Dr. Lawrence Flowers, department chair and associate professor of biology at Livingstone College, will utilize a $57,744 award from the National Science Foundation to establish a STEM Workforce Training Laboratory on campus. The STEM Workforce Training Laboratory will contain state-of-the-art scientific research instrumentation and will be designed to provide real-world laboratory experiences in the areas of bioinformatics, cell biology, forensic science, microbiology and molecular biology to underrepresented students. The STEM Workforce Training Laboratory will employ innovative career training activities that will enrich the science and mathematics education curriculum, strengthen the College’s research infrastructure and improve employment outcomes for current and future Livingstone students. Additionally, the STEM Workforce Training Laboratory will further the efforts of AIM for STEM Careers, a nearly $300,000 project funded by the National Science Foundation for which Dr. Flowers is the principal investigator.
Recently, Dr. Flowers conceptualized and trademarked the term “STEMployable” to denote the requisite attitudes, behaviors, credentials and technical skills that Science, Technology, Engineering and Math graduates must possess to enhance their employability and competitively pursue STEM careers in the 21st Century. “It is imperative that STEM faculty incorporate career development evidence-based practices, career theories and authentic laboratory training experiences in their courses to produce graduates who demonstrate felicitous STEMployable skills,” Dr. Flowers said.
The STEM Workforce Training Laboratory will train students to be proficient in a variety of scientific procedures, including DNA profiling techniques, cell culture methods, gene expression analysis, fluorescence microscopy, small interfering RNA technology, nucleic acid extraction procedures and protein expression analysis. Improving diversity in the STEM workforce is a national mandate. The overarching goals of the STEM Workforce Training Laboratory are to improve students’ extant discipline knowledge and to enhance students’ career preparation experiences by exposing undergraduates to essential laboratory competencies and problem-solving skills important to employers in today’s STEM labor market.