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Recent Grants to Trinity Top $2 Million

by Susie P. Gonzalez

Since last December, foundations and institutes have awarded Trinity more than $2 million in grants, including a $1 million gift from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to transform undergraduate science education. This grant will enable professors of biology, physics and astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, psychology, and education to develop interdisciplinary courses and fundamentally change the ways in which science is taught and learned. Faculty members will spend the next four years overhauling introductory science curricula and creating undergraduate programs in scientific computation and neuroscience.

In addition, Trinity will emphasize the professional development of current and future faculty and develop outreach programs to high school teachers so that they will be prepared to use an interdisciplinary approach in their instruction. A major component of the grant is to establish the HHMI Center for Peer Learning as a central site for student-to-student assistance and small-group learning for students in introductory science classes. Students will be peer tutors and join science faculty and postdoctoral fellows to form interdisciplinary curriculum teams. Each year, 10 students will be designated as HHMI research fellows to participate in summer research.

Mark Brodl, Brackenridge Distinguished Professor of Biology, led a collaborative effort to submit the grant application. Among the professors assisting him are Eugene Clark (physics and astronomy,) Allen Holder (mathematics,) Nancy Mills (chemistry,) and Jonathan King, David Ribble, and Jim Shinkle (biology.)

Officials at the Chevy Chase, Md.-based HHMI noted that colleges across the country face tougher challenges in teaching science today, due in part to the new fields that blur the lines between disciplines. The institute also believes smaller colleges and universities, in particular, often are overlooked in the intensive competition for grant dollars.

Trinity scientists also have received another prestigious grant in recent months to stimulate interdisciplinary research and teaching. The W.M. Keck Foundation awarded the University a $500,000 grant to establish the Keck Center for Macromolecular Studies. This center will especially enhance collaborative research between faculty members in the biology and chemistry departments, encourage student interdisciplinary research, and foster interdisciplinary curricular development throughout the sciences at Trinity. Faculty members involved are Professors Brodl, King, Mills, Ribble, Shinkle, and Michelle Bushey and Bill Kurtin (chemistry) and Kevin Livingstone (biology.)

Other faculty members receiving recent grants in excess of $100,000 include mathematics Professor Scott Chapman, who was awarded a $188,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a three-year summer program known as Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and Professor Mills, who received renewal support in the amount of $150,000 from the Welch Foundation to continue for another three years her work in aromaticity and anti-aromaticity.

 


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