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2003 Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars Awardees

May 1, 2003


David P. Billington is the Gordon Y.S. Wu professor at Princeton University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Billington intends to develop teaching materials for beginning engineering students and the general student body that introduce students to major engineering innovations of the 20th Century, and the thinking of outstanding engineers, and demands visual understanding, numerical work and expository writing, in order to demonstrate that efficiency, economy and ethical and aesthetic choices are all intrinsic to engineering design.

Daniel J. Klionsky is a professor at the University of Michigan's Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, and professor of Biological Chemistry in its medical school. Klionsky aims to reform the introductory biology curriculum at the university by adapting techniques used by smaller colleges, including strategies that implement group learning exercises in lecture settings. His goal is to transform lectures from vehicles for delivering information to interactive discussions of the ideas, principles and problem-solving, which are the essence of science.

Mary Lee S. Ledbetter, a professor with the College of the Holy Cross's biology department, will expand research opportunities for undergraduate students in genomics and bioinformatics, mentor a post-doctoral fellow in the supervision of undergraduate research and the development of undergraduate courses, and mentor undergraduates in communicating the excitement of their research projects to local secondary and elementary school students.

Chris Rogers, a professor with Tufts University's Department of Mechanical Engineering, intends to investigate how students at all levels learn engineering. Desiring to teach through research, Rogers is providing hardware and software tools he has developed that allow students to predict, investigate, test and better understand mathematics and science. Rogers hopes to increase the engineering literacy of all college graduates and bridge the gap between engineering and liberal arts courses by fostering collaborations with institutions interested in using open-ended research problems to increase the effectiveness of teaching and learning.

Henry L. Shipman, the Annie Jump Cannon Professor at the University of Delaware's Department of Physics and Astronomy, will lead K-12 teachers, and undergraduate and graduate students in the development of an extensive set of hands-on, problem-based learning exercises that incorporate current research (mostly in astronomy). The modules will be suitable for use in a general science course for nonscientists or in the standard introductory astronomy course.

Lee Spector, Dean of the School of Cognitive Science and an associate professor of Computer Science at Hampshire College, intends to develop software that will provide a laboratory environment of research opportunities for fields ranging from evolutionary biology to optimization theory. The software would both simulate evolutionary processes, and evolve and improve itself, based on Darwinian principles. The project integrates research with teaching by providing a research-grade laboratory environment that can also be used in inquiry-based science education, and by developing and implementing courses in which students use this laboratory for research.

See also: NSF PR 03-48


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Manny Van Pelt, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

Program Contacts
Herbert Levitan, NSF, (703) 292-4627, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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