Undergraduate Education Program

Grant Abstracts 2016

California State University, Sacramento

Thomas Landerholm, Kelly McDonald
Sacramento, CA
$250,000
December 2016

The Sustainable Interdisciplinary Research to Inspire Undergraduate Success (SIRIUS) project at Sacramento State incorporates course based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) into existing laboratory courses to foster collaboration, critical thinking, and science and technology literacy.  The ultimate goal is to improve the retention and success of students, especially those underrepresented in the sciences.  With a focus on human impacts on the American River, adjacent to campus and classified as “Impaired” by the Federal Clean Water Act, students in classes across disciplines will collaborate on a single large problem, generate original data in classes and be better prepared for the workforce and/or graduate school through direct research experience.  The approach is threefold: (1) acquire the needed equipment to study air, water and soil quality, and soil and stream characteristics, both in the field and the laboratory; (2) implement CUREs in six existing laboratory courses in the Departments of Chemistry, Environmental Studies, and Geology; and, (3) evaluate each of the six CUREs for their impact, both on students and faculty, allowing redesign and reimplementation.  Following these initial investments, these courses can be maintained indefinitely within existing departmental operating expenses.  This expansion of the SIRIUS project will give the university greater capacity for student success, faculty engagement, and resolution of this important environmental issue.

Louisiana State University

Isabelina Nahmens, Laura Ikuma, Craig Harvey
Baton Rouge, LA
$250,000
December 2016

While healthcare in the US has made great strides in improving health, the delivery system still needs major improvements, as evidenced by increasing costs (4-10% per year) and ongoing problems with patient safety.  Healthcare improvement requires skills in quality, information technology, safety, human factors, and project management, which are all taught in industrial engineering (IE) programs.  However, to accurately address healthcare needs, curricula needs to be enhanced with healthcare applications and reinforced with hands-on experience.  This project creates a healthcare certificate for undergraduate IE students at LSU to develop healthcare management professionals through partnerships with local healthcare entities.  In the past three years, the LSU-IE program has grown to 206 students (307% increase) and about 70% of students have either completed a capstone project or research in healthcare.  This project will expand IE students’ knowledge and career options via a healthcare certificate composed of one new healthcare course, one seminar course, two capstone courses with a healthcare project, and an internship in a healthcare business.  A Healthcare Industry Advisory Board will play a prominent role in guiding the initiative.

National Academy of Sciences

Jay Labov
Washington, DC
$250,000
December 2016

Improvement of undergraduate education and student learning increasingly is a high priority policy and political issue at both the state and national levels.  Success in promoting distinctive learning experiences for undergraduates in the sciences, engineering, and the liberal arts depends upon reaching consensus and shared vision among a multidimensional array of interests and often competing goals and priorities.  To address these issues strategically, systemically, and holistically, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will establish the Academies Roundtable on Systemic Change in Undergraduate STEM Education.  The roundtable will enable leaders from across the STEM policy, research, and implementation communities of higher education to convene in a neutral space that is overseen by one of the nation’s most respected sources of policy research and advice.  This process will allow all member organizations to (1) learn from each other's efforts, (2) work more efficiently to address complex issues related to undergraduate STEM education, and (3) make collective decisions about future policies and priorities as well as plan their own work based on deeper understanding of the perspectives of other stakeholders in the system.

Seattle University

Shiny Abraham, Agnieszka Miguel
Seattle, WA
$250,000
December 2016

This project will support the creation of an innovation laboratory that aims to provide a platform for a curriculum rich in Internet of Things (IoT)-related skills, and serve as a space that fosters innovation and creativity.  The curriculum enhancement aspect of this project will focus on incorporating IoT-based hardware and software platforms in both core and elective Electrical and Computer Engineering courses.  The research aspect will stimulate students’ intellectual curiosity by engaging them in scientific inquiry and student-driven projects that benefit humanity.  The underlying aim is to achieve a pedagogical transformation that empowers a new generation of engineers who not only contribute to the technical workforce, but also understand the societal impacts of their contributions.

University of San Diego

Noelle Norton
San Diego, CA
$250,000
December 2016

A university humanities center provides a home where students and faculty from across the institution exchange ideas, share scholarly work, and participate in interdisciplinary activities that foster collaboration between the humanities and other areas of academic inquiry.  This project will build programs that promote active student engagement and stimulate collaborative teaching and research in USD’s newly established Humanities Center.  The Center is building programs that engage students in USD’s College of Arts and Sciences, and professional schools of Business, Engineering, Nursing, Peace Studies, and Leadership & Education Sciences. USD’s Humanities Center began with initial programming in September 2015.  It now includes a physical space that opened in September 2016.  The student-focused center will: (1) involve students and faculty in collaborative interdisciplinary research; (2) increase the scope of the digital humanities; (3) support collaborative development and oversight of new interdisciplinary curriculum that fosters active learning; and, (4) use the humanities as a bridge to build relationships between community members and the university.  This combination of humanities with other disciplines in curricular and co-curricular activities can be transformative for USD students and faculty, as well as members of the broader community.

