University of Delaware
University of Delaware is a public research university in Newark, Delaware. HHMI awarded the university grants in 1992, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010.
The University of Delaware has initiated and sustained nationally recognized undergraduate science education programs in research, quantitative biology, and minority access to science. This proposal seeks to improve these programs and embark on new interdisciplinary initiatives. The goals of the new interdisciplinary initiatives are to promote the connections between mathematics and the life sciences and between the life sciences and chemistry.
The integration of chemistry and biology is the major focus of the grant and involves a three-pronged approach. First we plan to transform introductory biology and general chemistry courses by dramatically restructuring our introductory curriculum through integration of content and modification of pedagogy to move into a physical space being constructed for that purpose. The transition from separate introductory courses to integrated courses will occur over a four-year period and involve extensive assessment at each stage. To support the transition, we also plan to develop a living and learning academic community that is focused on improving performance in general chemistry for first-year biology majors who have poor skills in mathematics.
Promoting the connections between mathematics and the life sciences involves two major foci. The first is to improve the quantitative skills of students interested in the life sciences. Specifically, we plan to generate research-oriented problems in our life sciences investigative laboratory courses (ecology, physiology, cell biology, molecular biology, and genetics) that require knowledge of calculus developed in our bio-calculus course. These laboratory research-oriented courses will benefit from mathematics graduate student teaching assistants.
The second focus is to expand and improve on our nationally recognized quantitative biology undergraduate degree program. We also plan to engage research-active faculty from diverse departments in quantitative biology and sustain a national faculty development initiative in quantitative biology in collaboration with Emory University and the University of Arizona by cosponsoring summer workshops.
Through these initiatives, we strive to stimulate attitudes of inquiry in our students so that they go beyond the facts and seek understanding in the classroom and in the laboratory. Our long experience with active learning pedagogies such as problem-based learning and peer-led team learning in undergraduate science courses provides the means for stimulating attitudes of inquiry. For each of these initiatives, we will follow rigorous assessment criteria outlined in our logic models and implemented with assistance from our Office of Educational Assessment.