New York State Stem Cell Science (NYSTEM) has awarded a four-year $498,000 grant to Rensselaer to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) training for high school students. The program is intended to introduce stem cell research fundamentals to pre-college students, generating a pipeline of future researchers in the field.
The grant will focus on human stem cell biology and developing effective stem cell research teaching modules for area high schools, especially those within diverse and disadvantaged school systems, said Glenn Monastersky, associate director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) and professor of practice of biomedical engineering at Rensselaer, and principal investigator of the grant. Rensselaer colleagues Deanna Thompson, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and Kelly Grindstaff, project manager for the Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education, are co-investigators.
The program is made possible through the Rensselaer Center for Stem Cell Research, founded in 2012 with a $2.45 million NYSTEM award to Monastersky. The program also will build on the Biotech High School Scholars Program Monastersky launched in 2008. More than 50 high school students from area systems have participated in the year-long program—including 19 students in the 2014-2015 academic year—learning laboratory bio-safety, and taking part in weekly faculty-mentored, peer-reviewed research in chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, biology, and chemistry laboratories in CBIS.
Monastersky said the new program will provide a strong foundation of basic knowledge and practical research laboratory methodology in cell and developmental biology and stem cell science.
“In order to achieve the goals of stem cell research, interdisciplinary contributions from multiple engineering and scientific disciplines must come together to provide synergies and innovative solutions,” said Monastersky. “The diverse research community within CBIS therefore is perfectly prepared to drive stem cell and regenerative medicine research and to reach out and excite the stem cell researchers of tomorrow.”
Faculty from the departments of biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, and biological sciences will participate in the program.
Monastersky said that “this enduring student program illustrates the commitment of Rensselaer and the CBIS faculty and administration to local STEM education and community outreach.”