Binghamton University Wins $1.2 Million Grant in Nationwide Competition

Released: 29-May-2014 10:35 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Binghamton University, State University of New York
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Newswise — BINGHAMTON, NY – Binghamton University has won a highly competitive grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which challenged the nation’s research universities to develop effective strategies to attract and retain students in science disciplines, including those from underrepresented groups. Of 170 institutions that applied, only 37 grants were awarded.

Binghamton will use its $1.2 million, five-year grant to help launch and sustain its Freshman Research Immersion (FRI) program.

“This award will help Binghamton provide first-year students with a year-long, authentic research experience in sciences and engineering,” President Harvey Stenger said. "We appreciate the support from HHMI and the confidence that it has in Binghamton, which reflects the very high quality of our research programs.”

The FRI will initially channel 90 students in three research streams beginning in fall 2014: biofilms (microbial communities that create films on surfaces and are problematic in healthcare and industry); neuroscience (neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s); and smart energy (generating and storing energy in more sustainable ways), with about 30 students per stream.

“Our goal is to have at least 10 research streams established within five years, supporting more than 300 freshmen annually, with another 200 students in a summer immersion program,” said Nancy Stamp, professor of biological sciences and director of the program. “This grant will allow us to hire research assistant professors to oversee the research stream laboratories where these young students will conduct research.”

According to the Higher Education Research Institute of UCLA, 60 percent of all undergraduates who begin college intending to major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) do not complete a STEM baccalaureate degree, and that number rises to 80 percent for freshmen from underrepresented groups.

Binghamton’s FRI has been developed to better engage STEM students through cutting-edge research experiences alongside faculty and fellow students early in their college years.

Each of Binghamton’s FRI research streams will include three to six research faculty designing the stream courses, themes and goals. Three additional streams will be added in fall 2015, and another three in fall 2016, to include biochemistry, biogeochemistry, biomedical engineering, molecular anthropology and image-and-acoustic-signals analysis (combining computer science with electrical engineering and mechanical engineering).

Since 1988, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded more than $935 million in grants to 274 public and private colleges and universities to support science education in the United States, some aimed at undergraduate-focused institutions and others at research universities.

Binghamton University has garnered awards in both arenas. Most recently, in 2010, Binghamton received a $1.4 million, four-year HHMI grant that has funded undergraduate interdisciplinary research opportunities focused on solving problems in the life sciences.

For more information about Binghamton University’s Freshman Research Immersion program, visit http://www2.binghamton.edu/fri/.

For more information on the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, visit www.hhmi.org.


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