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ACU awarded CCCU STEM research grant

Abilene Christian University is one of nine recipients of a grant to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics research through the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and its U.K. subsidiary, Scholarship & Christianity in Oxford. 

Nine CCCU member institutions were selected to receive the grant, which will provide funding to advance scientific research and support newer STEM faculty in the wake of a global pandemic. It will also bolster partnerships between the CCCU and major research institutions, provide funding for student clubs, support undergraduate student researchers in STEM fields, and provide opportunities for administrators and other campus communities to engage science, religion, and society issues.

“This is a really interesting program with multiple subgoals: improving diversity, prioritizing undergraduate research, supporting young faculty, and integrating science, religion and identity,” said Dr. Megan Roth, executive director of research at ACU. “When we read the call for proposals, we thought it was perfect for us. We’re at a point where we’re growing and transitioning in our research activities, and this touches on other areas we are deeply interested in – diversity issues, growing undergraduate research, the importance of staying focused on our tradition. This speaks to all of that.” 

ACU’s implementation of the grant funds will also engage other Abilene schools, colleges and universities. Part of the funding will be used to increase ACU’s interaction with K-12 schools, particularly in the STEM disciplines, and to contribute to a research consortium led by Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center that includes ACU, Hardin-Simmons, McMurry and Cisco College. The consortium is planning a one-day symposium that will be open to the public and will focus on biomedical research, cancer and immunology. The grant will also support the creation of racial-affinity groups for faculty members at any of Abilene’s higher education institutions.

A significant part of the grant program involves supporting newer faculty in the STEM disciplines. ACU’s Dr. Andrew Holowiecki, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Jennifer Hennigan, associate professor of biology, will each receive a half-time course release and funding to support research costs and undergraduate student researchers. Holowiecki will be studying the embryonic development of zebrafish and Hennigan will be studying how bacteria communicate within a colony. Each of them will partner with a seasoned researcher at a university classified as an “R1: Doctoral University,” institutions known for high research activity. That researcher will provide mentorship and additional methodology, tools and/or technology. 

ACU will receive $133,427 in funding over the next two years. The eight other CCCU institutions receiving a grant are:

  • Azusa Pacific University 
  • Calvin University 
  • Dordt University 
  • Gordon College 
  • Seattle Pacific University 
  • Trinity Western University 
  • Wheaton College 
  • Whitworth University 

The grants are made possible by the John Templeton Foundation and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. 

— Wendy Kilmer

May 26, 2021

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