Initial Publication Date: April 1, 2016

Pathways to Institutional Change

1.The synergy between the HHMI-USE and the other STEM programs at Hunter helped lead to the provost applying for and being awarded an NSF-I-CUBED grant, which resulted in the creation of SciMON (Science Mathematics Opportunities Network), an innovative institutional initiative designed to enhance the research and mentoring programs available to students who study science and mathematics at CUNY Hunter College. The directors of the various programs for students in the sciences, a majority of them promoting help for students underrepresented in the sciences and math, have been meeting at least once per semester to familiarize each other with what they offer. A major outcome has been the introduction of a yearly two-day research conference at the college every spring at which students present posters or give ten-minute talks. Awards are given for best poster and best talk. A booklet with abstracts of the posters and talks, and the times for each poster and talk, provides the proceedings a professional aura. This has been institutionalized and is continuing after completion of the grant award.

2. A number of curricula initiatives have been created, many of them originating with HHMI-USE funding.
a. Bioinformatics concentration: The recruitment of a biology bioinformatics faculty member has led to his being instrumental in creating an interdisciplinary quantitative biology program consisting of four departments: biology, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics and statistics. Rather than creating a new department, students are able to major in their department of choice and are required to take specific courses in their department as well as certain biology courses The students receive a degree in their major with a concentration in bioinformatics. An NIH MARC Phase II grant provided major support for the program. The bioinformatics program was the first of its kind at the college and a model for how to develop a program with a number of departments participating.

b. Biophysics concentration: Collaboration between the biology and physics departments has led to a biophysics concentration, with students majoring in either biology or physics and taking specific courses in each department to qualify them for a concentration in biophysics as either biology or physics majors. This program is not presently offered because the biophysicist left Hunter and no one has replaced her yet.

c. Biotechnology concentration: This involves a BA/MA in biology with a concentration in biotechnology or an MA in biology with a concentration in biotechnology. A number of students receiving a BS in medical lab sciences are able to take an MA in biology with the biotechnology concentration.

d. Behavioral neurobiology: This is a recently created concentration resulting from a collaboration between the biology and psychology departments. Psychology has an excellent group of biopsychologists. Together with well established neurobiologists in biology, a very popular concentration is being offered.

e. Science policy: A science policy track in the public policy minor at Roosevelt House for undergraduates has been created. Biology majors take BIOL 250: Current Topics in the Biosciences as part of the program. (

f. Research Techniques Facility (RTF): The RTF Workbook has been developed into a course for biology majors, Manhattan Hunter Science High School students, and Noyes Biology Education undergraduates. The Noyes students take the course and then become teaching assistants for the high school students who take the course, the RTF Workshop, at the college. They receive credit for doing this in BIOL 460: Introduction to Planning and Teaching of Laboratory Work in Biology.

g. Biotechnology Workshop: A four-week workshop in biotechnology/molecular biology was developed from an HHMI-USE funded, four-week lab intensive summer program. A two-hour morning lecture is followed by a four- to five-hour laboratory session. Thus, In the morning, the students are given the theory behind what they will be doing in the afternoon. The course is taught every day except Friday. The students retain what they learn better in this type of format rather than in the fifteen-week, one lab per week format. Of necessity, the course is offered in January and in June. The course description follows.

BIOL 410 Biotechnology Workshop: A series of laboratory-intensive experimental projects, each lasting one week or more, which introduce current research techniques and include individual participation in planning and preparation of experiments. The focus is on a broad biotechnology topic such as the isolation, cloning and expression of a gene, utilizing the techniques of molecular genetics. This course satisfies the research requirement for graduation with departmental honors.

h. Laboratory Workshop in Biology Education: This course, offered every July, is required for the MA in Biology Education in the School of Education, and for biology teachers who receive a stipend for successfully completing the course, part of an HHMI-USE Outreach program. The course description follows.

BIOL 610.55: Laboratory Workshop in Biology Education A series of laboratory-intensive experimental projects, each lasting one week or more, which introduce current research techniques and include individual participation in planning, preparation, and analysis of experiments. The focus is on broad biotechnology topics such as the isolation, cloning, and expression of a gene, utilizing the techniques of molecular genetics, and how these topics may be applied to the high school science classroom, resulting in the development of a lesson plan.

i. Human Biology Program: The Human Biology Program is designed to provide students with the ability to analyze and address humanity in a multidisciplinary framework that includes behavioral, cultural, social, and biological approaches. The purpose of this program is to guide students toward an integrated view of humans through a wide array of courses in departments including anthropology, biological sciences, psychology, sociology, and urban public health. This integrated view is lacking in any single major or combination of major and minor currently offered. In addition, the program will provide excellent preparation for future studies in medicine and the allied health professions.

j. Chemistry 102 and 104, Introductory Chemistry Lecture for STEM majors is now taught in a flipped classroom format. The student is first exposed to new material outside of class, in the form of an online presentation—a video—by the instructor who would normally be lecturing in class. When the student attends class, the class time is used to apply the material in the form of problem-solving and discussion.

Summary of Program Development (Acrobat (PDF) 92kB Feb1 16)

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