A summer science experience for US community college students at Parkland College has received National Science Foundation funding for a new three-year cycle.
The 10-week PRECS program, or Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students, will host 10 students for each summer during 2020-2022. During this new cycle, the student stipend has been increased to $6,000 for the 10-week program.
The program involves a boot camp at Parkland College in Champaign that prepares students for the research immersion at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. PRECS focuses on phenotypic plasticity, the phenomenon of a single genotype producing multiple phenotypes depending on environment, and includes research areas as diverse as the interaction between genotype and ozone pollution on maize, the effect of environmental stress on neuroanatomy, and the interactions of genes and environment on fish behavior.
Originally funded by a three-year grant (#1559908/1559929) from the National Science Foundation, PRECS ran during the summers of 2017-2019. During this time, PRECS hosted a total of 32 students from across the country (IL, NJ, MA, MD, MO, CO, NC, PA, CA), including six Parkland students. PRECS participants have gone on to continue their academic career at their home community colleges and to transfer to four-year institutions. Two PRECS participants are currently pursuing graduate programs, according to Dr. Britt Carlson, program director and chemistry associate professor at Parkland.
"Many PRECS participants secured research positions after completing PRECS, and in three cases, these research positions were in their PRECS host labs," Carlson said. "Participants have attended national conferences and presented their research." Scientific posters created during PRECS for the IL Summer Research Symposium and videos of past participants can be found at https://spark.parkland.edu/precs_research/
Parkland alum and PRECS 2017 student Elliot Ping said of the program, "The great thing about being there full-time is that you really have the opportunity to immerse yourself...You're really involved in everything and you're...getting the hands-on experience too."
PRECS is now accepting applications for Summer 2020; the deadline to participate is March 1. Eligible students:
must be currently enrolled at a community college
must be US citizens or permanent residents
have completed General Biology I and General Chemistry I (preferred)
Underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. Preferred students will earn a $6,000 stipend. Housing/food allowances, as well as travel allowances (if needed) are also available. Application materials and more information are available at https://lnkd.in/eg4q_Wi.
As advice to students considering whether or not to apply, Kat Cortez of PRECS 2019 says, "Don't hesitate because you learn so much about yourself and your ability. You're capable of so much more than you think you are. And I think that's what this experience taught me."