on Funding Strategies for Scientists
Who Combine Research and Teaching:
Integration of Research and Education
September 13, 1996
Mary M. Allen and George M. Langford, Members BIO
The Workshop at Wellesley was attended by faculty and administrators
from 12 New England universities and colleges including Bates,
Williams, Wellesley, Mt. Holyoke, Trinity, Colby, Dartmouth, Harvard,
Smith, Yale, and Middlebury (see attached list of participants).
The purpose of the workshop was to provide feedback to the NSF
on ways to enhance the integration of research and teaching in
the Biological Sciences. The discussion focused on the role of
faculty at liberal arts institutions who have historically combined
research and teaching.
The following set of questions was used to facilitate the dialogue
but not to limit the range of issues considered by the group.
- How can undergraduate and graduate education be better integrated
with research? What does this integration mean? How can support
for research at colleges and universities be leveraged to improve
undergraduate and graduate education? How can a balance between
research and teaching be achieved?
- How can diminishing funds at the private, state and federal
levels be leveraged to keep the biological sciences enterprise
in the United States outstanding? What will be the major needs
of the colleges and universities over the next 10 years?
- How can faculty best be supported to maintain their scientific
productivity while becoming better educators? How might the
merit review system incorporate teaching accomplishments in the
evaluation process of research proposals?
- What are the best ways to utilize faculty resources in a time
of limited research funding? Some possibilities might be consortium/cooperative
grants; longer term awards; grants that require non-federal
- What emphasis should be placed on mechanisms to improve US-international
cooperation? What should these mechanisms be?
The Workshop began with an opening session that included an introduction
to the goals of the workshop by Dr. Mary Allen and background information
by Dr. Thomas Brady on the activities at the NSF and in Washington.
These presentations were followed by discussions of representative
models of how scientists integrate research and education. Then
the attendees were divided into four breakout groups. Each group
was asked to consider the questions listed on the Workshop handout
and to generate a list of recommendations to be communicated to
the NSF in the report from the workshop.
The attendees reassembled,
the recommendations of each breakout group were discussed and
a final list of recommendations was prepared. A lively and informed
discussion occurred among the participants. All participants
were impressed with the level of agreement on the issues that face
the faculty at the institutions represented at the workshop. There
was near unanimity on several of the important issues.
- The faculty at liberal arts colleges and universities like the
ones represented at this workshop currently do an excellent job
integrating education and research. Therefore, they are models
for the nation on how to successfully integrate research and education.
Several innovative programs, including the one-on-one mentoring
or internship/apprenticeship programs, are ongoing at these institutions
and are very successful at training students to perform original
research. These students are the primary candidates for the best
graduate programs in the country and therefore represent our future
- The workshop attendees were unanimous in the opinion that the
role of faculty as trainers of the next generation of scientists
is under-appreciated and uncompensated. This valuable service
is neither used as a primary criterion for obtaining an NSF grant/faculty
promotion nor counted as percent effort on research activities/teaching
load, and NSF grants do not compensate faculty for the time
spent on this research-related activity. The faculty participants
felt very strongly that they wish to continue training undergraduates
in the research laboratory but the system must change to support
this activity in the same way that research is supported.
- Research and Training Application
We recommend that the NSF modify the proposal application to include
two components; a research component plus a training component.
These components should be written as two co-equal parts and
each should be scored to arrive at an overall rating of the
proposal. In other words, the proposal should combine the elements of an
NSF research proposal and a training proposal. As part of the
training component, the PI should describe in detail the program
for training undergraduate and pre-doctoral students in the
lab, the number of students to be trained and related activities/special
programs in which the trainees may be engaged. In addition,
the PI should request a stipend or percent of salary to compensate
for his/her time devoted to both the research and the training
activities. The PI should also provide information on the number
of student contact hours per week.
- Measures of Productivity
Productivity of scientists who integrate research and education
is an issue that needs serious attention. Productivity should
reflect training activities and should be computed as a factor
that is adjusted for the size of the professional research
personnel/staff in the lab and the number of trainees in
the lab. For example, the number of publications during the
period of an award should be divided by the number of Ph.D.
level scientists in the lab and multiplied by the number
of trainees in the lab. The NSF application should request
information needed to determine this index of productivity.
The number of contact hours for the PI should be listed also
as an index of classroom teaching and faculty should not
be penalized for carrying a standard teaching load as specified
by his/her institution. In other words, scientists should
be expected to teach students in the classroom as well as
perform research and sponsor trainees in the research lab.
Reviewers should be informed to consider teaching as an asset
rather than a liability for research scientists.
- Research Mentors Program
We recommend the initiation of a Research Mentors Program,
building on the success that small liberal arts colleges
have in preparing students for Ph.D.-level research. These
grants, for up to three years, should be restricted to no
more than $100,000 dollars. The funds would be available
to researchers who significantly involved undergraduates
in research. Funds would be available for student supplies
or summer stipends and for training postdoctoral fellows
how to teach. It should be a requirement that the host institution
charge overhead at the training grant rate, reflecting the
instruction of undergraduates.
- Science Literacy Across the Curriculum
Science literacy across the curriculum in an important objective,
however, the BIO Directorate should not redirect its research
dollars for activities more appropriately done by EHR and DUE.
- Service-Based Learning
Service based-learning projects provide a unique opportunity
for training groups of undergraduates in the methodologies
of research. However, the funding for these activities should
be obtained from local businesses, municipal and state agencies
or through EHR and DUE but not through the research Directorate.
- Research and Training Models
NSF models that work well currently include the REU program.
REU site block grants provide an intensive research training
opportunity for students. We recommend that NSF provide a
percentage of salary to faculty. These funds may reduce the
number of students trained at each site.
- Faculty Support
We recommend that the NSF think creatively about these and
other ways to support faculty who train students in research
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