09/16/1998 07:00:00

Caltech gets $2 million from HHMI for undergraduate biological sciences

PASADENA—The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded $2 million to the California Institute of Technology for support of undergraduate programs in the biological sciences.

The four-year grant is earmarked for support of student research, development of teaching laboratories and computer-based curricula, and outreach activities for students and teachers from the Pasadena school district. The award was announced today at HHMI headquarters in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Among the existing programs Caltech will support with the grant money are the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF), which has operated for a number of years to provide undergraduates with a chance to work on real research programs. The HHMI funds will be used for SURF stipends in the biological and chemical sciences, particularly for women and minority students.

Also, HHMI funds will be used for the Minority Undergraduate Research Fellowships (MURF), which was created in 1991 and has been supported by HHMI since 1992. This program is directed toward giving gifted underrepresented minority undergraduate students from other universities a summer of research on the Caltech campus.

Another program to be supported by the new funding is the Teaching and Interdisciplinary Education (TIDE) program, which brings faculty and students together to develop innovative teaching tools for coursework. The HHMI funds will provide support for five students to work directly with faculty.

Caltech's $2 million award this year is one of 58 HHMI awards going to American colleges and universities for undergraduate programs in the biological sciences. Begun in 1988, the program's total awards this year will total $91.1 million.

According to Purnell W. Chippin, president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the grants program "is having a major impact on how biology and related disciplines are taught at the college level."

Caltech, founded in 1891, has an enrollment of some 2,000 students, and a faculty of about 280 professorial faculty and 130 research faculty. The Institute has more than 19,000 alumni. Caltech employs a staff of more than 1,700 on campus and 5,300 at JPL.

Over the years, 26 Nobel Prizes and four Crafoord Prizes have been awarded to faculty members and alumni. Forty-three Caltech faculty members and alumni have received the National Medal of Science; and eight alumni (two of whom are also trustees), two additional trustees, and one faculty member have won the National Medal of Technology. Since 1958, 13 faculty members have received the annual California Scientist of the Year award. On the Caltech faculty there are 75 fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and on the faculty and Board of Trustees, 68 members of the National Academy of Sciences and 46 members of the National Academy of Engineering.

[Note to editors: More information can be downloaded from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Web site at www.hhmi.org/undergrad98].

Written by Robert Tindol