and faculty the instruction, support and resources needed to create community responsive media projects.  These goals are supported by five “SMART” objectives (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Related and Timeline) as they contribute to the further development of teaching and learning practices that include native ways of knowing and support the University’s capacity for interdisciplinary liberal arts curricula.

Occidental College

John McCormack, Daniel J. Pondella II
Los Angeles, CA
December 2015

Occidental College proposes to transform its Moore Laboratory of Zoology into a genomics center with state-of-the-art equipment. At the same time, it will increase the capacity of the College's marine biology program to take larger numbers of student researchers offshore to conduct field research and collect samples that will be examined through genomic analysis in the newly equipped laboratory. Proposed programming will merge the College's natural history collections and Southern California field biology programs with genomics research and transition undergraduate students seamlessly from coursework to research, resulting in increased understanding of the scientific process and hands-on skills in new technology and bioinformatics. Placing students at the core of innovative research will create an effective setting for student-authored science in the liberal arts and prepare them with the experiences and skills needed to succeed and make meaningful contributions in an increasingly complex and competitive post-baccalaureate world.

San Francisco State University

Jennifer Summit
San Francisco, CA
December 2015

The W. M. Keck Foundation grant is to develop a structured approach to student academic coursework at the lower division, in students’ first and second years, where attrition is unacceptably high.  Lower division enrollment is concentrated in large, prerequisite courses with little connection between them or individual contact between students and faculty.  A team of faculty and administrators at San Francisco State University will reorganize these courses into coherent pathways that incorporate personal career exploration and pre-major advising.  Since these courses potentially count toward multiple majors in cognate fields, this project aims to better integrate them to allow students to progress toward their degrees while investigating academic options in the context of larger career goals.  With this important balance of structure, guidance, and progress, the team expects to strengthen retention of lower division students while also helping them to make well-informed choices about their academic and career paths.

Azusa Pacific University

Megan Prosser
Azusa, CA
June 2015

Cell sorting and flow cytometry are invaluable tools in both basic and clinical laboratory research in an array of fields such as immunology, cancer biology, molecular biology, genetics, and cell biology.  Cell sorters enable selection of pure cell populations based on cell surface protein expression.  Flow cytometry supports varied applications including: protein expression analysis, cell cycle and proliferation analysis, detection of apoptosis, and killing assays.  Currently this instrumentation is not available in the department of biology and chemistry at Azusa Pacific.  When needed, these experiments are performed at collaborating institutions, which prevents students from being active participants.  This proposal seeks to transform the approach to undergraduate learning through the intentional incorporation of cell sorting and flow cytometry in a minimum of 5 courses and 3 research laboratories in order to accomplish the following aims: 1) enhance existing classroom laboratories by increasing hands-on undergraduate exposure to innovative techniques and increased quantitation; 2) expand the undergraduate skill set in order to increase employability post-graduation; 3) enable laboratory development for current courses for which this task has been limited based on available equipment; and 4) increase student driven execution and analysis of experiments.

Benedictine College

Darrin Muggli
Atchison, KS
June 2015

Benedictine College (BC) is establishing a new model for initiating ABET-accredited engineering programs at liberal arts colleges using a novel application of distance engineering education.  For the past six years, BC students have been earning ABET-accredited bachelor’s degrees in chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering through distance learning provided by the University of North Dakota.  Over that same time period, BC engineering has grown from four to 165 students and from one to seven faculty members.  BC is entering the final phase of implementing this successful model, which involves establishing laboratories for each engineering discipline so that BC can initiate its own ABET-accredited degree programs.  The proposed project will implement project-based learning (PBL) widely across the BC Engineering curriculum and in extra-curricular activities.  The BC engineering faculty members will use PBL, in a collaborative effort with their students, to build laboratory equipment and disseminate the results to faculty at other colleges.  The proposed project will capitalize on the existing commitment of the BC faculty members to improve student learning with projects.  If funded, this proposal will improve student learning, provide a cost-effective means to establish engineering laboratories, and assist the several other liberal arts colleges that are adopting the BC engineering model.

