Dr. Melton secures $200,000 STEM grant!

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Saint Augustine’s University was awarded a two-year grant for $200,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program Research Initiation. Dr. Mark A. Melton, dean of the School of Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering, will serve as the principal investigator. The grant will help expose students to ‘cutting-edge’ bench research beyond summer internships, better prepare students for the rigors of graduate studies and increase the number of underrepresented minorities that elect to pursue advanced degrees and careers in the a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.

Of the 72 research initiation proposals that were submitted to NSF for review, only 15 awards were funded.

According to Melton, the grant will also help establish a research program for undergraduate students at Saint Augustine’s University.

“The project aims to attract, support and retain students majoring in a STEM discipline and who are interested in pursuing the Ph.D. in STEM and subsequently a career in STEM research,” Melton said. “Furthermore, students will have the opportunity to conduct summer research as well as pursue research endeavors during the academic year.”

Melton and other faculty members are now conducting research in the areas of microbiology, cellular and molecular biology and genetics in the university’s newly constructed laboratory in Penick Hall. The laboratory has been set up with state-of-the-art equipment and supplies costing about $125,000 that will allow for studies in genetics, gene expression analysis, molecular & cellular biology, etc.

Melton’s research entitled Comparison of the Transcriptional Regulation of Genes Expressed in Drosophila Midline Glia and Trachea examines the regulation of gene expression during the early stages of development. This work continues an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Patricia Estes, a geneticist at North Carolina State University.

The award starts August 15, 2014 and ends July 31, 2016.

Campus Events


Sunday, May 8: Baccalaureate Program; 6 p.m.; Saint Augustine's Chapel


Friday, May 13: Stone of Hope Gala; 7 p.m.; Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center, 4700 Emperor Blvd., Durham, NC; $100 per person


Saturday, May 14: Commencement; 9 a.m.; University Quadrangle