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Connecticut College awarded more than $1.6 million in faculty research grants

09/23/2009

NEW LONDON, Conn. - Connecticut College has been awarded more than $1.6 million in faculty research grants since the beginning of summer 2009. The grants support projects in various fields of study, with the majority supporting research in the sciences.

"The scope of these awards speaks to the excellence of our faculty members, who are on the cutting edge of research in their fields and bring their expertise into the classroom every day," Connecticut College President Leo I. Higdon Jr. said. "These grants also complement our long-standing practice of offering students opportunities for real and meaningful research with professors."

Each grant is 100 percent federally funded unless otherwise noted below.

- $582,899 National Science Foundation grant to support chemistry research

Bruce Branchini, the Hans and Ella McCollum '21 Vahlteich Professor of Chemistry, has been awarded a $582,899 Research in Undergraduate Institutions grant from the National Science Foundation for a four-year project to increase the understanding of bioluminescence, or the process by which living organisms - such as fireflies - convert chemical energy into light. The grant will provide opportunities for undergraduate students, particularly those who are currently underrepresented in the sciences, to conduct research that will help them prepare for science-related careers.

- $207,000 National Institute of Health grant to support chemistry research

Timo Ovaska, the Hans and Ella McCollum '21 Vahlteich Professor of Chemistry, has been awarded $207,000 from the National Institute of Health for his research on the synthesis of polycyclic cycloheptanoid ring systems found in a number of biologically active natural products. These compounds are of considerable medicinal interest as potential anti-tumor, anti-HIV, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents. [i]

- $200,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant to support history research

Connecticut College has been awarded $200,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a collaborative project, "Søren Kierkegaard's Journals and Notebooks," between Brian Soderquist, adjunct professor of theology at the University of Copenhagen, and Bruce Kirmmse, professor emeritus of history at Connecticut College. Together, Kirmmse and Soderquist are working to produce a critical English-language edition of the unpublished writings of Kierkegaard (1813 - 1855). This project is 50 percent federally financed, 41 percent financed with $168,000 from the Kierkegaard Centre at the University of Copenhagen, including funds provided by the Ministry of Culture of the Danish government, and nine percent funded with a $34,599 match grant from Connecticut College. [ii]

- $199,020 National Institute of Health grant to support chemistry research

Marc Zimmer, professor of chemistry, has been awarded a $199,020 Academic Research Enhancement grant from the National Institute of Health to support his project, "Understanding and finding new fluorescent proteins." This renewed three-year grant will fund Zimmer's computational research on the structural and photophysical properties of fluorescent proteins, which can be used to help fight cancer. As part of the project, four Connecticut College students will conduct research with Zimmer each year. Additionally, through an educational outreach component of the project, Zimmer will use the green fluorescent protein to help build excitement for the sciences among children. [iii]

- $174,494 National Science Foundation grant to support computer science research

Ozgur Izmirli, associate professor of computer science, and Gary Parker, associate professor of computer science, have been awarded $174,494 from the National Science Foundation to support the second phase of a collaborative research project with Trinity College and Wesleyan University to revitalize undergraduate computing education using open source software. This project builds on the accomplishments and results of a 2007 project, "Can Humanitarian Open-Source Software Development Help Revitalize Undergraduate Computing Education?" which focused on engaging students in the development of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to benefit humanitarian efforts. Parker and Izmirli have also received a $5,000 National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates grant in conjunction with the project.

- $118,500 National Science Foundation grant to support physics research

Mohamed Diagne, the Oakes Ames Associate Professor of Physics, has been awarded $118,500 from the National Science Foundation for his collaborative research project, "Active Plasmonics for mid-IR Sensing," which he is conducting with Daniel Wasserman, assistant professor of physics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. As part of the project, undergraduate students will have an opportunity to conduct research with Diagne and travel to conferences to present their findings. The project also contains a strong outreach component, with a one-week "Photonics Camp" at the UMass Lowell Photonics Center. This project is 100 percent federally funded with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

- $99,688 NASA grant to support physics research

Arlan Mantz, the Oakes Ames Professor Emeritus of Physics, has been awarded $99,688 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to support his research project, "Spectroscopic parameters of carbon monoxide and methane for Ascends." This project builds on Mantz's previous research on molecular absorption line shapes at room temperature and at low temperatures. The molecular temperatures simulate temperatures in the atmospheres of the outer planets (and their moons) in our solar systems. Mantz has also received a $4,000 European Office of Aerospace Research and Development, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, United States Air Force Research Laboratory grant to support the publication of the proceedings from the 7th International Conference on Tunable Diode Laser Spectroscopy, held this past July in Switzerland.

- $35,000 American Educational Research Association grant to support human development research

Jennifer Fredricks, associate professor of human development, has been awarded a two-year, $35,000 American Educational Research Association grant to support a series of analyses examining the effects of participation in both structured and unstructured out-of-school activities during 10th grade on academic, psychological and social outcomes in 12th grade and two years after high school graduation. [iv]

- $21,000 National Institute of Health grant to support psychology research Audrey Zakriski, associate professor of psychology, has been awarded $21,000 in supplemental funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 from the National Institute of Health to extend and enrich a successful undergraduate research mentoring program related to her study, "Contextual versus Syndromal Assessment of Behavior Change in At-Risk Youth." Conducted in collaboration with Jack Wright, associate professor of psychology at Brown University, and Wediko Children's Services, the ongoing work investigates how contextual approaches to assessment can enhance our understanding of child psychopathy. [v]

- $15,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to support dance

David Dorfman, professor of dance, has been awarded $15,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts to perform postmodern dancer Laura Dean's "Skylight" at Connecticut College and throughout the New London community. The grant covers 42 percent of the project; Connecticut College will fund the remaining cost.

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[i] The project is supported by Award No. R15GM077179 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences or the National Institute of Health.

[ii] Any views, findings conclusions or recommendations expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

[iii] The project is supported by Award No. R15GM059108 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences or the National Institute of Health.

[iv] The AERA Research Grants Program receives its support from the National Science Foundation.

[v] The project described is supported by Award No. R15MH076787 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institute of Health.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Deborah MacDonnell (860) 439-2504, dmacdonn@conncoll.edu



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