Math Understanding
through the
Science of Life








MUSCLE, or Math Understanding through the Science of Life, a curriculum enhancement program intended to increase the number of students who choose science related careers, focused on the integration of mathematics into all areas of study with particular emphasis on the life sciences. Through hands-on projects we engaged students' creativity and curiosity. Lessons provided meaningful contexts in which students learned the utility of mathematics as the universal language of quantification. The MUSCLE program was part of a three-year grant from the GE Fund. Twelve undergraduate engineering (or applied science) students from the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University spent ten hours per week at their partnership schools, Lakewood Elementary and Rogers-Herr Middle School, delivering hands-on lessons with their partnership teachers. The MUSCLE fellows provided expertise and function as positive role models for the children.

MUSCLE Director

Dr. Gary Ybarra, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Professor of Electrical Engineering at Duke University, is dedicated to encouraging youngsters to pursue technical careers.  Dr. Ybarra is responsible for developing this program and many others.  See more of his work at .

Martha Absher is Assistant Dean for Education and Outreach Programs at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. She serves as the Co-Principal Investigator of the Muscle Program. She has developed and directed many undergraduate and K-12 education and outreach programs over the past 13 years, and was a 1996 winner of the Presidential Award of Excellence for Mentoring in Science, Engineering and Mathematics.
You may contact Ms. Absher at


MUSCLE: a three year program funded by a $300,000 grant from the General Electric Fund and a $150,000 grant from the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University.

What's New?

Read recent newspaper articles about MUSCLE:

The Herald-Sun, 11-5-01

Duke Students Foster Math, Science Understanding

Dialogue Magazine, 10-26-01

Partnership Helps Local Students MUSCLE into Math

The News and Observer, 8-23-01

With Grants, Math Might Grow on Students at 2 Durham Schools


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                                Last updated: April 26, 2002.