The Fantastic Five (Scholars) at SPC

July 24, 2018

Public Information Officer

WITH LAB SPACE, RESEARCHERS, RESEARCH PROJECTS---AND FIVE SCHOLARS---ON CAMPUS, ST. PHILIP'S COLLEGE IS A MATURING HUB OF NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION'S FIRST PROGRAM AT A COMMUNITY COLLEGE TO INCREASE FOUR-YEAR MINORITY STEM STUDENTS THROUGH SCHOLARLY RESEARCH LAB EXPERIENCES

 

In 2018, St. Philip's College in the city's Denver Heights neighborhood has become more than a successful administrative hub and source of students for the nation's first program funded by the National Science Foundation at a community college to increase the completion rates of minority STEM students by pairing promising Alamo Colleges District member college scholars with UTSA faculty mentors and their projects.

The multidisciplinary and multicollege foundation program originally unique to San Antonio and known as CIMA (pron: sea-mah) now includes the college as a research lab location with lab space, researchers, research projects---and five scholars---within the Dr. William C. Davis Natural Science Building at St. Philip's College.

The college's version of the Fantastic Four of superhero fame is actually a Fantastic Five of scholars---four of the college's scholars and one scholar who attends another college in the area---all under the leadership of two of the college's natural science faculty researchers. In research diversely ranging from primates to DNA, the scholars work at St. Philip's College under researchers Dr. Mary Kelaita or Dr. Shane Kendall. Three scholars working under Kelaita are Alexandria Jones and Brandon Arriaga. Scholars working under Kendall are Markus Potter, Matthew Harrison and Erika Durant of Northwest Vista College. While Potter, Harrison, Durant, Jones and Arriaga all work in Chemistry Research Lab 316 in the Davis Building, Jones and Arriaga also research at a lab at UTSA, according to Kelaita.

While it may seem that students from top tier research institutions don't have to look far for that first entry-level lab experience of their dreams, getting a job is seemingly globally competitive and once hired, fraught with an embarrassing history of non-inclusion based on gender and ethnicity that knows no tier, and students seeking status-by-association rather than lab careers. The CIMA program as practiced at St. Philip's College is providing a supportive environment for serious scholars of science who want to learn, lead, progress and earn in the industry of research, according to organizers who share that the first St. Philip's College student accepted as a scholar into that original 2014 CIMA program begins research next month as both a University of Southern California San Diego graduate student and the recipient of a $130,000 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program fellowship.

On Day One of the 2018 program in late May, college CIMA program organizers and mentors hosted 22 research scholars for the Summer Research Orientation at the college. Sixteen CIMA scholars from Alamo Colleges District were accepted to participate in the experience underway at UTSA and St. Philip's College through Aug. 3. The scholars spent Day One of the program bonding with their researchers, candidly discussing such basics as realistically handling failure, rejection and success as members or leaders of paid research teams. Mentorship is concurrent with learning, all agreed.

The environment and pressures to succeed are real-world and real-time in the St. Philip's College research scholar experience. Due to the nature of some of the research at the college, schedules can be unpredictable as they depend on when supplies and equipment are ready, according to Kelaita.

Somewhere, the foundation members are smiling at the success of The Fantastic Five scholars of St. Philip's College. Their CIMA program experience is working and maturing as planned. 

The program concludes with a Symposium Aug. 9 from 9 a.m.-noon in the Artemisia Bowden Alumni Center of the college's G. J. Sutton Learning Center building located at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive in the City's Denver Heights neighborhood. Observers and prospective students may visit the lab at the college by appointment. For details on visiting the lab, the 2018 Symposium and the CIMA program at St. Philip's College, contact Tomeka Cross, Grant Program Coordinator-CIMA LSAMP, at 210-486-2599, tcross13@alamo.edu, or visit the college CIMA web page at http://alamo.edu/CIMA/.

About the 2018 CIMA Scholars at St. Philip's College:   

Markus Potter  is a student of science and technology from St. Philip's College in the 2018 CIMA Project Undergraduate Research Program at St. Philip's College and conducting research on Synthesis of Adipic Acid from Cyclohexanone Oxidation over Polyoxometalates in the Chemistry Research Lab with Faculty Research Mentor Dr. Shane Kendell, assistant professor in the college's Department of Natural Sciences

Matthew Harrison  is a student of science and technology from St. Philip's College in the 2018 CIMA Project Undergraduate Research Program at St. Philip's College and conducting research on Toluene Oxidation over Various Heteropoly Compounds in the Chemistry Research Lab with Faculty Research Mentor Dr. Shane Kendell, assistant professor in the college's Department of Natural Sciences.

Erika Durant  is a student of health and biosciences from Northwest Vista College in the 2018 CIMA Project Undergraduate Research Program at St. Philip's College and conducting research on Aldol Condensation of Cyclohexanone over Phosphotungstic Acid Derivatives in the Chemistry Research Lab with Faculty Research Mentor Dr. Shane Kendell, assistant professor in the college's Department of Natural Sciences.

Alexandria Jones  is a student of science and technology from St. Philip's College in the 2018 CIMA Project Undergraduate Research Program at St. Philip's College and conducting research on Use of C. elegans in the classroom to effectively communicate genetic engineering using CRISPR technology and gene expression through RNAi in the SPC Chemistry Research Lab and a lab at UTSA with Faculty Research Mentor Dr. Mary Kelaita, assistant professor of biology in the college's Department of Natural Sciences.

Brandon Arriaga is a student of health and bioscience from St. Philip's College in the 2018 CIMA Project Undergraduate Research Program at St. Philip's College and conducting research on Determining potential for use of non-invasive primate sample collection methods for microbiome, genome, transcriptome, and metabolome studies using the Nanodrop spectrophotometer and GC-MS methods in the SPC Chemistry Research Lab and a lab at UTSA with Faculty Research Mentor Dr. Mary Kelaita, assistant professor of biology in the college's Department of Natural Sciences.


CIMA Summer Research Photo 01

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CIMA Summer Research Photo 09

 

CAPTION: St. Philip's College student Markus Potter is not only the first Alamo Colleges District Student Trustee from his college, he and Erika Durant are two of the first four St. Philip's College students performing research as scholars under researcher and college faculty member Dr. Shane Kendall at their own college the nation's first program funded by the National Science Foundation at a community college to increase the completion rates of minority STEM students by pairing promising Alamo Colleges District member college scholars with UTSA and SPC faculty mentors and their research projects. Potter and Durant (images 01-02) share the lab experience with scholars Alexandria Jones (images 3-9) and Brandon Arriaga (not pictured) who work with Faculty Research Mentor Dr. Mary Kelaita, assistant professor of biology in the college's Department of Natural Sciences. (SPC courtesy images by Julysa Sosa)