posted April 29, 2002

Five Departments Hold NSF-REF Grants

For the fifth year in a row, Hope holds five grants for summer student research from the National Science Foundation's "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" (NSF-REU) program.

Although complete national data for 2002 is not yet available, last year Hope held more of the grants than any other liberal arts college in the country and more than all but 17 other institutions of any sort nationwide, including major research universities.

Hope holds the awards in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics and engineering. It is the 11th consecutive year that at least four Hope departments have had NSF-REU support.

Through Hope's grants, undergraduate students from both Hope and elsewhere are conducting research full-time with Hope faculty members for eight to 10 weeks this summer, and are receiving stipends as well as support for housing, travel and other expenses. They are working with students whose summer research at Hope is supported in other ways.

Four of the departments are using their grants this year. The fifth is deferring use of its award while it utilizes other support.

The department of biology's grant is supporting 12 students working with nine faculty members for 10 weeks. Some of the projects include the regulation of lipid production in yeast, the effects of hormones on water balance, regulation of uptake of neurotransmitters in the brain, understanding evolutionary relationships of plants, and the effect of hybridization on species definition in plants. The four-year, $318,620 grant is being administered by Dr. Thomas Bultman, who is professor of biology and chair of the department, and Dr. Timothy Evans, who is an assistant professor of biology.

The department of chemistry's grant is supporting eight students working among 10 faculty for 10 or more weeks. The research projects include Inductively-Coupled Plasma (ICP) analysis of environmental samples, synthesis of polymers and laser studies of biomolecules. This summer, the three-year, $139,119 grant is being administered by Dr. Graham F. Peaslee and Dr. Elizabeth M. Sanford, associate professors of chemistry.

The department of computer science's grant is supporting eight students working with four faculty for 10 weeks. The projects include "Electronic Textbooks," "Static Analysis Tool Development for C++ Programs, "SIMD Implementation of Computational Geometry Algorithms" and "A Parallel Processing Platform from Networked Handheld Computers." In addition to Hope computer science students and faculty, students from Carnegie Mellon University, Eastern Illinois University, Grand Valley State University and Hendrix College will join faculty from Grand Valley and the University of Zimbabwe on the projects. The three-year, $143,213 grant is being administered by Dr. Herbert Dershem, professor of computer science and chair of the department.

The department of mathematics's grant is supporting eight students working with two faculty members for eight weeks. The projects include "Mathematical Modeling with Dynamical Systems" and "Bionformatics," looking at the probabilistic tools that biologists use to assess the similarity between DNA sequences. The four-year, $120,000 grant is being administered by Dr. Timothy Pennings, associate professor of mathematics.

The department of physics and engineering is deferring use of its grant for a year as it makes maximum use of other support that members of the faculty have received for their research projects. During the coming summer, 11 students will be working with members of the Hope faculty for 10 weeks. Research emphases include nuclear physics, with radioactive nuclear beams; astrophysics, of neutron stars; electrical engineering and system control; chemical engineering; theoretical mechanical engineering; and experimental mechanical engineering.