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The Carletonian

Susan Singer Appointed to Leadership Role at National Science Foundation

<n Singer, a long-time biology professor at Carleton, has accepted the leadership role at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Singer will be taking a leave of absence to assume the position of director of the NSF’s Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE).

The objectives of DUE are the encouragement of leadership, the engagement to the workforce, the connection to the workforce and the development of curriculum. By combining these efforts, the DUE hopes to strengthen science, technology and math (STEM) education at two- and four-years higher institutions.
Motivated by her own experience of large lectures in introductory science course, Singer is deeply involved in science education. Singer began teaching at Carleton in 1986 as a biology professor.

In addition to developmental biology, she has also invested her time in the learning of genomics. Genetic Explorer, an Inquiry-Based Instruction (IBI) teaching tool she designed for her genomics course, won a prestigious award in Science.

The Science IBI prize is designed to award outstanding teaching materials that can be used in college level introductory science courses. The material must encourage students to inquire about nature and to generate and evaluate scientific evidence rather than solely delivering facts.

Singer’s Genetic Explorer helps students make inquiries and discoveries using genomic data sets. It offers students strategies to approach the often-overwhelming data. By taking care of some logistical methodology issues, it allows students more time to think about deeper questions of their reseach, a strength that the editors of Science recognized.

“Genomics Explorers is able to strike the fine balance between providing a learning structure, while still allowing students to be thinking on their own,” said Melissa McCartney, associate editor of Science.
In addition to her many awards and research, Singer has been an integral part of Carleton’s biology department at Carleton.

“Professor Singer has long been a leader in improving STEM education, at all levels,” said Beverly Nagel, Carleton’s Dean of the College and the Winifred and Atherton Bean Professor of Sociology, Science, Technology and Society. “Being named to this post is a well-deserved honor and recognition for her leadership in this area, and will give Professor Singer an excellent opportunity to help shape undergraduate STEM education nationally.”

However, after 26 years in the Carleton biology department, Singer will surely be missed. “Professor Singer was my first-ever science teacher at Carleton, and her introductory class was a major reason that I continued to take science classes here,” said Kaitlyn Gerber ’14, a Biology major. “Eventually, I started working in her research lab, studying genomics with several other students. She was a wonderful mentor.”

Other students who had known Professor Singer agreed. “She is a brilliant scientist, and I feel lucky to have had the chance to work with her,” said Raghav Chandra ’14, who also worked in her lab.

“I worked with her in the summer and over Winter Break…we’ll definitely miss her a lot.”

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