Research weekends offer unique experience


By Carly Stewart, Staff Reporter ¦

Amarillo College’s National Science Foundation scholarship recipients are getting ready to participate in hands-on learning and research.

“Students who are recipients of the National Science Foundation STEM scholarship are given the opportunity to spend three days at Ceta Canyon with instructors actively learning how to do research,” Dr. Claudie Biggers, biology department chair, said.

“As a research group, the students conduct experimentation and collect data. Then after the weekend, they present their results to the campus. Last year, the students identified a new species of lichens and got to have articles written about their accomplishment.”

The trips are meant to boost students’ passion for the sciences, said Biggers.

“The transition that takes place in the student is hard to explain. Every time we spend a weekend with students in the field, it develops lifelong scientists that hunger for more. Many of the instructors in our department today were AC students that went into the field and became passionate enough to pursue a science degree,” she said.

Twenty-eight students received fall NSF scholarships. Applications for the spring NSF scholarships will be accepted at the end of November. Students who are awarded can receive the scholarship for up to four semesters. Applicants have to be STEM majors, enrolled full time with at least a 3.0 grade-point average. Because the funding is from the federal government, the applicant must be a U.S. citizen. Scholarship amounts vary depending upon the number of applicants but can be up to $4,000 a semester.

“We enjoy watching these students grow in the STEM field and to watch them successfully transfer and graduate,” Jerica Bartlett, administrative clerk for the biology department, said.

AC holds research weekends for STEM Scholarship recipients at Ceta Canyon each semester. The next weekend is scheduled for Oct. 12-14. The topic for this upcoming trip has not been decided, but last year’s trips explored areas including water quality, determining the best yield of bio mass using drones, soil analysis and ornithology.

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