Our research focuses on defining and assessing how large research universities such as Harvard can more effectively foster new generations of scientists as well as science-literate citizens. Undergraduate education in the life sciences at Harvard has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years. Life sciences education now encompasses collaboration between seven departments: Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Human Evolutionary Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Psychology, Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, and Biomedical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Noteworthy results of this collaboration include a novel, interdisciplinary set of foundation courses and a coordinated cluster of undergraduate concentrations that allows students to develop their interests in coherent areas of inquiry within the life sciences.
Our research on the knowledge, habits of mind, and skill-sets that we hope to foster in students is organized around three critical facets of 21st century science. We believe that in addition to the role of Researcher, every good scientist also assumes the additional roles of Educator and Citizen. Too often these roles are viewed as competing with one another. We believe this is entirely unwarranted and that developing ways to promote synergy between the three roles is an essential part of training future scientists. To this end, our group seeks to develop and assess new methods to foster all three roles that together define a worthwhile life in science.
To foster future scientists as Researchers, our current projects focus on new hands-on opportunities for undergraduates that include interdisciplinary connections between fields. In addition, we continue to develop novel multimedia tools that enable students to more rigorously interrogate models as they combine data from different experimental approaches.
To foster future scientists as Educators, our current projects focus on ways to make teaching and mentoring a more integral part of how we train graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
To foster future scientists as Citizens, we are developing mechanisms for supporting the involvement of faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows in a range of science outreach activities. Current projects focus on ways to motivate and retain high school teachers, and to sustain long-term mentoring relationships with the children of neighboring communities.