Pursuit Grants lead to summer research opportunities

Posted August 20, 2012

ACU's Pursuit Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) awarded $40,000 to facilitate faculty-student research projects in summer 2012. Six grants were given to six faculty members and 10 students to conduct research in language and literature, music, education, biology, and physics and engineering.

"Pursuit Grants benefit students through transformative experiences outside the classroom," says Dr. Phyllis Bolin, director of Pursuit QEP. "The program satisfies a thirst for discovery as students partner with faculty in a deeper understanding of a chosen academic discipline. Students gain experience through exceptional, real-world applications."

Bolin says Pursuit Grants are about fostering exploration, creation and expression. To that end, this summer's grants allowed two research teams to explore the world through international research experiences. Dr. Josh Willis, assistant professor of engineering and physics, and his student Andrew Miller ('12) worked at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. They helped develop software that will characterize gravitational waves.

Dr. Rick Piersall, ACU opera director, and four students traveled to Avignon, France to work with the opera. Piersall performed in the opera while students Arielle Collier ('13), Jarret Ward ('14), Dean Willis ('13) and Jennifer Magill ('15) worked backstage with costuming, sets and props. Read more about their experience here.

Two professors in the Department of Biology were awarded grants that paved the way for innovative research. Dr. Josh Brokaw and his students Samantha Saldivar ('13) and Emily Adams ('13) studied the efficacy of bioremediation in native grassland communities. Dr. Jennifer Huddleston and her student Kristin Goodwin ('13) studied genes and the transference between bacteria in the natural environment.

Dr. Sheila Delony, assistant professor of teacher education, and student Kaitlyn Howell ('13) conducted a comparative case study of the role of reading response in elementary classrooms. Dr. Mikee Delony, assistant professor of the Department of Language and Literature, and her student Ashley Alexander ('14) worked on a case study implementing the inverted classroom teaching approach in a sophomore English class.

Pursuit QEP's summer grants also helped students express their passions and career goals by developing faculty mentoring relationships.

"Faculty are stimulated by the fresh ideas of students and refreshed by students' excitement and engagement in learning," says Bolin. "The mentoring process and working alongside students provides sheer joy for my colleagues and me. Pursuit Grants fulfill the mission of the university to achieve exemplary teaching that inspires a commitment to learning."

Learn more about Pursuit QEP.