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July 6, 2000

ULM receives $1.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The University of Louisiana at Monroe is one of 53 colleges and universities in the United States and Puerto Rico that will receive an award for undergraduate biological sciences education from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

ULM President Lawson L. Swearingen, Jr., announced Thursday that the University will receive $1.5 million over four years. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is the nation's largest private supporter of science education from elementary school through postdoctoral studies.

"This particular partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute represents a significant avenue through which we can enhance student research and instructional opportunities in biological sciences," Swearingen said.

More than 200 colleges and universities submitted proposals and only 53 were selected by a panel of distinguished scientists and educators. Only two other universities received grants larger than ULM's. Xavier University in New Orleans was the only other Louisiana school to receive a grant.

"This is a great boost for our programs in basic sciences," said Dr. Frank Pezold, Program Director and Professor of Biology and Associate Dean of ULM's College of Pure and Applied Sciences. "It's a boost not just because it is so prestigious, but because it will help us attract and keep the best faculty and provide a more stimulating environment for our students focusing on the sciences."

According to Pezold, ULM will use the money to support:

An undergraduate research program on campus during the junior year and a summer research program. Twenty on-campus research scholarships of $1,500 apiece will be awarded each year and 10 $3,000 off-campus scholarships.

Equipment support for two new faculty positions in developmental biology and microbial physiology/ecology and development awards and partnerships for junior faculty to form research collaborations with established scientists at LSU (ULM's primary research partner) and for senior faculty to gain new research skills.

Equipment support for introductory biology laboratories restructured to facilitate inquiry-based learning and to reinforce critical-thinking skills.

A summer research program for high school students, inservice training in modern research methods for high school teachers, and laboratory modules and equipment to be loaned to high schools.

Ranging from $700,000 to $1.7 million, the new undergraduate awards are designed to help institutions that grant bachelor's and master's degrees respond to a recent surge in enrollments in the biological sciences, as well as to the rapid advances in molecular biology, genetics and related life sciences. HHMI grants will enable universities to expand and update laboratories, recruit new faculty members and provide research opportunities for undergraduates, including women and members of minority groups underrepresented in science.

"We put this proposal together with the assistance of faculty in biology, chemistry and the geosciences," Pezold said. "It could not have been done without a team effort. The success of this project is the result of our faculty working together to develop innovative programs building on our existing strengths in the basic sciences and science education."

"Biology and technology are moving forward at an incredible rate," said Joseph G. Perpich, HHMI vice president for grants and special programs. "These grants build on previous HHMI awards to help ensure that the coming generation of scientists and educators will be able to tap the enormous potential of the Web, genomic databases, and other technological advances in biological research and teaching. These grants will help bring the extraordinary excitement of today's biology to undergraduates."

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