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Delaware Technical Community College

Undergraduate research at Delaware Technical Community College started in 2008 with the formation of the BioChem Club. Thus began the Friday open lab where a group of enthusiastic students could carry out their research projects. During the first summer, ten students enrolled in Introduction to Research (SCI130) which culminated in a department poster session. Professional development opportunities for DTCC instructors led to the implementation of several ongoing projects and collaborations with faculty from four-year institutions. These projects have been incorporated into the biology and biotechnology courses through case studies and laboratories. Students who continue with research into their second year can now enroll in Research Methodology (SCI230). And the students continue to close the building on Friday afternoons.


During summer 2012, the Biology & Chemistry department placed five students in summer internships at the University of Delaware and Nemours. The students all emphasized the importance of their DTCC undergraduate research experience in the success of their research this summer.

Fanta Kalle

Worked under Dr. Laurens Holmes at Nemours/A.I. DuPont Children's Hospital. Her study examined racial/ethnic disparities in hospitalization among a sample of asthma patients from a pediatric hospital. This year Fanta transferred into the Biology Department at the University of Delaware.

Ryan DelPercio

Worked under Dr. Harsh Bais at the Delaware Biotechnology Insitute on the rice microbiome project and its role in modeling plant to plant interactions. Ryan transferred to the Plant and Soil Sciences Department at the University of Delaware.

Adam Draper

Worked under Dr. Harsh Bais investigating disease repression by rhizobacteria. Both he and Ryan had the opportunity to travel to California to work with scientists at UC Davis.

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Research Projects

Characterization of Soil Bacteria

The field of microbial ecology is rapidly growing with an increased recognition of the importance of bacteria in cycling of nutrients and plant interactions. One of the first research projects to be developed at DTCC is the characterization of bacteria from various soils from Delaware and surrounding states.  The culture-dependent aspect of this project has been incorporated into the Microbiology laboratory and the culture-independent aspect has been incorporated into Biotechnology I.

Some of the studies that have branched off from the main project are antibiotic production by Streptomyces isolated from soils, culturing of Acidobacteria, and correlation of Pseudomonas physiology with soil characteristics. DTCC students are also investigating the role that nickel resistant bacteria play in growth promotion of plants in the heavy metal rich soil of nearby serpentine barrens. These studies are being done in collaboration with scientists at the University of Delaware and Delaware Biotechnology Institute.

Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) Population Studies

The White Clay Creek Preserve, PA is home to a maternity roost of big brown bats. DTCC students are using molecular techniques to investigate the genetics of the bats that return to the roost each year. Emergence counts and video taping of the roost entrance are being used to explore the seasonal dynamics of the colony members. This year in collaboration with scientists and students from Delaware State University, DTCC students are using DNA barcoding to investigate the variation in big brown bat diet with the availability of insects throughout the season. Techniques learned at Bat Conservation International workshops, such as mist netting and acoustic monitoring, are allowing faculty and students to monitor the usage of habitats within the preserve by different species of bats. The data is provided to the PA Game Commission to assist with their monitoring of the effects of White Nose Syndrome on the state bat populations.

White Nose Syndrome (Geomyces destuctans) Imaging

White nose syndrome is a fungal disease that has killed over 7 million bats since appearing in a cave near Albany, NY in the winter of 2006-2007. Scientists are postulating that the lethal effects of G. destructans are due to fluid loss or disruption of thermoregulation due to extensive tissue damage on the wings. Students and faculty from DTCC have been working with scientists at Delaware Biotechnology Institute and Delaware State University to use fluorescent and scanning electron microscopy to determine the wing membrane surface area that is covered by G. destructans during an infection.

DNA Barcoding of Maidenhair Ferns

The maidenhair ferns growing on serpentine barrens near the Pennsylvania-Mayland border have traditionally been identified as Adiantum pedatum var. aleuticum. In 1991, they were elevated to species status as Adiantum aleuticum. However, considerable skepticism exists in the field botanical community as to whether they are, in fact, distinct from Adiantum pedatum. Maidenhair ferns from several serpentine barrens are being sampled and vouchered, and several chloroplast DNA markers are being sequenced to determine their species.  These studies are being done with advice from regional botanical experts. In the course of obtaining sampling permits, we have also made useful contacts with botanists in the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania, and the Friends of the State Line Serpentine Barrens.

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Student Resonses

It cannot be emphasized enough how much I have learned from doing research, both in the reinforcement of concepts learned in classes, and additional skills and knowledge. I have learned so much that I have not learned in my classes.


The accessibility at our college allows exposure to a methodology many people typically do not know how to get involved in. This experience has peaked my curiosity about questions greater than myself and has inspired me to read and learn for the sake of knowing.


Vision and Change Implementation


Integrate Core Concepts and Competencies throughout the Curriculum

  • Introduce the scientific process to students early, and integrate it into all undergraduate biology courses

  • Relate abstract concepts in biology to real ­world examples on a regular basis, and make biology content relevant by presenting problems in a real ­life context 

  • Stimulate the curiosity students have for learning about the natural world

  • Demonstrate both the passion scientists have for their discipline and their delight in sharing their understanding of the world with students


Focus on Student ­Centered Learning

  • Engage students as active participants, not passive recipients, in all undergraduate biology courses

  • Use multiple modes of instruction in addition to the traditional lecture

  • Introduce research experiences as an integral component of biology education for all students, regardless of their major

  • Integrate multiple forms of assessment to track student learning


High Impact Practices Implementation

First-Year Seminars and Experiences

Learning Communities

Collaborative Assignments and Projects

Undergraduate Research

Diversity/Global Learning

Service Learning

Community-Based Learning


Capstone Courses and Projects

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