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JSC Changes Academic Focus

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Johnson, Vermont - November 16, 2009

Johnson State College is shifting its academic focus. Many students are now required to complete a research project before graduation.

The college hopes it will attract more funding to the school.

"It's a matter of showing what kind of college we are in terms of establishing our priorities," said Science Department Chair Liz Dolci, from a class on the banks of the Gihon River.

Six faculty members and about a dozen students are conducting research projects in the Lamoille River watershed. This group is monitoring phosphorus levels.

"The state knows how much phosphorus is coming out of the Lamoille as a whole and entering into Lake Champlain, but they don't really know which part of the watershed it's coming from," said Dolci.

Inside the classroom and out, research is a now a strategic focus at Johnson State.

These science projects have generated $200,000 this year, money that will be spent on salaries, equipment, and future research.

"This focus on creating a culture of research is helping students come to us, and I think it's helping them stay. When you're a sophomore you're not going to get a chance at a bigger place to be side by side with a professor in the field," said Johnson State College President Barbara Murphy.

All science majors are now required to complete a research project or internship. The number of biology majors have almost doubled in the last 5 years.

"I've always been interested in the research. That's definitely one of the reasons I came to Johnson," said a biology major.  

And there are plans on the horizon to develop a Lamoille studies center on the campus. But students say they're benefiting as well.

The college is also looking to expand the research requirement to other majors.

Keagan Harsha - WCAX News

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