posted February 20, 2007

Emeritus Professor Appointed to Committee

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) has appointed Dr. Rodney Boyer, who is the Drs. Edward and Elizabeth Hofma Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Hope College, as a member of a study group to evaluate how the disciplines of biochemistry and molecular biology support and contribute to the broad goals of liberal arts education.

The project is funded by a $75,000 grant to ASBMB from the Teagle Foundation, which was established in 1944 by Walter C. Teagle, former president and chairman of the board of Standard Oil Company (now Exxon Mobil Corporation). The aims of the Teagle Foundation are to strengthen liberal arts education by marshalling the intellectual and financial resources to ensure that today's students have access to challenging, wide-ranging, and enriching college educations.

Since 1992, ASBMB has endorsed a recommended curriculum for a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. This curriculum has recently been modified to emphasize the skills necessary for students to develop, rather than just a recommended list of courses which may vary from institution to institution. The recommended curriculum was designed and monitored by ASBMB's Education and Professional Development Committee, of which Boyer was a member from 1985 to 2005.

The Teagle Foundation grant will allow ASBMB to assess how its recommended curriculum is being received and implemented in different types of academic institutions and evaluate the success of their graduates. Results from the study group will be used to assist in the future development of new pedagogical materials to enhance the training of undergraduate biochemistry and molecular biology students in classes, laboratories and research. The committee will also search for ways to incorporate biochemistry and molecular biology topics into courses taken by non-science students.

ASBMB will convene a working group that includes biochemistry and molecular biology faculty who teach undergraduates, representatives from institutions that further train and employ their graduates, and agencies and writers supporting their work. The study group will be headed by Dr. Adele Wolfson, associate dean of the college and professor of chemistry at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

Boyer was a member of the chemistry faculty at Hope from 1974 until retiring in 2000. While at Hope, he directed the work of more than 75 undergraduate students in research supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Dreyfus Foundation, Research Corporation, Petroleum Research Fund and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. With his students, he has published numerous articles on iron metabolism in humans and biochemical education. He is also the author of three biochemistry textbooks. Boyer now resides and continues writing in Bozeman, Mont.