Science and the Educated American: A Core Component of Liberal Education


Back to table of contents
Jerrold Meinwald and John G. Hildebrand
Science in the Liberal Arts Curriculum

Jon Clardy, a Fellow of the American Academy since 1995, joined Harvard Medical School in 2003 as a Professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. His research involves many aspects of biologically active small molecules, especially those known as natural products. Clardy is closely affiliated with the Initiative in Chemical Genetics, an effort to broaden the range of small molecule therapeutic agents, and more generally, moderators of all biological processes, through the screening of libraries of structurally diverse compounds in both ad hoc and systematic screens. In the area of malaria, Clardy’s laboratory defined the structure of a crucial enzymatic target, P. falciparum’s dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH), for antimalarial agents. Current research includes finding new molecular templates for DHODH inhibitors and understanding the structural basis of its mechanism. He is also engaged in forward chemical genetic screens to find new targets for antimalarial and antitrypanosomal therapy. Awards for his research include fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. He has also received the Ernest Guenther Award and an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society, and the Research Achievement Award from the American Society of Pharmacognosy. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Diane Ebert-May is a Professor in the Department of Plant Biology at Michigan State University. She provides national leadership for promoting professional development, evaluation, and improvement of faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students who actively participate in creative research about teaching and learning in biology. Her research group has developed and tested a model for faculty, postdoctoral, and graduate student training in teaching, and is investigating the impact of students’ design and use of models to build conceptual connections in biology. Ebert-May is the Principal Investigator of FIRST IV, a professional development program funded by the National Science Foundation to help postdoctoral scholars learn to teach scientifically in preparation for their academic careers. Her recent book, Pathways to Scientific Teaching, is based on active learning, inquiry-based instructional strategies, assessment, and research. She teaches plant biology and introductory biology to majors, environmental science to non-majors in large enrollment courses, and a graduate seminar on scientific teaching. As a plant ecologist, she continues to conduct research on alpine tundra plant communities on Niwot Ridge, Colorado.

Martha P. Haynes, a Fellow of the American Academy since 1999, is the Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University. She graduated with special honors from Wellesley College and received her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Indiana University. From 1978 to 1981, she served on the staff of the Arecibo Observatory of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center in Puerto Rico; from 1981 to 1983, she was the Assistant Director of Operations of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia. She joined the Cornell faculty in 1983. She has served on numerous institutional, observatory, and federal agency boards and advisory committees and is currently Vice President of the International Astronomical Union. Her scientific research concentrates on observational cosmology, galaxy evolution, and the application of radio astronomy techniques. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is a recipient of the 1989 Henry Draper Medal for her scientific work on mapping the three-dimensional filamentary large-scale structures in the local universe.

Robert M. Hazen is a research scientist at the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution for Science and the Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University. His recent research focuses on the role of minerals in the origin of life, including such processes as mineral-catalyzed organic synthesis and the selective adsorption of organic molecules on mineral surfaces. He has also developed a new approach to mineralogy, called “mineral evolution,” which explores the coevolution of the geo- and biospheres. In addition to his mineralogical research, he is Principal Investigator of the Deep Carbon Observatory. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), he has received numerous awards, including the Mineralogical Society of America Award, the American Chemical Society Ipatieff Prize, and the Educational Press Association Award. Hazen served on the Committee on Public Understanding of Science of the AAAS, and on advisory boards for NOVA (WGBH Boston), Earth & Sky, Encyclopedia Americana, and the Carnegie Council.

John G. Hildebrand, a Fellow of the American Academy since 2001, is Regents Professor of Neurobiology and holds joint appointments in Chemistry and Biochemistry, Entomology, and Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He served on the faculties of Harvard Medical School (1970–1980) and Columbia University (1980–1985) before moving to the University of Arizona, where he is currently founding Head of the Department of Neuroscience and a founder of the University’s new School of Mind, Brain and Behavior. Hildebrand’s research focuses on insect neurobiology and behavior and emphasizes studies of olfaction, neuroethology, chemical ecology of insect-host interactions, neural development, neurochemistry and neurosecretion, and the biology of disease-vector insects. Among his honors are the Einstein Professorship of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Silver Medal of the International Society of Chemical Ecology, and a Humboldt Research Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the German Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. He is past President of the International Society of Chemical Ecology, the International Society for Neuroethology, and the Association for Chemoreception Sciences. He is Cochair of the Academy’s study on Science in the Liberal Arts Curriculum.

