Aerojet gives $17,000 for science preceptors

Dr. Scott White, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Physics; Ryan Mahelona and Jessica Ziegler, microbiology students; Connie Wilbur, human resources manager of Aerojet in Camden; Taylor Moore, chemistry preceptor; Dr. Shawn Krosnick, assistant professor of biology; and Dr. Viktoriya Street, associate professor of biology.

Science courses are often intimidating for college students, but a grant from Aerojet Corporation of Camden will ease the pressure on students at Southern Arkansas University.

Through its parent company, GenCorp Foundation, Aerojet has given a $17,000 grant to provide for student preceptors to assist students in biology, chemistry, and physics labs and to provide tutoring outside the labs. Nationwide there is a significant attrition rate in university-level science classes. This program is designed to help the students make it through those first daunting university science classes with the skills that they will need to succeed in both upper-level and graduate studies in the future.

The Undergraduate Laboratory Preceptor Experience will target students in introductory biology, chemistry, and physics courses. Faculty instructors of the designated courses will select preceptors from the pool of upper-level science and engineering majors. The preceptors will be present during the laboratory sessions and will be available for preparation and tutoring help outside of the lab each week during evening hours.

While the primary beneficiaries will be the beginning science and engineering majors, the preceptors will gain a wealth of practical experience that will assist them when they move on to a graduate or professional program.

The grant funded the program for the spring 2011 semester and will continue in fall 2011. During the spring semester, 243 students enrolled in 11 lab sections benefited from the use of the preceptors.

The grant from Aerojet was given to the University through the SAU Foundation and was written by Dr. Scott White, chair of the department of Chemistry and Physics. Aerojet is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader principally serving the missile and space propulsion and defense

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