Oberlin College was awarded a grant of $800,000 in 2012 by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to support the natural sciences and strengthen student learning of math and quantitative skills to meet the demands of interdisciplinary research.

Logo of Howard Hughes Medical Institute

With the grant, Oberlin established the Center for Learning, Education, and Research in the Sciences (CLEAR). The center, akin to Oberlin’s Writing Center, aims to help natural science students strengthen their understanding of quantitative and formal reasoning skills by providing peer support for such basics as math and graphs, and advanced skills, such as modeling, which are common in different disciplines.

The center has played a critical role in meeting the college's strategic goal of integrating quantitative analysis and data-informed reasoning into all majors and program at Oberlin. CLEAR serves this goal by providing an ongoing source of support for faculty development, curriculum development, and quantitative and formal reasoning programming essential to sustaining a current and vital curriculum for students to acquire the ability to use tools, algorithms, or strategies to solve problems, make decisions, or evaluate evidence. Such skills are required in virtually all academic fields, are used in almost every profession, and are necessary for decision-making in everyday life.

More recently, Oberlin College became one of 24 colleges and universities nationwide awarded a $1 million grant through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)'s Inclusive Excellence initiative. The goal of Oberlin’s project is to promote persistence and success of all students in STEM fields by changing the ways the science community is built and science curriculum is delivered.

Building on a series of listening sessions that brought together 120 individuals from 42 offices and departments to visualize an enhanced model for inclusion, faculty and staff from across the campus will form learning communities to advance inclusive excellence.

Departmental teams will extend these efforts, implementing revised curricula focusing on introductory courses. A new postbaccalaureate STEM fellow will enhance the STEM climate and link curricular and cocurricular activities. 


  • Student and faculty workshops 
  • Drop-in tutoring and OWLS peer mentoring 
  • Resource center for students and faculty interested in teaching, learning, or studying topics in the natural sciences or with Quantitative and Formal Reasoning (QFR) components  
  • Assessment of first-year students' quantitative literacy 
  • Support for faculty curricular development and programming 
  • Cosponsored programming/distribution of programming funds 
  • Distribution of curriculum development funds 

Administrative Structure

HHMI Faculty Committee: Marta LaskowskiYolanda CruzNancy DarlingMichael HenleMichael LooseAlison Ricker

Academic Departments: BiologyChemistry/BiochemistryComputer ScienceEnvironmental StudiesGeologyMathematicsNeurosciencePhysics and Astronomy, and Psychology