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Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education

Who is Eligible:

An individual who has demonstrated innovative and sustained contributions to science education, with particular emphasis on the broad local, regional, and/or national impact of the nominee’s activities. Nominators must be ASCB members, but the candidate and support letter authors need not be.

How to Apply:

Provide a letter of nomination, a maximum of three letters of support, and a CV.


The winner is presented a plaque and will give remarks at the Annual Meeting. Expenses to attend the Annual Meeting are paid.


April 1 (electronic submission preferred to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

2014 Awardee

In recognition of his contributions to improve science education, especially his efforts to bring modern biology laboratory experiences to students and his steady, sustained work to model what it means to be a successful African American scientist, the ASCB has selected Edison R. Fowlks to receive the 2014 Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education.

Fowlks earned his PhD the same year the Civil Rights Act became law and then was a postdoc at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1968–1970. Since the 1970s, Fowlks has worked steadily to bring hands-on learning to African American biology students. As his nominator, A. Malcolm Campbell, noted in an eloquent nomination letter, "I don't know anyone who has been teaching science by having students DO science as long as Edison has. His passion to help students succeed has been burning brightly for over four decades!"

In 1988 Fowlks moved to Hampton University, a historically black university that began informally in 1861 to educate freed slaves. At Hampton, he continued his push to bring laboratory experiences to his students. He has since mentored many students who have earned their PhDs, including the current chair of the Biology Department at Hampton. Fowlks  has served as the PI of Hampton’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grants as well as an ongoing $3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) training grant.

Campbell met Fowlks at a Genome Consortium for Active Teaching (GCAT) DNA microarray workshop in 2004. According to Campbell, Fowlks was so energized by the workshop that he volunteered to be a co-PI on a grant proposal to the NSF to fund three years of workshops. Fowlks was a key organizer in that series of workshops, two of which were hosted at Morehouse College. He was also the PI on Hampton University’s HHMI and W.M. Keck grants that brought genomics and bioinformatics training to his campus. In 2012, when DNA microarray workshops were winding down, Fowlks enrolled in the GCAT Synthetic Biology workshop where he learned how to conduct research in that hot new biotechnology discipline. Forty-four years after he began teaching, Fowlks is still looking for the best ways to keep his students on the front edge of biology education, Campbell noted.
Campbell concluded, “Many people talk loudly about bringing diversity to science
 while Edison has been quietly doing just that. A back of the envelope calculation shows that Edison has taught approximately 8,400 African American science students.”
You can learn more about Fowlks’ personal story of becoming a biologist and educator in an iBiology segment 
Fowlks will accept the award on Sunday, December 7, at the 2014 ASCB/IFCB Meeting in Philadelphia.

2013 Awardee

In recognition of her pioneering and influential work in biology education, the ASCB selected Deborah Allen of the University of Delaware to receive the 2013 Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education.

Over the past two decades, Allen has made significant contributions to faculty professional development, K–12 teacher professional development, curriculum development, science education research, and science education grants administration. She was one of the first to introduce problem-based learning in undergraduate science classes and has published two books on the topic that have had widespread influence on the field, including internationally. Allen has also developed courses and programs for engaging pre- and in-service middle and secondary school science teachers in discovery-based science projects through funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE). She spent the last three years at the NSF as a Program Officer in the DUE, serving the national science education community. In addition, she has been a recipient of the University of Delaware’s Excellence in Teaching Award and its Innovation Award. Allen has served on multiple National Academy of Sciences committees and workshops, has contributed actively to Project Kaleidoscope, and has been involved in many Delaware state-level K–12 science education initiatives. Since returning to the university from the NSF she has become the leader of the Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning. In that capacity, she had revitalized faculty development programs in addition to teaching introductory biology.

Of particular note, she has been involved in CBE—Life Sciences Education since its inception in 2001 and still serves on the editorial board. Her quarterly articles on Approaches to Biology Teaching and Learning with co-author Kimberly C. Tanner were collected into a book, Transformation: Approaches to College Science Teaching. These articles offer college-level science faculty a unique bridge to the conclusions of modern education research and how to apply them in the classroom.


