Voices and Viewpoints

Community College Program Launching Students’ STEM Careers

by Karie Brown-Tess / Feb 13, 2017

Community colleges continue to maximize community resources in ingenious ways.  Parkland College of Champaign, Illinois has partnered with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to provide a 10-week paid summer program where undergraduates can participate in research in phenotype plasticity, an area of study that analyzes genotypes and the phenotypes produced in changing environments.  This research is important for medical research as well as biology and environmental research.  The Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students (PRECS) program will select ten students to participate in the program, and underrepresented students are encouraged to apply.  Along with a stipend, students are provided a housing, food, and travel allowance to make the project feasible for students who have financial obligations that have historically barred community college students from participating in summer research opportunities.  Students will present their research at the community college, as well as at an undergraduate research symposium at the University of Illinois.  Research has repeatedly demonstrated that undergraduate research opportunities made in partnership with four-year institutions raise student confidence in STEM education, increase the likelihood students will persist through a four-year program, and increases students’ likelihood of entering a STEM career  (Gibson & Bruno, 2012; Hirst, Bolduc, Liotta, & Packard, 2014; Seymour, Hunter, Laursen, & Deantoni, 2004).  This is yet another example of how community colleges are working to meet the STEM workforce needs of our nation.  Information on this program can be found at http://precs.igb.illinois.edu.


  • Gibson, B. A, & Bruno, B. C. (2012). The C-MORE Scholars Program: Motivations for an academic-year research experiences for undergraduates program. Journal of College Science Teaching, 41(5), 12–18.
  • Hirst, R. A., Bolduc, G., Liotta, L., & Packard, B. W.-L. (2014). Cultivating the STEM transfer pathway and capacity for research: A Partnership between a community college and a 4-year college. Journal of College Science Teaching, 43(4), 12–17.
  • Seymour, E., Hunter, A. B., Laursen, S. L., & Deantoni, T. (2004). Establishing the benefits of research experiences for undergraduates in the sciences: First findings from a three-year study. Science Education, 88(4), 493–534. http://doi.org/10.1002/sce.10131
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