Grants improve science technology

By Richard Magda
October 3, 2002

Paul Williams

The science department was awarded four grants that are being used to purchase the latest science equipment. With the new tools, the department is among the most cutting-edge of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education colleges and universities, according to Dr. Sherry Fuller-Espie, chair of the science department.

“Founder’s Hall 301 and 302 are the best kept secrets at Cabrini College,” Fuller-Espie said. “Most people don’t know what we have behind these doors.”

Each of the four grants will be used by the department to fund for a wide range of equipment, ranging from high-end microscopes to the most powerful ultracentrifuges.

The National Science Foundation grant, proposed by Fuller-Espie and effective from Jan. 15 to Dec. 31, 2004, is being used to aid in the development of the biotechnology major, the newest to the science department. The grant funded $84, 176, which will be matched by Cabrini with $84, 876. With the funds, the department will have a high performance liquid chromatograph, a gas chromatograph, two inverted microscopes with digital cameras, a refrigerated bench-top centrifuge, three laminar flow hoods and a freezer that maintains a minus 80-degree temperature, among other items.

“The new instruments will make a dramatic difference in the science majors by improving labs associated with general, analytical, organic and environmental chemistry as well as biochemistry and instrumental analysis,” Fuller-Espie said. “As we grow, there is no doubt this will play a vital role in the growth and importance of the science majors.”

The high performance liquid chromatograph and gas chromatograph are currently in the chemistry labs. “The faculty will be trained by the manufacturer in the next few months, mainly on upkeep and management,” Fuller-Espie said.

A $1 million congressional grant to enhance learning in mathematics and the sciences through technology was awarded to SEPCHE. Cabrini received $102, 500. The money will be used to fund a project developed by Dr. Kimberly Boyd called “DNA Technology in the New Millennium.” The project will provide new equipment for DNA technology and funded summer workshops to train high school science teachers in the fundamentals of DNA technology and how to incorporate it in the classroom. As part of the workshop, which ran from July 22 – 25, the attending high school teachers can borrow equipment from Cabrini and use it in their labs.

“It was a hands-on workshop so the teachers were able to gain applicable experience with college-level equipment typically not found in high school classrooms,” Boyd said. “We worked with real-life situations like forensics, bioethics, cloning and applications in medicine. We focused on some cool aspects that their students would get excited about so they will like science, too.”

With the hands-on experience, the 17 high school teachers also went home with about $1,200 worth of supplies including equipment, videos and CD-ROMs so that they can actually do the experiments with their students, according to Boyd. A similar workshop will be hosted at Cabrini next summer, according to Fuller-Espie.

SEPCHE was awarded the Math and Science Institute grant worth $2.7 million. Cabrini received $250,000-$200,000 is being used for equipment and $50,000 for computers and software. The project goal for the grant money is the “integration of up-to-date and emerging technologies with associated new curricula” and “to insure that SEPCHE college faculty and K-12 teachers are teaching and their respective students are learning with state of the art equipment and methodologies,” according to the science department’s website. The grant must be spent in a year.

“So far purchases have included an ultracentrifuge, a centrifuge which can achieve one million g force and speeds up to 100,000 rpm,” Fuller-Espie said. “In addition, this grant has provided the department with ultraviolet spectrophotometers, a molecular fluorescence spectrophotometer, micro centrifuges, a water purifier and standard recombinant DNA equipment, and we’re still spending.”

While the equipment purchased with the other grants will be useful in the Center for Science, Education, and Technology, for which ground will be broken this spring, the Elementary Science Education Grant will provide a separate room for education majors taking science courses. The $200, 000 grant will equip the science education room in the new center with modern college-level equipment and science tools found in elementary classrooms.

“Funds also include faculty stipends for the development of a standards based science curriculum for education majors,” Fuller-Espie said.

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Richard Magda

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