Claremont, Calif. (December 19, 2014) — Associate Professor of Biology Emily Wiley won a $506,131 National Science Foundation award for a collaborative research project that engages undergraduate students in the study of genomes and gene function. Wiley teaches biology at the W.M. Keck Science Department, a program of Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College and Scripps College.
Wiley’s research focuses on the mechanisms that a cell uses to control gene expression and the packaging of the genome inside the nucleus. The NSF grant will facilitate Wiley’s work with the Ciliate Genomics Consortium (CGC), a student-centered, nation-wide collaborative learning community that uses scalable functional genomics research for integration into courses in a variety of biology sub-disciplines. Wiley founded the CGC after receiving a $654,000 five-year NSF CAREER award in 2006 to support her research and to develop an education initiative that would broadly involve students in original research. Wiley heads the CGC, which now includes faculty and students from 12 other institutions across the country.
Wiley is an avid proponent of STEM education and engaging more undergraduates in hands-on, original research experience early in their college education. One of the goals of the NSF project is to provide evidence that students can contribute substantially to faculty and community research priorities.
“Traditionally we’ve taught science by putting students in lecture courses and teaching them about discoveries that were made by other people, and they got very little chance to make their own discoveries,” she said during a recent interview on California Edition.
Students who have worked on Wiley’s research projects have presented their findings at conferences across the country and appeared as co-authors on published papers.
Wiley earned her PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle. She organizes the “Undergraduate Research Symposium” as part of an international molecular biology conference, and co-edits Current Protocols Essential Laboratory Techniques, a beginning molecular techniques manual that won the 2009 PROSE award for “best resource in biological sciences.”