Elgin wins 2010 Janet Andersen Lecture Award

The Midstates Consortium for Math and Science has announced that Sarah (Sally) C. R. Elgin, PhD, the Viktor Hamburger Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences, is one of two winners of this year’s Janet Andersen Lecture Award.

WUSTL photo

Sally Elgin at an Elliot Society dinner.

Janet Andersen, PhD, was a Hope College math professor and the consortium’s director for five years, until her death in 2005. The award was established in 2008 to honor her commitment to providing creative, high-quality learning experiences for her students and to finding ways to support natural science faculty, both new and experienced.

The award is given each year to two faculty members, one in the biological sciences or psychology and one in the physical sciences, mathematics or computer science.

Elgin has been a dedicated teacher, scholar and mentor for students from elementary school through graduate school for more than three decades.

Elgin earned a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology in 1971. She was a faculty member at Harvard University before joining the faculty of the biology department at Washington University in 1981. A professor of biology and of education in Arts & Sciences, she is also a professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics and of genetics in the School of Medicine.

Elgin was the director of the Undergraduate Biological Sciences Education Program, a program funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), from 1992-2004.

In 2002, Elgin was one of 20 professors awarded $1 million by HHMI to bring research into the undergraduate classroom. With this money, she established the Genomics Education Partnership (GEP), a collaboration between undergraduate institutions, the biology department, the computer science department, and the Genome Center at the School of Medicine.

Participating undergraduates learn how to produce high-quality DNA sequences from raw sequences and to “annotate” the genes with information such as their biochemical and biological functions. Many students become co-authors on published papers.

Elgin has demonstrated strong commitment to providing hands-on explorations and research opportunities for K-12 students and teachers, undergraduates, graduate students and faculty members. In the late 1980s, she created a science education partnership with University City, her children’s K-12 school district, that eventually blossomed into the university’s Science Outreach Office. Under Victoria May’s leadership, this office now serves more than 20,000 students and several thousand teachers each year.

Elgin will present the Janet Andersen Lecture at the Undergraduate Research Symposium for the Biological Sciences and Psychology that will be held at the University of Chicago Nov. 5-7, 2010.