Dr. Malcolm J. D’Souza, Professor of Chemistry at Wesley College, is the primary investigator on a recent National Science Foundation (NSF) award of $281,676. This year, he also received $277,000 from the National Institutes of Health-National Center for Research Resources-IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (NIH-NCRR-INBRE), and was one of three finalists nominated for a 2010 NCRR-INBRE mentoring award.
It was a summer of accomplishments for Dr. D’Souza and the team of students that work with him in the science department. “In the past eight years our undergraduate research program has grown—so much so that Wesley College is now being recognized for our undergraduate research outcomes,” said Dr. Malcolm D’Souza. “The INBRE grant allows students to do real research, which leads to future academic and job opportunities.”
In the past eight years, 35 undergraduate students have been involved in sponsored undergraduate research in the science department at Wesley College. Students must have a 3.0 grade-point-average to be involved in such research, and receive two credit hours for participation. Students who work above the academic requirements are paid for their involvement. “I want to work in the chemistry industry or academia, and this is a great opportunity and resume builder,” said Senior Bio-Chemistry Major Brian Mahon. “I have actually experienced research and have a handle on how it is conducted in a professional setting.”
Nearly 80-percent of undergraduate researchers involved in the program have gone onto graduate or medical school. Student involvement does not end with research. Many students are named co-authors and publish research findings in scientific journals. “I had research published about one month ago in an international journal,” said Mahon. “It is neat to have your name on real research and to be a part of something that will better the organic chemistry community and medicine.”
The NSF grant is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, and will be used to improve current mentored research conditions and cyber-infrastructure in the science department. The funds from the INBRE grant will continue to better the scientific community, as well as the Wesley College community. This year the grant will be used to renovate biology storage and preparatory rooms, as well as the science department’s lobby.
The type of research that D’Souza and his students’ conduct focuses on drug discovery and the improvement of the solubility of drugs. “I grew up in India where research was not emphasized. I was not given an opportunity to conduct research until I was in graduate school,” said Dr. D’Souza. “We are now finding that Wesley College students have an edge on graduate students because of the research they have conducted as undergraduates and their co-authorship in publications.”
Dr. D’Souza will now present information about his summer of accomplishments at the annual NIH-NCRR-INBRE External Advisory Board (EAB) conference at DuPont Children’s Hospital on November 11-12. Wesley College is in year two of the five-year INBRE grant that runs from 2009-2014. Dr. D’Souza summarized his accomplishments and work with students by exclaiming, “…undergraduate research is a lot of fun, and it keeps me out of trouble!”
Contact Wesley College Special Assistant to the President Amanda Kinkade at KinkadAm@wesley.edu or (302) 736-2458 for further information. Additional information about the INBRE grant can be found at http://www.wesley.edu/index.cfm?fuseaction=academics.inbreoutcomes