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Panel examines PSU's undergraduate science research program

April 13, 2011 12:00AM

Four research scientists from the American Association for the Advancement of Science will take a critical look at undergraduate science research at Pittsburg State University on Thursday, April 14. Dr. Virginia Rider, a member of the faculty in the Department of Biology, said she is eager to show the panel the quality of undergraduate research training going on at PSU.

"It is exciting to have such a distinguished review panel on our campus," Rider said. "The panel's job is to assess science education programs across the U.S. Our K-INBRE grant has hired this panel to evaluate the various arms of the K-INBRE program in the State of Kansas and to provide suggestions about improving our efforts to help educate the next generation of scientists."

K-INBRE is the Kansas component of the IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), which fosters research within states that traditionally have not received significant levels of competitive funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Rider said she believes PSU's successful record of undergraduate biological science research training is one of the reasons the AAAS team chose Pitt State to visit.

"I think (they) chose our campus for a site visit because we are doing many things correctly based on the proposed goals of the K-INBRE," Rider said. But, she said, that doesn't mean the team won't look at the PSU program critically.

 "This panel is tough," Rider said, "and they are coming here to assess us from top to bottom."

Rider said she sees this as an opportunity to showcase what she believes is the strengths of PSU's undergraduate training in scientific research.

"I look at this as an opportunity to showcase the quality of our undergraduate students first and foremost," Rider said. "Within the mix will also be an opportunity to show off our outstanding faculty and administration."

PSU students have been very successful at winning the highly competitive K-INBRE research grants since the program began. Last year, at least 11 PSU students received grants and over the life of the program, PSU has received more than $700,000 in grants to support biological scientific research with undergraduate students. Most of the student researchers have gone on to medical, dental, optometry and other professional schools, as well as Ph.D. programs across the nation.

Rider said there are three reasons for the success of PSU's undergraduate science research.

"We have an enormously successful training program on this campus because our students are top notch, our faculty are 150 percent dedicated to student success and our administration has always put student welfare at the top of their mission," Rider said.

Panel members are Bruce Aronow, Ph.D., who is a professor of pediatrics and co-director of the Computational Medicine Center at Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation; George M. Langford, Ph.D., who is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University; Samuel Strada, Ph.D., who is dean of the College of Medicine and senior associate dean for basic sciences at the University of South Alabama; and Pallavi Phartiyal, Ph.D., who is a AAAS senior program associate in the organization's research competitiveness program.

©2011 Pittsburg State University