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Skidmore College

Program geared to raise number of young scientists

January 22, 2011

Program geared to raise number of young scientists

Denise McQuade

Denise McQuade

Skidmore College will use a new $10,000 grant from the Bender Scientific Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region for a summer program designed to raise the number of students studying the sciences. 

Open to both college and high school students, the project, titled "Growing the Science Pipeline," will encourage original research, enhance community outreach, and foster mentoring of young scientists. Denise McQuade, senior teaching associate in Skidmore's Department of Biology, is the principal investigator for the project.

Said McQuade, "Skidmore is deeply grateful for the support of the Community Foundation, which will allow the college to provide research opportunities to students who would not otherwise have them. Our commitment to undergraduate research reflects a broader commitment to promoting the sciences, especially identifying and developing the next generation of scientists."

The project is geared toward younger college students (rising sophomores and juniors) and older high school students (rising juniors and seniors). A total of eight college students will participate for eight weeks, pursuing original research in the natural sciences. A key part of their responsibilities will be to mentor eight high school students, who will work as partners with the college students for four weeks. Advantages for the high school students include the opportunity to engage in original summer research in partnership with a college student and a professor as well as the chance to be mentored by a college science major.

Skidmore students who wish to apply for the program must submit their applications on campus by Feb. 7. High school students who wish to participate are invited to an information meeting scheduled at 2:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14, in the Saratoga High School Teaching Auditorium. Evelyn Perkins, a member of the Saratoga High School faculty, will serve as high school coordinator. High school applications are due March15 and should be submitted to Perkins at the Saratoga Springs High School, 1 Blue Streak Blvd., Saratoga Springs, N.Y., 12866.

The program is open to all interested high school students in the area, with preference given to current sophomores and juniors. High school students will be responsible for their own transportation to and from Skidmore and must provide for their own meals.

Skidmore has a long history of fostering collaborative research involving students and faculty. Last summer, 74 Skidmore students collaborated with 46 faculty members on 51 research projects, the majority in the natural sciences. In 2008, the college launched Skidmore Scholars in Science and Mathematics, with support from the National Science Foundation. That program is designed to enhance the skills and retention of potential majors in the fields of math, science, and computer technology.

In addition, Skidmore maintains several research links with local high schools. Over the past decade, local high school juniors and seniors partnering with Skidmore faculty have used the college's advanced scientific equipment for research. Skidmore also has hosted demonstrations and workshops for high schools in the area.

McQuade said, "This grant presents a wonderful opportunity for students to engage in the scientific process first-hand, acquiring skills, reinforcing concepts, and forming relationships with other scientists. High school participants will gain solid experience and may be more likely to enter science programs in college. Skidmore students will be able to further their research while increasing their understanding of the value of mentoring. We are confident that this program will be a vibrant addition to Skidmore's summer offerings."



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