Sean Carroll named Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s VP for Science Education

On April 7, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute announced that CALS geneticist Sean Carroll will become the Institute’s vice president for science education. Carroll will take over responsiblity for directing HHMI’s portfolio of science education activities in September.

Here is an excerpt from the HHMI’s press release:

Carroll, an HHMI investigator since 1990 on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studies the development and evolution of animal form and is considered a leader in the field of evolutionary developmental biology, or evo-devo. By utilizing the tools of modern molecular biology and genetics, Carroll and his colleagues have revealed how changes in gene regulation during development shape the evolution of body parts and body patterns.

The 49-year-old Carroll is also widely known as a speaker and writer about scientific subjects for the general public. He is the author of six books, including Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Origins of Species, a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in non-fiction. He writes a monthly column (also called “Remarkable Creatures”) for the science section of The New York Times and has served as a consulting producer for the public television program NOVA distributed by WGBH in Boston. In March, Carroll received the 2010 Stephen Jay Gould Prize in recognition of his efforts to advance public understanding of evolutionary science.

“HHMI has had a big impact in shaping how science is taught, particularly at the undergraduate level. Colleges and universities are shaking up what they teach and HHMI has been a catalyst for that change. That’s a great legacy to join,” said Carroll.

HHMI is the nation’s largest private supporter of science education. It has invested more than $1.6 billion to reinvigorate life science education at research universities, liberal arts colleges, and undergraduate-focused institutions, as well as to engage the nation’s leading scientists in teaching through the HHMI professors program. Other notable initiatives include the Science Education Alliance, launched in 2007 as a national resource for the development and distribution of innovative science education materials and methods, and the Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP), which offers mentored research experiences to select undergraduates.

“I want to help other people have as much fun as I have,” said Carroll in describing his decision to take on the new role at HHMI. “That requires thinking about how to foster creativity and innovation on a larger scale. We all need inspiration, but how do we nourish curiosity and inspire an interest in science, particularly among young people? These are crucial challenges and I hope to promote the very positive role that science can play in our culture.”

To read the full release, click here.