FLCC secures $1.14M to expand undergrad biotech research

Finger Lakes Community College will receive $1.14 million in National Science Foundation funding to take part in a national effort to strengthen biotechnology education and encourage more youth to pursue careers in the field.

FLCC is the home base for the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI), which promotes the teaching of science through research. The National Science Foundation has previously awarded FLCC $5.8 million to develop and share its approach with community colleges across the country.

Faculty member in lab coat
James Hewlett, professor of biology, is the founder of the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative

In this recent award, the National Science Foundation has granted $7.5 million to Austin Community College in Texas to lead the project. ACC will create the InnovATEBIO National Biotechnology Education Center to consolidate several biotech education projects into a national network. This network will share best practices and expand undergraduate research in biotechnology.

As a collaborator in the project, FLCC will provide training in the use of research to teach biotechnology concepts and skills.

“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. “I congratulate our faculty and staff, led by Professor James Hewlett.”

CCURI supports Objective 4 by providing opportunities for applied learning in scientific research.

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FLCC pilots holography as a learning tool

Finger Lakes Community College is part of a small group of institutions working with Case Western Reserve University to pilot an emerging technology called mixed reality and evaluate its ability to help students learn human anatomy.

Student wearing visor
Finger Lakes Community College student Jacob Vivlamore of Canandaigua uses the HoloLens visor and HoloAnatomy software to view a hologram in his anatomy and physiology class. (Photo illustration by William Pealer)

Last fall, students in FLCC anatomy and physiology classes began using Microsoft HoloLens with the HoloAnatomy program that Case Western Reserve developed to view three-dimensional images of human organs individually or as part of body systems.

The university’s software allows the HoloLens to project a holographic image that everyone wearing the visors – students and their instructor – can see. The instructor can rotate the image, zoom in on a particular section or zoom out to show the entire class how systems function and interconnect.

FLCC joined the project after Christine Parker, associate professor of biology, learned about the HoloLens technology and the program for teaching anatomy, which Case Western Reserve was working to develop as part of the university’s Health Education Campus project with Cleveland Clinic.

The FLCC Forward strategic plan calls on the college to explore new ideas in technology, leadership, learning and professional development to foster greater student engagement.

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