News Release

Pathways to the skies: NAU and CCC launch partnership to increase URM participation in astronomy, planetary science and other STEM fields

National Science Foundation grant will support internships for 20 undergraduates

Grant and Award Announcement

Northern Arizona University

Professor David Trilling, chair of Northern Arizona University’s Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science, has been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to launch a new partnership with Coconino Community College (CCC). The initiative will create a pathway for recruiting 20 CCC2NAU students into paid internships working in research labs at NAU.

Working with multidisciplinary collaborators across both institutions, Trilling will bring underrepresented minority (URM) students into the program, enabling them to carry out research on a range of topics. The two-year project begins in August 2022, and the first cohort of interns will begin in the Fall 2022 semester.

“The key to this project,” Trilling said, “will be using research as the tool with which URM students are recruited and retained in astronomy, and more broadly, in STEM fields.”

NAU has a very active astronomy research portfolio spanning a wide range of topics, from asteroids to astrobiology, and this new project includes collaborators from engineering, informatics, biology and other areas. The participating students will gain valuable experience and learn technical skills as they use a variety of telescopes and other equipment in the NAU labs across many different disciplines.

“We believe this project will help advance important research projects and result in conference presentations, publications and data products that will be impactful in their fields,” Trilling added.

Nearly all of the $166,000 funding for the program will be used for the paid internships. The project, focused on both research and education, is designed to increase participation and retention of URM students in these fields, building on the CCC2NAU program founded in 2008. CCC2NAU provides an affordable and innovative way for students to complete a bachelor’s degree by attending CCC for their first two years at the lower community college tuition rate and enroll in NAU for their last two years.

“We are excited about this new collaboration between NAU and CCC,” CCC President Colleen Smith said, “which will provide research experiences for our students and help to fulfill our regional mission to our students.”

NAU collaborators working on the project with Trilling include:

About Northern Arizona University

Founded in 1899, Northern Arizona University is a higher-research institution providing exceptional educational opportunities and outcomes in Arizona and beyond. NAU delivers a student-centered experience to its nearly 30,000 students in Flagstaff, statewide and online through rigorous academic programs in a supportive, inclusive and diverse environment. As a community-engaged engine of opportunity, NAU powers social impact and economic mobility for the students and communities it serves. The university's longstanding history of educating and partnering with diverse students and communities throughout Arizona is enhanced by its recent designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). Dedicated, world-renowned faculty and staff help ensure students achieve academic excellence, experience personal growth, have meaningful research and experiential learning opportunities and are positioned for personal and professional success. Located on the Colorado Plateau, in one of the highest-ranked college towns in the country, the NAU Flagstaff Mountain Campus is truly a jewel of the Southwest.

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