DCCC biology instructor creates new research-based course

Joe Felts holds up container of cowpea seed beetles

August 16, 2018 - As students return to the Davidson County Community College campus, the fall semester will hold a new opportunity for students wanting discover real solutions to very real problems affecting people in the world.

This opportunity comes in the form of a new CURE (Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience) biology course. The course allows students to develop their own experiments and ideas to better understand what natural pest control might help save almost 60 percent of crop yields in Africa and South Asia.

“I’m hoping students develop a real interest in science,” biology faculty member Joe Felts said. “With students generating their own ideas and experiments, I want to show them what science really is, a process.”   

During the course of the semester, students will work to identify the effectiveness of different methods of controlling the cowpea seed beetle population. Their experimentation primarily involves plant-derived compounds of essential oils and bio-control agents such as parasitoid wasps to keep the beetle population from decimating bean crops native to Africa and South Asia.

Research and research-based curriculum has traditionally been more customary at four-year institutions. Yet in the past 10 years, community colleges have begun to implement more research-based curriculum and opportunities on their campuses.

As a CURE Development Fellow, Felts was selected for his plan to take an inquiry-based course and transition it into a more engaging CURE course. The course took Felts over a year to create. CUREnet, the organization responsible for implementing these research-intensive courses across the nation, will sponsor the research with support from the National Science Foundation.

“We’re excited to provide students at DCCC with the same advanced opportunities they may experience at a four-year institution,” Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Margaret Annunziata said. “STEM fields continue to grow. The research completed in this CURE course will help build a strong foundation in the sciences.”

Students will also have the opportunity to take their research a step further. With additional work, students have the ability to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals or publications.

“This is real research that’s impacting stakeholders outside of the classroom, and I know the students will experience that what they’re learning has a stake in something that affects real people,” Felts said.


Photo Caption

DCCC biology faculty member Joe Felts holds up container of cowpea seed beetles in his classroom lab. Felts and his students will be working on finding biological pesticides to keep the cowpea seed beetle from disturbing bean populations in African and South Asian regions.

About Davidson County Community College

Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is a fully accredited, multi-campus college where students of all ages and backgrounds pursue academic and career-focused education in order to build successful futures. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers more than 40 degree and professional certificate programs to students in Davidson and Davie counties, as well as affordable college-credit coursework to students who plan to transfer to 4-year universities. With a mission to serve the changing needs of students competing in a global environment, DCCC is committed to quality education, innovative and equitable learning experiences, training, and support across a wide range of 21st-century career fields. Visit Davidson County Community College at DavidsonCCC.edu.

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