History of the Grant at Richmond
In May 2004, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) awarded a $900,000 grant to the University of Richmond to foster undergraduate science education. Capitalizing on a $35 million expansion and renovation of the Gottwald Science Center, the HHMI grant allowed the School of Arts & Sciences to expand the science curriculum through new courses, bolster the faculty through new hires and opportunities to team teach, and advance student understanding through summer research fellowships and innovative programming.
Inspired by the National Research Council’s report, BIO 2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists, which argued for a revamp of science instruction with an emphasis on integrating quantitative science across all the scientific disciplines, participating faculty members designed team-teaching opportunities in four upper-level courses: scientific calculus, mathematical modeling, biological imaging and biological physics.
In addition to applying for research fellowships from the School of Arts & Sciences, high achieving science students could apply to be HHMI Scholars, receiving full support for a 10-week summer research experience on campus. And before they even officially enrolled as UR students, an HHMI pre-freshmen research program introduced high school students to research during a five-week on-campus experience.
The University of Richmond’s second grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, this time for $1.4 million, enabled faculty in the School of Arts & Sciences to integrate all five science disciplines (biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics) into a new, two-semester interdisciplinary introductory course for science students. The course, team taught by 10 professors, combines material from the five introductory courses. Students earn four units of credit and finish the course prepared to enter the second course in the biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics majors.
Students applied to participate in the program before they arrived on campus, and once accepted, they are also guaranteed financial support to participate in an undergraduate research project the following summer. Richmond's new approach is a bold step in the teaching of introductory science, one taken at only a few institutions in the country. The Integrated Quantitative Science (IQS) course officially launched in 2009, provides students with a classroom experience like none other.
In an effort to bring a glimpse of this integrated approach into the middle school classroom, faculty also developed a course for middle school mathematics and science teachers to teach hands-on science activities that illustrate middle school mathematics concepts.
The grant also allowed faculty to engage in strategic development of new courses in the sciences.
To learn more about the current grant, visit the HHMI grant page.