Kondev receives $1M grant to enhance undergrad research
The grant strengthens Brandeis' commitment to interdisciplinary research
Physics professor Jané Kondev wants to bolster interdisciplinary undergraduate research at Brandeis University, and The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded him $1 million to do it.
The grant is part of the prestigious and highly competitive HHMI Professor program, which funds a small group of research scientists who are making science more engaging for undergraduate students. Kondev is among 15 leading scientist-educators who will receive $1 million over five years to create activities that integrate research with undergraduate education.
Kondev is Brandeis' second so-called "million dollar professor." Irving R. Epstein, the Henry F. Fischbach Professor of Chemistry, won the grant in 2006 and used the funds to start the Science Posse Program.
Kondev’s goal is to create an interdisciplinary undergraduate research community on campus that promotes cross-departmental collaborations among students.
“Interdisciplinary science is a core strength at Brandeis,” Kondev says. “We want to use that strength and excitement to provide undergraduates with research experiences that make them feel like a part of a larger scientific community.”
In that community, undergraduates will work with graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty to develop interdisciplinary research projects, and take classes that highlight the connections between fields rather than the differences.
“It’s important in an undergraduate education that students see how physics and math is relevant to biology and chemistry,” Kondev says.
The HHMI funding will also provide opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows interested in working in higher education to improve teaching skills, learn to direct undergraduate research projects and gain experience in the classroom.
“Brandeis has a fantastic reputation for interdisciplinary science,” says Kondev, who frequently collaborates with faculty in the biology and biochemistry departments. “We want undergraduate students to feel the excitement of doing this kind of research.”
HHMI is a nonprofit medical research organization that ranks as one of the nation's largest philanthropies and plays a powerful role in advancing biomedical research and science education in the United States.