OCCC to fill its beakers, thanks to Siletz fund

Science department chairman Matthew Fisher plans to provide students with cutting edge equipment and opportunities thanks to Siletz funds.

For colleges and universities of any size, raising funds to place modern, cutting-edge equipment inside science and chemistry laboratories can be, well, laborious.

Thus, when Oregon Coast Community College faculty Matthew Fisher set out to provide students with those cutting-edge opportunities, he knew he’d need help raising the necessary funds.

“I want OCCC students to have lab experiences that are just as good, if not better, as what is offered at larger universities,” said Fisher, who also acts as the chair of the science department. “But scientific equipment can be really, really expensive.”

That’s where the generosity of the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund (STCCF) stepped in.

Recently, the STCCF announced a $19,000 grant to OCCC to purchase laboratory equipment for biology and chemistry courses.

Thanks to the donation, OCCC can now offer the year-long sequence of introductory chemistry courses. These classes are required for a variety of degrees in science, technology, and engineering. The new chemistry sequence will begin in the Fall of 2021 (with courses including CH 221/222/223). With the new lab equipment, students will be able to collect and analyze data in real-time using digital sensors and computers.

“We’re very excited to offer these new chemistry courses,” said Dan Lara, Vice President of Academic Affairs at OCCC, and a chemist by training. “There are so many talented people in Lincoln County, and we want to help them achieve their goals of becoming scientists, engineers, and doctors.”

The funding from STCCF will also help Fisher provide his students with research experience as part of his introductory biology courses (BI 211/212/213). Fisher will use the STCCF money to purchase the equipment needed to grow microbes and isolate their DNA. Students will then decode the DNA and share their genetic analysis in a national databank. This is all part of a national educational program supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). OCCC is the only college in Oregon currently accepted in the program.

“I’m excited to give students the opportunity to do modern biological research as part of their normal coursework,” said Fisher. “This type of learning really motivates students and helps students from diverse backgrounds succeed in the sciences.”

OCCC offers a variety of degree and certificate programs, including university Transfer Degree programs and its innovative teaching degree program, created in partnership with Western Oregon University and the Lincoln County School District.

The Fall 2021 term will feature a return to campus and will boast a large lineup of on-site, live classes – along with enhanced options for students who choose to participate in an online environment. A full complement of student activities, clubs, and special events is also being planned.

A good place to start is by filling out an application at oregoncoast.edu/apply, and then scheduling a free one-on-one (via Zoom) meeting with a friendly academic advisor. Learn more and discover the full range of degree and certificate programs available at Oregon Coast Community College at oregoncoast.edu.


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