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IGB Outreach Receives First Grant For STEAM TRAIN Project

BY Alisa King

This year, the STEAM TRAIN (Transdisciplinary Research Across Institutional Near-Peers) project conceived by the IGB outreach staff was one of five projects awarded seed funding and up to two years of subsequent support from the Community + Research Partnership Program (CO+RE). The CO+RE grant represents the first awarded grant for outreach endeavors at the IGB. 

IGB Outreach Receives First Grant For STEAM TRAIN Project

Launched earlier this year, the Community + Research Partnership Program (CO+RE) - supported by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation - is dedicated to fostering relationships between the community and researchers. Proposals are selected by a selection committee comprised of community and campus members based on potential impact in creative, scientific, and humanistic fields. 

The STEAM TRAIN project will be a student-led effort consisting of a partnership between Franklin STEAM Academy (Franklin) students, University of Illinois Laboratory High School (Uni) students, Illinois graduate and undergraduate students, and the IGB outreach staff. Through collaborations and multi-generational mentorship teams, students will explore their own ideas for tackling grand life science challenges. 

“For the past year we have been fostering a new relationship with the Franklin STEAM Academy, with coordination through Zanne Newman and Christopher Brunson,” said Outreach Activities Coordinator Daniel Urban, who submitted the CO+RE grant. “This spring we taught an Agora Days class focused on bacteria and antibiotic resistance at Uni High School, which started a conversation with Uni chemistry professor David Bergandine who was interested in creating new opportunities for Uni students. When we heard about the CO+RE grant, we thought this would be a great way to combine our IGB outreach efforts with both Uni and Franklin students.”

Students in the program will partake in projects dependent on their science interests and research technologies that could lead to scientific advancement in their respective field. To help students complete their projects, the mentorship chain consisting of Franklin, Uni, and Illinois students, together with the IGB outreach staff, will provide guidance and resources for modeling and testing project ideas. 

“The primary goal of STEAM TRAIN is to create a mentorship chain between Illinois students, Uni  students, and Franklin students where each group works with and provides guidance to their near-peers at the next level,” said Urban. “Ultimately, STEAM TRAIN seeks to promote increased science literacy and prolonged involvement, especially geared toward groups underrepresented in STEAM fields. To this end, we will empower younger students to explore their own ideas for the future of science.”

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