By Katie Scarlett Brandt
Tribal colleges often collaborate with mainstream universities on research. So do historically black colleges. But why don’t different minority-serving institutions collaborate with each other?
That simple question led to a unique opportunity for a group of undergraduate students from four HBCUs and one tribally controlled college to take part in a 10-week research project this past summer at a school other than their own. Each student spent from May to July at their choice school, conducting research and meeting weekly with a mentor.
The National Science Foundation funded the project through a program called NSF INCLUDES—an initiative to enhance U.S. leadership in science and engineering by developing STEM talent from all societal sectors. The Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network took the lead on the program as part of an effort to wipe out disparities between under-represented groups in STEM education.
by Katie Scarlett Brandt
Dr. Nader Vadiee, Engineering faculty, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute
Engineering Professor Nader Vadiee spends his days trying to fix a leaky pipeline. However, this pipeline isn’t leaking water or oil. It’s losing students.
“Imagine a very leaky pipeline from the community to academia, then to industry and back to the community,” said Vadiee, who heads the Engineering Department at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in New Mexico. “My students are single moms or dads, the average age 28 or 29. My mission is to get these professionals back to the community to create jobs.”
Building this pipeline requires funding, a significant portion of which comes from federal sources. For this reason, the election of Donald Trump has many in the tribal college community on edge. That’s because, so far, President Trump’s top priorities include:
What’s less clear: where research and STEM education fit into these goals.
“With the Trump administration and all the scary things we’re looking at with the budget, it’s hard to predict how things are going to pan out,” said Al Kuslikis, senior associate for Strategic Initiatives at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) in Washington DC. “We’re optimistic because of the history of support from both parties, but we understand that there have to be accommodations made in the priorities of this new administration.”
Marlee Finley, Levi Binstock, and Mandy Guinn
Environmental Science Department, United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, ND 58504
Medicinal plants have been have been used for centuries to treat various diseases across the world. While plant extracts have been used to synthesize modern commercial drugs, so far only a small percent of traditionally prescribed plant medicines have been studied for their therapeutic value. In recent years, the American public has become enamored with herbal remedies, yet there continues to be a relative scarcity of scientific research. Echinacea (purple coneflower) has received global attention because of its potential for medicinal value. Extensive laboratory and clinical research on Echinacea angustifolia in the last few years in Germany has confirmed its immunostimulatory, antiviral, and antibacterial benefit to humans. The purpose of this study is to use the agar-well diffusion method to compare antimicrobial activity of cultivated and wild E. angustifolia. We hypothesize that cultivated E. angustifolia will show more antimicrobial activity against five different strains of bacteria (two Gram-negative, three Gram-positive) due to being cultivated under ideal conditions.