Chaffey College students

U.S. Forest Service Botanist Lance Woolley shows Chaffey College students a tall tumble mustard plant, an invasive species in the Garner Valley of Riverside County. Students will be working this summer with the U.S. Forest Service/U.S. Department of Agriculture on a study pertaining to the Quino checkerspot butterfly and its host plants. The students are part of the Chaffey College Summer Research Opportunity program.  (Contributed photo by Chaffey College)

About 85 Chaffey College students this summer will be collecting data about an endangered butterfly, building aerospace parts in Ontario and handling 5-million-year-old fossils.

They are part of the Chaffey College Summer Research Opportunity, an eight-week program in which students work with scientists and other professionals in areas such as mathematics, astronomy and anthropology.

“It’s a serious commitment,” said Linda Lamp, the program director. “The students represent Chaffey College, they’re getting experience, making connections, networking and working with post-doctoral researchers and professionals.”

While many students in years past had to wait until they were upperclassmen at four-year universities to do research, more and more community colleges have been giving their own students these experiences. And they’re seeing the benefits.

“These students can list these experiences on their college applications, and most students who are freshmen and sophomores do not have these experiences,” Lamp said.

Associate Professor of Chemistry Maryline Chemama said the summer program can be a game-changer for students upon transferring to a four-year university.

“I have seen students transform from the start to the end, gain confidence and literally bloom with this experience,” she said.

Chaffey has funded its summer program through a Title III STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) grant for five years.

Nick Charland, an engineering major from San Bernardino, has joined three other students this summer to assist the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a monitoring project related to the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly.

The butterfly and cattle both rely on plants in the Garner Valley area of Riverside County. The USDA study could affect future decisions about where cattle graze.

“It seemed like a cool opportunity and something that will look good on a resume,” he said. “I’m always trying to grow my knowledge base.”

Alumna Ainaz Sharabyani, now a biology major at UC Irvine, earned the prestigious Regents’ Scholarship and a spot in the college’s Summer Health Professionals Education Program thanks, in part, to her experience in Chaffey’s summer program.

The Rancho Cucamonga resident said her research at Chaffey for the West Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District focused on the effectiveness of household pesticides on mosquitos. She presented her findings in January 2020 at the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California conference.

“The research I did challenged me academically, and that challenge better prepared me for the classes I took at UCI,” Sharabyani said.

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