Sally G. Hoskins is a Professor of Biology at the City College of the City University of New York (CCNY). A developmental biologist and science educator, she (with collaborator Dr. Leslie M. Stevens, University of Texas at Austin) developed the C.R.E.A.T.E. process—using intensive analysis of journal articles as a means of demystifying and humanizing research science—for undergraduate biology majors at CCNY. With continued NSF support, C.R.E.A.T.E. approaches have since been extended successfully to diverse cohorts of students at additional colleges and universities and also adapted for use in general education science courses. A three-time CCAPP Teacher of the Year at City College, Hoskins feels that primary literature and newspaper/Internet versions of science, used effectively in the classroom, can both clarify “who does science, and why” and reveal the creativity of scientific thinking, thus making research science appealing to science majors and non-majors alike.

Chris Impey is University Distinguished Professor at the University of Arizona. He is also Deputy Head of the Department of Astronomy, overseeing all the department’s academic programs. His research focuses on observational cosmology, gravitational lensing, and the evolution and structure of galaxies. He has 160 refereed publications and 60 published conference proceedings; his work has been supported by $18 million in grants from NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF). As a professor, he has won eleven teaching awards and has been heavily involved in curriculum and instructional technology development. Impey is a past Vice President of the American Astronomical Society. He has also been an NSF Distinguished Teaching Scholar, a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, and the Carnegie Council’s Arizona Professor of the Year. He was Cochair of the study group that summarized Astronomy Education and Public Outreach for the 2010 Astronomy Decadal Survey of the National Academy of Sciences.

Darcy B. Kelley is the Harold Weintraub Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. She codirected the “Neural Systems and Behavior” course at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and founded Columbia’s doctoral program in neurobiology and behavior. She is Editor of the journal Developmental Neurobiology. Kelley’s research uses the South African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, to study the neurobiology of social communication, in an effort to determine how one brain communicates with an-other. Her Howard Hughes Medical Institute project is a Web-based resource ( that makes educational materials generated in Frontiers of Science, Columbia’s new interdisciplinary core course in science, freely available to educators and the general public.

Eugene H. Levy is the Andrew Hays Buchanan Professor of Astrophysics at Rice University, where he also served as Provost from 2000 to 2010. At the University of Arizona for twenty-five years before coming to Rice, he frequently taught science general education. Levy’s research focused on planetary physics and astrophysics, magnetohydrodynamics, and solar and space physics. He has served as member or chair of numerous national and international science advisory committees, including the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences/NRC, from 1978 to 1982, and as Chair of the SSB Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration. He currently chairs the Board of Trustees of Associated Universities, Inc., serves on the NASA Advisory Council’s Science Committee, and chairs the NASA Planetary Protection Subcommittee.

David R. Liu is a Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, a Harvard College Professor, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. His major research interests include the development and application of new approaches to the evolution of biological macromolecules, and the application of evolutionary principles to the discovery of synthetic small molecules, synthetic polymers, and new chemical reactions. Liu has earned three university-wide distinctions for undergraduate and graduate student teaching at Harvard, including the Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize in 2007, the Roslyn Abramson Award in 2003, and a Harvard College Professorship in 2007. He was appointed a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 2005 and joined JASON (a group of academic advisors to the U.S. government on matters of science and technology) in 2009. His many research accomplishments have earned distinctions including the American Chemical Society Pure Chemistry Award in 2006, the American Chemical Society Arthur C. Cope Young Scholar Award in 2004, the Sloan Foundation Fellowship in 2002, the Beck-man Foundation Young Investigator Award in 2002, and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award in 2000.

Jerrold Meinwald, a Fellow of the American Academy since 1970, is the Gold-win Smith Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at Cornell University, where his research has spanned a wide range of topics in organic chemistry and chemical ecology. Meinwald’s recent research has been concerned with the isolation and identification of biologically active compounds from insect and other arthropod sources (particularly spiders). In addition to arthropod-related work, Meinwald has also been concerned with plant allelochemicals, as well as the pheromone and defensive systems of vertebrate species. He assisted in the establishment of chemical ecology/biodiversity-oriented research centers in Kenya, Costa Rica, Germany, and Brazil. He has shared the Tyler Award for Environmental Achievement with his biological collaborator, Thomas Eisner, and has won the Roger Adams Award, the Cope Scholar Award, and the Guenther Award in Natural Products Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. Meinwald is Secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Cochair of its Committee on Studies. He also is Cochair of the Academy’s study on Science in the Liberal Arts Curriculum. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1969 and a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1987.

