Wake Forest awarded $250,000 for e-textbook development


Dan Johnson (left) and Jed Makosco

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations have awarded Wake Forest University $250,000 for further development of Biobook, a new kind of e-textbook created by Teaching Associate Professor of Biology Dan Johnson and Associate Professor of Physics Jed Macosko.

Biobook offers content in an unconventional way. Unlike the traditional heavy and expensive textbooks of old, the $30 Biobook is accessible by smart-phone, tablet or computer. It breaks down complex and lengthy topics into small, manageable chunks of knowledge that can be changed and updated as educators see fit.

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations’ grant will help Johnson and his collaborators establish partnerships with six additional undergraduate universities interested in adopting an open-access, low-cost alternative textbook for biology.

“Our hope is that with this grant we will be able to establish Biobook as a far-reaching entity,” Johnson said. “We want to extend our gratitude to the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, a tremendous ally for advancing STEM in higher education.”

The Foundations’ grant will also provide funding for the development of an alternative e-textbook for chemistry called Chembook. Macokso and Associate Teaching Professor of Chemistry Al Rives will collaborate with Johnson on this new project.

“In making this philanthropic gift to Wake Forest University, the trustees and staff of the Foundations honor your organizational strength, the quality and intention of your proposal, and your current leadership,” said Nancy J. Cable, president of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

Jacquelyn Fetrow, dean of Wake Forest College and the Reynolds Professor of Computational Biophysics, said in the current era, an informed citizenry must have a foundation of understanding in the STEM disciplines.

“That means making STEM material accessible and available to children and young people of all ages,” she said. “Biobook does exactly this for introductory biology concepts-it puts this material into an easy-to-access format to improve learning for educators and students, regardless of institution.”