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United Press International
Hughes institute awards science grants

Published 9/18/2002 1:16 PM
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CHEVY CHASE, Md., Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The Howard Hughes Medical Institute said Wednesday that it has awarded $1 million grants to 20 university professors over the next four years to make science courses more engaging for undergraduate students across the nation.

The recipients will be the first 20 HHMI professors. They were chosen because each is a leading researcher and the institute hopes they will bring the creativity they have shown in the lab to the undergraduate classroom.

"Research is advancing at breathtaking pace, but many university students are still learning science the same old way, by listening to lectures, memorizing facts and doing cookbook lab experiments that thousands have done before," said institute President Thomas R. Cech, a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist who taught at the University of Colorado.

"We want to empower scientists at research universities to become more involved in breaking the mold and bringing the excitement of research to science education," Cech said.

Peter J. Bruns, vice president for grants and special programs at the Hughes institute, said the teaching of undergraduates tends to be undervalued at research universities.

"By rewarding great teaching and supporting a synergistic interaction between research and undergraduate education, we hope to sow seeds of a fundamental change in the culture of research universities," Bruns said.

"We want the HHMI professors to demonstrate that active, productive scientists can be effective teachers, too," he said.

The professors who were chosen say they will create courses in the way scientists think, establish pre-graduate science course modeled after pre-med courses, concentrate on the interdisciplinary nature of modern-day engineering and promote minority participation.

Receiving the awards are Manuel Ares Jr. of the University of California-Santa Cruz, Utpal Banerjee of the University of California-Los Angeles, Sarah C.R. Elgin of Washington University in St. Louis, Ellen Fanning of Vanderbilt University, Hilary Godwin of Northwestern University, Bob Goldberg of the University of California-Los Angeles, Jo Handelsman of the University of Wisconsin, Graham Hatfull of the University of Pittsburgh, Ronald Hoy of Cornell University, Elizabeth Jones of Carnegie Mellon University, Darcy Kelley of Columbia University, Mary Lidstrom of the University of Washington, Richard Losick of Harvard University, Yi Lu of the University of Illinois, David Lynn of Emory University, Rebecca Richards-Kortum of the University of Texas, Alanna Schepartz of Yale University, Tim Stearns of Stanford University, Graham Walker of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Isiah Warner of Louisiana State University.

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