Students Dive into Research in GPC Summer Bridge Program

Contact: Beverly James
Phone: 678-891-2686
Fax: 678-891-2966   
Author: Beverly James   

For Immediate Release

When Onyinyecchi Ochiobi emigrated from Nigeria two years ago, she easily earned a GED. She knew starting her college career at Georgia Perimeter College—with its small classes and dedicated faculty—would help her ease into tougher science subjects, but worried that she wouldn’t learn real research skills at a two-year institution.

A few days into the Summer Bridge program at Georgia Perimeter quickly changed Ochiobi’s mind. “I love research and wanted the experience,” she said. “This program is perfect because it offers STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) students an opportunity to learn skills that will prepare them for research at a four-year institution.”

The three-week STEP and Peach State LSAMP program at GPC, funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, allows students to participate in undergraduate research projects.

“This program, in its eighth year at GPC, is not the typical experience that you get at a two-year college,” said program director and GPC professor Margaret Major. “We are in the forefront of offering students a dynamic and motivating experience that will prepare them for research experiences for undergraduates and internships at four-year colleges.”

According to Major, the Summer Bridge program would not be possible, if it were not for the support of the following faculty, staff and administrators: Dr. Pamela Leggett-Robinson, Mark Graves, Dr. Jeremy Willis, Dr. John Anderson, Dr. Carl McAllister, Dr. Mark Hollier, Dr. Seyed Hosseini, Dr. Mauela Trani, Dr. Vivian Mativo, Pablo Pedroso, Fred Buls, Dr. Valerie Bennett and Susannah Lomant, who generously gave of their time to serve as research advisors.

This May, 34 students worked on eight different projects. In a microbiology lab, a group of students tested water samples gathered from the Lake Lanier, Chattahoochee River, Stone Mountain and Clarkston Creek for contamination from runoff. In addition, students in a nearby chemistry lab performed chemical analysis on the water samples.

“This program is important because students learn by hands-on experience how to apply the theoretical concepts they learn in classes at GPC.  This program provided a comprehensive understanding of procedures and protocols used by researchers to solved problems, through total immersion,” Major said.

Students will present their findings at the Peach State LSAMP annual research symposium at the University of Georgia in October, said Mark Graves, a faculty research advisor in the Summer Bridge program, who also teaches science courses at GPC. “Students learn to ask questions and find answers through research. They are able to learn scientific methods and support them with hard data,” he said. “And, the students learn presentation skills. They are learning a lot as undergraduate students.”

For GPC chemistry major Semira Adella, the program has confirmed her decision to earn a doctorate in organic chemistry. “This is where I feel most comfortable, in the lab. And I know after spending time in this program that, more than ever, I want to focus on research,” she said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to spend three weeks learning the foundational skills that I will need when I move on from GPC.”

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Georgia Perimeter College, the largest state college of the University System of Georgia, serves approximately 24,000 students through four campuses and several sites in metro Atlanta. For additional information, visit