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Ruscillo earns STEM grant to help St. Dominic purchase electrophoresis equipment

St. Dominic Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science teacher Dr. Deb Ruscillo recently received one of nine grants as part of the Randy Schilling STEM grant program, which is presented by the St. Charles County Economic Development Council (EDC).

The grant, which is worth $1,000, provides K-12 teachers in St. Charles County an award of up to $1,000 for STEM-related classroom materials for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Teachers were asked to request funding for materials beyond their current budget that would grab the imagination of students while laying the groundwork for future STEM careers.

Ruscillo said that the grant money will go to a very specific area within the program at St. Dominic.

“Thanks to this grant, our Biomedical program will now acquire the latest electrophoresis equipment which will enable the separation of DNA fragments based on size and charge,” Ruscillo said. “I’m very excited for the students to have the ability to manipulate samples in this way; it opens up a world of molecular studies. Electrophoresis can be used for DNA fingerprinting to investigate crime scene evidence, to analyze genes associated with a particular illness, for taxonomic studies to distinguish different species and evolutionary relationships, and even to analyze antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

“The possibilities are endless,” Ruscillo said. “I am so grateful for the vision and generosity of the EDC and Mr. Schilling which gives our students access to cutting-edge technologies to propel them into studies and careers in the life sciences.”

Winners were selected by a sub-committee of the EDC's STEM Education Committee, which is comprised of representatives from local public and private schools, along with local business and civic leaders. 

According to the EDC, funding will be disbursed in the coming weeks and will be available for teachers to utilize during the 2021-22 school year.

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