Dear Alumni and Supporters,

This is an exciting time for the Department of Biology. This semester we embark on a search for a new Unit Head to lead the Department into the future. Our faculty have developed exciting new majors that showcase the strengths of our department as well as reflect the needs of employers, professional schools and the life science disciplines. We recently secured a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence grant to build professional development for faculty and staff around inclusive excellence, create the BioCommons, a dedicated space for biology students to work together with faculty to build community and inclusive practices, and to develop a course based research experience (CURE) for transfer students.  

As you know, our Department is a national leader in the use of large-scale CUREs in first-year biology curriculum. Every incoming freshman now experiences a two-semester BIO 140/150 CURE that focuses on DNA Barcoding.  We continue in our efforts to redesign our upper level courses to provide CUREs, as evidenced by a new 300-level bacterial discovery course, and the 200-level SeaPHAGE courses.   A major goal

of the faculty is to provide a larger percentage of our approximately 1000 biology majors with an  authentic lab or field research experience.  Each year we have approximately 270 students who receive course credit for their research with faculty, with additional students volunteering in these labs. 

Our continued success with these research experiences and CUREs are a source of pride, however we would like to provide a larger number of students with stipend-supported summer research opportunities. These summer opportunities provide undergraduates with an intensive 4-8 week research experience with a faculty member. These very often lead to student presentations at professional meetings as well as publications with student coauthors. Indeed, in 2017-18 we reported 90 presentations at state or national meetings with student coauthors and 5 publications. Unfortunately, many students must work in the summer and cannot participate in these valuable summer research opportunities. As part of our development of Inclusive Excellence in the department, our goal is to make more financial support available to all students for summer research.

While we are immensely grateful for the support of approximately 8 students per summer through the College of Science and Mathematics’s Bliss, Butler, Smith-Crabtree, Farrell, Fowler, and Tickle scholarships, we would welcome contributions to the Biology Fund (#14263) fund to assist in funding a greater number of our students in paid summer research. You can make a donation online here.  Instructions are given at the bottom of this website for giving by mail or phone. Please reference the "Biology Fund”.   If you wish to contribute towards an endowed scholarship, we would recommend the Smith-Crabtree scholarship which supports faculty-student pairs with stipends for summer research.  Please reference the “Faculty and Student Summer Research in Biology“ (#14312). 

If you have any questions about how your support could assist in developing the newest generation of life scientists, please do not hesitate to contact meThank you in advance for your support to increase the number of students doing summer research.

Sincerely,

Dr. Samantha C. Bates Prins

Interim Academic Unit Head, Department of Biology

Professor of Mathematics & Statistics

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