The College of Biological Sciences (CBS) used a $1.5 million grant awarded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in May 2010 to create an innovative program to improve undergraduate biology education by engaging all undergraduates who take biology courses in hands-on research.
"This grant makes it possible to achieve our goal of providing authentic research experiences to every student who enters our classrooms, whether they began with us as freshmen, transferred to CBS from a community college, or are simply fulfilling a general education requirement," said Robin Wright, associate dean for academic and faculty affairs and director of the HHMI program.
Students to come into CBS as freshman encounter authentic research as they progress through the Foundations courses (BIOL 2002, BIOL 2003, BIOL 2004). The HHMI science education program is designed to give transfer students and non-science majors authentic research experience as well.
There are three main components of the science education grant program:
- Authentic research experiences for non-science majors incorporated into the labs of courses for non-science majors
- Authentic research experiences for transfer students in the Active-Learning Lab
- A research mentor program that gives transfer students the opportunity to work in a research lab with a mentor
The grant is creating opportunities for about 800 transfer students and 12,000 non-science majors to gain a deeper understanding of the nature, process, and limitations of science through research experience. Ten HHMI postdoctoral teaching fellows have been hired to develop research experiences for these students. They are paired with University faculty fellows to develop research curriculum and learn teaching skills. The program emphasizes the use of active learning and backwards design to create research-based educational materials.