June 7, 2010
Emory is one of 50 research universities in the nation to receive a share of $70 million for undergraduate science education from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Emory’s four-year, $1.8 million grant marks the sixth consecutive time since 1989 the university has received the HHMI education grant, one of only a few universities to consistently receive the highly competitive award.
Emory will use the grant to support ongoing initiatives in student research, mentoring and education as well as new program development and community outreach to local teachers.
“HHMI’s continued investment in Emory’s science education initiatives the past 20 years has been a catalyst for progressive and lasting change in undergraduate science education and outreach at Emory at a time when science literacy is vital,” says Santa Ono, senior vice provost for undergraduate admissions and academic affairs.
A new HHMI grant will help Emory meet the rising demand from both faculty and students for undergraduate research opportunities through two programs that get students into the lab early on in their college careers, says Pat Marsteller, director of Emory College Center for Science Education, which oversees and develops all of the center’s HHMI-funded programs.
“We know that when we get students interested during their first year, they’re much more likely to stay in a science major and continue on to a research career,” Marsteller says.
Two programs supported Research Partners, which began as a pilot program in 2005, places 30 students in the University’s research labs during the school year, where they are mentored by graduate students and faculty. With the new HHMI grant, the popular program will be expanded to 40 per year, and will target freshmen and sophomores.
The second program, the long-running Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE), will start focusing on first and second year students as well. SURE has placed more than 1,100 students in Emory research labs.
“Our new HHMI grant is all about integrating the research of faculty, graduate fellows and postdoctoral scientists into science and math courses from the time students take their first class to when they graduate,” Marsteller says. “The continued support from HHMI is critical to our success and reflects the work of many faculty across the University who helped plan the grant, which will benefit every Emory science student.”
The grant also supports the integration of more current, ongoing research into introductory science courses at Emory and faculty development. In addition, it will help continue an outreach program for metro-Atlanta teachers featuring workshops on strategies and techniques for teaching problem-based lessons in their science courses.
Marsteller co-chairs a university strategic planning and advisory board to implement the grant with chemistry chairman David Lynn, one of the first HHMI professors who received a $1 million grant in 2004 to develop coursework and programs to improve undergraduate science education.