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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Reed College has just received a grant of $700,000 from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), of Chevy Chase, Maryland. Reed is the only institution in the state of Oregon to receive this HHMI grant; only one other Northwest college, Whitman, is also a recipient. On July 24, HHMI announced the award of over $45 million to 52 colleges and universities to strengthen undergraduate education programs in the biological sciences. This is the largest private initiative in U.S. history to enhance undergraduate science education.

According to Professor of Biology Stephen Arch, the project director, "The HHMI grant will be used at Reed to build on its nationally recognized integration of technological innovations and computing resources into the undergraduate science curriculum. Reed biologists have recognized the crucial interplay between quantitative skills, molecular methodologies, and the creative scientific process in designing the programs to be supported by the new funds. The breadth of the initiatives proposed can be appreciated by the plans to develop three new simulation packages: molecular modeling, image analysis, and biodiversity. These will be developed for introductory and upper-division courses and implemented through the high-tech biology computer hub and technological classroom."

The funds will also support summer and academic-year research opportunities for undergraduates; in addition to stipends and supplies, funds will be available for travel to national and regional science meetings. In a separate undertaking, the grant will help Reed provide outreach to a local elementary and middle school. Particular attention will be given to workshops for science teachers to be offered by Reed faculty members, and Reed students will have the opportunity to assist in the classrooms as role models and mentors.

Reed president Steven Koblik, in announcing the HHMI grant, said that "The biology faculty has developed a comprehensive proposal to help sustain a dedicated and scientifically active faculty, to create a learning environment that makes best use of technological innovations, and to enable students to share their research experience with both the professional scientific world and young schoolchildren. With the support of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Reed College biology faculty will maintain its national leadership role as educators of undergraduates who will pursue advanced degrees and careers in the biological sciences."

Reed was awarded a grant of $1 million in 1991 from HHMI for a five-year project. That grant has been used for a summer science and mathematics program at Reed designed to inform and inspire underrepresented minority students from selected Portland high schools. In addition, the funds have supported faculty and student research and the development of new technological learning resources and science courses.

A medical research organization, HHMI is the nation's largest philanthropy. It employs scientists in cell biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience, and structural biology. Hughes investigators conduct medical research in HHMI laboratories at 62 outstanding academic medical centers and universities nationwide. Through its grants program, HHMI supports science education in the United States and a select group of researchers abroad.