A select group of Community College students on the Central Coast are working hand-in-hand with Cal Poly researchers as part of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP).
Four Hancock students, along with another four students from Cuesta College, are participating in the 10-week program.
The program has students partner with a Cal Poly faculty member and work as laboratory assistants contributing to research projects on a variety of topics. The program has been offered since 2016, but this year is the first year that community college students on the central coast were selected to participate.
“Including the students from both Allan Hancock College and Cuesta College provides an opportunity for them to participate in cutting-edge research in agriculture, food and environmental sciences alongside Cal Poly faculty and students who are immersed in these areas,” said Cal Poly Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs Jim Prince. “It is not only a great opportunity for our faculty to have these community college students’ skills to assist with research, but we are also hopeful that involvement in the program will inspire these students to want to attend Cal Poly in the future.”
Hancock college officials say the selection process is based on their interest in the program and students were required to conduct a presentation about their research projects at a kickoff symposium in June
“The goal of the program is to encourage student completion and transfer to four-year degree programs, and to expose students to proper research methods,” said Chavez. “Many of our students have had limited opportunities to experience post-secondary education at the upper-division level and can greatly benefit from this opportunity.”
For Hancock agriculture student Luis Valdez, the chance to get first-hand experience conducting research in his field of study is invaluable. As part of his work on a research project about the economics of strawberry harvesting, Valdez is spending his summer collecting data and traveling to several local farms.
“You aren’t just reading research papers. You get the chance to really get out there in the field and get all of this great experience,” said Valdez, who hopes to transfer to Cal Poly to study agricultural business and science after graduating from Hancock. “You are doing the same work as the undergrads and being held to those same standards. I’m really glad that Hancock gave me this opportunity, and that Cal Poly opened their arms to students like me.”
The four Hancock students participating in the 2019 SURP cohort will present the results of their research projects at a symposium at the Chumash Auditorium on the Cal Poly campus on August 29.