Undergrad research opportunities give GHC students hands-on training in STEM fields


Taking a biology course at Georgia Highlands College (GHC) is more than textbooks and labs. Through a partnership with The Margaret and Luke Pettit Preserve, GHC students are given the opportunity to perform experiential research and projects involving wildlife, plants and ecosystems.

Interim Dean for GHC’s School of STEM Jason Christian stated these courses are called “Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences” or CURE courses.

“In a CURE course, students are given some parameters to align with but then allowed to develop, implement and complete their own research on a topic they choose,” he said. “CURE courses give hands-on experience to STEM students early in their academic careers.”  

Christian added that the CURE courses will help students think about ideal approaches for individual undergraduate research projects, as well. He said in the field of STEM, undergraduate research can be incredibly desirable for students interested in graduate school or some professional programs like medical or veterinary schools. 

“The partnership with the Pettit Preserve gives us an opportunity to provide those experiences right in our own backyard,” he said.

Additionally, students in other courses out of the School of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are also working on hands-on research at Allatoona Lake completing an analysis on the amount of dissolved oxygen, conductivity and pH of the water as well levels of coliform bacteria. 


Physical Sciences Chair Erin Shufro explained that GHC has a partnership with the Lake Allatoona Association, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to raise awareness and protect the lake. 

 “This is a perfect partnership opportunity to get our students involved in the community and to gain research experience at the same time,” she said.

 Unlike the undergraduate research project at Pettit Preserve, the research at Allatoona Lake has a broader scope in terms of student involvement, with the research project not being tied to a specific course.

“We are accepting all students who want to participate in undergraduate research no matter what their background,” Shufro said. “I want all our students to experience the fun of research and gain the skills that we can teach them.”  

 Visit highlands.edu to learn more about research opportunities at GHC.