The University of Colorado has been awarded a $1.5 million grant over five years by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to encourage more real-world research experience in undergraduate science education.

The new award, announced today, will allow CU to bolster its hands-on, research-oriented teaching to students planning to major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, popularly known as STEM, according to Julie Graf, director of CU's Biological Sciences Initiative.

CU is one of 37 research universities in the country to be awarded a total of $60 million in the new round of funding announced by HHMI, which is headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Previous HHMI funding to CU has helped engage more than 1,600 undergraduates in research projects spearheaded by roughly 230 faculty members from 15 departments, according to the university.

"This new HHMI award will allow more opportunities for CU-Boulder undergraduates to conduct authentic, discovery-based scientific research, and particularly help in the retention of underrepresented minority students in STEM," Graf said in a news release. "With the support of this HHMI grant, we can provide more research opportunities for students and provide them earlier."

CU's Biological Sciences Initiative offers multiple programs for students and teachers, said Graf. With funding from HHMI, BSI has offered paid research opportunities to undergraduates in the biological sciences as well as many free programs for K-12 teachers in Colorado.

Since 1989, HHMI has provided $11.5 million in grants to support CU undergraduate research and K-12 outreach programs since 1989.