Two GRCC Students Hold Own Science Competition: Each Awarded $7,000 for Continuing Research

Two GRCC biodiversity students, Julia Messenger and Alicia Freeman, have been awarded $7,000 each to further their study of parasitoid insects this summer at the  Pierce Cedar Creek Institute (PCCI), which sponsors the Undergraduate Research Grants for the Environment (URGE) program.  Competitors were primarily from 4-year colleges and universities such as Aquinas, Calvin, MSU, WMU, Albion and others.

Messenger’s and Freeman’s proposal, entitled "Insect Parasitoid Biodiversity of Lepidoptera at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute," tied for 3rd place among all proposals submitted by 11 teams of participating students and won immediate review board approval. Messenger and Freeman were the only students from a 2-year college.

The award includes a monetary stipend of $3,500.00 each, as well as room and board stipends equivalent to $3,500 each. The proposed research of parasitoid insects (those that ultimately kill their hosts) is to be conducted at PCCI this summer under the auspice of URGE and GRCC biological sciences professor Dr. Matthew Douglas, who will serve as mentor.

“This is a very prestigious and intense competition among students who typically are juniors and seniors at their institutions - with some already preparing for entrance to graduate school,“ Douglas said.  “So obviously, we are extremely proud of Julia and Alicia.”

More information on PCCI and the URGE competition can be found at

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 32,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes.  GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus, as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.