Undergraduate Research at Cochise

Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative

The current trend toward increased enrollment at community colleges in the United States represents an important opportunity to make an impact on this growing population of postsecondary students. One key educational movement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is a focus on the understanding of scientific principles that are enhanced through inquiry-based instruction and problem-based learning strategies through research.

The Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI), sponsored by principal investigators at Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) and funded by NSF, has spearheaded this effort to reform research education at the community college level. CCURI is providing resources for institutional partners through introductory workshops, start-up supplies, and faculty development opportunities.

Wildlife Navigation along the San Pedro River

Since fall 2013 another project at Cochise College involves study of species diversity identified using high output covert infrared detecting camera traps made by Reconyx©. The cameras are deployed at Gray Hawk Nature Center located east of Sierra Vista, Arizona on the San Pedro River. The San Pedro River, located in Southeastern Arizona, is the last free-flowing river in the southwest. It flows north out of Mexico into Arizona and is an important migration route for birds as well as being a highly diverse area for other wildlife. Hundreds of bird species utilize the San Pedro River during their migrations and at least a third of bird species found in the United States call the San Pedro home.

Initial analysis focuses on cataloging and identifying species present as well as seasonal patterns and use of dry washes as corridors for movement. Future studies will involve tracking the four species of skunk and identifying individuals based on DNA analysis of scat. Research will also focus on cougar activity along the San Pedro River. Further observation and recording of natural means of navigation through the area may aid in the creation of protected routes for animals along the San Pedro River.

We would like to acknowledge Sandy Anderson, Director of Gray Hawk Nature Center, for her support of this project. She allows us use of Gray Hawk as well as cameras and has an infinite knowledge of the San Pedro River and Southeast Arizona specifically and natural history in general.

For more information contact  Edmund Priddis or Tasneem Ashraf, both faculty in the Science Department at Cochise College.

Bean Beetle Inquiry Based Learning

Some Cochise College Science Faculty are currently performing undergraduate research using Bean Beetles (Callosobruchus maculatus; Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Bruchinae) as a model organism. The goal is to develop inquiry based laboratory experiments that will be used by undergraduate institutions across the country. In these inquiry based laboratories undergraduate students will perform real research during their classes as they pose questions and hypotheses and develop protocols to test their questions. Research is currently being done on Bean Beetles to develop the laboratory exercises that will be used. The research is in the field of genetics and developmental biology and involves studies of life history as well as proteomics of bean beetles.

Research using Bean Beetles to develop undergraduate laboratories originated at Emory University and Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. From there other schools were recruited to assist them in the research. Cochise College is currently one of those schools. There is more information about Bean Beetles and its use as “a model organism for inquiry-based undergraduate laboratories” on the web at www.beanbeetles.org/.

This is an exciting opportunity for undergraduate students to become involved in real research. Involvement will not only increase a student’s knowledge and appreciation of biology but it will assist them as they move on to other institutions of higher learning. For more information contact Tasneem Ashraf or Edmund Priddis, both faculty in the Science Department at Cochise College.

Dihydrojasmone Synthesis

Over the past several years the Chemistry Department at Cochise College has conducted an on-going honor’s project for selected second-semester organic chemistry students with the goal of researching and developing of a multi-step synthesis of a molecule called dihydrojasmone which could be incorporated into the sophomore level organic chemistry laboratory curriculum. Emphasis on this project is to develop current ‘green chemistry procedures’ leading to the synthesis of this compound. Interested students wanting to participate in this opportunity should have completed Organic Chemistry I (CHM 235). This research was conducted under the supervision of Brian Cox until 2012.

 Supported by:

K-12 STEM Opportunities
Ben Berry

Science, Engineering and Math Programs
Beth Ann Krueger, PhD

Computer, Aviation and Technology Programs
Bruce Richardson
  • Science Foundation Arizona
  • National Science Foundation
Cochise College Sierra Vista Map
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