Alumni Magazine

SPR-SUM 2018

The alumni magazine for Franklin Pierce University.

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Page 17 of 47

16 PIERCE SPRING / SUMMER 2018 T he National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Franklin Pierce University a $649,931 grant. The University will use the funds for its Biolog y and Environmental Science Training (BEST ) program. While the institution has received previous NSF grants, this is the largest and most wide-ranging. e goals of the BEST program include raising the number of low-income, ing academically talented students studying biolog y and environmental sciences, improving fi rst-year retention among those students and creating research opportunities for all students in the program, especially through experience in the fi eld. " e program highlights the strengths of our environmental science and biolog y programs," said Rhine Singleton, professor of biolog y and evolutionary science and the principal investigator on the grant. Two other professors, Catherine Owen Koning and Verna Delauer, were co-principals. Singleton noted the thousand acres of natural areas that the University owns and holds as fi eld laboratories, outd oor classrooms and research areas. "It is remarkable that we can walk from the developed part of campus to these living classrooms," he said. " e NSF reviewers really liked that. ere are other universities with similar or even larger lands, but those are a drive away." Singleton, who earned his Ph.D. at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., referenced the renowned Cornell Plantations as an example. " We will start with a wilderness adventure for incoming freshmen before orientation," said Singleton. "There will be backpacking or kayaking." But the program is far more than just getting disadvantaged youth out into the woods. It's a holistic plan from prefreshman outdoor experiences to graduate-level original research. e bulk of the funding will go directly to scholarships, seven for students that will be matriculating in the fall 2018 semester, and a second cohort of seven the following autumn. at represents $7,000 to $10,000 a year for four years for 14 students. "Clearly the scholarship recipients will benefi t most and most directly," said Singleton. "But other students, faculty, staff and facilities will also benefi t from the enhanced participation and investment," in the BEST program. " We are hoping for a big spill-over eff ect," said Koning . " We are augmenting the curriculum, enhancing the selection in the environment sections. at will allow other students to benefi t. Bringing more students into the wild will enhance studies in subjects from vertebrate biolog y to air and water quality and cellular biolog y. is is a chance for us to focus on the things we have always wanted to work on." Another example of the broader benefi ts will be the spring Academic Showcase . "It is an entire day — into the evening — when there are no classes," Singleton explained. "Students and faculty share their work and their experiences. ese incoming scholarship students will surely share their work at the showcase as well." ere will be a heavy emphasis on students with the standards that suggest they will do well at an academically rigorous institution. " e [undergraduate] application process will allow us to focus on students that have demonstrated high standards Pierce Receives NSF Grant Funds will support diversity, enhanced curriculum and research lands Rhine Singleton's students participating in fi eld work. SPOTLIGHT

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