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College of Human Ecology

Bridges fosters minority student success in science; 13 participate in summer research on campus

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thirteen community college students partnered with K-State researchers this summer on science projects ranging from growth of cancer cells to microbiological safety of tea.

They were part of Kansas Bridges to the Future, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, to help under-represented minority students interested in biomedical bio-behavioral disciplines transfer to K-State to complete Bachelor of Science degrees.

“This is the best group of students we have had in the 8 years of the program,” said Denis Medeiros who heads the 8-week paid internship program on campus. Medeiros heads the Department of Human Nutrition and is associate dean of the College of Human Ecology.

Students paired with faculty mentors

The group included Native American, African American, Vietnamese, Pacific Island and Hispanic students, he said. They worked with faculty mentors in veterinary sciences, human nutrition, chemistry, computer sciences and engineering.

Research projects included the microbiology and molecular biology of Shig toxin-producing E. coli, the role of caffeine in the reinforcing effect of a sucrose reward in rats and regulation of gap junction in LNCaP prostate cancer cells.

Mentors were Steve Warren, Gurdip Singh, Stefan Bossman, Maasaki Tamura, Mark Weiss, Derryl Troyer, Larry Erickson, Daniel Fung, Dave Renter, Annilese Nguyen, Brian Lindshield, Matt Palmetier and Brenda McDaniel.

“Studies consistently show that faculty mentoring is a critical part of student retention. This year we had more faculty volunteers than student,” Medeiros said.

Students transfer into science programs

Almost 25 students have earned science degrees through Bridges, he said. They have gone on to teach, work in labs and attend professional schools in medicine, dentistry and chiropractics.

Thirty four former Bridges students are on campus this fall. They will continue to conduct research as part of the Developing Scholars program. They were required to have participated in a cooperative learning research project before transferring.

Partner institutions are community colleges in Seward County, Garden City and Dodge City.

“I’m proud how far ahead of the game we are compared to others in terms of success of our students, novel strategies and engagement by the faculty,” Medeiros said. “And I’m proud how we promote minority education in the middle of the Great Plains.”

More than 50 institutions of higher learning participate in the nationwide Bridges program. “The K-State proposal was one of the highest rated in the NIH renewal review for Bridges,” Medeiros said. The program has been renewed for 5 years.

Prepared by Human Ecology communications

This article was posted on Thursday, August 26, 2010, and is filed under College News, Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health.