This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
Funds are provided to improve the current research laboratory conditions in Cannon Hall at Wesley College. Wesley College is a leading private liberal-arts institution with 1600 full-time traditional age undergraduates and a total enrollment of 2200. The Departments of Science and Mathematics are housed in Cannon Hall, where the 1960s vintage science laboratories and facilities are substandard. The building was designed at a time when the primary mission of the college was teaching. Recently the science department has responded to Delaware's emphasis on productive competitive research partnerships with a significant growth in its mentored undergraduate research programs. The facility was not designed to handle the level or size of the research programs and does not meet contemporary research standards since research has become more complex and utilizes more sophisticated equipment than when the building was built. The proposed modernization of available research facilities, will address critical research laboratory deficiencies by renovating obsolete laboratory spaces (Cannon 215, Cannon 214, and Cannon 115) to contemporary laboratory building standards including adequate ventilation; demolition of existing mechanical/electrical/ gas/plumbing systems, workstations, and floor finishes; constructing new workstations, flammable storage cabinets, mechanical/electrical/gas/plumbing systems, floor and wall finishes; and the construction of a cold room for protein purification (FPLC). This will provide much needed space for the growing Wesley undergraduate mentored research participants. Furthermore, with the convergence of communication applications and operating systems from consolidating and upgrading the cyber infrastructure for Cannon Hall will meet the connectivity demands of the next-generation applications and devices. Alignment of research with state needs and a capability to leverage renovations into valuable research is a significant benefit from the renovations. The broadest impact of the proposed modernization will be an increased ability to seek out, attract, and prepare Wesley's very diverse research participants (70% women, 21% from underrepresented populations, and 29% first-generation college students).
Overview: Wesley College (Wesley), a private baccalaureate minority-serving institution (MSI) in the liberal arts is located in the historic district of Dover Delaware. It is fully accredited through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and, in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields; it offers Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees in biology, biological chemistry, environmental studies (ES), mathematics, and medical technology. ES offers a Master of Science (M.S.) degree program. There are 138 STEM undergraduates in Cannon Hall, a three-story science & math building, named for alumna/scientist Annie Jump Cannon. Sixty percent of the Wesley-STEM students are female, and in fall 2011, the racial demographics of the STEM program were: 49% African-American, 31%Caucasian, 6% Hispanic, 1% Native American, 1% Asian, and 12% other (mixed heritage). More than 40% of the students are the first in their families to attend college. There are 14 full-time STEM faculty members. The Wesley College science department has responded to Delawareâ€™s emphasis on productive competitive research partnerships with a significant growth in its mentored undergraduate STEM "directed research" programs. After the receipt of this NSF ARI R2 award (#960503), Wesley has reinvigorated some of its existing undergraduate research spaces to contemporary laboratory standards. This has provided much needed space for its growing number of undergraduate mentored research participants. Furthermore, we consolidated and upgraded the cyber infrastructure within Cannon Hall to meet the connectivity demands of the next-generation applications and devices. Intellectual Merit: The main goal is to provide undergraduates with an increased opportunity to delve in practical interdisciplinary research projects. The data gained from these interdisciplinary research themes will benefit both the general public and the State of Delaware through the generation of useful information on an assortment of synthetically useful hazardous chemical intermediates and commonly used bio-active pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Outcomes could also assist in providing solutions to ongoing water, air, and land pollution and safety concerns in the state. Providing such interesting undergraduate research opportunities should result in an increase in student success and retention for the participating Wesley STEM majors. Broader Impacts: Wesley serves a population who traditionally have had limited access to higher education. Due to the increased research space, the additional chemical fume-hoods installed, and the availability of Wi-Fi access in Cannon Hall (as a result of grant #0960503); there has been a 52%increase in the number of STEM undergraduates involved in undergraduate research. The Department of Mathematics has also begun the process of initiating both a new minor and a research program in Informatics. In 2012, there have been 5 peer-reviewed journal publications, 39 scientific poster/oral presentations, and the Wesley College STEM students and faculty earned 17 national or regional awards, certificates, or recognitions, for research outcomes. Additionally, the Oct. 2012 issue of the UK based journal International Innovations, "Edifying Education: Creating a firm foundation for educational excellence in North America," featured an article (pp. 86-88) on the Wesley College - STEM Directed Research Program entitled, "Teaching/Experiment: Helping Underrepresented STEM Undergraduates." (www.wesley.edu/fileadmin/editors_images/Academics/Biology/p86-88_Malcom_DSouza.pdf).