National Science Foundation grant funds innovative educational program and teaching trip


Rivier University was awarded a $650,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in 2016 to support the education of young scientists. The grant is funding a pilot program titled ARGYLES (Attract, Retain and Graduate Young LifE Scientists) to engage biology majors as emergent scientists who will contribute to the vitality of the STEM workforce in the Northeast.

ARGYLES program objectives aim to guide students from the campus to the community to successful careers. The program's key components include summer field study, peer and faculty mentoring, community building, independent research proposals and projects, travel to scientific conferences, and workforce preparation. Summer field study is among the first planned program initiatives.

Five first-year ARGYLES program students, six upper-class biology and biotechnology majors, and two faculty members will travel to Canada in early August to participate in collaborative environmental studies with colleagues from the University of Waterloo in Ontario. This teaching trip will also serve as a community-builder.

"We are excited to welcome our ARGYLES students to Rivier and to kick-off the program with a global teaching trip," says Dr. Susan Barbaro, Associate Professor of Biology, Department Coordinator and the grant's author and administrator. "The trip will introduce new and current students to each other, to international scientific study, and to one of the most interesting ecosystems in the world."

Rivier students and professors, and University of Waterloo faculty members, will engage in a 10-day research project. They will explore geological and environmental sites along the Niagara Escarpment in Canada. This region offers the opportunity for students to study geological and glacial features and fossils; observe the wide variety of habitats the Escarpment supports-more than 300 species of birds, 53 types of mammals, 36 species of amphibians and reptiles, 90 kinds of fish and more than 1,500 different plants; conduct water testing and examine issues related to fresh water; and to examine the Escarpment's economic importance to the province of Ontario and the issues of balancing protection, conservation, and development.