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Washington University's Sarah C. R. Elgin is one of 20 'million dollar professors'

St. Louis, Sept. 18, 2002-- Sarah C. R. Elgin, Ph.D., professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis, is one of 20 professors nationwide to receive $1 million over the next four years to bring the creativity she has shown in the lab to the undergraduate classroom.

"Research is advancing at a breathtaking pace, but many university students are still learning science the same old way, by listening to lectures, memorizing facts and doing cookbook lab experiments that thousands have done before," says HHMI President Thomas R. Cech. "We want to empower scientists at research universities to become more involved in breaking the mold and bringing the excitement of research to science education."

Cech is a biochemist who continued teaching undergraduates at the University of Colorado at Boulder even after he won a Nobel Prize. Teaching of undergraduates tends to be undervalued at research universities, notes Peter J. Bruns, vice president for grants and special programs at HHMI. "By rewarding great teaching and supporting a synergistic interaction between research and undergraduate education, we hope to sow seeds of a fundamental change in the culture of research universities. We want the HHMI Professors to demonstrate that active, productive scientists can be effective teachers too." Bruns, a leading geneticist from Cornell University, also taught undergraduates throughout his research career.

HHMI invited 84 research universities to nominate faculty members. A panel of scientists and educators reviewed 150 nominees' proposals and eventually selected 20 HHMI Professors at 19 universities in 13 states . All are tenured faculty members. They include nine women and three members of minority groups.

Some will focus on attracting more women and minorities into science; others want undergraduates to understand the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of science and its rapidly emerging new fields. Some will focus on providing early resea
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Contact: Tony Fitzpatrick
tony_fitzpatrick@aismail.wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
18-Sep-2002


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