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Beth Sorensen
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K-12 outreach program will now expand to four schools

Reed College has received a grant of $1 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in support of undergraduate biological sciences. Reed was one of 224 colleges that HHMI invited to submit proposals, and one of 53 colleges and universities that won one of the four-year grants. The grants are designed to help institutions respond to a recent surge in enrollments in biology, as well as to rapid advances in molecular biology, genetics, and related life sciences.

"Serious, research-oriented teaching in the natural sciences has long been a hallmark of Reed's academic program," said Peter Steinberger, Reed's dean of the faculty. "The biology program has especially benefited from the extraordinary generosity of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. HHMI's decision to continue supporting Reed is deeply gratifying and will ensure that next generation of biology students will have unsurpassed educational opportunities."

Reed will use the HHMI grant in four major areas: student research; faculty development; curriculum, equipment, and laboratory development; and K-12 outreach programs:

• Funds for student research and broadening access to science ($250,000) will encourage well-designed high-quality research projects that stimulate critical thinking, provide the means to execute them, and increase participation by supporting research at the lower-division level. The faculty plans to expand the current student research fund, which will include academic year and summer research, attendance at professional meetings and conferences, and training opportunities at other research institutions.

Continued expansion and support of K-12 outreach programs ($190,112) will stimulate interest in science among elementary and middle school students, provide role models for a diverse population of young potential scientists, and introduce Reed students to hands-on science teaching. In 1996 HHMI provided the original funding for the biology outreach program, which builds on the strong tradition of community service among Reed students and faculty and capitalizes on their contagious enthusiasm for science. Reed students currently teach biology to 500 students in three Portland schools&endash;Rieke Elementary, Robert Gray Middle School, and Beach Elementary. One more school, Hayhurst Elementary, will be added, with 150 more students. You can read more about the program at

• Funds for curriculum, equipment, and laboratory development ($363,840) will equip new laboratory courses that currently lack instrumentation, upgrade the equipment and technology in upper-division courses, embed data acquisition and analysis into each upper-division laboratory, provide new image analysis instrumentation, provide new quantitative tools for students conducting research on biological diversity, and create a web-based quantitative skills laboratory to augment the formal biology curriculum.

• Funds for faculty development ($100,000) will allow faculty members to maintain active research programs in support of the integration of teaching and research, which is one of the hallmarks of a Reed science education. The current Hughes faculty development fund will be extended to provide start-up funding for small equipment and supplies, funding for sabbaticals to supplement the college’s paid leave program, and resources for research assistants.

The remainder of the grant will support program administration (a biology outreach coordinator) and program assessment.

This is an important time in the history of Reed's biology program, which has been recognized nationally for its excellence. Enrollment in the biology and biochemistry-molecular biology programs is stronger than ever, and two new faculty members have been added in microbiology and behavioral ecology. The biology building is undergoing a $9.3 million major renovation and expansion. The current facility, built for a faculty of five in 1958, has been totally redesigned; usable square footage will increase by 25 percent. The juxtaposition of research and teaching space will further interaction between students and professors.

One of the goals for the renovated facility is the systematic modernization of biology laboratory equipment, beginning with the introductory course, and the dedicatation of small instrumentation to specific laboratories so that it is not threatened by constant movement between labs. A dedicated space in the renovated building will serve as a new biodiversity center, centralizing activities that were formally dispersed in several teaching laboratories and classrooms.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, is the nation's largest supporter of science education from elementary school through postdoctoral studies. Its principal mission is research in cell biology, computational biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience, and structural biology with its own scientific teams. Additional information is available on the web at Past support of Reed College from HHMI has included a $1 million grant in 1991, primarily in support of summer science and mathematics programs for underrepresented minority students, and a $700,000 grant in 1996, which provided funds to found the K-12 outreach program, in addition to funding classroom and laboratory technology and research.

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