Who says there isn’t money in birds?
Moreno Valley College (MVC) has been awarded a three-year grant for $249,999 from the National Science Foundation (NSF), allowing for further study of the swallows, which make Moreno Valley College home each spring. The grant was won for its merit in an open category, competing against other universities throughout the nation for the funds, said Richard Keeler, dean of Grants for Riverside Community College District.
The Flying with the Swallows (FWS) project, which was created by Joanna Werner-Fraczek, associate professor of Biology, and Diana Marsh, associate professor, Chemistry, is designed to integrate research into biology and chemistry courses with a common research theme. The project studies various aspects of swallow life within the suburban area, with an emphasis on pollutants in the swallows’ food chain and any health hazards these birds may pose to humans when located close to neighborhoods.
The research project, which began three years ago, has expanded each year and now includes specialized cameras around campus, which records the swallows. The College’s swallows are cliff swallows, the same species of birds that brought fame to Mission San Juan Capistrano. Each year, the swallows are known for flocking to crevasses within highway underpasses, bridges and buildings to construct nests.
In the grant proposal, Werner-Fraczek said she expects to establish a multi-year research-based initiative with a broad impact that offers participation in scientific research on subjects that are familiar (swallows); improve and increase STEM education opportunities at MVC.
“The project will provide a broader impact on College students, faculty, and staff, two and four-year university research faculty, staff, local businesses, and other educational institutions, students, and faculty nationwide, Werner-Fraczek said in the College’s application to NSF. “MVC will disseminate project findings based on results obtained as well as best practices. This will allow for easy replication and customization of the project at other colleges and universities.”
The project will also provide opportunities for students to participate in relevant and real research opportunities and for qualified faculty to obtain professional development to enhance and improve upon solid, research-supported STEM pedagogy and teaching strategies.