The University of La Verne biology department this year received a National Science Foundation Course, Curriculum, and Lab Improvement Grant to improve the education tools in the science department.
Associate Professor of Biology Christine Broussard submitted the proposal to the foundation. She wrote most of the proposal herself with help from biology department faculty and staff members.
The NSF grant is worth about $150,000 over the next three years.
Most of the money has all ready been spent on new laboratory equipment, Broussard said.
“We wouldn’t have gotten this equipment without the NSF (money),” Broussard said.
The department bought two dissecting microscopes, two compound microscopes, with white light and laser light, costing about $20,000 a piece.
“What’s exciting about this is that most schools don’t have four of these period. If they do, they don’t allow students to use them,” Broussard said.
The department also bought dual-head scopes, microinjection equipment and dyes to stain the cells.
The new equipment will be used by students in cell biology and developmental biology classes, as well as major classes and Biology 101.
Students will be able to use the new material to design their own experiments, to research and study.
“That’s nothing you can get out of a book. You actually have to do it,” Professor and Fletcher Jones Chair of Biology Jeffery Burkhart said.
Burkhart said that the teaching wants to move from being primarily classroom based. The new equipment will help students learn more than what is inside the textbook.
The rest of the funds will eventually be spent on Broussard’s research, other supplies and salaries for Broussard’s undergraduate research and teaching assistant.
“As we go we’ll discover what we need,” Broussard said.
More than 900 applications were submitted to receive funding, but fewer than 100 applicants were funded.
“It’s like putting La Verne on the map, especially in science,” biology, chemistry, and athletic training major Monique Chambers.
Broussard’s proposal discussed the need for new equipment so students can receive a better education with up-to-date technology.
She described the immediate educational need for the equipment as well as its potential effects on the students’ future. The new equipment allows students of all backgrounds to be able to learn more and therefore be better equipped in the more competitive world of science.
This is the third time that Broussard had submitted a proposal for an NSF grant. She said she believes she received it this time because she made revisions from criticisms given to her from the past submissions. She also has gained prestige studying at the Marine Biology Laboratory.
Broussard is not the only biology professor to receive a major grant recently. Burkhart said Assistant Professor of Biology Kathleen Weaver and Associate Professor of Biology Stacey Darling-Novak both received research grants within the past four years.
“We are extremely fortunate to have faculty like Broussard, Novak, and Weaver,” Burkhart said.
The biology department has also received University grants from the faculty research committee.
“Doing scientific research requires support… It’s very expensive,” Burkhart said.
There is a possibility that Broussard will apply for the grant again in the future. Instead of using the money to fund equipment, it will be used to fund workshops for professors. She wants to determine its effectiveness first to see if it would be beneficial to propose funding for it.
“Bring more money, you get more students. You get more students, you bring in more money,” Chambers said.
Sher Porter can be reached at email@example.com.