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HHMI at Wilkes

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HHMI at Wilkes | Student Research | Curriculum Development | Faculty Development | Wilkes Outreach

What is HHMI?

HHMI is the nation’s largest private supporter of science education. One of the world's largest philanthropies, HHMI is a nonprofit medical research organization that employs hundreds of leading biomedical scientists working at the forefront of their fields.

Click here to read more about HHMI | See a video about HHMI


The prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute recognized Wilkes University as one of “the nation’s best undergraduate institutions” in awarding a $1 million grant to creatively engage students in biological sciences.

To accomplish this task:

  • New initiatives will be launched and two new faculty members will be hired to work at the interfaces of biology, physics and biology, and mathematics to better integrate these disciplines into the life sciences.

HHMI invited 224 of the country’s top colleges and universities to apply for the science education funding and awarded only 48 grants “to the nation’s best undergraduate institutions,” according to HHMI.

The institute conducts extensive assessments of candidate institutions before inviting them to submit proposals. HHMI examines the number of graduates from each institution over a 10-year period who were accepted to medical schools and doctoral programs in biology, chemistry, physics or mathematics. Wilkes has a 90 percent matriculation rate into many of these programs.

HHMI and Wilkes University

“This grant recognizes the outstanding biology education Wilkes already offers, and it will help transform how biologists are prepared for careers in medicine and the sciences and the emerging challenges in these fields,” said Michael Steele, chair of biology at Wilkes University and primary author of the grant.

“This award raises the prestige of the entire university and will greatly enhance the sciences, further increasing the importance of our plans to build a new science building,” said President Tim Gilmour.
“Just being selected to apply for this grant distinguishes Wilkes for its outstanding programs,” said Provost Reynold Verret. “The grant will help us achieve our strategic goal to be among the top 100 undergraduate science programs in the country.”
The grant will also be used to:

  • Expand the already extensive research opportunities for undergraduates
  • Strengthen quantitative/computational skills of biology majors with a new distribution requirement
  • Offer upper-level seminar courses in sub-disciplines focused on new research
  • Hire four post-doctoral fellows over the course of the grant to teach and conduct research with undergraduates
  • Fund additional summer research stipends for students, plus travel for students and faculty
  • Expand the Women Empowered by Science (WEBS) program for middle-school-aged girls with a full-year after- school program and a two-week summer camp
  • Develop a pipeline for Latino girls from northeastern Pennsylvania interested in pursuing science careers

To learn more about the grant and view the complete list of invitees and grant recipients, visit the HHMI Web site: http://www.hhmi.org/news/college20080422.html.

Grant Contacts at Wilkes University

HHMI Program Director:

Michael A. Steele, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Biology, phone (570-408-4763)

HHMI-WEBS Director:     
Debra Chapman, Education Specialist, Biology, phone (570-408-4753).
Wilkes-HHMI Website


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