Allegheny College Awarded $529,500 Grant by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute To Increase Inclusivity, Address Opportunity Gaps in STEM Fields

Allegheny College has received a grant of $529,500 from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) through the Science Education Program’s Inclusive Excellence Initiative. The grant will support the development of a more inclusive STEM curriculum, with the goal of ensuring that all students feel they belong and can be successful in STEM fields.

“This generous grant from HHMI reflects and will further strengthen Allegheny’s longstanding commitment to creating an inclusive, empowering environment for students from a wide range of backgrounds,” said Allegheny President Ron Cole, Ph.D. “We’re excited to be at the forefront of this important work and to enhance access for students to STEM learning with our distinctive, multidisciplinary approach to solving important societal problems.”

The HHMI grant will support efforts designed to foster equity in students’ experiences and outcomes in STEM disciplines at Allegheny. In particular, the grant-funded initiative will focus on making the content of the introductory science experience more inclusive.

Allegheny faculty in the natural sciences and mathematics will establish multidisciplinary teaching teams that span introductory STEM courses that students typically take during the same semester. Those faculty will collaborate to identify shared content and concepts in their courses, and then they will devise teaching strategies to highlight the interconnectedness of their disciplines and increase students’ success in both courses.

“Collaboration and ongoing improvement are at the heart of these important, impactful initiatives that are funded by HHMI,” said Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Tim Chapp, Ph.D., who is serving as the project director for this grant-funded initiative at Allegheny. “This program is a remarkable opportunity for Allegheny and other institutions to address opportunity gaps for students who have been historically underrepresented in STEM, including students of color, first-generation college students, women, and students from low-income families.”

Colleges and universities selected for the grant are divided into seven Learning Community Clusters (LCCs), with approximately 15 institutions belonging to each LCC. The grant will enable Allegheny to partner on a six-year effort with other schools in Learning Community Cluster 3. The cluster aims to shift institutions from deficit- to achievement-oriented thinking and practices through five overlapping areas of activity: continuing education, inclusive curricula, student empowerment, inclusive collaboration, and broader approaches to institutional transformation.

Other institutions in Learning Community Cluster 3 include Auburn University at Montgomery, California State University East Bay (CSUEB), College of the Holy Cross, Emmanuel College, Hartwick College, Mount Holyoke College, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Rollins College, St. John’s University, The University of Akron, University of Kansas, University of Virginia, and Vanderbilt University. In addition to Chapp, the Allegheny IE3 team is composed of faculty from biology, chemistry and physics, including Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Ivelitza Garcia, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology and Biochemistry Brad Hersh, Ph.D., Professor of Physics Dan Willey, Ph.D., and Associate Professor of Biology and Geology Lisa Whitenack, Ph.D.

The grant will also support workshops and professional development opportunities for Allegheny faculty and students in partnership with other institutions and the college’s director of faculty and development and dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The HHMI grant will build on other initiatives at Allegheny to support students’ sense of belonging and success in STEM fields. In September 2021, Allegheny was awarded a grant of $1,400,294 from the National Science Foundation through the S-STEM (Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program. The grant is providing scholarships and programmatic support for academic and co-curricular mentoring to 24 academically talented low-income students.

About HHMI

HHMI is the largest private biomedical research institution in the nation. Our scientists make discoveries that advance human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. We also invest in transforming science education into a creative, inclusive endeavor that reflects the excitement of research. HHMI’s headquarters are located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

About Allegheny College

Allegheny College, founded in 1815, is one of the nation’s oldest and most innovative four-year colleges where multidisciplinary learning breaks the conventional mold. It is one of the few colleges in the United States with a unique requirement to choose both a major and minor for graduation, to provide students with a cross-disciplinary path in the sciences and humanities for educational depth and intellectual growth. Located in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Allegheny College is one of 44 colleges featured in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives.” In its 2022 rankings, U.S. News & World Report recognized Allegheny College as one of the country’s top 100 national liberal arts colleges — and one of the top 25 best for undergraduate teaching.