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News Release

Tompkins Cortland Student Chosen for NSF Project

May 12, 2016

Tori Knapp at work in the biotechnology lab at Tompkins Cortland

Tompkins Cortland Community College biotechnology student Tori Knapp has been selected to participate in a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) this summer. She was chosen from thousands of applicants from across the country to take part in the ten-week program at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Laboratory for Multiwavelength Astrophysics (LAMA). The LAMA is one of RIT’s major research centers, created to foster the utilization and advancement of cutting-edge techniques in astrophysics. Possible projects for the summer include identifying young stars near Earth.

Knapp is graduating from Tompkins Cortland’s biotechnology program this month. “We’re very proud of Tori and this accomplishment. She is the seventh student from our program in the last four years to garner such a prestigious position,” said Professor James Jacob, chair of the biotechnology program at Tompkins Cortland. “With our small class size permitting individualized attention, we’ve always felt the hands-on experiences we provide our students in the biotechnology program are comparable to what they would get at a four-year university. These NSF awards are evidence that our students come out of our program fully prepared to compete for positions on a national level.”

Originally from Cortland and now a resident of Ithaca, Knapp earned her GED and worked for nearly ten years before entering the College’s biotechnology program. She will graduate with honors and as a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges. Knapp plans to continue her education by working toward a bachelor’s and master’s degrees, with a list of ultimate goals that includes teaching. As someone who has had to overcome challenges in the classroom, she says, “I’d like to teach physics in a way that helps students through the frustrations of not ‘getting it’ right away.”

Knapp, who was chosen the Class of 2016 Graduate of Note for the biotechnology program, begins her 10-week REU at RIT May 30.