BASE Camp 2011

Broadening Access to Science Education
June 27 - July 1, 2011
Fairfield University

Funding for the 2011 program was generously provided through grants by Bank of America. We are grateful to them for making this experience possible for these students. We hope that this opportunity will encourage interest in the pursuit of science at the college level.

The one-week overnight camp is free of charge to students. All meals and lodging on campus are included. Students arrived on Sunday afternoon and will live in one of the campus dormitories for the week.

Each day of the week, students worded in small groups on a specific research project to which they have been assigned. Projects were led by Fairfield University faculty with assistance from current undergraduate students. Each project is designed to expose students to important topics in science, experimental design, current research methodology, and data analysis. In the evenings, students were provided opportunities to interacte with undergraduates and participate in fun activities.

At the end of the week, student groups presented their research findings to camp participants and their families/friends. Campers received certificates of participation for their involvement in the camp.

The Projects

Project #1 - Investigating Marine "Invasions" in Long Island
Diane Brousseau, PhD - Department of Biology
Laura McSweeney, PhD - Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

This marine biology field project will study the ecology of the Asian shore crab, a non-native species that "invaded" Long Island Sound in the 1990's. Students will use mark-recapture techniques to generate crab mobility data for analysis. Part of the day will be spent along the shores of Long Island Sound collecting, releasing and recapturing crabs they have tagged and measured in the laboratory. Students will analyze the data they collected using graphical summaries and statistical hypothesis testing.

Project #2 - Forensic Science
Amanda Harper-Leatherman, PhD - Department of Chemistry
Forensic Science is the application of science to help solve crime. In this project, students will become crime scene investigators charged with the task of solving a 'crime' using experimental lab skills and critical thinking skills. We will explore and use specific scientific techniques for the analysis of crime scene physical evidence such as plastics, fabrics, oils, arson accelerants, fingerprints, and/or blood.

Project #3 - Introduction to Species Identification
Ashley Byun-McKay, PhD - Department of Biology
Species identification is of particular importance today as issues like deforestation and global warming continue to threaten biodiversity and ultimately disrupt the ecosystems necessary for viability of life on earth. In this exercise, we will be learning about some of the tools for species identification including DNA sequencing. Students will be in the field doing collections, in the lab identifying species using morphology (physical traits) and also learning to use molecular tools and DNA databases to identify local species around Connecticut.

Project #4 - Alcohol Consumption During Puberty and Spatial Memory in Rats
Shannon Harding, PhD - Department of Psychology
Students will spend the mornings investigating the field of psychology and learning how the human brain is organized. There will be "hands-on" experience with real specimens from humans and sheep. In the afternoon, we will look at the effects of alcohol consumption on learning using young male rats as test subjects. Among other things, we will explore the different types of memory and the creative tests that neuroscientists have developed to study behavior.

Project #5 - Medicinal Chemistry Investigation Into Crohn's Disease
Jessica Davis, PhD - Department of Chemistry
Crohn's disease is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms include severe discomfort, malnutrition, and can lead to colon cancer. Current therapies of Crohn's disease have serious limitations and more drug-like therapeutics are needed. This project targets a key biomolecular interaction involved in Crohn's disease. Students will have the opportunity to screen small molecule inhibitors of this key interaction in an attempt to discover more drug-like molecules to combat Crohn's disease.

The Poster Session

The week ended with each group presenting their research at a poster session.

Family, friends, fellow students and faculty from the high schools and Fairfield University attended to hear about what the students accomplished during the week and to enjoy refreshments.


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