Promoting Research Investigations in the Marine Environment Program
Community colleges are an important pathway for students intending to complete a baccalaureate degree, particularly for groups underrepresented in science. Students at these institutions have few opportunities to engage in research and even fewer opportunities to explore the ocean sciences. To address this need COSEE Pacific Partnerships (COSEE-PP) developed the Promoting Research Investigation in the Marine Environment (PRIME) internship program. PRIME is an innovative, multi-site program that over the past 6 years has placed 58 interns with 40 scientist mentors for 8-10 week residential research experiences in Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii. Evaluation of the program demonstrated that the program is a successful, replicable, and rewarding model for engaging community college students in research, increasing ocean literacy, and engaging scientists in broader impacts activities.
The first internships were offered at the University of Oregon’s Institute of Marine Biology and Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in 2008. In 2009, PRIME expanded to include internships at the Western Washington University’s Shannon Point Marine Center, and in 2010 to the University of Hawaii’s Kewalo Marine Laboratory as a test of a distributed network. Faculty mentors are recruited and project topics are determined in advance of the PRIME internship. Students receive a stipend and on-site housing is provided. In addition to their research, interns blog about their experience, attend seminars, and participate in activities that show the broad spectrum of research and education that take place at marine labs and associated informal science education institutions. The program culminates with a symposium during which interns give a final formal presentation of their work. Many interns also engaged in outreach activities that included giving presentations to school children, a display at a county fair, and leading behind the scenes tours at an aquarium. COSEE PP also encourages and supports interns to present their research at local, regional, and national conferences.
COSEE Pacific Partnerships, a regional Center based at marine laboratories in Oregon, Washington, California, & Hawai'i seeks to integrate research and education for community colleges, informal science education professionals, and volunteers.
Jan Hodder Oregon Institute of Marine Biology University of Oregon