Dartmouth Undergraduate Science Education Program
Funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
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Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowships
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THE HOWARD HUGHES MEDICAL INSTITUTE* (HHMI) is the largest private supporter of science education in the United States and one of our country's largest philanthropic organizations. Dartmouth College is one of 50 research universities in the United States currently selected to receive support from the prestigious Undergraduate Science Education Program of HHMI. The purpose of Dartmouth's Award is to strengthen and enrich undergraduate science education and teaching at research universities.

Our awards for 2006-2010 and 2020-2014 have the following components:

  1. Student Research: The major component of Dartmouth's program is the establishment of HHMI research internships. HHMI interns are undergraduates who work on a research project in close collaboration with a Dartmouth faculty mentor during their sophomore year at the College.
  2. Future Faculty Development: HHMI postdoctoral fellowships run for two years and are designed to train faculty in the arts of both teaching and research. Fellows conduct original research under the mentorship of a faculty member while also obtaining faculty mentored experience in the art of teaching. Through a series weekly meetings, educators from the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning will guide the Fellows' development as teachers of science.
  3. Currriculum Development: An interdisciplinary science course taught by professors in different science departments has been developed.  This course represents a major change in the manner in which Dartmouth assigns science teaching duties. The course, entitle "The Biophysical Chemistry of Biological Motors and Their Filament Tracks" is taught in the fall by Chemistry Professor Kull, and Biological Sciences Professor Sloboda. The course integrates the quantitative aspects of chemistry into the study of biological processes and introduces imaging and subcellular morphology and relates it to chemical composition.
  4. Outreach: Dartmouth faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduate students work collaboratively with the Montshire Museum of Science (Norwich, VT) and the Rivendell School District (Fairlee, VT and Orford, NH) to conduct an in-school "Science Camp" for a half day on seven consecutive Wednesdays in January and February each year.
  5. In conjunction with colleagues in the Chemistry Department, we have developed a new course designed to enhance the retention of students as science majors. We have redesigned our respective introductory courses to accomplish two goals: better prepare students for upper level work in both disciplines and retain more students in these fields. Currently, students enter the Chemistry major by taking Chem 5 and 6, a two-term sequence in basic inorganic chemistry (also required of Biology majors). Students enter the Biology major by completing Biol 11, which allows them entry to foundation level courses in cell biology, genetics, etc. The new course we have developed is a two-term sequence that integrates the quantitative and mathematical aspects of Chem 5 into Biol 11, allowing us to illustrate chemical principles with topics based in the biology of the everyday lives of students. The class meets 2x/wk for two hours, and once for one hour. Each two-hour class includes an hour of chemistry and an hour of the relevant biology. The one hour class periods are used for weekly quizzes, review sessions, and peer review of writing assignments. For on-going assessment each class employs pencasts of the chemistry material coupled to a brief on-line quiz prior to class, the use of clickers during class, and review of podcasts of the biology material after class. Also, students attend weekly study groups and study halls led by science majors as peer instructors. The study halls are two-hour sessions where students drop in to receive assistance with weekly problem sets. Finally, a lab section provides the opportunity for inquiry-based learning of material relevant to class. Students learn and use analytical techniques to identify proteins in a mixture of unknowns, isolate their own DNA and analyze sequences relevant to their own experiences (lactose intolerance, taste receptors for bitter and sweet, hair pigmentation), and use bomb calorimeters to calculate the energy in items students bring to lab. Our data suggest that ultimately, success in Chem 6 is key to moving on in the sciences. Thus, we are assessing the rate of election, the performance, and the retention in Chem 6 of students who took this new, two-term sequence compared to students who chose the traditional route of Chem 5 as the entry point into Chem 6. The syllabus for the current offering of Biol/Chem 8 is available here, and the syllabus for the past offering of Biol/Chem 9 is here.

*More information about HHMI can be found at www.hhmi.org/about


Prof. Roger Sloboda
Program Director
Biological Sciences
222 LSC

Dean Margaret Funnell
Assistant Dean of the Faculty for Undergraduate Research
Parker House

Nancy Serrell
Director of Outreach
339 Blunt

Program funded by:
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

and administered by:
Dartmouth College

Last modified: Thu, Apr 17, 2014
Site design by: Kathryn Sloboda