News From Purdue

HHMI selects Purdue to help create new interdisciplinary science curriculum

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University is part of a team of four universities chosen to participate in a $1.8 million Howard Hughes Medical Institute project to create and share effective models for teaching interdisciplinary science, with Purdue faculty focusing on transforming the chemistry curriculum.

The four-year National Experiment in Undergraduate Science Education, or NEXUS, will develop resources for a national basic science curriculum for premedical and prehealth students.

Marc Loudon, the Cwalina Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Purdue coordinator for the project, said there is a national need for greater biology focus in the physics, mathematics and chemistry courses taken by prehealth students in order to better prepare them to become interdisciplinary scientists and clinicians. Read More here

Purdue receives $1.5 million for undergraduate life science education

Life science students who will be responsible for solving the global challenges of tomorrow need an innovative educational experience to keep pace with advancing technology that can generate massive amounts of data. The 'culture of discovery' at a research university can help transform undergraduate education in the sciences. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded $1.5 million to Purdue University to fund an undergraduate science education project entitled: Deviating from the Standard: Integrating Statistical Analysis and Experimental Design into Life Science Education. The collaborative project led by Dennis Minchella, professor and associate head of Biological Sciences, is a partnership among six faculty members from three colleges (Science, Agriculture, and Engineering) which plans to inject statistics and experimental analysis into the biology curriculum at all levels.

This innovative, multi-disciplinary initiative will enrich the undergraduate biology curriculum at Purdue. Undergraduate life science curricula rarely feature statistics and quantitative analysis taught in a biological context, yet data analysis is a fundamental tool for modern life scientists. All undergraduates who take biology courses on the Purdue campus will receive early and sustained exposure to statistics and quantitative analysis, often using real experimental data to spark student interest. Small groups of experienced faculty and recent Ph.D.s working together in supportive learning communities will develop creative lessons in statistical analysis that can be shared across campus. The grant will also provide summer research opportunities for Purdue life science students as well as for biology undergraduates from a historically black institution, Purdue regional campuses, and several liberal arts colleges in Indiana. The initiative also reaches out to pre-college education by supporting training and workshops for high school biology teachers in Indiana. Through these initiatives, a large number of students, faculty, and high school teachers will be capable of teaching and performing innovative and efficient analysis of the complex biological datasets that are at the heart of many of today's biggest scientific and societal challenges.

The HHMI undergraduate science education program seeks to support "initiatives with the power to transform education in the life sciences for all students". Nearly 200 research universities were invited to apply for the funds and the success of the Purdue proposal can be attributed to the collaborative spirit of the faculty and the strength of undergraduate life sciences education on the West Lafayette campus. Other members of the project team include Ed Bartlett, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering; Jim Forney, Professor of Biochemistry; George McCabe, Professor of Statistics; Nancy Pelaez, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences; and Ann Rundell, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering. In addition to the three colleges involved in the project, the Center for Instructional Excellence and the Discovery Research Learning Center will support the initiative.

News from HHMI

MAY 20, 2010

HHMI Awards $79 Million for Science Education to Research Universities, Top Scientists

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) today announced new grants totaling $79 million that will help universities strengthen undergraduate and precollege science education nationwide. The resources will let faculty at research universities pursue some of their most creative ideas by developing new ways to teach and inspire students about science and research.M

HHMI is making the awards through its Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education Program and the HHMI Professors Program—two complementary initiatives that are transforming science education in the United States. Read more...

MAY 20, 2010

Biology by the Numbers at Purdue

College students who study biology are awash in a sea of complex data. But when it comes to the tools required to analyze and interpret that data, most undergraduates don't equip themselves early enough, says Purdue's HHMI program director Dennis Minchella. "Students will put off statistics courses until they're seniors," he says, despite the fact that quantitative skills can enrich even introductory science coursework. With that thought in mind, Purdue will draw on a new HHMI grant to integrate statistical reasoning and data evaluation into the biology curriculum. Read more...

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