California State University, Northridge

George Youssef
Northridge, CA
June 2015

The College of Engineering and Computer Science seeks to establish a Composite Manufacturing Laboratory to train students on the design, mechanics and manufacturing of composite materials.  The laboratory will provide education and research opportunities for undergraduates, predominantly from underrepresented groups.  Specifically, the laboratory will be integrated into three courses and will be available for senior design projects.  It is expected that at least 560 students will be trained annually on advanced manufacturing techniques, mechanics of composite materials, modern engineering materials and mechanical design.  This training will enable graduates to secure better employment in the advanced manufacturing sector.  Besides enhancing undergraduate education, the laboratory will provide faculty from all five departments in the College with a facility to pursue research projects that will include research opportunities for undergraduates.  Finally, the laboratory will enhance the College’s competitiveness in seeking external funding from state and federal agencies as well as industry.

Carroll College

Kelly Cline
Helena, MT
June 2015

Over 65% of students at Carroll College take a statistics course as part of their degree program requirements.  The purpose of Project InterStats, an interdisciplinary collaboration of five faculty who teach statistics and twelve faculty from disciplines that regularly employ statistics, is to design and implement strategies that help students more effectively relate their statistics coursework to research activity in their own fields of study.  Project Interstats will develop a unified set of curricular materials to be used both in statistics courses and in a broad cross section of courses in other disciplines; these materials will be compiled into Active Statistics, a mixed media online resource to replace the traditional statistics textbook.  Active Statistics will incorporate text, videos, in class activities, data analysis exercises in Excel, clicker questions, and automatically graded assessments.  Certain units will be developed as stand-alone Moodle micro-courses that can be integrated into any academic course a la carte, including pre-statistics liberal arts courses and post-statistics courses in student majors.  Statistics coursework also will require students to pose research questions, design studies, gather data, perform analyses and draw meaningful conclusions.  Project Interstats culminates with active dissemination and establishment of a statistical literacy center on campus.

Louisiana State University

Jeff Carney, Randy Duran, Clint Willson, Vince Wilson
Baton Rouge, LA
June 2015

U.S. Census data reports approximately 39% of the U.S. population lives in shoreline counties.  The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration estimates 55% of all Americans live within 50 miles of a coast.  Students attending Louisiana State University study within the living laboratory of the Mississippi delta and Louisiana coast, one of the most distinctive, complex, and culturally rich environments in the nation.  As a result of land subsidence, sea level rise and Gulf storms, this delta is also one of the most vulnerable.  The LSU School of the Coast & Environment, College of Engineering, and College of Art & Design have combined strengths to create a new multidisciplinary undergraduate applied research program of study, the Delta Research Minor.  Built around a collaborative “design thinking” methodology, this program will focus on coastal issues and distinct but interrelated components: a series of multidisciplinary research courses; a business/industry internship; a faculty-mentored research project; and creation of the Delta Research Studio, an active learning environment shared by students and mentors.  Graduates of the Delta Research Minor will be uniquely prepared for the emergent challenges facing coastal Louisiana and similarly vulnerable coasts worldwide.

Mills College

Elizabeth Wade
Oakland, CA
June 2015

Mills College proposes to strengthen the college’s undergraduate environmental science programs and research capabilities through improved field access and the acquisition of key equipment and analytical instruments for coursework, fieldwork, and laboratory analysis.  This project will help prepare more women and women of color, particularly those in underrepresented populations, for participation in society's efforts to resolve environmental issues.  The college’s degree programs in environmental science differ from those of other California institutions in having a women-focused environment of small classes with close faculty-student interactions.  Mills has experienced a growing interest among undergraduate students in the natural sciences, resulting in a doubling of total enrollments in natural science courses over the last decade, but the college’s equipment has not kept pace and requires modernization.  The equipment will enable more field experiences, exposure of students to modern research instrumentation in their course work, and support of research projects by faculty members and students.

University of Texas at Austin

Andy Ellington
Austin, TX
June 2015

Building on the successful model of UT-Austin’s Freshman Research Initiative, a new team proposes to further transform undergraduate education by integrating research and teaching missions in the form of a new type of class, the Technology Stream, and a new type of educational position, the “technology educator” (TE).  Technology Streams will involve undergraduates in working on cutting-edge, technically demanding, authentic projects in fields such as bioinformatics, computational fashion design, and learning analytics.  TEs will be postdoctoral-level staff members associated with University facilities or technology centers.  Through their Stream experience, students will develop technological knowledge and skills that will prepare them to be competitive in the job market and to pursue a variety of postgraduate career paths.

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