Jul 3, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterProfessors will be invited to give the college's trustees brief presentations on the work they are doing.
This year's faculty president at Central Wyoming College has instigated a new tradition for meetings of the CWC Board of Trustees.
During each monthly gathering, faculty president Matt Herr said he will invite a CWC instructor to talk about his or her work over the past semester.
"It's just a real brief update on what folks are actually doing," Herr told the board in May.
Board chairman Charlie Krebs agreed it would be appropriate for the college representatives to know more about each professor's experience at CWC. He welcomed chemistry and geology professor Suki Smaglik when she stood to give the first in the series of presentations.
Smaglik taught an "Earth system science" class this spring sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative.
"(They've) spent $10,000 helping us incorporate this research into our classrooms," Smaglik said.
Her students spent a lot of time outside, however, visiting the hot springs in Thermopolis earlier in the year to gather samples for their research projects.
"Earth system science is about how animals interact with the land, the atmosphere, the water (and the) microbiology," Smaglik said, displaying photos of the students scattered about the site. "They got introduced to the microbiology that's been living in the hot springs."
This semester, she had the class focus on genetics. Once they collected their samples, Smaglik said the students returned to the laboratory in Riverton, where they learned how to extract DNA from each organism.
Smaglik said the DNA was sent elsewhere for analysis, but when the students received the results they used the information to draw conclusions about the samples they had collected.
In April, they shared their work at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Wyoming --an event that recreates the symposia that career scientists attend on a regular basis.
"This is what professionals do," Smaglik said. "It was an awesome experience."
Looking at Smaglik's photos, board member Nicole Schoening said it was apparent that the students had enjoyed their experience.
"They're all smiling," she said.
The group came home with several awards from the symposium, Smaglik said, complimenting the students for their dedication throughout the semester.
"It was way more work than the scheduled class time," she said. "They had to commit to Saturdays, weekends and evenings. But they all loved what they were doing. ... We look forward to doing more good stuff this year."
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