"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science."
~ Albert Einstein

The Life Sciences faculty and students are saddened by the tragic accident and loss of Juan King Cabrales Kuka on August 11, 2020.  Juan was an exceptional student and a real joy to have in class.  With a natural scientific curiosity in the research setting, Juan was an inspiring young leader with a bright future.  Our hearts are heavy and our condolences go out to his closest friends and family.

SKC Life Sciences in Brief...

The Life Sciences program at SKC offers two- and four-year degrees in General and Life Sciences that are designed to teach students about how molecules interact within living cells, through the study of molecular and cellular biology and chemistry.

Active, hands-on research experience is an integral part of the Life Sciences program. This program offers competitive, paid laboratory internships, as well as academic credit for working in SKC's two research laboratories: The Environmental Health & Chemistry Laboratory, and the Cellular & Molecular Biology Laboratory.

What Our Students
are Working On?

Life Sciences Students

New Award & Research Opportunity

Protecting Our Community: A Pragmatic Randomized Trial of Home-Based COVID Testing with American Indian and Latino Communities

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately infected people who identify as American Indian (AI) and Hispanic/Latino and these groups also have increased risk of poor prognosis due to high rates of chronic disease such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. In the northwestern part of the U.S., American Indian and Latino communities already face significant disparities in health care access, which have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This project is a collaboration between investigators at CAIRHE-MSU, Salish Kootenai College and the Flathead reservation, the University of Washington Dept of Family Medicine and Providence Medical Center, Spokane, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, WA.  The collaborative team will research home-based testing for SARS-CoV-2 in the AI community of the Flathead Indian Reservation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Latino community of the Yakima Valley of Washington. Both are underserved communities at high risk for complications of COVID19. In addition, these communities are uniquely connected across state lines, as migrant farmworkers regularly travel between the two sites to harvest a variety of crops throughout the growing season, increasing the potential for SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The interest in home testing in both regions is high.

This project will (1) Determine the cultural, social, behavioral, and economic barriers and facilitators to SARS-CoV-2 testing among underserved rural AI and Latino communities in the Northwest, (2) test the effects of active (via trusted community members) vs. passive (via mail) delivery on the completion rates of home-based self-testing in a pragmatic randomized trial, and (3) Evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of SARS-CoV-2 home self-testing and create model community-driven protocols that can be utilized within the RADx-UP Consortium to increase home-testing in American Indian and Latino communities nationally. The collaborative effort is featured in the Lake County Leader.

Community Outreach

In the beginning of August 2020, faculty and students from Montana State University, SKC Extension, and the SKC Life Sciences Program organized a community outreach effort to provide COVID-19 services to the migrant cherry orchard laborers on the Flathead reservation. 

The team of faculty and students provided free education materials in English and Spanish, free masks made by the Blackfeet Tribe, and free rapid antibody testing administered by an SKC nursing student. The outreach effort was covered by the Missoulian.