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First-year science student one of 10 students chosen nationally

Posted 05/03/22

Calendar Event Photo

West Virginia Northern Community College science student selected for summer research experience at James Madison University

Jake McKennen, a first-year science student at West Virginia Northern Community College (WVNCC), has been selected as one of 10 college students in the country as part of a summer research position run by the James Madison University Biology Department. A Wheeling resident, McKennen, will participate in the 10-week summer project that includes laboratory work, research methods, data collection and analysis, and engagement with the science community.

McKennen will work individually with a JMU biology faculty mentor to study shrews, which are a small mole-like mammal. He will reside on the JMU campus in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and will also receive a $6,000 stipend for his summer research project.

“I couldn’t believe I was chosen for this program,” commented McKennen. “I have loved my biology classes at Northern and have always been interested in animals, so this research project is perfect. I never thought I would have the opportunity to do something like this.”

WVNCC Biology Associate Program Director and Assistant Professor, Dr. Heather Kalb, encouraged McKennen to apply for the JMU research project. This opportunity is part of a national research program titled Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant provides research opportunities for community college students from underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and students who are first generation college students.

Jake McKennen and Professor Kalb“When I received information about this project I immediately thought of Jake,” said Kalb. “Jake is a great young man, whose desire to learn is obvious. I can see his growing interest in biology and ecology every day. A summer research experience is so important for anyone interested in pursuing a career in science.”

McKennen, whose mom is set to graduate from WVNCC in May with a Health Information Technology degree, is definitely interested in pursing a career in science.

“Originally I wasn’t thinking about it, but now after I graduate from Northern, I hope to transfer to a 4-year school and get a bachelor’s degree and I may even pursue a master’s degree,” added McKennen.”