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Drennan named million-dollar professor

Catherine L. Drennan, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, has been named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. The $1 million award honors top research scientists who are also great teachers.

Drennan is one of 20 new HHMI professors who, "through their teaching and mentoring, are striving to ignite the scientific spark in a new generation of students," according to HHMI.

HHMI does not tell the professors what to do or how to approach science education. Rather, it provides them with the resources to turn their own creativity loose in their undergraduate classrooms. For example, some may design programs to attract more women and minorities to science. Others might turn large introductory science courses into engaging, hands-on learning experiences.

"The scientists whom we have selected are true pioneers -- not only in their research, but in their creative approaches and dedication to teaching," said Thomas R. Cech, HHMI president. "We are hopeful that their educational experiments will energize undergraduate science education throughout the nation."

HHMI awarded $20 million to the first group of its professors in 2002. MIT Professor of Biology Graham Walker received one of the 2002 awards.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 12, 2006 (download PDF).

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