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HHMI Supports Top Scientists in the Classroom

15 Research Scientists Named HHMI Professors

Summary

Fifteen outstanding researchers from 13 institutions are named HHMI Professors.

 

Highlights

  • HHMI created the HHMI Professors Program in 2002.
  • The HHMI professors are leaders in science education and in their respective research fields.
  • Each HHMI Professor receives a total of $1 million over five years to introduce innovative approaches in teaching science to undergraduates.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced today that 15 leading scientist-educators have been named HHMI professors.  Each will receive $1 million over five years to create activities that integrate their research with student learning in ways that enhance undergraduate students’ understanding of science.

Exceptional teachers have a lasting impact on students. These scientists are at the top of their respective fields and they bring the same creativity and rigor to science education that they bring to their research.

HHMI President, Robert Tjian

HHMI professors are accomplished research scientists who are making science more engaging for undergraduates. By providing HHMI professors with the funds and support to implement their ideas, HHMI hopes to empower these individuals to create new models for teaching science at research universities. The newly selected group—who represent 13 universities across the country—will join the community of HHMI professors who are working together to change undergraduate science education in the United States.

“Exceptional teachers have a lasting impact on students,” said HHMI President Robert Tjian. “These scientists are at the top of their respective fields and they bring the same creativity and rigor to science education that they bring to their research.”

Much of the responsibility for sustaining excellence in science falls on the nation’s research universities, home to some of the world’s best scientists, and attended by some of the nation’s most talented students. The quality of universities depends on their faculty.

In an era of new business models for higher education, increasing pressures on research funding, new emphases on student enrollment and retention, and new technologies for delivering education, science faculty members are challenged to navigate a complex course. While the traditions of science often emphasize the singular accomplishments of an individual scientist, each faculty member is expected to excel simultaneously in multiple arenas, balancing the demands of research and teaching.

“Science faculty members who can successfully advance their research and teaching goals through creative integration of the two are both a valued asset to their departments and important models for their colleagues,” said Sean B. Carroll, vice president for science education at HHMI.

The 40 scientists (two are now deceased) who have been named HHMI professors since the program began in 2002 have introduced innovative approaches for teaching science in the classroom, expanded and enhanced student research opportunities, developed new educational resources, and implemented novel mentoring programs for student support.

Some examples of their impact include:

  • University of California, Los Angeles, students in HHMI professor Utpal Banerjee’s functional genomics course have conducted original research on genes and development of the fruit fly, leading to publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals with more than 250 student authors.
  • At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, HHMI investigator and HHMI professor Cathy Drennan developed a boot camp curriculum that teaches graduate student teaching assistants in the biology and chemistry departments how to build inclusive learning environments for students.
  • Students who participated in HHMI professor Isiah Warner’s mentoring program at Louisiana State University show higher average GPAs and graduation rates than other LSU students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields—despite underperforming during their first-year science coursework.
  • And the rapid-cycling, self-compatible Brassica plants developed by HHMI professor Richard Amasino at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, are being used by high school students for genetic experiments that reveal how traits that affect plant development are inherited.

“Students benefit most when scientists draw on their own interests and expertise in their educational activities,” said David J. Asai, senior director in science education at HHMI. “And many of the HHMI professors have told us that their research programs have benefited from their educational efforts.” To support that synergy, the new professors can apply up to 25 percent of their HHMI funding to support research activities in the context of student learning.

In the 2014 HHMI Professors Competition, which was announced in April 2013, HHMI stated it was seeking scientists who think broadly and creatively about important challenges in science education. Natural science professors at the 106 research universities classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as having “very high research activity” were invited to apply.

In response to the competition announcement, 173 scientists submitted proposals to HHMI. A panel of distinguished scientists and educators reviewed the proposals, and finalists presented their proposed activities at a symposium at HHMI in May 2014. 

Anbar Ariel D. Anbar, PhD
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona
Brian R. Crane Brian R. Crane, PhD
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York
Susan S. Golden, PhD Susan S. Golden, PhD
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, California
Mark Goldman Mark Goldman, PhD
University of California, Davis
Davis, California
Chris Impey Christopher D. Impey, PhD
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Joseph Jez Joseph M. Jez, PhD
Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
Tracy Johnson Tracy L. Johnson, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Jane Kondev Jane Kondev, PhD
Brandeis University
Waltham, Massachusetts
David R. Marchant David R. Marchant, PhD
Boston University
Boston, Massachusetts
Susan K. McConnell Susan K. McConnell, PhD
Stanford University
Stanford, California
Anne McNeil Anne J. McNeil, PhD
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Jeffrey S. Moore Jeffrey S. Moore, PhD
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, Illinois
Andrew Murray Andrew Murray, PhD
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Aydogan Ozcan Aydogan Ozcan, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Muhammad Zaman Muhammad H. Zaman, PhD
Boston University
Boston, Massachusetts

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