Three Elizabethtown Community and Technical College students were the first to enroll in a new Biology Honors Program. John Singletary, Vine Grove, Ashley Register, Elizabethtown, and Cheyenne Morgan, Radcliff, under the guidance of their teacher, Joe Wolf, used vegetable greens to test for bacteria, which is resistant to the antibiotics ampicillin and penicillin. The projects and presentations were judged by biology and medical experts. They presented the results of their independent study and experiments at the end of Spring Semester. Their posters detailed their projects' objectives, processes, results and conclusions.
“This type of student research is typically done in four-year colleges and universities,” said Joe Wolf, assistant professor in biology. “Although not common in community colleges, the trend toward independent study seems to be changing slightly as we focus on increasing student engagement. ECTC invested in these students, and I’ve seen both the students and the college benefit from that investment.”
John Singletary was thrilled to have the opportunity to be in the program. “Science is defined as the study of nature through experimentation and observation. This course allows us to experience something amazing at a community college level, by allowing us to begin experiments without knowing what the results will be. We had the opportunity to experience true research, and how the scientific community communicates their ideas and amazing discoveries. No book could ever take the place of the knowledge and experience I’ve gained in this last semester under Dr. Wolf's guidance. I don’t know of another community college that allows sophomore students the privilege of this experience. When I move on to a four year college I will have an exceptional understanding of the scientific process. In my opinion this program has raised the expectations of education in community colleges, and these traits should be cultivated in all educators.”
The Biology Honors Program is offered in the Spring Semester. Students who are strong performers in either Principles of Microbiology or Principles of Biology are encouraged to enroll in the course, which has a research theme of Environmental Microbiology. “Cheyenne, Ashley, and John did great work, the kind that college juniors or seniors do in their major. I’m very proud of what they accomplished. I hope to be able to take elements of each student’s work and create a poster that represents ECTC at the Conference for Student Research this November.”
There is plenty of opportunity for students in future Biology Honors Programs to build on what these students have discovered. Or their projects could take a new direction.
The Biology Honors Program was funded by a mini-grant initiative designed to stimulate creative thinking among faculty and staff, enhance the college’s learning environment and support student success. The program is funded by private gifts and a special allocation from the ECTC President’s Office.