posted April 19, 1999

Grants Support Geology

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Petroleum Research Fund (PRF) have recently funded research and teaching in the department of geological and  environmental sciences at Hope College.

          Last summer, the NSF awarded a $27,365
  instructional laboratory instrumentation (ILI) grant to
  faculty members Brian Bodenbender, Jonathan Peterson and
  Graham Peaslee for the acquisition and development of an
  environmental science laboratory.
          A major component of the project is a Geographic
  Information System (GIS).  "GIS allows manipulation and
  display of large geographic databases, and is rapidly
  becoming a fundamental tool in environmental science,
  ecology and land-use planing," said Peterson, who is an
  assistant professor of environmental science.  "The GIS
  award gives the department and the division the opportunity
  to expose Hope science students to one of the latest
  techniques in environmentally-related research."
          In addition, the grant supported the acquisition
  of state-of-the art equipment for chemical analysis of air
  and water.
          The GIS has already spawned additional research
  funding.  In March, the PRF awarded Bodenbender a two-year,
  $25,000 grant to develop a GIS database of fossil localities
  in Michigan.  Bodenbender's research will help piece
  together the paleontological record of Middle Devonian rocks
  in the Michigan Basin, dating from 390 to 370 million years
  ago.
          "Rocks of this age preserve an extraordinarily
  rich variety of sea floor fossil communities that
  paleontologists from Michigan and elsewhere have studied for
  more than a century," said Bodenbender, who is an assistant
  professor of geology and environmental science.  "GIS will
  help find relationships among the data from earlier studies
  in an effort to better understand the organisms and
  environments of the Middle Devonian.  This study is
  particularly relevant for funding by the PRF because
  Devonian rocks have been the most productive units for
  Michigan's oil and gas industry."
          Ground water research is also active in the
  department.  This semester, Peterson received a two-year
  grant from the NSF program for academic liaisons with
  industry, known as GOALI.  The $132,000 grant will be shared
  with a collaborator at the University of Michigan-Dearborn,
  and is funded by the NSF (55 percent) and by an
  environmental consulting firm (45 percent).
          The research will make correlations between ground
  water remediation experiments performed by Peterson and his
  students at Hope, computer modeling performed at U of M, and
  petroleum-contaminated field sites in the greater
  metropolitan Detroit area.  The goal of the research is to
  develop a model that will predict the cleanup efficiency for
  a subsurface remediation technique known as "air sparging."