College of the Canyons has received a $74,707 Campus as a Living Lab grant from the National Science Foundation to provide opportunities for underrepresented community college students to engage in undergraduate research focusing on native bees.
“This experience will increase the knowledge and awareness students have regarding native bee distribution and ecology, as well as methods to increase campus native bee species numbers through habitat enrichment,” said Jeannie Chari, a biology instructor at the college and the grant’s principal investigator.
Native bees were chosen as they are a critical source of global natural capital with approximately 20% of species found in the U.S.
Chari will collaborate with Patricia Palavecino (Antelope Valley College) and Jaime Pawelek (Essig Museum at UC Berkeley) to create a training tool kit for instructors from community colleges with high percentages of underrepresented to students to implement on their respective campuses.
Using the campus landscape as a living lab, faculty and students will research native bee biodiversity with the intent to enrich campus habitats, foster increased biodiversity of native bee species and address the current rapid loss of biodiversity affecting ecosystem stability and pollination services.
The collected research data will be shared among the participating network institutions through public databases.
The project’s goal is to create a strong foundation for establishing a sizeable future network of colleges that can use the available data to foster ongoing critical pollinator research opportunities for underrepresented students.
“Community college campuses can ultimately serve as habitat islands and corridors for native bees,” said Chari. “The research will contribute to native bee conservation on a local and global scale.”
Beginning spring 2022, COC will host training sessions for community college instructors and give students an opportunity to participate through the college’s Biodiversity Initiative.
For more information, email [email protected].