Proposals exploring the potential in science outreach as well as the intriguing promise of genomics and biodiversity are among those selected for grants through Texas A&M University's new Tier One Program (TOP) to help students expand their learning experiences.

Eleven proposals from the university's academic colleges were selected to receive funding and are expected to serve more than 4,000 students per year. Projects selected for funding are chosen to inspire students to commit to a lifetime of learning, as well as to prepare them to solve problems that are not yet imagined, say TOP committee officials.

"The TOP program is possible due to the budget reallocation, which granted the program $1 million in recurring funding," said Antonio Cepeda-Benito, dean of faculties and associate provost. "That money is going to improve and expand the education experience of undergraduate and post-graduate students. Additionally, the program takes full advantage of the faculty and resources of our Tier One research university, which gives our students both a competitive edge and a unique experience that couldn't be provided at other universities."

TOP grants -- which are awarded for up to three years -- help fund interdisciplinary education programs that integrate emerging scholarly work with experiential and high impact learning practices into curricular offerings for students at Texas A&M, officials note. In order to qualify for a grant, each proposal must be a joint effort between faculty members of two or more academic colleges. Additionally, the resulting learning activity must be available to more than 100 undergraduate or 50 post-graduate students.

The range of disciplines and learning opportunities within selected proposals is wide, as is the anticipated effect. For example, one led by the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Aerospace Engineering will enhance the learning and research experiences of undergraduate and graduate students in science and engineering through their participation in high-profile outreach activities, including the annual Physics and Engineering Festival.

Several faculty from the Department of Biology and Department of Chemistry are involved in another winning proposal, the Aggie Undergraduate Genomics Corps (AUGC), which will create a sustainable community of undergraduate scholars interested in the life sciences and provide specialized training in cutting-edge bioinformatics, computational genomics and enhanced research experiences.

Additional College of Science faculty are participating in the Applied Biodiversity Science Program, a National Science Foundation-funded project spanning five colleges and 11 departments in its effort to understand and solve the challenges of biodiversity conservation.

Abstracts for the 11 winning proposals as well as all that were submitted can be found on the Dean of Faculties website.


Contact: Krista Smith, News & Information Services, (979) 845-4645

Krista Smith

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