University of Idaho undergraduate students will get an opportunity to do real-world research through a $1.2 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The five year grant is designed to attract more students in fields of science, technology, engineering and math, called STEM. The grant will track students to see if they go into STEM disciplines.
Fewer than 40 percent of students who go to college expecting to study in STEM fields get a STEM degree, according to a 2012 report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
U of I is also conducting a five-year study into attracting more students into STEM fields with a $1 million grant from the Micron Foundation.
"Idaho needs future leaders with robust STEM backgrounds, and this innovative approach will help students start strong and continue on in the sciences,” said Chuck Staben, U of I president.
A select number of U of I freshmen and sophomore students will be part of a new curriculum with an initial focus on Idaho's water quality. They will research water quality effects on organisms and the environment.
"“This is a way to engage them in research that is really relevant to their culture and their community,” said Melinda Hamilton, U of I director of STEM education.
U of I was one of 37 colleges — out of 170 that applied — to receive the grant.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute was founded in the early 1950s by the billionaire industrialist and aviator. The medical institute has scientists across the United States working on research advancing the understanding of biology and its connection to human disease.