Hartwick Receives $552,000 Grant for Biotechnology in Practice Scholarship Program

December 15, 2009

Hartwick College has been awarded a $552,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for support of a Biotechnology in Practice Scholarship Program. The four-year Scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S-STEM) award will provide individual scholarships of up to $10,000 each to 12 incoming students in biology or biochemistry in each of their four years at Hartwick.

“This grant will help Hartwick attract academically gifted science students, and it benefits our nation by encouraging undergraduates to pursue careers in biotechnology, which is the wave of the future in the biological sciences,” Professor of Biology and principal investigator on the project Stanley Sessions said. “The fact that we were awarded this half-million dollar grant on our first try is an indication that the National Science Foundation considers the biotechnology offerings of Hartwick College to be a worthy investment. It is a stamp of approval from the premier federal granting institution in this country. Thus, we have every reason to feel very confident that we are on the right path, and that we can provide state-of-the-art education in biotechnology.”

Under the guidance of Sessions, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Andrew Piefer, Professor of Biology Douglas Hamilton, Professor of Biology Laura Malloy, and Professor of Computer and Information Sciences and Physics Robert Gann, students will receive financial support for their work in areas that represent the future of biotechnology—from molecular biology and biochemistry to the study of regeneration and bioengineering to neural networks.

“This grant recognizes the strength of Hartwick’s science programs, both in the quality and nature of learning, and in the career success of our science graduates,” Hartwick President Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich said. “Dr. Sessions and his colleagues have fostered a culture of support for collaborative and experiential education that has encouraged generations of students to pursue further work in the fields that are a perfect fit for the S-STEM initiative. I am delighted that even more students will now have access to this impactful program at Hartwick.”

Qualifying students will be chosen based on financial need and an interest in biotechnology careers. The program is designed to enhance Hartwick’s biotechnology program by improving existing student support services and developing new opportunities for mentoring, internships, research, and career exploration. The grant also provides funding for program administration and student support services, including field trips, lectures, internships, and summer research.

In applying for the grant, Hartwick’s application noted the tradition of students’ active involvement in undergraduate research, publications, and professional conferences. Student/faculty collaboration on book chapters, articles, and research also were recognized, including Sessions’ ongoing work with students on the causes of deformities in amphibians. That research has involved collaboration with seven Hartwick students and has received national and international attention. Other faculty/student projects in Hartwick’s sciences departments include cancer cell research, virology, molecular genetics, microbiology, environmental toxicology, and genetic engineering.

“The best way to learn anything, from playing the violin to microsurgery, is by trying to actually do it,” Sessions said. “This NSF grant emphasizes the importance of experiential education, learning by doing with the guidance and collaboration of expert mentors. Hartwick already emphasizes this in all kinds of ways, from internships and summer research to off-campus programs and support for students to attend conferences. This is a natural fit for us. In addition to scholarships, the grant provides funding to enhance these opportunities, specifically for students in the biotechnology scholarship program.”

Six students from the Class of 2014 will be chosen to receive the scholarships beginning next fall. A second group of six from the Class of 2015 will be chosen to begin receiving the scholarships in fall 2011. Scholarship recipients must be full-time Hartwick students in the biotechnology field who can demonstrate strong academic potential and who have financial need.

“This grant, like all NSF grants, is highly competitive, and our proposal was reviewed by a panel of professional researchers and educators from across the nation, so we feel pretty good about this,” Sessions said. “Any student interested in a career in biotechnology, from environmental science and ecology to genetic engineering to biochemistry, can feel confident that Hartwick College offers a nationally recognized and NSF-funded program that will provide them with excellent preparation for graduate work and careers in biotechnology.”

The National Science Foundation’s S-STEM grants are designed to support scholarships for academically talented students with financial needs, enabling them to enter the workforce or graduate school in the science and engineering fields. The goal is to prepare more students in the STEM disciplines for graduate school and science careers. The NSF receives approximately 40,000 proposals annually, requesting support for research, education, and training projects. About one-quarter of those proposals are funded each year.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes connecting the classroom to the world. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and limitless study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Jennifer Moritz
Phone: 607-431-4038