The Health and Life Science Career Initiative, funded by a $12 million grant from the Department of Labor, involves Capitol Community College, Charter Oak State College, Eastern Connecticut State University, Gateway Community College, Manchester Community College, Middlesex Community College and Norwalk Community College.
The summer research component of the initiative, housed in Eastern's state-of-the-art Science Building, provided research experience to students interested in biological, biochemistry, biotech, public health, and related health sciences areas. It also allowed them to expand knowledge in their areas of study, while also gaining exposure to new areas of interest.
Labor experts predict that 11,000 jobs will open up in health and sciences over the next eight years. "This is the biggest think we have ever done in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for any summer research program," said Carmen Cid, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. "And it's right in line with the State of Connecticut's interest in workforce development in health and life sciences."
"This program has helped students gain the necessary research skills and techniques they need as they continue to grow as researchers," said Star Jackson, program coordinator for the grant. "Students came in with many different backgrounds and levels of experience, and we wanted to make sure that everyone was able to take something away from this. From learning how to run DNA gels, how to isolate and count bacteria and using GIS, students will leave this program with a wide range of skills."
"My experience so far has been very positive," said Manan Bhatt, a junior majoring in biology at Eastern with a minor in biochemistry, who is a teaching assistant for Assistant Professor of Biology Barbara Murdoch. "The teachers all care and do their best to condense large amounts of complex material into one week in a way that the students can follow. Students don't complain about the amount of work, and eventually, they grasp the importance of what they learned during the week."
"Even as a person with disabilities, this program encouraged me to continue my education in biological sciences," said Brittany Bard, a student at Manchester Community College. "I hope that I will be able to become a biology teacher and biological scientist. One day I hope to be able to take part in this program as a staff member."
"The classes and labs have been great and the content was easy to understand," said Kelly Glynn, an Eastern student participating in the program who has previously taken courses at Southern Connecticut State University and Gateway Community College. "It's great that Eastern is working with other Connecticut community colleges to help students get experience in their chosen scientific field."