2012 Awardee

L.C. (Cam) Cameron was selected in recognition of his tremendous impact on the scientific career development of a large community of Latin American students. In 2000 he organized the first international symposium on myosin V in his home city of Rio de Janeiro. That meeting became the foundation for a series of hands-on research training courses and education workshops particularly directed toward Central and South American students who have limited opportunities to interact directly with international scientists.

Cameron has been the primary force in organizing more than 20 of these workshops, international conferences, and courses in Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, and the United States. Subject areas have expanded to include other topics in cell biology (calcium signaling, intracellular transport, and other aspects of the cytoskeleton), biochemistry, biophysics, and systems biology.

Students in these courses learn techniques, experimental design, and data accumulation and analysis skills and receive coaching in scientific presentation. These training courses have had a great impact on the students, exposing them to North American and European science. Many have gone on to work in the laboratories of the U.S. and European faculty who have participated, and the courses have sparked multiple intercontinental collaborations.

Cameron and his colleagues founded the International Institute for Collaborative Cell Biology and Biochemistry (IICCBB), which is a network of world-renowned experts who want to share their expertise and knowledge to inspire students who will be the future scientific leaders in biochemistry, cell biology, and biotechnology. Their vision is to inspire a new era of international scientific cooperation by exposing young scientists to diverse, multidisciplinary learning experiences via workshops, conferences, and symposia. At these events, established scientists share their wealth of experience with the next generation of scientists who, in turn, act as ambassadors to their colleagues. Cameron is also actively involved in consolidating the IICCBB with more dependable funding from national and international agencies. He is also trying to motivate colleagues to promote courses in other Latin America countries, Africa, and India. More information is available at www.iiccbb.org and www.facebook.com/IICCBB.


Past Bruce Alberts Awardees

2011 - Peter Bruns

Peter Bruns was recognized for his leadership in catalyzing revolutionary changes in biology education.

After a distinguished scientific career at Cornell, where he also directed education programs and helped start the Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers, Bruns was recruited to Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in 2001. As Vice President for Grants and Special Programs he was tasked with leading a major effort in education. Until his retirement from HHMI in August 2010, he expanded established education grants that support research opportunities and outreach and began new programs that support improvements in the teaching of biology, both in the U.S. and around the world. His core philosophy at HHMI was the integration of teaching and research.

Programs he initiated include: the HHMI Professors Program, which provides large, unrestricted grants to top research scientists to put their innovative ideas for science education into practice; the Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXPROP), which provides undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds with a summer research experience in the lab of an HHMI investigator; the Science Education Alliance (SEA), which is a group of individuals and institutions committed to scientific advancement and scientific education; and the National Academies/HHMI Summer Institute for Undergraduate Education in Biology, a professional development workshop for university faculty teaching large undergraduate biology courses.

Bruns also has provided moral and financial support for CBE—Life Sciences Education, the ASCB’s education journal. HHMI has provided partial support for the journal since its inception in 2002 as Cell Biology Education. It has become the premier biology education journal, publishing about half of the analytical research papers in biology education research during the past decade.

2010 - BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium

For 25 years, the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium has offered educators a framework on which to reconstruct their teaching. The framework emphasizes student-centered collaborative learning; students pose problems, solve problems, and engage in peer review (the 3P’s philosophy). Aimed at changing pedagogy, BioQUEST involves faculty from many different kinds of undergraduate institutions and at all levels. It encompasses courses for nonmajors to upper-level electives.

In its early years, BioQUEST catalyzed efforts at more than 50 institutions to test the software collection known as the BioQUEST Library. Using the 3P’s approach, the software was used to enrich college and university classrooms and laboratories. As of 2010, the organization has grown to a participant database of about 5,000 individuals representing nearly 2,000 institutions. Based on conservative estimates, BioQUEST has influenced more than 150,000 educators and students through its software, workshops, conferences, publications, and website (http://bioquest.org).

Public and private sources (Annenberg Fund/CPB, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Science Foundation, Foundation for Microbiology, etc.) have supported BioQUEST initiatives.

John R. Jungck, Beloit College—the Consortium’s founder—and colleague Sam Donovan, University of Pittsburgh, accepted the award.

