Chicago State University (CSU) and two City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), Kennedy-King and Olive-Harvey, have formed a partnership to increase the number of students persisting in STEM majors. The vision of USTEP is to significantly increase the number of first and second year CSU and CCC students who enter, pursue and graduate from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. In order to achieve this vision, these schools are implementing a student-centered academic support and research program. The goal of this program is to enhance undergraduate education and training at the intersection of the biological and physical sciences and mathematics, to prepare students to graduate, and to pursue graduate study or careers in traditional and emerging fields that integrate the sciences. USTEP aims to broaden undergraduate research capacity and experiences by utilizing CSU's local prairie garden for environmental and ecological field research and data collection. Student support will be provided through workshops, group study, seminars, and interactive instruction. There are four major components to the USTEP:
- Urban prairie management & restoration.
The urban prairie of Chicago State University is the perfect setting for summer study and research. Other prairies will be used for comparison and field trips. Studies include plant, soil and possibly animal studies. Plant studies include identification, collection and pressing for the herbarium; measuring biodiversity, biomass, richness and species abundance; growing from seed to determine germination, growth and survival rates after planting in field. Management activities would include participation in weeding, seed harvesting and cleaning for use next year; and prescribed burning in late winter.
- Improving urban environments with plants/phytopremediation.
These studies focus on the prairie and the soil. Students will work on restoration project of a local brown-field as part of a larger City of Chicago Department of the Environment initiative. USTEP students will document prairie soil health as well as other soils on campus with soil scientists at the Morton Arboretum. Analysis of soils include measuring inorganic chemicals, routine pH, soil texture, organic matter content, compaction, soil microbial biomass. In subsequent years, additional techniques will be included in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratories and The Morton Arboretum.
- Environmental Stewardship of the Urban Forest.
This project will be done in coordination with the Department of Geography at CSU. Students, using GIS, will join a campus mapping project assisting with documenting tree plantings and following tree survival, growth, etc. over time. Using the CSU plant nursery on campus, USTEP students will learn to identify, measure, evaluate the health of urban trees, calculate canopy cover and map tree location using GPS.
- Presentation and Study Skills.
Students will meet throughout the academic year for various activities designed to improve study, presentation and research skills. Summer USTEP Scholars come together to complete research projects. Students will also attend and present their findings at student research conferences. Although other STEM students are welcomed to participate in a number of activities, USTEP Scholars will receive stipends for their efforts.
Interested students should contact the coordinator at their school.
||Dr. LeRoy Jones
||Ms. Lezlie Thompson
||Dr. Karel Jacobs
|Chicago State University
||Ms. Susan Kirt
|Kennedy King College
||Ms. Arlicia Corley
|Olive Harvey College
||Mr. Austin Ferguson