HHMI Grant for Undergraduate Education

Posted October 26th, 2008 at 5:21 pm.

Peter Brodfeuhrer

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded a four-year, $1.2 million Undergraduate Science Education Grant to Bryn Mawr College to help fund a host of initiatives. Chief among them are two yearly $5,000 fellowships to help matriculated Bryn Mawr science and math majors complete teaching certificates in secondary education; two postdoctoral fellowships; physical upgrades of classroom and laboratory space; and two scholarships for Science for College, a residential summer program for high-school girls considering careers in science, medicine, and technology.

“The rigorous requirements for science majors often make it impossible for students interested in careers in education to complete the Bi-College teacher certification during their four undergraduate years. Hopefully this grant will encourage more of our best and brightest students to pursue teaching as a career,” says Peter D. Brodfuehrer, professor of biology and program director of Bryn Mawr’s grant.

“A lot of our students go directly on to graduate school or into industry, and we haven’t done the best job possible of promoting teaching as an option,” Brodfuehrer adds. “But science teachers are in very high demand and it’s a career that doesn’t preclude someone from going on and getting an advanced degree.”

The grant started Sept. 1, 2008. Brodfuehrer plans to have the first fellows in place at the start of the 2009 academic year and hopes to have the postdoctoral positions filled by fall 2010. One postdoctoral fellow will be associated with the education program and the other with the mathematics department. Both fellows will work with faculty to help evaluate and shape innovative teaching methods at the college level and examine the efficacy of interdisciplinary approaches to science and math education.

The grant will also help fund the continuation of the Science Horizons Fellowships, which give five Bryn Mawr students the chance to spend the summer conducting laboratory research at off-campus sites, including medical centers, universities, and government facilities. Brodfuehrer hopes to make it easier for students to take the first step toward finding placements by increasing outreach to alumnae working at institutions where placements are possible.

Bryn Mawr College was one of 48 of the nation’s best undergraduate institutions that received part of the $60 million HHMI awarded to invigorate science teaching at liberal-arts colleges. HHMI invited 224 colleges with a track record of preparing undergraduate students for research careers to submit proposals. Through a stringent review process, distinguished scientists and educators narrowed the 192 applicants down to 48 winners.

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