KANSAS COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS FIND BRIDGES TO FUTURE THROUGH K-STATE
MANHATTAN -- Thirteen community college students partnered with Kansas State University 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 underrepresented 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 eight years of the program,” said Denis Medeiros, who heads the eight-week paid internship program on campus. Medeiros also is head of the Department of human nutrition and is associate dean of the College of Human Ecology.
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, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Gurdip Singh, professor and head of the department of computing and information sciences; Stefan Bossmann, professor of chemistry; Masaaki Tamura, associate professor of anatomy and physiology; Mark Weiss, professor of anatomy and physiology; Deryl Troyer, professor of anatomy and physiology; Larry Erickson, professor of chemical engineering; Daniel Fung, professor of animal sciences and industry; Dave Renter, associate professor of pathobiology and diagnostic medicine; Annelise Nguyen, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology; Brian Lindshield, assistant professor of human nutrition; Matt Palmatier, assistant professor of psychology; and Brenda McDaniel, assistant professor of psychology.
"Studies consistently show that faculty mentoring is a critical part of student retention. This year we had more faculty volunteers than students," Medeiros said.
Almost 25 students have earned science degrees through Kansas Bridges to the Future, he said. They have gone on to teach, work in labs and attend professional schools in medicine, dentistry and chiropractics.
Thirty-four former Kansas 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 five years.