Biology Gets $600,000 Boost

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David Dalton

The Reed biology program has been charged up by two substantial grants: one to further the work of plant biologist David Dalton and students working in his lab, the other to support undergraduate projects and primary school biology education.

Dalton’s project, “Characterization of Glutathione S-transferase from Nitrogen-fixing Root Nodules,” will be supported by a three-year, $426,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. It was one of only five grants for plant biology made during the spring 2005 funding cycle.

“The project provides valuable preparation for undergraduates, most of whom are destined for graduate studies in plant biology,” Dalton says, noting that 16 to 20 Reed students will be involved. The bulk of the research will be conducted by undergraduates engaged in senior thesis or summer projects. Over the past 15 years, Dalton has worked closely with 47 summer research fellows and 66 senior thesis research students. Through a collaboration with the Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE) Program run by Portland State University, Dalton will include one high school student per summer as a member of his lab team.

The Reed biology program, meanwhile, has received a two-year, $200,000 grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation of Portland to help fund the department’s student research and outreach programs.

The grant will fund thesis and independent research supplies for 30 Reed students, as well as summer research support for 12 students each year. Students will apply for research support in a competitive proposal process.

The program helps students build skills and interest in primary education as well. In consultation with faculty, students develop curriculum for the biology department’s outreach program to local public elementary schools, giving them an opportunity to test their understanding of key concepts, and to explore teaching as a career option.

“The Miller Foundation’s support will ensure that elementary students experience an important science education program in their schools,” says Diane Gumz, director of corporate and foundation support at Reed.