Monday, October 29, 2018
  Awards and Recognitions

By Victoria Brito

Dr. Chu-Lin Cheng
Dr. Chu-Lin Cheng

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will participate in a cooperative grant, along with the University of Colorado and Front Range Community College, designed to enhance undergraduate teaching in STEM fields.

The grant, “Collaborative Research: Promoting Research-based Instructional Methods for Enhancing and Reforming STEM Education,” or PRIMERS, is funded by Improving Undergraduate STEM Education, a National Science Foundation (NSF) initiative.

The primary goal of the PRIMERS project is to move undergraduate STEM instructors toward focusing on learner-centered instruction, the sort that fosters active learning by leveraging an existing evidence-based professional development program.

UTRGV investigators on this Collaborative Research project are:

“The goal is to help faculty develop courses based on a research-based instructional approach, which will be provided by the University of Colorado and modified to fit our needs,” Cheng said. 

“The modified University of Colorado model/experience can help UTRGV to integrate teaching and research as UTRGV aims to become an emerging research institute from its mainly teaching-dominated climate of the past.”

The project aims to strengthen teaching methods between all levels of faculty members and lecturers.

“The three-institution project involves three different institution types with different histories and traditions of supporting teaching practice, and an important goal of the project is to learn from one another to better promote research-based instruction in STEM courses at our three institutions,” Cheng said.

“We learn from each other through the research intensive universities and how the faculty incorporated research projects through their teachings, and we will modify that to fit our needs here at UTRGV. The colleagues in Colorado and myself are in geoscience or applied geoscience, and geoscience itself is a very interdisciplinary study. The model used in geoscience at other institutes in the nation can be expanded and exchanged to all STEM fields,” he said.

The NSF grant carries an award of $3 million over five years. UTRGV’s portion is $635,000, with the remaining funds going to the University of Colorado and Front Range Community College.

Cheng said the grant can benefit UTRGV in many ways, like supporting faculty with more research-intensive teaching approaches that involve students and enhance faculty student interactions.

PRIMERS also hopes to nurture and promote new collaborative and innovative research opportunities through its events and activities between participants, faculty and colleagues from STEMS fields at UTRGV and partner institutions.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.