In order to promote interdisciplinary undergraduate research in the sciences, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute awarded one million dollars to Prof. Jané Kondev (PHYS) in June. 

The HHMI gave grants to 15 professors around the country this year; each professor will receive their award over the next five years. 

According to the institute’s website, the grants are offered to professors in order to “integrate their research with student learning in ways that enhance undergraduate students’ understanding of science.”

After applying in summer 2013, Kondev went through a process that involved submitting a resume detailing his research and teaching accomplishments along with a project proposal. After being chosen as one of 30 finalists from a pool of between 100 to 200 applicants, he traveled to HHMI headquarters in Chevy Chase, Md. and presented his proposal.

 “I was incredibly lucky to have been chosen from among many excellent scientists that applied,” Kondev wrote in an email to the Justice.

Kondev wrote that he plans to start an undergraduate science community on campus in order to foster work between the different scientific fields. 

He added that he hopes students will work on common scientific problems while utilizing the different perspectives offered by the different sciences.

“Interdisciplinary research at the [doctoral] level is a strength for which Brandeis is recognized around the world,” Kondev wrote. “Unfortunately I think our undergraduates do not benefit from this and my hope is that the new program will change this.”

Kondev wrote that he hopes his program reaches a steady state of about 20 students within a few years and continues at that pace. He also hopes that it can serve as an example and that other schools will follow suit in creating similar interdisciplinary programs.

“Brandeis is an amazing place to do science and I hope we continue to attract an amazing cadre of talented students interested in pursuing one of our science majors,” Kondev wrote.