Nevada NASA Space Grant Community of Practice

The Nevada Community of Practice’s (NV CoP) mission aims to recruit community college students across the state of Nevada and provide hands-on NASA related research experiences to increase both student retention and graduation at the community colleges. Participants include all four Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) community colleges: College of Southern Nevada (CSN), Great Basin College (GBC), Western Nevada College (WNC), and Truckee  Meadows Community College (TMCC).

Students gain experience working in laboratories, have opportunities for field excursions, participate in STEM presentations and journal clubs, and have weekly meetings where the STEM community collaborates locally at their community college and across the state of Nevada. Students will participate in activities that will aid students in their academics and the transition to a university program or STEM career.

Interested in applying for the Nevada CoP scholarship program? Click here to navigate to the application form.

Current Nevada Community of Practice Project Highlights

Reproductive Ecology of Suburban Bobcats

Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are wide-ranging North American felids that have adapted to a variety of environments, including the urban environment. Previous research shows that urbanization can pose problems to bobcat populations, including habitat fragmentation, reduced prey abundance, increased disease transmission, and loss of genetic diversity. We have been studying the bobcat population in suburban west Reno for the last three years, Recently, we were able to GPS collar a 4-year-old female and follow her movement patterns since April. We have also documented her den sites and discovered that she had kittens since she was collared. We are starting to explore the impact of the suburban environment on den site usage and reproductive success by comparing her data to the literature.

Insect Biodiversity in Urban Green Space

Our research investigates insect biodiversity at an urban green space park in Reno. Specimens were previously collected during ecoblitz events at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park over a two-year period. We will compare the insect biodiversity across three habitats, seasons, and years. We predict that insect biodiversity will correlate with habitat type and season, and that biodiversity will be similar across years.

Protein Design and Analysis

To continue troubleshooting and optimizing the course undergraduate research experience (CURE) version of Biol 190L. The Design2Data (D2D) CURE at TMCC has now run in the classroom for 3 semesters (fall 2021 – fall 2022) and needs continuing logistical troubleshooting & course content optimization. The goal of this research-based experience is to increase student interest and performance via hands-on application in the lab with real world troubleshooting, critical thinking, and communication with the scientific community.

Since 2019, TMCC has participated in this National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project to implement a research-based experience version of our Bio 190 lab. This NSF grant has been awarded to UC Davis and is titled “Data-to-Design Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (D2D CURE): integrating molecular modeling networks to accelerate student learning and improve computational protein design”. TMCC is an original member of this national program (summer 2019) and was the first community college invited. This national D2D program began with 4 higher education institutions (spearheaded by UC Davis) and has grown to 25+ institutions across the U.S. (fall 2022). Additionally, this multi-institutional project has yielded a published manuscript and a follow up NSF grant.

Past Nevada Community of Practice Project Highlights

On Friday October 18, 2019 the Western Nevada College Community of Practice (CoP) launched a high altitude balloon payload consisting of a suite of sensors to measure a variety of atmospheric phenomena and a camera to record video of the flight. Over a time of 72 minutes the balloon and payload traveled to an altitude of about 83,000 feet above sea level where the balloon burst. After a 34-minute descent under a small parachute the payload landed approximately 25 miles southeast of Fallon.

Community of Practice Leads

College of Southern Nevada

Stephanie Fiorenza, Community College Professor, Physical Science
Department Of Physical Science

Great Basin College

Rita Pujari, Biology Professor
Pahrump Campus
(775)  727-2005

Truckee Meadows Community College

Laura Briggs, Community  College Professor, Biology 
(775)  673-7257

Western Nevada College

Elizabeth Tattersall, Community  College Professor, Chemistry 
(775) 445-4400