Skip navigation
CNRT logo

Center for NASA Research & Technology

South Carolina State University


SCSU Faculty Presents at NASA Astrobiology Conference

SCSU faculty members a gave a talk at the NASA Astrobiology Conference March 26-30, 2006, in Washington, DC., entitled " Increasing Diversity in Astrobiology: Developing a New Program at an Undergraduate Institution."

The Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) 2006 Program

Increasing Diversity in Astrobiology:
Developing a New Program at an Undergraduate Institution

Donald Walter
Department of Biological & Physical Sciences
South Carolina State University
Orangeburg, South Carolina USA
dkw@physics.scsu.edu
Jennifer Cash
Department of Biological & Physical Sciences
South Carolina State University
Orangeburg, South Carolina USA
Nasrollah Hamidi-Vadeghani
Department of Biological & Physical Sciences
South Carolina State University
Orangeburg, South Carolina USA
James Payne
Department of Biological & Physical Sciences
South Carolina State University
Orangeburg, South Carolina USA
Linda Payne
Midlands Mathematics and Science Regional Center
South Carolina State University
Orangeburg, South Carolina USA
Judith Salley-Guydon Department of Biological & Physical Sciences South Carolina State University Orangeburg, South Carolina USA

South Carolina State University (SCSU) is a four-year, non-research institution that offers undergraduate degrees in biology, chemistry and physics. As an Historically Black College/University, SCSU is one of the few minority institutions developing a program in astrobiology. We present the results of our efforts to date.

Funding from NASA's MUCERPI 2003 program has allowed us to support faculty research, curriculum development and outreach in astrobiology. Our program has successfully created new courses in astrophysics and astrobiology in addition to creating an astronomy minor specifically designed to attract biology and chemistry majors. We have conducted workshops for in-service teachers and are participating in the development of course materials in astrochemistry for high school classes as part of a partnership with the Goddard Center for Astrobiology (GCA) and the Minority Institute Astrobiology Collaborative. One of our faculty members received a NASA Faculty Fellowship and spent the summer of 2004 conducting research at GCA and a second faculty collaboration with GCA is under development. Additionally, we have worked with Bennett College and the University of Washington's NASA Astrobiology Team as part of our growing program.

Funding for this work has been provided by NASA through its MUCERPI 2003 award (NNG04GD62G), NASA MU-SPIN (NNG04GC40A), the NASA Broker/Facilitator program SERCH (NCC 5-607) and the 2004 NASA Faculty Fellowship Program.

 

Additionally, Drs. Walter and Hamidi-Vadeghani were coauthors on another presentation entitled "The Astrobiology in Secondary Classrooms (ASC) Project."

The Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) 2006 Program

The Astrobiology in Secondary Classrooms (ASC) Project

Judy Butler
Institute for Understanding Biological Systems
Tennessee State University
Nashville, Tennessee USA
judy@dragonflyenterprises.org
Stephanie Stockman
Goddard Center for Astrobiology
Science Systems and Applications, Inc.
USA
Michael Mumma
Goddard Center for Astrobiology
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
USA
Donald Walter
Department of Biological & Physical Sciences
South Carolina State University
USA
Jason Dworkin
Laboratory for Astrochemistry
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
USA
Todd Gary
Institute for Understanding Biological Systems
Tennessee State University
USA
Nasrollah Hamidi-Vadeghani
Department of Biological & Physical Sciences
South Carolina State University
USA
Leroy Salary
Department of Physics
Norfolk State University
USA
Michael DiSanti
Goddard Center for Astrobiology
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
USA
Marla Moore
Goddard Center for Astrobiology
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
USA
Tracy Cummings
Institute for Understanding Biological Systems
Tennessee State University
USA

Astrobiology in Secondary Classrooms (ASC) is an interdisciplinary astrochemistry curriculum developed as part of the education and public outreach program of the Goddard Center for Astrobiology (GCA). This curriculum is under development by a team comprised of college professors from the Minority Institute Astrobiology Collaborative (MIAC), scientists from GCA, and high school teachers. GCA assembled this team to develop an activity guide for teachers, based on national science standards that would connect astrobiology research at Goddard to the classroom. The activities explore the fundamental questions of astrobiology and investigate the role comets may have played in supplying the raw material for the origin of life on Earth. Students will use problem-solving strategies to apply chemistry to cometary science, the electromagnetic spectrum, space travel, and other important secondary school concepts.

The preliminary materials are being field-tested by the curriculum development team in four states and in the NASA Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Aerospace Academy at Tennessee State University (TSU). Beginning in 2006, professional development for high school teachers will rotate among three of the MIAC universities. The first of these workshops will be conducted at TSU where teachers trained in the curriculum activities will continue field-testing. Teachers enrolled in the ASC Summer Institutes will assist with modifying the curriculum through 2008 when it will be disseminated more widely.

Funding has been provided by the NASA Astrobiology Institute under RTOP 344-53-51 to the GCA and to South Carolina State University by NASA MUCERPI under NNG04GD62G and the SERCH Broker/Facilitator program NCC 5-607.

 

To learn more about the SCSU Astrobiology program see here and here.