El Camino College hosts the first research club event

The El Camino College Research Club conducted its first research experiment in the Life Sciences Pavilion on December 3.

The research experiment obtained two samples of different fish and its DNA was extracted and tested in a laboratory.

“The experiment was tested to see a misclassification of the fish and if the identity of the fish is the same as what is advertised in the store,” said research coordinator Jennifer Sheriff (30).

Darcie McClelland (37) Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of the Academic Senate at El Camino College (ECC) planned the event in conjunction with the Research Club and serves as an advisor to the club.

“A big part of my role as an advisor to this club is to facilitate research experiences for the students and the goal of the club is to try to get more research experiences for the students of El Camino. who are in the club, ”McClelland said.

The club teaches students how to write applications for a research experience, how to research a research experience, and how to network with other students.

The El Camino College Research Club is preparing to conduct a DNA extraction project on Friday, December 3, inside the Life Sciences building. The project is part of UC Riverside’s Sequence to Success DNA Barcoding Challenge program. Mari Inagaki / The Union

McClelland has less time to advise students outside of class due to his position in the Academic Senate. However, the club’s mentorship prompted her to reconnect with the students.

“This club forces me as a mentor to build new relationships and connect with people I know personally,” said McClelland.

McClelland said the past two years have taught him the value of science literacy due to pandemic misinformation.

“As we train more students to be scientifically cultured and teach their friends and family to be scientifically cultured, we are developing more scientific knowledge in our society,” said McClelland.

McClelland’s role as an advisor requires networking, making personal connections, and brainstorming new ways of delivering research to students.

Alex Cortez (42) is academic coordinator of the Dynamic Genome program at the University of California, Riverside, and was invited to the event. Cortez said there are inherent benefits to conducting research during a pandemic.

“It helps inform the public. With COVID, we understand the cellular mechanisms of infections and better treat patients and prevent new infections, ”Cortez said.

Cortez hopes to build a better pipeline to integrate research conducted in children’s classrooms with graduate training.

“The pandemic has brought a different awareness in science to a higher platform. Inspire young people as well as older people in the workforce to consider these careers. It has also transformed the economy, ”Cortez said.

Undergraduates can participate in the Dynamic Genome program both through courses and internships.

Alex Cortez (UC Riverside) demonstrates how to collect fish cell tissue, December 3, 2021. El Camino Life Science Building.  Photo by Mari Inagaki / The Union
Alex Cortez (UC Riverside) demonstrates how to collect fish cell tissue, December 3, 2021 at the El Camino Life Science Building. Photo by Mari Inagaki / The Union

Cortez introduced the experience to the ECC students, and as a result, students, like Nazhish Sardar, understood what the research entails.

Sardar (21), graduate in biochemistry and president and co-founder of the research club, intends to use the research club as a bridge between students and their academic careers.

“This club is specially designed so that students can connect them directly to four-year universities,” Sardar said.

Sardar said she was initially reluctant to start the club, but came to appreciate what the club had to offer students.

“We were a bit hesitant to start the club due to the lack of resources and the nature of the club as it was the first of its kind and could easily be turned down,” said Sardar.

The Research Club board reached out to four-year universities and asked for their capacities in providing resources and tools to students. They also asked the students if they were interested in conducting research.

Dr. Darcie L. McClelland, associate professor of biology at El Camino College, advises one of his students during a research experiment in the life sciences building on Friday, December 3.  Mari Inagaki / The Union
Dr. Darcie L. McClelland, associate professor of biology and chair of the University Senate, El Camino College, advises one of her students during a research project in the life sciences building on Friday, December 3. Mari Inagaki / The Union.

Since research opportunities were absent at the ECC prior to the club’s formation, Sardar’s first encounter with research took place through this experience. Her comfort level with her peers was visible when she paused to say her prayer, Jumu’ah, during the experience.

“This club has really encouraged me to represent myself and my identity in a very comfortable way,” said Sardar. “I’m in a position where I have to connect with others, so it’s very easy for me to express who I am.”

Patrick Williamson (25), external vice-president of the Research Club, was considering applying to medical school after graduating with his bachelor’s degree. Williamson’s first encounter with the club was during a class he took with McClelland and saw how a classmate started a search club.

“This club helps to ease the anxiety of people who want to start research,” said Williamson.

Williamson said there are difficulties with online interactions due to the inconvenience of not meeting people properly, but hopes to stay at the club and encourages students to register.

“The Research Club is open to all majors, not just science. We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to do research, ”said Williamson.