College Receives $1.4 Million Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grant

The College of Charleston has received a $1.4 million award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The award is part of a national $50 million initiative that will enable schools to work together to create more engaging science classes, bring real-world research experiences to students, and increase the diversity of students who study science.

This is the second grant the College has received from the HHMI competition, which is held every four years. The College of Charleston grant is one of 43 awards selected from among 182 proposals that were ranked by a panel of leading scientists.

The College’s award was presented to Pamela Riggs-Gelasco, Program Director and Chair of the College of Charleston Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Beth Meyer-Bernstein in Biology and Mark Hurd in Psychology were also part of the proposal team and helped lead efforts in the 2008 award from HHMI.

“This new award will allow us to expand novel efforts to teach science that have already proved successful, as well engage more students in meaningful research experiences,” said Mike Auerbach, Dean of the School of Sciences and Mathematics. “It is also exciting to see the establishment of a new public lecture series that will help make scientific advances accessible to the local community.”

The College’s 2012 program centers on the use of High Impact Learning Experiences (HILE) to enhance undergraduate science education, with mentored undergraduate research being a central component.  In addition, new senior capstone courses in emerging interdisciplinary areas and new laboratory experiences in freshmen and biology labs will be developed. Opportunities for service learning in key courses and the new public lecture series are also planned.

“What happens during the undergraduate years is vital to the development of the student, whether she will be a scientist, a science educator, or a member of society who is scientifically curious and literate. HHMI is investing in these schools because they have shown they are superb incubators of new ideas and models that might be replicated by other institutions to improve how science is taught in college,” said Sean B. Carroll, vice president of science education at HHMI. “We know that these schools have engaged faculty. They care deeply about teaching and how effectively their students are learning about science.”

“Collaboration is a vital activity that drives science forward,” said HHMI President Robert Tjian. “We believe that collaboration among institutions can have a similar catalytic effect on science education, and we look forward to seeing these schools work together to develop new science and teaching programs that inspire their students.”

To read the press release from HHMI, click here.