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RCTC Bucking Trend, Conducting Research

Created: 03/05/2014 6:17 PM KAALtv.com
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- When we think of college research projects, big universities usually come to mind. But now, there's a push to do that same big research, at smaller schools.

Photooxidation of DNA and Prevention by Natural Antioxidants. That's the research being done by Alison Seeman, a college student at RCTC. "Basically, what I've been doing is developing a lab for students here at RCTC to explore the effects of antioxidants," said Seeman.

In the past, this was the kind of research you would normally only see at a 4-year school.

"It's very encouraging. The support from administration has been fantastic and everybody really wants this to grow," said Heather Sklenicka.

She's an instructor of chemistry at RCTC, and over the past few years, has started, and grown, the research program. "We started with three students and just, let's try it out. And now it's a full course. Students have always gotten credit for it and now it is on the books and we have five research students working this semester," said Sklenicka.

Another example of big research in a small school is being done by Briana Bruske. She's developing a lab dedicated to heat transfer.

"We've kind of been looking at a real life situation where they would be opening up their own coffee shop, so they have to find the best coffee cup, or container that works best to put the coffee in," said Bruske.

And these local projects are part of a national trend. "As I go to conferences, I find more and more students that are being able to do research. And the number of two-year schools in those is increasing," said Sklenicka.

Heather says it's becoming more popular, because it helps prepare students who start at a two-year school, and then plan on transferring to a bigger university.

And as far as Alison's antioxidant research, she's presenting it at the American Chemistry Society Conference in Dallas, TX in a couple of weeks.

"There's going to be 14,000 chemists there. So she's going to have huge exposure for this project that she's developed," said Sklenicka.

"It's really amazing. I've just really enjoyed doing research here. And it's been really exciting," said Alison.

"As I go to conferences, I find more and more students that are being able to do research undergraduate research symposia are improving dramatically. And the number of two year schools in those is increasing," Heather added.

The head of RCTC's research says that, pending funding, she would like to expand the program in the future.