Howard Hughes Medical Institute Awards $45.4 Million for Undergraduate Science Education at 52 Colleges and Universities
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute announced today that it will award $45.4 million in four-year grants to help 52 colleges and universities strengthen their undergraduate education programs in the biological sciences.
The grants, which range between $600,000 and $1.6 million, bring to more than $335 million the amount awarded since 1988 through this program, the largest private initiative in U.S. history to enhance undergraduate science education at colleges and universities. The institutions will use the funds for various purposes, such as to expand research opportunities for undergraduates, update their teaching equipment and science curriculum, and attract new science faculty in emerging fields of biology. Many of the campuses also will expand access for minority students now underrepresented in the life sciences and strengthen their ties with students and science teachers at local schools.
"These colleges and universities do an excellent job of preparing students for careers in scientific research, teaching, medicine and related fields," said Purnell W. Choppin, president of the Institute. "The grants will help them provide students with more opportunities to carry out research in modern laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment. Many of the campuses also will reach out to help science teachers and schools in their communities. Our goal is to get students of all ages, including women and minorities, involved in real scientific exploration instead of just memorizing facts from books."
The Institute invited applications from 201 public and private master's and baccalaureate colleges and universities, and schools of engineering and technology. Of these, 189 institutions submitted proposals, which were reviewed by an external panel of distinguished scientists and educators. The panel provided guidance to HHMI's Trustees, who approved the grants. The 52 awardees are located in 24 states. They include 45 institutions that have previously received grants from HHMI's undergraduate biological sciences education program.
The previous round of grants under the program, in 1994, was made to a different group of institutionsresearch and doctorate-granting universities. Since 1988, a total of 220 institutions has received grants from HHMI under the program, which is having a growing impact on campuses nationwide, as well as on the K-12 schools they assist through partnership programs, teacher workshops, science camps and other outreach efforts. Among the accomplishments of the HHMI undergraduate biological sciences education program since 1988 are the following:
Supported research by more than 21,000 undergraduates, of whom 56 percent are women and 27 percent are from underrepresented minorities.
Provided funding for 231 new faculty members and supported the development or revision of 4,100 courses covering 30 fields of biology, chemistry and other scientific disciplines.
Provided more than $65 million for outreach programs with elementary, middle and high schools, and with two-year and other four-year colleges. More than 55,000 precollege students (55 percent women and 52 percent from underrepresented minorities) and 16,400 teachers (58 percent women and 20 percent from underrepresented minorities) have benefited from these efforts.
"An extraordinary transformation in the way our nation's college students learn biology has been quietly taking place since the Institute launched its undergraduate program eight years ago," said Joseph G. Perpich, HHMI's vice president for grants and special programs. "Students are taking advantage of computers, electronic networks and software programs as they carry out research in areas such as genetics, cell and computational biology, and the neurosciences. It's an exciting time to be involved in biological research and education at the undergraduate level."
The undergraduate program is the biggest of several HHMI initiatives to improve science education from elementary school through postgraduate training. A list of the grants follows.