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College receives $1.3 million grant to enhance science research opportunities

Howard Hughes Medical Institute awards four-year grant to Gettysburg College

Gettysburg College will receive $1.3 million over the next four years to enhance scientific research opportunities for students through a series of revamped courses, summer research opportunities, science peer mentoring, and other interdisciplinary initiatives.

“Having seen how important research experiences are for Gettysburg College science students, it is great to know that we’ll have the opportunity to provide research intensive opportunities for students from their first year on campus through their senior year,” said Prof. Michael Wedlock, chair of the chemistry department.

“Working together on the proposal for this grant was a great way for the biology, chemistry, and physics departments to converge on a common vision of our goals for our students,” added Prof. Véronique Delesalle, chair of the biology department. “We want to engage students from their first day on campus and to keep them engaged. This grant will allow us to provide students with a challenging curriculum in a supportive environment, while allowing students to match their interests with our offerings.”

The grant was part of over $50 million awarded by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to 47 small colleges this spring to create more engaging science classes, bring real-world research experiences to students, and increase the diversity of students who study science.

“What happens during the undergraduate years is vital to the development of the student. HHMI is investing in these schools because they have shown they are superb incubators of new ideas and models that might be replicated by other institutions to improve how science is taught in college,” said Sean B. Carroll, vice president of science education at HHMI.

Find out more about what HHMI has done for Gettysburg College students.

Gettysburg College’s grant was part of HHMI’s CUREs initiative, which focuses on course-based undergraduate research experiences and integrating authentic research modules throughout the curriculum of the biology, chemistry, and physics departments.

“HHMI's support is both a recognition of what we already do at Gettysburg College and a bridge to allow us to reach the next level of excellence,” said Delesalle.

About HHMI and Undergraduate Science Education

Since 1988, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded more than $870 million to 274 colleges and universities to support science education. Those grants have generally been awarded through two separate but complementary efforts, one aimed at undergraduate-focused institutions and the other at research universities. HHMI support has enabled nearly 85,000 students nationwide to work in research labs and developed programs that have helped 100,000 K-12 teachers learn how to teach science more effectively.

HHMI’s approach differs from that of many other organizations, including the federal government, because its science education awards are made at an institutional level and not to individuals. As a result, HHMI encourages science faculty and administrators at colleges and universities to work together to develop common educational goals—something they might not do otherwise. HHMI grants can allow an institution to try new and untested ideas that could not be readily implemented without the HHMI funds.

HHMI’s grants to small colleges and universities—the Institute’s longest running science education program—have had an important impact on undergraduate science education in the United States in several important ways:

• Hands-on Research Is Expected: HHMI support has enabled many small schools to offer research opportunities to a large fraction of their undergraduates, even to the extent that students at some schools expect it. HHMI funds help schools support faculty mentors, thereby expanding the research capacity of an institution.

• Infusion of Teaching Talent: Schools have used HHMI support to recruit science faculty, who bring novel ideas and expertise. The faculty often work and teach in areas new to the school, thereby creating new opportunities in the curriculum and research.

• New Courses and Curricula: Undergraduate schools have used HHMI funds to develop courses that give their students exposure to newly emerging fields of science – often at the interfaces of traditional scientific disciplines.


Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Tue, 29 May 2012

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