UCLA science profs awarded $1 million Howard Hughes Medical Institute grants

Two UCLA professors are among 20 professors nationally to be awarded $1 million grants by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to creatively improve undergraduate science teaching.

UCLA's new "HHMI Professors" are Utpal Banerjee and Robert B. Goldberg, both professors in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology.

UCLA is the only university in the United States to have more than one professor selected for this honor.

HHMI challenged professors to "show the same ingenuity in undergraduate teaching" as they do in scientific research, and this week announced those who met their challenge.

Goldberg will create a novel program to teach undergraduates about the "excitement of discovery," the process by which science is conducted, and how advances in biology are rapidly transforming our lives.

"One of my goals," Goldberg said, "is to show undergraduates how research is carried out, how scientists are just like 'the rest of us,' how much effort, imagination and creativity go into experimental thought, and how much fun science is."

Goldberg will combine an interactive course, "Genetic Engineering in Medicine, Agriculture and Law," with a cutting-edge laboratory experience that will use state-of-the-science genomic technologies to uncover significant genes. The course will teach students how to think critically about experimental science and societal issues raised by emerging new genetic technologies.

"Students will emerge from the course with a conceptual background in what genes are, how they work, how genes are manipulated, and how advances in gene technology are transforming society," said Goldberg, who is also co-director of the Seed Institute.

Undergraduates in his course will be organized into teams that will carry out original research concerning which genes control the earliest stages of seed development.

"I anticipate that many new clues will be uncovered about the ge

Contact: Stuart Wolpert
University of California - Los Angeles

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