A product of Swarthmore College, Hadley Wilson Horch always wanted to teach at a liberal arts college. But as an assistant professor of biology and neuroscience at Bowdoin College, she found she missed the interaction with colleagues and the fast pace of discovery that characterized her graduate and postdoctoral days. She felt she needed to reconnect to the larger research community while carving out a productive niche for her own research.
She's solving these problems by linking up with Cornell University neuroscientist Ronald R. Hoy, an HHMI professor and Horch's postdoctoral adviser. Now Hoy and his former postdoc are collaborating to bring the tools of modern cellular and molecular biology to one of Hoy's pet projects, the regeneration of auditory neurons in crickets. Together they—and their undergraduate students—are revisiting questions that Hoy's research raised nearly 20 years ago, when the tools were not yet available to answer them.
It's a win-win-win situation. Horch gets to continue the research she began as a postdoc. In fact, she just won a $150,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to pursue the regeneration work. Her students get to meet regularly with Hoy and the students in his lab, to do real science, and to see themselves as intellectual partners in a larger research project. And Hoy gets help with the molecular aspects of his research, freeing him to use the sophisticated equipment at Cornell to focus on the physiology of cricket neuronal regeneration. He also gets the stimulation of a dynamic dialogue with Horch about teaching undergraduates.
"I'm hoping to link up with several more faculty like Hadley to form alliances to build challenging research practices into undergraduate pedagogy," says Hoy. In 2002, he was named as one of 20 HHMI professors nationwide. Each HHMI professor receives $1 million over four years to develop innovative approaches to teaching undergraduate science.
Horch sounds a note of caution, though. "I think this collaboration works wonderfully with someone like Ron, who is truly interested in teaching and working with undergraduates. It might work less well collaborating with someone who rarely interacts with undergraduates."
—Jennifer Boeth Donovan
Photo: David McLain/Aurora
this story in Acrobat PDF format.
Reprinted from the HHMI Bulletin,
Summer 2004, pages 10-21.
©2004 Howard Hughes Medical Institute