Grant provides additional support for college Life Science students

MESA, Arizona – April 26, 2021 — Life Science faculty members from Mesa Community College (MCC) and Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC) receive a $11,000 MCLI (Maricopa Center for Learning and Innovation) Horizon Grant for spring/fall 2021. With the funding the colleges are developing a teaching model designed to improve student success and reduce withdrawal rates in Life Science courses by embedding skill building and support systems into the curriculum.

Participating MCC Life Science faculty are Francesca de Martini, Ph.D., principal investigator for the grant; Erica Morley, Ph.D. and Luke Mumaw. Participating CGCC Life Science faculty are Jacqueline Cala, Hannah Phipps-Yonas, Ph,D. and Kimberley Patterson, DVM. MCC counseling faculty Elena Matus McDonald and Pandi Bromley, with the MCC Foundations for Student Success program, will aid in presenting workshops.

“We are developing a unified Welcome to Life Science video to provide an introduction to our field of study and an overview of the resources available to assist our students,” said de Martini. “We’ve added skill-building workshops into our curriculum and are monitoring student progress. Course embedded tutors are checking in with students appearing to need additional assistance.”

Biology classes recorded high withdrawal rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows that academic interactions between students and faculty and participation in peer study groups increase retention rates, which is the goal of this grant.

“We are confident our model will increase success rates of biology students who may struggle with course formats other than in person and those who, in general, need additional support and encouragement to successfully complete,” said Patterson, division chair of CGCC Biological Sciences. “Ideally the success of our model will encourage other disciplines to implement the strategies and pursue grant opportunities to support their efforts.”

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Media contact: Dawn Zimmer,, 602-471-5343

Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC) has been nationally recognized by the Aspen Institute as the Top 150 community colleges in the United States and is known for experiential and service learning, career and technical programs, innovative technology program offerings, civic engagement and innovative approaches to education. CGCC supports students as a resource for career readiness, university transfer education, workforce development, and lifelong learning. Host to more than 14,000 students annually, CGCC offers degree and certificate programs at its four campus locations: Pecos, Williams, Sun Lakes and Queen Creek. Award-winning, dedicated faculty are deeply invested in student success, providing the education, experiential learning opportunities, and career training to empower CGCC students to compete in the local and global economies. Located in the growing East Valley, CGCC proudly supports students from communities in Chandler, Gilbert, Santan and Sun Lakes. CGCC is one of the 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District. Learn more at

Mesa Community College is nationally recognized as an Aspen Prize Top 150 U.S. Community College and is known for service learning, career and technical programs, civic engagement and innovative approaches to education. For more than 50 years, the college has served as a resource for career readiness, transfer education, workforce development and lifelong learning. Host to more than 30,000 students annually, MCC offers degree and certificate programs at its two campuses, additional locations and a combination of online formats. Through Guided Pathways with Integrated Support Services and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, MCC is transforming how it champions student success, college completion, university transfer and career attainment and advancement. MCC is a Hispanic Serving Institution and nearly 50% of its students are the first in their families to attend college. Its American Indian Institute serves students from the 22 federally recognized tribes of Arizona as well as out-of-state tribes. MCC has the largest indigenous student population of all the Maricopa Community Colleges. The diverse student body includes more than 300 international students from 55 countries. Award-winning faculty are dedicated to student success, providing the education and training that empowers MCC students to successfully transfer to a university or compete in the workforce. Located in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, on the traditional territories of the O'odham, Piipaash and Yavapai Peoples, MCC is one of 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District. Visit to learn more.

MCC and CGCC are individually accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC),

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the District. MCCCD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities. For Title IX/504 concerns, call the following number to reach the appointed coordinator: (480) 731-8499. For additional information, as well as a listing of all coordinators within the Maricopa College system, visit

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Publication Date: 
Monday, April 26, 2021