Project Details


This BIORETS Site award to Penn State Harrisburg, located in Middletown, PA, will support the training of eight teachers for seven weeks during the summer. Three cohorts of teachers will be recruited from 2024 to 2026. The Convergence-Research Experience for Teachers (C-RET) will provide research training to secondary science teachers in underserved school districts. Teachers will conduct research in cutting-edge technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, plant tissue culture and transformation, bioinformatics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence based digital platform. Exposing teachers to convergence research empowers them to enhance the existing K-12 STEM curricula with project-based learning activities to engage and retain students in STEM disciplines and create a pipeline for the STEM workforce. These activities can have a transformative impact on society by creating a pathway for minority and underrepresented students to pursue STEM careers to address current challenges in food, health, energy and climate change.The goal of this C-RET site is to utilize the synthetic and systems biology (Syn/SysBio) approaches and tools for their applications in food, health, energy, and the environment (FHEE). The program will (1) immerse teachers in an ongoing, authentic Syn/SysBio-focused convergence research and (2) inspire and support teachers in developing and implementing practice-based curriculum for secondary classrooms. The proposed innovative STEM research experiences focus on basic research to a) enhance the yield, nutritional quality and disease resistance in crops, b) apply gene editing techniques to industrial hemp and other crops using CRISPR/Cas9, c) remediate abandoned mine land soils while capturing greenhouse gases, d) treat drug resistant infections with plant-derived antibiotics and e) utilize machine learning for plant monitoring. Mentors include faculty and staff from Penn State’s Biological Sciences and Engineering departments and the Center for Science and the Schools. Teachers are selected by mentors based on submitted resume and the NSF ETAP application. Priority will be given to teachers who teach in school districts with at least 50% underserved populations. More information about the program is available by contacting the PI (Dr.Sairam Rudrabhatla, or the co-PI (Dr. Kathy Hill, award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date2/1/241/31/27


  • National Science Foundation: $600,000.00


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