When Julie Marshall joined the faculty of her alma mater Lubbock Christian University 20 years ago, her charge was to build undergraduate research at the small private school.
“My first challenge was to find funding,” she said, “and The Welch Foundation has walked alongside us in that journey. Welch is the life blood of our program.”
Today, Lubbock Christian incorporates research into its chemistry and biochemistry degree plans. Students typically shadow a professor for up to a year as sophomores. They are then ready to begin a research project in the summer session as juniors before finishing up the following spring with a presentation of their work.
At any given time, five to 10 students are participating, with nine taking part in 2020.
With the pandemic posing new challenges, Dr. Marshall said the university has had to innovate.
“With COVID, we had less expenses as we weren’t traveling and had to shut some projects down,” Dr. Marshall explained. “We redirected those funds to create the Welch Academy to give younger students laboratory experience and the chance to learn skills that will be useful later for their research projects.”
The academy will launch in fall 2021.
“It has been an interesting year,” she said. “From having to conduct virtual poster sessions last spring to innovating to ensure we deliver a rich science education in these challenging conditions, our professors and our students have really come through. And we are deeply appreciative of Welch support through the process.”