tu-hhmi new faculty positions

In recent years Trinity has experienced significant change in our science faculty. While there has been some turn over, the biggest changes have come with respect to the number of science faculty positions and the nature of faculty interactions. Trinity’s president, Dr. John Brazil, added three new, interdisciplinary tenure-track science faculty positions in 2004, and in 2008 he announced an additional four positions. Our 2008 HHMI award provided funding for an additional two tenure-track positions, a neurobiophysicist (Department of Physics) and a science educator (Department of Education). At the same time Trinity science faculty have been aggressively seeking external support to change the way we as faculty engage in our teaching and scholarship. Our 2004 HHMI award, along with grants from Merck/AAAS, the WM Keck Foundation, and the National Science Foundation, have fostered interdisciplinary collaborations in teaching and research that have led to modified (25) and completely new (14) courses in our science curricula as well as new research collaborations that cross disciplinary boundaries (8).

The new HHMI-supported Neurobiophysicist will support our neuroscience program, initiated in 2004 with HHMI funding. Even though we have yet to see the graduation of an entering class with the new major on the books, we have experienced rapid growth in the program. Thirteen students have already earned neuroscience degrees, and we have 32 declared majors currently on the books with roughly 40 students expressing an interest in pursuing the major. The graduates have gone on to top PhD programs and MD programs. We currently have a trained neuroscientist in our Psychology Department and an animal behaviorist in our Biology Department, and we are in the process of hiring an endowed chair in neurobiology to bring leadership to the program. The addition of a neurobiophysicist will allow us to expand research opportunities in neuroscience (research is required for the major), expand our curricular offerings, and better meet student demands for the major.

The new HHMI-supported Science Educator will build on new interactions between the sciences and education at Trinity. Our 2004 HHMI award built new collaborations through outreach to the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD). In 2004, an NSF Noyce grant allowed us to support scholarships for education students seeking to teach science. As a result of these programs, Trinity science and education faculty have come together to build our science education program to address an area of demonstrated and critical need for San Antonio and the country – the improvement of science literacy and understanding of scientific methods and discourse. The new position will contribute to the Education Department’s teacher certification curricula and teach courses in her/his specialty. The educator will also work with our education students in SAISD schools during their teaching apprenticeships. Our science educator will have a research laboratory in one of our science departments (as appropriate to her/his training). This presence in the sciences will help engage more students in science education, and we believe it will have a positive effect on the number of students seeking careers in science teaching. Finally, the science educator will help support the non-science major course development and outreach components of this proposal, by bringing insights for refining pedagogical approaches and interfacing with SAISD teachers in their classrooms.

More about the Neurobiophysicist position
More about the Science Educator position


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