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Finger Lakes Community College earns more federal support for science

Finger Lakes Community College will receive another $1.14 million from the National Science Foundation to support students learning about and pursuing careers in biotechnology.

The college previously received an NSF grant of $5.8 million for its role as home base for the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative. FLCC was tasked with developing and sharing its approach to teaching science through research.

In this new grant announced this week, FLCC is a participant in a project led by Austin Community College in Texas to develop a national network of biotech education projects.

“This latest grant is a testament to FLCC’s role as a national leader in the expansion of research opportunities for undergraduate students,” said FLCC President Robert Nye.

FLCC Professor James Hewlett, a Webster resident, launched the undergrad research initiative more than a decade ago, aiming to change how science is taught at community colleges. Research rather than planned lab exercises has proven to be more engaging to students and encourages them to go into science careers, studies have shown.

Professors from Texas and California participate in teacher training exercise in research at Finger Lakes Community College. Photo supplied.
Professors from Texas and California participate in teacher training exercise in research at Finger Lakes Community College. Photo supplied.

“If we’re teaching students to become scientists, we need to let them be scientists right from the start,” Hewlett said.

Last semester student Abigail Giddings of Walworth extracted DNA of freshwater sponges gathered across the northeastern U.S. to contribute to a database showing where each species was found. Sponge distribution can be an indicator of climate change and pollution.

“It made everything I had already learned about biology come to life,” Giddings said. She plans to go to medical school, where research will be more common. “It’s definitely more challenging than a lecture course, but I learned so much more at a deeper level.”

When FLCC started its research initiative with four other schools in 2006, about 3 percent of students went on to earn a four-year degree in science. Six years later, the rate was 13 percent. The network of participating schools has now grown to 42 institutions.

“I do think the research experience does deliver on multiple levels,” Hewlett said. “Research is inherently full of moments of failure which gives plenty of opportunity to leverage those results into opportunities to think critically and solve problems — skills highly valued by employers.”

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Tarduno elevated to research dean seat

John Tarduno is the new dean for research in arts, sciences and engineering at the University of Rochester.

Tarduno is a professor of geophysics and has been chairman of the Department of earth and environmental sciences at UR. He succeeds David Williams, a medical optics professor, who returned to full-time research and the job of directing the Center for Visual Science.

As dean, Tarduno’s responsibilities will include increasing external grants and awards to fund research at UR and encouraging collaborations.

John Taduno. UR photo by J. Adam Fenster
John Tarduno (UR photo by J. Adam Fenster)

Donald Hall, the dean of faculty of arts, sciences and engineering, said of Tarduno, “He has a stellar research background, with 28 grants funded over the past two decades. While he was the primary investigator in 25 of those research initiatives, he is also proved to be a skilled and highly esteemed administrator, most recently serving as chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.”

Richard Waugh, the university’s vice provost for research, said “John’s experience as department chair and his own standing as an accomplished researcher make him ideal for providing leadership and representing the interests of researchers in AS&E.”

Tarduno’s research has focused on the past geomagnetic field, including origin of the geodynamo at the Earth’s core that generates the magnetic field.

Tarduno has received many awards and recognition for his research and teaching. He came to Rochester in 1993, having earned his doctorate in geophysics from Stanford University. Postdoctoral studies followed at Stanford and ETH-Zurich.

“It’s an honor to follow David Williams and build upon his success advancing AS&E research,” Tarduno said. “In particular, I hope to explore how AS&E can expand its research portfolio in federally supported programs, achieve faculty diversity aspirations through new initiatives, and promote collaboration between the disciplines.”

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Sturge-Apple elevated to vice provost at University of Rochester

Melissa Sturge-Apple has been named vice provost and university dean of graduate education at the University of Rochester.

Apple, a 1992 graduate of the university, currently serves as dean of graduate education and postdoctoral affairs in arts, sciences & engineering at UR. On July 1 she’ll succeed retiring Vice Provost Margaret Kearney.

In her new position, Sturge-Apple will oversee nearly 100 grad programs at UR, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and lead the University Council on Graduate Education.

Melissa Sturge-Apple, the new vice-provost at the University of Rochester. UR photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester
Melissa Sturge-Apple, the new vice provost at the University of Rochester. (UR photo by J. Adam Fenster)

“Melissa brings a great energy, motivation, and strategy to our academic team,” said Rob Clark, university provost and senior vice president of research.  “She is a highly regarded administrator and scholar who cares very deeply about our graduate students and their academic and student experience while they are here. She has done a great deal to address graduate student needs around career placement and personal development, and has a very collaborative approach to leadership.” He also noted that Sturge-Apple’s deep experience in arts, sciences and engineering made her an ideal candidate.

“I am delighted to continue my work with graduate students and postdoctoral trainees and to build upon Maggie’s accomplishments and achievements,” said Sturge-Apple. “I believe that graduate education is essential to the intellectual life of a university, as well as provides the foundation for building the next generation of scholars, educators, and scientists.”

Sturge-Apple was named dean in 2016. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and economics from UR and both a master’s degree and PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Notre Dame.

Her scholarly research has focused on family processes, parental functioning, and child development with a particular emphasis on families at risk. Her work is conducted at the University’s Mt. Hope Family Center, where psychologists, researchers, and clinicians provide evidence-based intervention and prevention services, mentoring, and training to children and families in Rochester.

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