NSF Awards Nearly $1.7 Million to CUR to Create Research-based Curricula

A grant of approximately $1.7 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) will support a five-year project to create cohesive, research-based curricula in biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology. Through CUR’s partnerships with Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research and 24 departments at 12 institutions, the project “Integrating and Scaffolding Research into Undergraduate STEM Curricula: Probing Faculty, Student, Disciplinary, and Institutional Pathways to Transformational Change” will examine the effect of student characteristics and disciplinary cultures on student learning, promote undergraduate participation in research, expand research options for undergraduates, and build curricular models centered on inquiry.

Mitchell R. Malachowski, professor of chemistry at the University of San Diego, a co-principal investigator for the grant, and a 2014 CUR Fellow, commented, “I am thrilled to be involved in this project that will have a tremendous impact on the curriculum in STEM areas at U.S. colleges and universities. For many years now, we have been working on assisting STEM departments at diverse institutions to embed undergraduate research into their culture and curricula. This project allows us to work with chemistry, physics, biology, and psychology departments to create models for twenty-first-century, research-based, undergraduate STEM education.”

Elizabeth Ambos, executive officer of CUR and principal investigator for the grant, said, “Through NSF’s support, CUR and its partners will be able to address critical gaps between undergraduate research and instructional strategies as we seek to foster student achievement and a deeper understanding of student experiences in diverse STEM curricula.”

Other co-principal investigators for the grant are Kerry K. Karukstis, 2012 CUR Fellow and Ray and Mary Ingwersen Professor of Chemistry and chair of chemistry at Harvey Mudd College; Jillian Kinzie, associate director of the IU Center for Postsecondary Research; and Jeffrey M. Osborn, a 2016 CUR Fellow, and dean of the School of Science and professor of biology at the College of New Jersey.

CUR will release a national Call for Pre-proposals in December 2016 for institutions interested in applying to participate in the project.


The Council on Undergraduate Research supports faculty development for high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship. More than 700 institutions and over 10,000 individuals belong to CUR. CUR believes that the best way to capture student interest and create enthusiasm for a discipline is through research in close collaboration with faculty members. The Center for Postsecondary Research (CPR), a research center of the Indiana University School of Education, promotes student success and institutional excellence by conducting and disseminating research on student access, assessment, engagement, and persistence and by assisting postsecondary institutions and related agencies in gathering and using data for educational decision making and institutional improvement.


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