Westminster College

Bonnie Baxter, Matt Kruback, Jaimi Butler
Salt Lake City, UT
$250,000
December 2016

The Great Salt Lake Institute currently engages undergraduate students in its regionally oriented science curriculum and in the community of Westminster College, the only liberal arts college in Utah.  With the lake as a thematic umbrella, the institute facilitates collaboration between disciplines and encourages inclusive perspectives.  This project supports incorporation of the Arts in STEM and endeavors to create a STEAM program called SALT: Scientists and Artists Learning Together.  STEAM approaches are effective at inspiring innovation and affecting learning outcomes, but they are rare at the undergraduate level.  The new approach is envisioned to address the lack of undergraduate curricula in STEAM, expand interdisciplinary creativity, and address process skills such as inquiry, design, and experimentation, by combining disciplines in an equal and collaborative way.  The SALT project will: (1) create transformative and transferrable STEAM courses, (2) develop a summer STEAM research program that allows student/faculty teams to explore creativity, and (3) inspire others by assessing and conveying the successes of SALT to the broader community.  Mixed interdisciplinary groups of students and faculty in SALT will highlight the creative process in all STEAM disciplines to bridge gaps and stimulate new conversations.

California State University, Fullerton

Sang June Oh
Fullerton, CA
$300,000
June 2016

The College of Engineering at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) plans to develop a new certificate option on the design and fabrication of biomedical devices.  Their goal is to prepare their undergraduate students for careers in biomedical device engineering through an innovative, timely, and multidisciplinary program.  The program will provide students with a theoretical and practical understanding of the hardware, material, electrical, software, anatomical, and regulatory aspects of biomedical engineering.  The design and manufacturing of medical devices and assistive technology are critical to meeting the needs of a growing and aging population.  Orange County is widely recognized as a hub of medical device design and manufacturing with leading biomedical companies in proximity to CSUF.  Additionally, the corridor between Orange and San Diego Counties is heavily populated by medical technology firms providing strong employment, income, and career potential for their students.

California State University, Los Angeles

Frank Gomez
Los Angeles, CA
$375,000
June 2016

The Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Biology plan to engage over 1500 undergraduate students annually in the interdisciplinary field of paper microfluidics by developing, integrating, and linking this new technology into six current laboratory courses: General Chemistry (two semesters), Introductory Biology (two semesters), Quantitative Analysis, and Cell and Molecular Biology.  Students will partake in 10 course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) focused on the design, development, and application of paper-based analytical devices.  In this interdisciplinary project, students will learn in an environment that is informed by research, scholarship, and up-to-date practice and knowledge.  Emphasis will be on research processes and problems.  Students will be active participants and teaching and learning will be student-focused.  Students will conduct group work and collaborative projects as part of newly designed research projects.  Learning will be research-project-based and students will learn how to do research and be a researcher.  The CUREs will evolve and build on research from previous students/class work.  The novelty in this project lies in using paper microfluidics as the vehicle to excite students’ passion for science and research by examining real-world problems science can solve.

University of La Verne

Christine Broussard
La Verne, CA
$300,000
June 2016

Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) provide an alternative to the apprenticeship model for high impact research immersion experiences.  CUREs promote some of the same key learning outcomes as apprenticeships, including building knowledge and skills, while increasing STEM retention and success.  Unlike most apprenticeships, however, CUREs are integrated into the curriculum and, therefore, deliver research immersion experiences in a structure that promotes inclusivity.  The University of La Verne  is a Hispanic Serving Institution with a student population comprised of many first-generation college students, students highly dependent on financial aid (more than 80%), and students with familial and financial responsibilities that would preclude participation in or attaining maximum benefit from apprenticeships.  This project will expand the benefits of the CURE model (piloted successfully in biology) by developing lower and upper division CUREs with an innovative technology intensive focus across a variety of STEM (biology, computer science, mathematics, and physics) and associated disciplines (anthropology, kinesiology, and sociology).  This program aims to develop a blueprint with evidence to support the broader adoption of CUREs in STEM and associated disciplines at institutions serving diverse student needs.

Whittier College

Darrin Good
Whittier, CA
$300,000
June 2016

Whittier College is at the threshold of a new era in STEM education as it prepares for the opening of its completely renovated Science & Learning Center in September 2016.  This award will greatly enhance efforts already underway to improve the STEM curriculum by integrating research more fully into the 1st and 2nd-year experiences of students pursuing STEM majors.  Critical to this effort is: 1) supplying needed scientific equipment for the seven departments housed in the newly renovated structure; 2) funding faculty and course development; and 3) supporting a summer undergraduate research program for 1st and 2nd year students utilizing the new equipment and providing new research opportunities especially for those from underrepresented groups – the students who are most at risk for dropping out of STEM majors very early in their college careers.  The goal is to increase the overall number of STEM majors, including those from underrepresented groups, and improve their retention through graduation.  Increasing these numbers and developing a model program employing high impact practices that can be used at other institutions will help meet an acute regional and national need for STEM graduates.

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