Jon D. Miller is the Director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Miller has measured the public understanding of science and technology in the United States for the last three decades, and has examined the factors associated with the development of attitudes toward science and science policy. He directed biennial national surveys for the National Science Board for twenty years, the results of which were reported in Science and Engineering Indicators. He has pioneered the definition and measurement of scientific literacy; his approach to the public understanding of science has been replicated in more than forty countries. He continues to conduct studies of the public perception of science in the United States and other nations. Miller is also the Director of the Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY) and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Jennifer L. Momsen is an Assistant Professor of Biology at North Dakota State University, where she teaches introductory biology for science majors. Trained as a historical ecologist, she earned her Ph.D. at Rutgers University, where she studied long-term vegetation community dynamics. Momsen recently completed her postdoctoral work at Michigan State University in biology education. Her research focused on the undergraduate biology classroom; in particular, she investigated the cognitive level routinely assessed in introductory biology and how students develop systems thinking in biology. She will continue her research on undergraduate biology education, concentrating on student understanding of ecology, student development of quantitative skills, and professional development of postdoctoral associates.

Richard A. Muller, a Fellow of the American Academy since 2010, is a Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He discovered the “cosine anisotropy” of the cosmic microwave radiation, and he invented “Accelerator Mass Spectrometry,” work which earned him the Alan T. Waterman Award of the National Science Foundation and a MacArthur Prize. Muller has also made seminal contributions to the study of supernovas, to the science of climate change, to patterns of extinction and biodiversity, and to the “Nemesis” theory.

He has been a longtime consultant to the U.S. government on national security. He has received the Distinguished Teaching Award from UC Berkeley, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the California Academy of Sciences.

Don M. Randel, a Fellow of the American Academy since 2001, is President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a prominent musicologist. He previously served as President of the University of Chicago, where he worked to strengthen the academic work of the University in many areas, from humanities and arts to physical and biological sciences. In his academic work, Randel specializes in the music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Among musicologists, he is particularly known for his publications on Mozarabic chant, Arabic music theory, and Panamanian folk music. In 1968, Randel joined the Cornell University faculty in the Department of Music. He served for thirty-two years as a member of Cornell’s faculty, where he was also Department Chair, Vice Provost, and Associate Dean and then Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He became Provost of Cornell University in 1995.

Frank H.T. Rhodes, a Fellow of the American Academy since 1989, is President Emeritus and Professor of Geological Sciences at Cornell University. He has served as Chairman of the National Science Board, as a member of the President’s Educational Policy Advisory Committee, and as Chairman of the governing boards of the American Council on Education, the American Association of Universities, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Bigsby Medal of the Geological Society, the Justin Morrill Award, the Ian Campbell Medal, the Higher Education Leadership Award, and thirty-seven honorary degrees. He is a former Fulbright Scholar and Fulbright Distinguished Fellow, a National Science Foundation Senior Visiting Research Fellow, a former Distinguished Fellow of University College, Oxford, a Life Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, and a Distinguished Fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge, among others.

Elena Bray Speth is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Saint Louis University in St. Louis. She earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology at Michigan State University, where she studied the cellular and molecular bases of the interaction between plants and pathogenic bacteria. For her postdoctoral research, sponsored by the Michigan State University Center for Research on College Science Teaching and Learning, she joined Diane Ebert-May’s research group. Under Dr. Ebert-May’s mentoring, she developed her interest and expertise in conducting research on biology education at the college level. At Saint Louis University since 2009, she teaches introductory biology for science majors and a graduate-level course in scientific communication; she conducts research on teaching and learning about complex biological systems.

James Trefil is the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Physics at George Mason University. A physicist and author, Trefil is known for his interest in teaching science to non-scientists. He has served as Contributing Editor for Science for USA Today Weekend and as a regular contributor for the Smithsonian and Astronomy magazines. In addition, Trefil was a science commentator and member of the Science Advisory Board for NPR and for numerous PBS productions. He also served as the Chief Science Consultant to the McDougal-Littell Middle School Science Project. He held postdoctoral, visiting, and junior faculty appointments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), Laboratory for Nuclear Sciences at MIT, German Electron Synchrotron Laboratory in Hamburg, University of Illinois, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory before joining the faculty at the University of Virginia. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a former Guggenheim Fellow.

Brian N. Tse is currently serving as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow with the Department of Health & Human Services. Previously he served as a Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academies, working at the Koshland Science Museum on educational programming related to climate change. Tse’s graduate research focused on an evolution-inspired approach to drug discovery called DNA-templated synthesis. As a graduate student, he helped assemble a new interdisciplinary science course, Life Sciences 1A, with four members of the Harvard faculty. Upon graduation, he joined the Harvard faculty for the 2008–2009 academic year as Preceptor for the SLS 11: Molecules of Life course.