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Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program Expands to Become National Open to colleges and universities throughout the United States
Washington, DC (July 10, 2000)—The Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program (USRP) will be expanded to a national competitive awards program available throughout the United States. The primary purpose of the program, which is funded by The Merck Company Foundation and administered by AAAS, is to support interdisciplinary research experiences for undergraduate students in chemistry and biology. The expansion will begin in 2001 and continue through 2009.
The program is currently available in 12 northeastern / mid-Atlantic states, but with the expansion will be available throughout the United States with the next competition. Up to 15 new awards will be made each year from 2001 through 2009. Each award will provide $20,000 per year for up to three years, and is intended for joint use by the biology and chemistry departments at the college or university receiving the award.
"By taking the program to the national level, we hope to support more interdisciplinary research by students in chemistry and biology and encourage students to pursue graduate education and careers in these fields," said Shirley Malcom, director of Education and Human Resources at AAAS. "Itís important that we build bridges between these two fields of science and encourage scientific advancement in those areas."
Specifically, the program is designed to encourage graduate education in the sciences through undergraduate research experiences that forge interdisciplinary relationships between biology and chemistry. The awards also support symposia, lecture series and workshops designed to bridge the chemical and biological sciences.
The program was launched in 1993 to promote undergraduate research experiences at the interface of chemistry and biology. The program emphasizes student engagement in research across disciplinary boundaries, which is a reality in the pharmaceutical industry.
The program also recognizes that partnerships in education between industry and academia can be mutually beneficial. During the course of the award, Merck representatives visit award recipient institutions to meet with students to learn about their research and related interests, and to become acquainted with the departmental facilities and faculty and their approaches to science education and training. Students from award recipient institutions are also invited to apply for research internships at Merck.
"The chance to do research as an undergraduate can be the single most defining event in a scientist's life, introducing the nascent scientist to the thrill of discovery," according to Bennett Shapiro, MD, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Licensing and External Research at the Merck Research Laboratories. "Since liberal arts colleges have played such a key role in developing scientific leaders, Merck is delighted to engage in this partnership with the AAAS to affirm the value of undergraduate research experiences in the life sciences."
Public and private colleges and universities must meet certain criteria to compete. They must be located in the United States, offer an American Chemical Society-approved program in chemistry and confer 10 or fewer graduate degrees annually in biology and chemistry combined.
Applications for the Merck / AAAS awards are reviewed and rated by a panel of scientists and educators chosen by AAAS. The panel recommends award selections to The Merck Company Foundation. Criteria include the ability to provide undergraduate opportunities with faculty members in an interdisciplinary research program that demonstrates the relationship between biology and chemistry. A portion of the grant supports related programs and activities to enhance inter-departmental interactions and encourage cross-fertilization between biology and chemistry.
The application deadline for the 2001-2003 awards is November 10, 2000. Winners of the 2001 awards will be announced by Merck and AAAS in February 2001coincident with the AAAS Annual Meeting. Winners of the 2000-2002 awards include: Smith College; The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia; Amherst College; Purchase College, State University of New York; Hamilton College; Colgate University; Lycoming College; Merrimack College; The University of Richmond; Fairfield University; Manhattan College; Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Salisbury State University; Hofstra University; and Muhlenberg College.
The Merck Company Foundation is a U.S.-based private, charitable foundation. Established in 1957 by Merck & Co., Inc., the foundation is funded entirely by the company and is Merckís chief source of funding support to qualified non-profit, charitable organizations. The mission of the foundation is to advance biomedical science training and education and to improve health care worldwide. Since its inception, more than $225 million have been contributed by the foundation to support biomedical education and health care as well as social service, arts and cultural, civic, environmental, and other non-profit organizations.
AAAS, the world's largest federation of scientists, works to advance science for human well-being through its projects, programs and publications. With more than 138,000 members and 275 affiliated societies, AAAS conducts many programs in the areas of science policy, science education and international scientific cooperation. AAAS publishes the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Science, as well as a number of electronic features on the World Wide Web.
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