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Western Washington UniversityCommunications and Marketing
DATE: March 7, 2011 1:03:56 PM PST
WWU's Shannon Point Marine Center Approved for $400,000 NSF Grant
Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program Funded for 25 Consecutive Years

Contact: Steve Sulkin, director, Shannon Point Marine Center, (360) 650-7400 or steve.sulkin@wwu.edu

ANACORTES –The Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC) of Western Washington University has been approved for a $400,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for its Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site, which will extend the program for five years through the summer of 2015. 

The renewal means that Shannon Point has obtained funding for the program from NSF for 25 consecutive years, showing how favorably the program is viewed by the NSF.

The program recruits undergraduates from WWU and from colleges and universities nationwide to spend a nine-week summer session at the marine center located in Anacortes, Wash., carrying out independent research projects under the supervision of resident and visiting faculty. The program supports eight students per year, drawn from an average of 111 applications each year.  According to SPMC Director Steve Sulkin, project director of the program, the marine center has received more than 160 applications for the 2011 session.

“We are delighted that this important program has received continued support from NSF,” Sulkin said, adding that the program is particularly rewarding because it promotes the mission of WWU so effectively, providing extraordinary opportunities to undergraduates to receive hands-on training in marine science.

“Students not only learn the process of research, but also are trained in the use of the most sophisticated of laboratory and field investigative techniques.”  According to Sulkin, because the program recruits nationwide, it enables the marine center to compete for federal funds that provide facilities used by WWU students, a source of funding that otherwise might not be available.  Sulkin explained that such federal funding, obtained by Shannon Point from other NSF programs, provided all three academic vessels that the marine center uses to support student field activities as well as research.

The NSF grant pays student participants a $4500 stipend, provides a food allowance and housing on the SPMC campus, reimburses students for travel expenses to and from the marine center, and provides support for the research projects carried out by the students.

In addition to developing and carrying out their research projects, students attend workshops on use of laboratory and field equipment, on how to prepare and present scientific talks, on how to apply to graduate school and on the topic of ethics in science.  Student projects often result in formal publication of results with students as co-authors and serve as the basis of presentations at regional and national meetings.

 “These are great experiences for students, experiences that are unusual for undergraduates,” Sulkin said, adding “The value to students of the program grows from the close association they develop with their faculty advisers, associations that typically extend well beyond the end of the program.”

The Shannon Point Marine Center’s mission is to support and promote marine science academic programs at WWU, develop new information about local marine environments, train the next generation of marine scientists, and provide public education events.  More information about SPMC can be accessed at www.wwu.edu/spmc

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