Hughes Science Pipeline Project at Barnard


Program Overview

Supported by six consecutive HHMI awards (1991, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012), the Hughes Science Pipeline Project (HSPP) at Barnard was conceived as a cohesive initiative of interlocking programs that serve an overarching objective: to increase the number of students, especially women and underrepresented minorities, who pursue graduate degrees and careers in the natural sciences and the health-related professions. To achieve these goals, the HSPP has targeted students and instructional methods at multiple stages of the science pipeline—from elementary and middle schools to community college students transitioning to four-year institutions and students enrolled at Barnard College. The programs for Barnard students include a pre-matriculation summer program for economically and educationally disadvantaged students; special seminars for first- and second-year students enrolled in introductory courses; the introduction of rigorous statistical analyses and modeling in introductory and advanced biology labs; the development of new courses in biology; a new functional genomics curriculum (focusing on Manduca, the tobacco hornworm) that spans four laboratory courses; and year-long research internships for students at every stage of their Barnard career. Many students participate in multiple offerings of the HSPP.

Over the past twenty-four years, the HSPP has transformed the culture of science at Barnard. In addition to providing opportunities for an increased number of students to participate in authentic research in both course-based experiences and year-long internships, HHMI's support allows research interns to present their research at annual Student Research Symposia, poster sessions at open houses for admitted students, and at regional and national scientific meetings. Many research interns also co-author papers published in scientific journals. The Intercollegiate Partnership (ICP) brings students from LaGuardia Community College to campus for a summer program, academic year courses, and summer research. This aspect of the HSPP prepares these students for their transfer to four-year institutions, while providing numerous science-based opportunities for both Barnard students and LaGuardia students—groups that, on the whole, come from rather different cultural and educational backgrounds—to interact closely with each other.

The activities launched and developed with support from HHMI have increased institutional awareness of the importance of science education and spurred the acquisition of additional funding from other sources for expanded programming. As one example, an invitation to apply for foundation support stimulated the college to establish the Summer Research Institute (SRI), which builds upon the Summer Research Internship program of the HSPP. With this grant plus increased institutional support and new endowment donations designated for the SRI, Barnard now offers summer internships in science (both on-campus and off-campus) to more than 120 students each summer. Participants attend workshops on topics ranging from laboratory safety to poster preparation and career development, as well as lectures by science faculty and networking events with alumnae working in the sciences. More than sixty student posters were presented at the SRI final event in July 2015.

Cross-Cutting Themes

Increasing Persistence of All Students in STEM

More about this theme Since its inception in 1992, the overarching goal of Barnard College's HSPP has been to encourage students to pursue additional study and develop a research career in basic and applied sciences. All of the pipeline programs are interconnected and designed to facilitate the students' progression toward these outcomes.

Developing Inquiry Skills

More about this theme To develop students' inquiry skills, the HSPP has supported a Research Apprenticeship Seminar that introduces first-year students to Barnard's science culture; a Research Methods Seminar that prepares sophomores for work in a research lab; the Manduca Functional Genomics Curriculum, which integrates five existing biology courses with student-defined experiments on the tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta); and a Biology Journal Club that introduces first-year students to the scientific literature. The biology and chemistry departments also have enhanced their laboratories with equipment, software, and user manuals to assist students in their research.

Fostering Interdisciplinary or Integrative Learning

More about this theme The Manduca Functional Genomics Curriculum provides students with a collective research experience that spans several sub-disciplines in biology, thus mirroring the work of professional research biologists. The project has been a resounding success: the goal of providing authentic research experiences to substantial numbers of undergraduates has been met and three manuscripts (with a large number of student co-authors) have been published.

Pathways to Institutional Change

More about this themeAlthough the natural sciences have always been a particular strength of Barnard College, the nearly quarter-century of continuous support from HHMI has allowed the faculty to solidify its offerings and broaden both the range of science offered to students and the pedagogical approaches that faculty employ. Supported by six consecutive HHMI awards (1991, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012), the Hughes Science Pipeline Project (HSPP) was conceptualized as a cohesive program of interrelated strategies that serve a singular objective: to increase the number of students, especially women and underrepresented minorities, who pursue graduate degrees and careers in the natural sciences and medicine. The HSPP's interlocking programs were initially organized around four overlapping components identified by HHMI in the early 1990s: student development, faculty development, curriculum development, and outreach. A committee of science department chairs and administrators has overseen the development and implementation of new programs in the HSPP with each new funding cycle. The HSPP has evolved organically over time as faculty and administrators have identified new needs and opportunities related to science education.

Funding Acknowledgment

Major funding for the Hughes Science Pipeline Project was provided by a succession of grants from the Undergraduate and Graduate Science Education Program of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Some programs were also supported by funds generously provided by the Altman Foundation, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Merck Foundation, the New York State Department of Education, a National Science Foundation Noyce grant, and the Wells Fargo Foundation.

      Next Page »