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Colby College in Waterville, Maine, received a four-year $800,000 award for undergraduate biological sciences education from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the nation’s largest private supporter of science education. Colby was among 53 colleges and universities who received one of the four-year grants. More than 200 schools applied.

The grant will support Colby’s commitment to the sciences in several ways, from purchasing laboratory instruments and computers to enhancing the science curriculum. The award will be used to fund student research assistantships, student attendance at national science meetings and on-campus programs on career opportunities in biology. The grant also will provide funding to hire an immunologist to expand Colby’s cell and molecular biology/biochemistry curriculum and will support the continuation of Colby’s successful science outreach program with local school systems.

HHMI’s latest undergraduate awards, totaling $50.3 million, are designed to help institutions that grant bachelor’s and master’s degrees respond to a recent surge in enrollments in the biological sciences as well as to rapid advances in molecular biology, genetics and related life sciences. HHMI grants enable colleges to expand and update laboratories, recruit new faculty members and provide research opportunities for undergraduates, including women and members of minority groups underrepresented in science.

HHMI’s grants program supports science education in the United States and a select group of researchers in other countries, complementing its principal mission: the conduct of research in cell biology, computational biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience and structural biology with its own scientific teams. Altogether, the Institute has awarded more than $850 million in grants, primarily to enhance science education from preschool through postdoctoral studies.