Collaborating biology faculty at Alaska Pacific University, University of Alaska Anchorage, Kodiak College, and University of Washington Tacoma were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Incubator Grant to increase undergraduate research experiences in biology in Alaska, for Alaskans. The universities will establish AK UNiTE, an NSF Research Coordination Network in Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE).
“This network will benefit our students and expand opportunities for our university,” said Dr. Erin Larson, an environmental studies professor at APU who serves as a co-principal investigator on the project. “Through this NSF-supported network, we can connect our undergraduate students to short-term, paid research experiences across the state and provide them a glimpse of research outside the classroom. We’re looking forward to connecting our students with fieldwork opportunities, and involving Alaska biologists in our course materials at APU.”
To build this network, faculty are looking for biology researchers across Alaska to join the project and create new opportunities for budding scientists to engage in research in their “backyard.” The network aims to bring the Alaska biology research community closer together to develop community partnerships with local research projects (e.g. local Tribal councils, nonprofits, and state and federal agencies across Alaska) and create pathways for future undergraduate research opportunities.
Funding at this stage of the project will provide modest stipends for undergraduate students and funds for research supplies. Funding will be available for undergraduate students that engage in research during Summer 2021.
The RCN-UBE universities are hosting a three-hour virtual kick-off event for potential network partners on February 19, held via Zoom from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. with a 30-minute break for lunch. Alaska biologists are invited to attend the first official network event to learn more about participation. Please register for the Zoom session in advance. Additional information about the network is available on the AK UNiTE network website.
This project is jointly funded by the Directorate for Biological Sciences, Division of Biological Infrastructure, and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education. This funding supports efforts to address the challenges posed in “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action” with additional support provided by the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). AK UNiTE is funded by the National Science Foundation RCN-UBE program award ID: 2019233.