Howard Hughes Medical Institute Selects Queensborough Community College as the First Community College in the Country to Become an Associate Memeber of its Science Education Alliance Research Initiative

December 21, 2009 | Queensborough Community College

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), renowned for its powerful role in advancing biomedical research and science education, has selected Queensborough Community College of The City University of New York (CUNY), to be the first community college in the country to become an associate member of its Science Education Alliance (SEA), a major HHMI research initiative. The Alliance, created in 2007, currently has 24 colleges and universities participating in a national experiment to change the future of undergraduate science education. Queensborough is one of 12 new members –and four new associate members–chosen through a competitive application process, to join SEA and engage students in scientific discovery on a national scale. As part of the Alliance, students will approach scientific work in a novel, creative and direct manner.

“This is a life-changing step in the development of our science students,” said Patricia Schneider, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, and Project Director. “The scientific experiment is a natural extension of curriculum innovations and research opportunities in biology that have been offered for years at Queensborough.”

Indeed, the National Institutes of Health Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program, has been in place at Queensborough since 2002, aiming to increase the number of underrepresented, minority students who transfer to senior colleges to further their study in science and/or biomedicine. Also, through the Minority Science Engineering Improvement Program (MISEIP), the Department has upgraded its equipment with purchased state-of-the-art technology such as digital microscopes, allowing for real-time, interactive learning.

Dr. Schneider, along with Raji Subramaniam, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, will work collaboratively with a cohort of 20 Queensborough students beginning in the fall of 2010 on the first SEA program, the National Genomics Research Initiative. The two-part, year-long course will replace the traditional introductory biology laboratory class. Queensborough students will be making real discoveries, identifying and naming unique bacterial viruses, extracting DNA, and using bioinformatics tools to analyze and annotate genomes.  HHMI will provide faculty training, as well as curriculum and support materials. Students will present their findings both at Queensborough and at an annual symposium at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute headquarters, located in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

“As a biologist, I know how crucial it is for students to engage in authentic, innovative research,” said Eduardo J. Martí, Ph.D., President of Queensborough Community College. “I am very pleased that the Alliance understands the vital importance of science education and honored that the Howard Hughes Medical Institute recognizes that Queensborough’s achievements in undergraduate research are at the level of a private, four-year institution.”

“Beyond the opportunities for students to be involved in authentic discovery, a real strength of the SEA is the partnership of the member schools,” said Peter J. Burns, Ph.D., HHMI’s Vice President for Grants and Special Programs. “The faculty members are helping each other and the communication among them is really important. That sharing of resources and ideas is a novel and exciting development.”

Queensborough Community College, a College of The City University of New York, has embarked on a banner academic year with the celebration of its 50th Anniversary, the launch of the Freshman Academies and the opening of the new Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center. Queensborough, located on a picturesque 37-acre site in Bayside, Queens, offers a rich liberal arts and science curriculum, as well as career and pre-professional courses. Over half of the faculty holds doctorates compared with 21% of faculty in other community colleges nationwide. Comprising one of the most diverse populations of any college in the U.S., nearly 15,000 students pursue an Associate degree or Certificate program and another 10,000 students of all ages attend continuing education programs. Among the campus’s prized supplemental educational resources are the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center, the QCC Art Gallery, and the Queensborough Performing Arts Center (QPAC), created to stimulate ideas and intellectual curiosity while exposing students and the public to culture and the arts. Please visit our website at qcc.cuny.edu.

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