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2013 November 25 - 12:00 am

NEWS BRIEFS:

  • Montana Biotech Students Isolate Fish Gene

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A group of biology students at Flathead Valley Community College were asked to present at a National Science Foundation conference after they isolated a gene from a Westslope cutthroat trout.

Justin Vetch of Columbia Falls and Lydia Sykora of Whitefish recently returned from Washington, D.C., where they presented the first-ever isolated muscle protein from the fish. They were among 50 students nationwide chosen to attend the conference.

Their efforts began after the National Science Foundation awarded FVCC a grant in 2011 to help students study biotechnology. Ruth Wrightsman, a biology professor at the college, designed the two-year transfer program, which launched last year and now serves as a pipeline for students to move on to four-year institutions, such as Montana State University.

The money also helped the school upgrade lab equipment, which students used to begin isolating genes from the fish’s white muscle tissue.

“It was pretty amazing,” Vetch said. “A lot of people were blown away that we had the ability to do this at a two-year school. It felt good to wow people.”

They ultimately were able to isolate and clone the Westslope’s myosin light chain gene, the most common protein in animal muscle cells.

The students unveiled the breakthrough results of their class’s research project, titled “Fishing for Genes,” at the conference late last month. Now, other scholars and representatives from the biotech industry can use FVCC’s data for future experiments.

  • Grads of Kan. Copter Program In Demand

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Graduates of a Dodge City Community College program that trains helicopter pilots aren’t having any trouble finding high-paying jobs and the demand is expected to continue, a college official said.

“All of our graduates are employed,” said Anthony Lyons, the college’s vice president of community and industry relations. “And that’s the way we intend to keep it.”

Students can earn seven pilot ratings during the program’s first two years. Then, Universal Helicopters hires the graduates as part-time flight instructors while they complete their bachelor degrees at Kansas State University-Salina or Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona.

The demand for commercial helicopter pilots will continue to grow as current pilots retire or no longer have medical certificates that allow them to fly, Lyons said.

As flight instructors, the students accumulate the 1,000 hours of flight time needed to be hired as commercial helicopter pilots. Graduates are finding jobs with oil rigs, medical evacuation operations or with other companies, Lyons said.

The program can cost between $100,000 and $150,000 for the first two years of training and another $30,000 to $40,000 at Kansas State to complete a bachelor’s degree, Lyons said. Embry-Riddle is more expensive. But he said students start out making $60,000 to $65,000 a year and some graduates are making around $80,000 a year just two or three years after they finish the program.

  • NY Colleges SharIng IT Services

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Two upstate State University of New York campuses have launched a program to share information technology services and facilities.

The University at Albany and Hudson Valley Community College are the first of SUNY’s 64 campuses to share IT facilities. They’ll serve as each other’s secondary data centers under the agreement.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher launched a shared services initiative in August 2011. Since then, the university’s 64 campuses have partnered to generate more than $20 million in savings.

SUNY officials say the saved money is being reinvested in growing academic and student services.

  • Va. Shooting Suspect To Undergo Exam

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) — The man accused of shooting two women at a community college inside a Christiansburg mall is set to undergo a psychological evaluation.

Nineteen-year-old Neil MacInnis was scheduled to enter a plea on four felony charges stemming from the April shooting. But The Roanoke Times reports that, at a hearing, his lawyer requested psychological exam to determine MacInnis’ competency at the time of the offense and now.

Prosecutors didn’t object and the case is set for review on Feb. 26.

Police have said the women were in the lobby when a gunman entered a satellite campus of New River Community College.

The suspect was subdued by an off-duty security guard and Christiansburg police officers.

MacInnis is being held without bond at the Western Virginia Regional Jail.

  • NM Higher Ed Leaders Back Funding Change

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Higher education leaders in New Mexico are proposing a new system for state funding of universities and community colleges.

The proposal was developed by a team of New Mexico State University administrators. It would have legislators provide colleges and universities with the schools’ previous year’s allocations but also add incentive funding to reward the schools for performances.

Measurements for the performance-based funding could include completed student credit hours, total research funding and awarded degrees.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the proposal has backing from two- and four-year schools across the state.

  • La. College Board Outlines Search Plans

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A seven-member search committee has been chosen to help select the next president for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

The LCTCS Board of Supervisors announced its search plans earlier this month, saying it will look around the nation for a successor for Joe May, who is leaving the president’s job in January.

The board hopes to have a finalist for the position chosen by its Feb. 12 meeting.

May, who has been LCTCS president since 2007, is leaving Louisiana to become the next chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District..

  • More than 800 Students Get Degree Surprise

DETROIT (AP) — Officials say more than 800 Michigan community college students have been surprised with associate degrees that they didn’t know they had earned.

The newly awarded degrees are part of a national project to identify and find former students who took enough credits to earn the degrees but never received them.

The 2-year effort, known as Project Win-Win, was spearheaded by the Institute for Higher Education Policy and led to more than 4,500 students in a number of states receiving associate degrees. Thousands more were notified they were a few credits shy of a degree.

Nine colleges in Michigan participated in the project.

  • Police: Woman Lied about CCRI Bathroom Attack

LINCOLN, R.I. (AP) — A student has been charged with falsely reporting a crime after state police said she made up an assault that she claimed occurred in a Community College of Rhode Island bathroom.

Police say 18-year-old Isabella Good was charged after she told investigators that she was not assaulted and had fabricated the story to avoid getting into trouble at home.

Authorities said she reported that an unidentified male had followed her into the bathroom and touched her inappropriately.

Good has been arraigned and released.

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