Student Alejandro Torres and mentor Dr. Mintoo Patel

Student researcher Alejandro Torres (left) with his mentor, Dr. Mintoo Patel, biology instructor.

AVON PARK, Fla. – Aug. 5, 2022 – South Florida State College (SFSC) was recently awarded a $2,000 grant from the Florida Academy of Sciences (FAS) through its Grants-in-Aid of Undergraduate Research program.

Funds through the Grants-in-Aid of Undergraduate Research program are made available in support of undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students at colleges and universities in Florida that have been officially designated as Minority-Serving Institutions and Primarily Undergraduate Institutions. The funds are earmarked for student equipment, supplies, or research travel during the 2022-23 academic year.

According to the FAS, the organization is the Florida affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It sponsors the Florida Junior Academy of Science to encourage young scientists, publishes a quarterly journal, and sponsors an annual meeting to give members an opportunity to present papers, honor peers, and participate in multidisciplinary scientific exchanges.

“At SFSC, the grant money is to be shared by four faculty conducting cell and molecular biology research with students,” said Dr. James Hawker, Jr., dean of arts and sciences at SFSC.  “The four faculty are Dr. Mintoo Patel, Dr. Daniel Sanches, Amy Bohan, and myself. Though we have different projects, we use similar reagents and supplies in our work with students. So, the purpose will be to be to pay for reagents and supplies that our students use for cell biology research in the coming year.

“I am a councilor-at-large for the Florida Academy of Sciences,” Dr. Hawker said. “The Academy set aside funds for minority-serving institutions in Florida to promote undergraduate research in science at both universities and colleges, as those institutions often have little money to do science research with students. At SFSC, we don’t have much money for UGR in science, so we applied for this grant. In addition to SFSC, two other postsecondary institutions received this award. They are Bethune-Cookman University and Florida SouthWestern State College.” 

By participating in undergraduate research at SFSC, students gain a deeper understanding of subject matter beyond regular courses, as they develop critical thinking and analytical skills. Undergraduate research prepares students for success in rigorous research after transferring to universities or to the workforce.

SFSC offers undergraduate research opportunities for students in the natural sciences, humanities, and art. Research may be part of a regular class or honors class, or as a separate special topics course. Students develop and implement research ideas guided by a faculty mentor in their particular discipline. Many SFSC students gain further experience by presenting their research results and making professional connections at state and national conferences, as well as during monthly undergraduate research forums at SFSC.

For more information about undergraduate research at SFSC, contact Dr. Hawker at 863-784-7329 or