YVC joins statewide undergraduate research consortium

Yakima Valley College STEM faculty have joined colleagues from around Washington state to launch a new consortium focused on bringing undergraduate research opportunities to more students. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education Program. YVC faculty will take on leadership roles as 23 community colleges and the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges engage in a two-year strategic planning process for institutionalizing undergraduate research in ways that advance systemic change and equity at Washington’s community colleges.

YVC has been a leader in developing and implementing undergraduate research (UGR) experiences at Washington state’s community and technical colleges. Nearly 200 YVC students have participated in STEM research projects since 2012.

Agriculture Instructor Holly Ferguson, Chemistry Instructor Suki Smaglik and Biology Instructor Matthew Loeser are participating in the launch of this consortium.

“Our undergraduate research program is a gem in YVC’s crown. More students at YVC and beyond will benefit from the statewide momentum of the consortium,” said Loeser. Loeser is serving as the eastern Washington representative for the consortium.

These efforts have seen benefits such as improved student engagement and learning, more equitable access to research experiences, and improved retention and completion — especially for underrepresented students like Maribel Solano Alcantara, who was able to participate twice in research projects while attending Yakima Valley College before transferring to a 4-year university.

“I was given the opportunity to experience a lab setting in classes and through undergraduate research projects. My two projects were in fields outside of chemistry, but I learned that I enjoy interdisciplinary work and was exposed to the research environment,” stated Alcantara.

The consortium will also include administrators and will work to investigate, inventory and strategize how to expand access to undergraduate research experiences to students and faculty at all 34 of Washington’s community and technical colleges.

“I am excited about expanding and perhaps institutionalizing undergraduate research experiences at YVC and other colleges in the state,” Ferguson said. “Students who engage in laboratory and field research projects gain scientific knowledge and skills while also developing their soft skills, such as teamwork and networking with other scientists, community business owners and local farmers.”

Press Release Contacts:
Dustin Wunderlich / 509.574.6870 / dwunderlich@yvcc.edu
Stefanie Menard / 509.574.4646 / smenard@yvcc.edu