College Scholarship Fundraising Event Jan. 31

Six Public Openings in MN Master Naturalist Volunteer Training at College

Anoka-Ramsey theater production selected for Kennedy Center Midwest regional competition

Las Hermanas Padilla at Anoka-Ramsey, Jan. 16 and 17

Ceramics fundraisers; public gets opportunity for one-of-a-kind art May 6

Be a Life Saver: College Offers Free Suicide Prevention Workshop April 16

Public Invited to 8th Annual Student Fine Arts Portfolio Exhibit Opening April 3

Join the fun: The IT Girl hits college stage April 18-26

Anoka-Ramsey Community College Students Enter Digital Age with Launch of New Web Site

College gears up undergraduate research opportunities to enrich learning, advance scientific knowledge

Two students named to All-Minnesota Academic Team

Students, community members improve natural habitats through MN Master Naturalist Program

Ramsey Lions Club Presents $25,000 to College Foundation

College Nursing instructor named an Educator of the Year

Lake Wobegon® Brass Band supports College Music program and plays on

Sponsors for scholarship event needed to change lives

College faculty member publishes first chapbook, Blood Ties

Three faculty members named 2014 Outstanding Educators by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities

College Music Faculty Offer Free, Public Recital Feb. 7

College Art Faculty Offer Free, Public Talks about Craft

Can’t get a job? Get inspired by someone who got 50 jobs in 50 weeks April 29

27th Annual Minnesota Writer Program Welcomes Award-Winning Author Cary J. Griffith Feb. 13

College hosts 2014 One Book Cambridge Community-Wide Reading program May 8

Master falconer visit huge success

College Now Offers Pharmacy Technician Degree at Cambridge Campus

Faculty Members Recognized with 2014 State Arts Grants

College’s Free Candlelight Ski Event Set for Feb. 1

College student finds the know-how to empower survivors of human

Cast Announced for Upcoming Production of The IT Girl

College Scenic Designer Honored by Kennedy Center Theatre Festival Recognition

College women’s and men’s basketball teams make history: both teams win regional championships, advance to nationals

Two Rivers Reading Series Hosts Graphic Novelist Tyler Page April 8

College Announces Cast for Upcoming Production of And Then There Were None

College STEM Chicks encourage girls’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math

Scholarship Fundraising Event Breaks Record in Attendance and Profit

Science Night: Peregrine Falcon – Fastest Member of the Animal Kingdom, Feb. 25

College gears up undergraduate research opportunities to enrich learning, advance scientific knowledge

February 11, 2014

Dozens of first- and second-year students at Anoka-Ramsey Community College have been conducting research for state and national projects as part of a college initiative to infuse scientific research opportunities into the curriculum, an activity typically reserved for advanced undergraduate and graduate students.


On Feb. 26, two students, Kelsie Becklin and Geri Mortenson, will represent a selection of various undergraduate research projects at Anoka-Ramsey for legislators at the State Capitol in St. Paul. In the last year, Anoka-Ramsey students in biology, field biology, genetics, microbiology and other courses have been:  

  • Assessing the influence of landscape structure on Minnesota frogs and toads in collaboration with 10 other colleges and universities and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Collecting blood, fecal matter and hair from wolves and wolf-coyote hybrids at the Wildlife Science Center in Columbus, Minn. and sequencing wolf and microbe genes to investigate a connection between susceptibility to disease and physical characteristics.
  • Growing test plots of camelina, a distant relative to canola that offers a promising new possibility for producing biofuels from nonfood sources.
  • Assessing the water quality of local streams and lakes and sharing their data with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, where it will be used in a statewide watershed assessment.

“If we have students taking science courses, we might as well teach them to become scientists,” said Kristen Genet, a biology instructor involved with Anoka-Ramsey’s undergraduate research initiative. Though the students’ research will advance scientific knowledge in their respective subjects, Genet said, the initiative’s main purpose is to enhance student learning.

“Students tend to retain information more readily and value the knowledge more highly when they are engaged in research projects than if they learned something out of a book,” she said. “They’re discovering things and troubleshooting along the way and that’s really what the process of science is all about.”

For students, the experiences have been unusual, to say the least.  Anissa Bekka learned how to draw blood from a sedated wolf, a skill necessary for a field biologist. “I had never stuck anything with a needle before, and I was nervous,” she said in reporting on her part of the project to classmates.

“The average first- or second-year undergraduate student is not going to have a chance to do what our students have been able to do with the wolf project,” said Jennifer Braido, who teaches the field biology students. “Our students learn how to capture the wolves, chemically immobilize them, perform physical exams and administer vaccinations. They learn how to work with a wild animal in a safe, captive environment. These students are getting the same training as the top wolf researchers in the world have done. It’s a real authentic experience.”

Students also will present their findings at national conferences. Later this month, Becklin and Mortenson, along with Lindsay Molinaro and Dillon Danforth will present their findings of the wolf and biofuels projects at the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative symposium in Mesa, Ariz. Also, Molinaro will present her wolf project data in April at the National Council for Undergraduate Research conference in Lexington, Ky. And in April, a student, yet to be determined, will represent the college at a national data analysis workshop in Santa Barbara, Calif. for the amphibian landscape ecology project.

Funding for expanding the research opportunities to students has come mostly from National Science Foundation grants awarded to collaborations and other outside sources. 

“Students tell us they love the hands-on experience and get a clearer picture about what it is like to be a scientist,” Genet said. “Not all our students will become scientists, but they will have a better understanding and appreciation of the scientific discovery. In addition to our biology courses, we’re hoping to integrate research experiences throughout the college.”