The Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education (PULSE) program announced that it has selected Gita Bangera, Ph.D., assistant dean of the Science division and chair of the Life Sciences department at Bellevue College, to serve as a Vision and Change Leadership Fellow. She will work with 39 other fellows from higher education institutions across the nation on a year-long project to identify systemic changes that are needed to improve undergraduate life sciences education.
The PULSE program is a joint initiative of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These post-secondary life sciences faculty members were competitively selected by an expert panel for their experience in catalyzing reform in undergraduate biology education.
Bangera has been at the forefront of this reform with a groundbreaking program she created at BC called ComGen: Community College Research Initiative, where students perform original research by sequencing the genome of a bacterium that fights a wheat fungus. Hailed by Science Magazine, the program gives community college students research experience that is usually reserved for undergraduates at universities, or even graduate school students, and has boosted the number of BC students who pursue STEM (short for science, technology, engineering and math) majors and careers.
After evaluating more than 250 applications, the PULSE steering committee selected the fellows, who come from 24 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and represent research universities, liberal arts colleges, comprehensive/regional universities, and two-year colleges like Bellevue College.
“The strong response we received to the call for applications reflects broad consensus in the community that change is needed,” said HHMI’s Cynthia Bauerle. The way biology is taught needs to change in order to spark student interest in science and prepare them to answer challenging 21st century problems. “The time is now,” she continued.
“I’m incredibly honored to be asked to serve in this role, because improving biology and science education is my passion, and this is an opportunity for me to give back to the community,” Bangera said.