Three Wayne Community College students and their instructor are collaborating with the University of North Carolina Wilmington to conduct scientific research.
The Community College Undergraduate Research Experience (CCURE) started in an effort to instill confidence in community college students to conduct undergraduate research, preparing them for the research they’ll participate in at a four-year institution.
WCC students Kaylee Martin, Nicole Robertson, and Scarlett Joyner, all from Goldsboro, are involved in the CCURE collaboration, along with WCC Chemistry Instructor Brian Duffy.
The program’s 16-week course is offered through UNCW and taken at the participating community colleges, allowing students to be dually enrolled as they complete their research. The course is fully transferable to any four-year institution and is completely free of charge to the participants.
At the end of the course, students will share their research in a virtual poster session with eight other community colleges, combining research with public communication. “It allows our students to talk about what they actually performed and relay that information, becoming more confident in their communication skills,” Duffy explained.
Through CCURE, Duffy was assigned a mentor, UNCW Environmental Science Lecturer Amy Long. She became interested in the water quality studies that WCC’s students and faculty have been conducting with Sound Rivers, an organization that monitors the water quality of NC’s rivers and sounds.
Long and her previous graduate student Carson Wood, who now works for the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ), have been working to reestablish the river flow of a privately owned land lease stream in Onslow County that was government commissioned in 2007. However, Duffy said that no one has looked at its overall water quality until now.
Martin, Robertson, and Joyner will be the first to perform this water quality study and will report their data to the NC DEQ. “These students get to not only work with nonprofit organizations and state officials but also apply what they’re learning in the classroom,” Duffy said. “To see these students performing real-world scientific research is really interesting.”
With plans to pursue a career in research, Martin says this course is helping her become more skilled in formulating and testing hypotheses and presenting her findings.
When Duffy initially shared information about CCURE with Martin, she believed it would be the perfect opportunity since she’s transferring to UNCW to study marine biology and environmental science. “So far, it’s been amazing,” Martin said of the experience. “I think our research will be really beneficial for other people and the environment.”
Robertson was also interested in CCURE when she talked about it with Duffy. After receiving an associate degree at WCC, she plans to transfer to a four-year college to work toward a career in pharmacy.
“I’m more familiar with the medical side of science, so learning more about earth and environmental science has been a good opportunity,” Robertson said. She is enjoying the teamwork with her fellow course participants as well.
Joyner is a nursing student who formerly taught horticulture science, animal science, and biotechnology. As president of WCC’s Science Club, she is involved in studying the nutrients and physical parameters along the Neuse River in Goldsboro through the Science Club’s partnership with Sound Rivers.
Although Joyner says she has conducted experiments with the Science Club, the CCURE collaboration is teaching her more about how to share research in a professional manner with others in the field. “We’re learning how to present data in such a way that it can be replicated and eventually published. I’m really enjoying learning how that process is done,” she shared.
Duffy is thankful that the CCURE program is giving his students a chance to network with science professionals at other institutions and state departments. “It’s exciting for us as a community college to have this kind of interaction and to give these students the opportunity to advance further within their college careers,” he said.
About Wayne Community College
Wayne Community College is a public, learning-centered institution with an open-door admission policy located in Goldsboro, N.C. As it works to develop a highly skilled and competitive workforce, the college serves around 10,000 individuals annually as well as businesses, industry, and community organizations with high quality, affordable, accessible learning opportunities, including more than 240 college credit programs. WCC’s mission is to meet the educational, training, and cultural needs of the communities it serves.