$800K Grant Helps Bowdoin Expand Outreach, Student Research in the Biosciences

Story posted May 20, 2004

Bowdoin College has received an $800,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HMMI) to recruit more minorities to the sciences, expand student research opportunities, and develop new curriculum for overlapping disciplines, such as biology, chemistry, math, and physics.

The four-year grant also will expand Bowdoin's science outreach, with summer workshops for high school teachers and students in spectrophotometry, neuroscience, and chemistry.

"This grant will allow us to focus more energy on interdisciplinary approaches - both in research and in the classroom," said Patsy Dickinson, Bowdoin professor of biology and neuroscience. "New fields are blurring the lines among disciplines; students now need to understand how the biological sciences are interwoven with chemistry, physics and math."

Bowdoin College was one of only 42 undergraduate institutions to receive the highly competitive four-year grants. The grant will increase the number of research students in Bowdoin's summer science research program, which now supports faculty-mentored research projects for nearly 50 students, and allow Bowdoin faculty to bring a more interdisciplinary approach to research-based programs and curriculum.

"Undergraduate biology is not well-funded nationally," noted Stephen Barkanic, director of HHMI's undergraduate science education program. "Public and private funders tend to focus their support on ... graduate training, but undergraduate biology tends to be neglected."

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is the nation's largest private supporter of science education from elementary school through postdoctoral studies. This is Bowdoin's third HHMI grant, and will be used to continue expansion of its bioscience programs, research, and laboratory facilities.

Highlights of proposed new programs include:

* A lab-driven introduction to neuroscience for Maine high school teachers and students;
* A Science Mentoring Team to attract and improve retention of under-represented students in bioscience courses and majors;
* Creation of interactive online tools to create 3-D virtual images of embryos and gene patterns to enhance research on the roles of genes in development;
* Public symposia on "Science and Society," a bioethical discussion with leading guest speakers;
* Enhanced laboratory equipment for molecular investigations in neuroscience, microbiology and immunology.

For more information on the Hughes awards, visit: www.hhmi.org/news/051804.html.


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