Howard Hughes Medical Institute Gives $1.5 Million to Texas Tech's Science Education Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: June 1, 2006
CONTACT: John Davis, john.w.davis@ttu.edu
742-2136

LUBBOCK – Texas Tech is one of four Texas universities and 50 universities nationwide to receive a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant to support undergraduate research.

The $1.5 million grant will support TTU’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Program for the next four years. This is the fifth consecutive grant for TTU since the program began in 1992.

The science education program allows undergraduate students the chance to work in the laboratory with faculty research scientists, said Dr. Michael San Francisco, director for the program. It provides students with new opportunities in research and hands-on science educational activities and motivates and guides area school teachers with new skills to bring science into their classrooms.

“The grant will help us to continue our current undergraduate research and science education activities with faculty,” San Francisco said. “It will help us to continue our pre-college and outreach programs. Also, we work with teacher leaders in this area. We train them and have traveling labs for them to enhance their skills and their abilities to bring science into the classroom.”

San Francisco said the program will expand over the next four years to begin a teacher training program to enhance the classroom skills for post-doctoral and doctoral students who wish to become future faculty members.

“This grant validates our activities,” he said. “It shows the university’s not only functioning within itself. It’s going out and educating students and teachers. We bring science to the community at large.”

Dr. Donald Haragan, Texas Tech’s interim chancellor, said the HHMI Science Education Program distinguishes the university as a leader in science education.

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“The initiative to develop programs in undergraduate research resulted from HHMI support,” Haragan said. “Furthermore, the science teacher support initiative was a direct result of the resources provided by HHMI. The HHMI – Texas Tech partnership has been one of the principal drivers for the development of science education at the university, and the undergraduate research models developed with HHMI support are now being used across the campus, particularly by the Honors College.”

HHMI has supported undergraduate science education at the nation’s colleges and universities since 1988. Through its undergraduate grants, the institute has provided 247 institutions of higher learning with nearly $700 million for programs that include undergraduate research opportunities; new faculty, courses, and labs; teaching and mentoring training; and work with precollege students and teachers.

A nonprofit medical research organization, HHMI was established in 1953 by the aviator-industrialist. The institute, headquartered in Chevy Chase, Md., is one of the largest philanthropies in the world, with an endowment of $14.8 billion at the close of its 2005 fiscal year. HHMI spent $483 million in support of biomedical research and $80 million for support of a variety of science education and other grants programs in fiscal 2005.

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CONTACT: Dr. Michael San Francisco, program director for the Texas Tech University Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Program, (806) 742-2706, or michael.sanfrancisco@ttu.edu.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Media are invited to take photos or footage of Dr. David Straus, professor of microbiology and immunology, and his HHMI undergraduate research fellow. They are available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at 4C127 of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Reporters must make an appointment with Straus by calling (806) 743-2523.]