2009 - Manuel Berriozábal and Toby Horn

Berriozábal, of University of Texas at San Antonio, was honored for founding the Prefreshman Engineering Program (PREP) in 1979. It is asummer enrichment program for middle and high school students who are underrepresented in college engineering programs. Now a statewide program, PREP has enrolled 28,000 students; 99.9% have graduated from high school 84% have graduated from college. Horn, of the Carnegie Institution for Science, was honored for her sustained contributions to K–12 science education. Most recently, as co-director of the Carnegie Academy for Science Education (CASE), Horn has been involved in various educational programs in partnership with Washington, DC, public schools. These programs offer professional development opportunities for teachers, biotech industry intern experiences for students, and loaner lab equipment and materials for the high school classroom.

2008 - Wm. David Burns and Karen K. Oates

Burns and Oates were awarded for their effort in founding Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER), a faculty development and science education reform project supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Since 2001, more than 1300 educators, administrators, and students from 330 colleges, universities, high schools, governmental and nongovernmental organizations concerned with the improvement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education have participated in SENCER events and launched projects on campus. Burns is currently the Executive Director of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement at Harrisburg University, and Oates, who was provost for Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, is now with the Division of Undergraduate Education, NSF.

2007 - Patricia J. Pukkila

Pukkila, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was chosen primarily for her exceptional contributions to undergraduate science education at the local, state, and national level. An internationally recognized leader in the study of recombination and fungal genomics, Pukkila is also recognized for her effort to make undergraduate research a key part of the Quality Enhancement Plan for the recent Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaccreditation.

2006 - A. Malcolm Campbell and Sarah C.R. Elgin

Campbell and Elgin were named awardees in part for their joint contributions to the ASCB’s education journal, CBE—Life Sciences Education. They also were selected because of their substantial individual contributions to U.S. science education. Campbell, of Davidson College, has been a leader in bringing genomics to the undergraduate curriculum; he authored a genomics textbook in 2001 and, that same year, founded the Genome Consortium for Active Teaching (GCAT) at Davidson. Elgin, of Washington University in St. Louis, founded the Science Outreach Program, which serves K–12 schools in the St. Louis area. In 2005 the program reached 1,700 teachers and 24,700 students. Selected as an HHMI professor in 2002, Elgin more recently established Washington University’s Genomics in Education Program to engage students in sequencing and annotating genomes.

2005 - Samuel Silverstein

Silverstein, of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, received the award in recognition of his innovative and effective Summer Research Program for High School Science Teachers in New York, which he founded and directs.

2004 - William Wood

Wood, of the University of Colorado, conducts research on the genetic control and molecular biology of embryonic axis formation and pattern formation in development of C. elegans. He authored the textbook Biochemistry, still widely used, and founded the National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Biology Education.

2003 - Nancy Hutchison

Hutchison received the award in recognition of her vision and leadership as Director of the Hutchinson Center’s Science Education Partnership, a professional development program for Washington secondary school teachers that she co-founded in 1999. That same year she helped to found HutchLab, a program to expose high school students to biomedical research at the Hutchinson Center.

2002 - Sandra Mayrand

Mayrand, of the Regional Science Resource Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, was awarded for how her early volunteer K–12 science education activities grew into a major science education initiative, bringing researchers and educators together around the focus of experimental cell biology.

2001 - David Bynum

Bynum, of the State University of New York, was awarded for the range and depth of his activities in science education. His programs affect education at many levels, and he has assessed their outcomes and shown that they work.

2000 - Virginia Shepherd 

Shepherd, of Vanderbilt University, directs Science Education Outreach for Vanderbilt. Among the programs she has spearheaded are a "Girls and Science" summer camp, the design and implementation of a new research-based molecular biology course at Nashville’s Martin Luther King Science Magnet School, and the development of instructional CDs.

1999 - Eugenie Scott

Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, was awarded for her dedication to protecting the teaching of evolution through writing, speeches, media appearances and, importantly, presentations to school boards, teachers, churches, and parents.

1998 - Robert DeHaan

DeHaan, of Emory University, received the award for establishing the highly successful Elementary Science Education Partners in the Atlanta schools.


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