Campus: CSU Northridge -- December 17, 2004

CSUN Receives Grants to Aid in Research and the Researchers of Tomorrow

California State University, Northridge has received two grants that allow its students to remain at the cutting edge of discovery and research while at the same time encourage local high schoolers to become scientists.

A grant from the National Institutes of Health for more than $144,000 will help Cal State Northridge biology labs continue research of cell interaction by studying sea urchins and their embryos.

"This is not a stem cell research, but it is research that could provide for the future," said CSUN biology professor Steven Oppenheimer, head of the university's Center for Cancer and Developmental Biology, which specializes in the research of cells, defective cells and cancerous cells.

Oppenheimer said that "what makes CSUN's science departments and programs so unique is that there are about 30 students in the lab almost all the time and our undergraduate students actually do the work. I may supervise and design, but they do the work" Oppenheimer said.

In addition, the California Postsecondary Education Commission donated more than $99,000 to the "Sustainability and Dissemination in the Development of Teacher/Student Researchers" project.

Oppenheimer, biology professor Virgina Vandergon, geology professor Jerry Simila, secondary education professor Norm Herr and Reseda High School teacher Tony Receilde are part of a team of academics involved in the project, which gives teachers and students the opportunities to teach and learn science and research.

Oppenheimer said the project focuses on students in grades four through seven.

"It is important that children learn early about research and science, because right now our society is in a crisis. Other countries are becoming more advanced then the United States in the sciences. It is critical to start our children early so that we won't have national security, health, and welfare issues on our hands in the future," he said.

Teachers taking part in the program attend daily lectures on science fundamentals and participated in hands-on lab activities. All the activities include lessons in earth and life sciences. "After doing this project, the teachers agreed they had developed a better understanding of the scientific method and the use of controls," Vandergon said.

Contact: Antoinette C. Griffith or Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130

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