Three High School Science Teachers Spending Summer In MSU Research

Jul 19, 2018

Bimczok Research Team Montana State University
Credit Rebecca Ayler

Three Montana high school science teachers could give cutting edge “how I spent my summer” reports to their students this fall.

They are spending their summer working in research, side by side, with Montana State University professors and their teams learning about microbiology, civic engineering and geology. Their summer study is being paid for by a $45,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust’s Partners in Science Program. The grants are $15,000 each and fund 3 different teachers from schools around Bozeman for two summers of research work.

MSU President Waded Cruzado, in a release from the university, called this collaboration with area high schools “…an important part of our land-grant mission. These grants, and the partners in Science as a whole, equip science teachers with the research experience to implement betters practices in their own classrooms, to benefit of Montana students.”

Park High School (Livingston) Science teacher Rebecca Ayler is working with assistant professor of 

Rebecca Ayler Park High School
Credit Park High School

microbiology Diane Bimczok’s research team, learning about the stomach bacteria helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and its role in ulcers and cancer. 

“So, they are looking at how immune cells are interacting the stomach tissue to combat H. pylori, “said Ayler. “ And so we are studying the behaviors of the immune cells around the stomach to fight that. “

Steve Moore, executive director of the Murdock Charitable Trust, said the goal of the partners program “…is to improve science education and encourage best practices of teach to be more inquiry focused.”

For Ayler, it is two summers of experience and knowledge without having to go back to school to gain another degree. And she gets to work with Bimczok’s to bring the work she is assisting in back to her high school human anatomy and physiology class.

And she is working with her mentor on how to bring the work they’re doing in the lab back to her high school human anatomy and physiology class.

"How can I take my experiment back to my classroom to teach my students how to do them and to understand what they’re seeing?” she asked. 

The Partners in Science Program was founded by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement in 1988. The Murdock Trust joined the program in 1990 and became the administrator in 1999.

The other participants in this grant program are Alecia Jongeward, also a teacher at Park High School in Livingston, working with Kevin Hammonds, assistant professor of civil engineering, to research radar applications for snow science and hydrological forecasting, and Allyson Reamy, Whitehall High School, working on research on the characterization of earth materials using micro-imaging and spectroscopic methods with David Mogk, MSU geology professor.

The funding organization, the Murdock Charitable Trust, provides grants to organizations in 5 states: Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. It has awarded nearly 6,400 grants totaling more the $938 million since 1975.