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NMC to Receive Donation from STEP UP Program to Enhance Science Labs (September 24, 2011)

As part of its efforts to provide underrepresented minority and disadvantaged students an opportunity to conduct scientific research, the Short Term Education Program for Underrepresented Persons (STEP UP) in Hawaii has pledged donations of laboratory equipment and supplies to the Northern Marianas College.

The donations, as well as funds acquired by STEP UP for the College, will greatly enhance and improve NMC’s science laboratories for both students and STEP UP participants.

STEP UP is a program under the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). In the program, participating students conduct scientific research under the guidance of professionals to study NIDDK focus areas of health.

Collaboration between NIH-NIDDK, University of Hawaii, the CNMI Public School System, and NMC led to STEP UP being brought to the CNMI. The very first summer research program began this past June with five public high school seniors and juniors: Chasy Amado (Kagman High School), Mariah Barcinas (Rota High School), Richeena Farell (Tinian Junior and Senior High School), Genevieve Gottwald (Marianas High School), and Claudette San Nicholas (TJSHS).

The five students began their research projects at the NMC Saipan campus under the guidance and mentoring of NMC faculty and staff. The program mentors were Cooperative Research Education and Extension Service (NMC-CREES) entomologist and nematologist Dr. Marisol Quintanilla and aquaculture specialist Michael Ogo; science instructor Florita Cabanes; and nursing instructors Hervin Jacinto and Johnny Aldan.

“The students had excellent results in their research presentations according to STEP UP authorities,” said Dr. Alfredo de Torres, NMC Natural Resources Management program coordinator and instructor. Last month, the students presented their research findings at an annual convention for STEP UP participants in Bethesda, Maryland.

“We are very proud of these students and happy that we were all able to work together to provide them this opportunity,” said Barbara Merfalen, NMC Dean of Academic Programs and Services.

Merfalen added “We also want to thank the NIH-NIDDK STEP UP Program and High School Students at the University of Hawaii for extending their STEP UP program to NMC, and for leading the efforts to get NMC quality equipment and resources.”

“We will not only be better equipped for STEP UP activities every summer but this also provides NMC an opportunity to construct its own laboratory space for the program,” said de Torres. “We are also very grateful that we will be able to utilize these resources to teach our science courses at NMC.”

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