posted May 1, 2003

Hope Holds Five NSF REU Grants

Hope College again holds five grants for summer student research from the National Science Foundation's "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" (NSF- REU) program, more than any other liberal arts college in the country.

Among all institutions nationwide, including major research universities, only 24 others hold five or more of the awards. Hope is the only liberal arts college in Michigan to hold any of the grants, and only two universities in the state hold as many or more.

Hope holds the grants in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics and engineering. It is the 12th 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.

Three of the departments--computer science, mathematics and physics--are using their grants this year. The other two--biology and chemistry--are deferring use of their awards since their laboratory facilities will be in transition while the college's new science building nears competition. Each of the two programs will, however, continue research programs using other support.

Several students will be involved in biology research this summer. They will participate in projects involving the evolutionary relationships among bromeliad plants living along the Atlantic coast of Brazil, the effects of a fungal symbiont on drought resistance in grasses and their impact on parasites of insects that feed on those grasses, and biochemical mechanisms operating to regulate the function of nerve cells. Dr. Thomas L. Bultman is administering the department's summer research program.

In chemistry, 28 Hope students will work on projects that include the analysis of environmental samples by inductively-coupled plasma (ICP) spectroscopy, the study of the role of transcription factors in gene regulation, the synthesis of organic materials with novel optical and electrical properties, and computational studies of small molecules and biomolecules. Dr. Graham F. Peaslee and Dr. Elizabeth M. Sanford are administering the department's summer research program.

The department of computer science's grant is supporting 10 students working with five faculty for 10 weeks. The projects include "Electronic Textbook Development," "Automated Visualization of Abstract Data Types," "Evaluating the Effect of Text Formatting on Software Comprehension," "Wireless Network Analysis Using Handheld Computers," "Functional Modeling of Genes and Cellular Processes," and "Speech and Dialog on Small Devices." In addition to Hope computer science students and faculty, students from Bradley University, Taylor University, Kalamazoo College, Wheaton College and Florida International University will be working on the projects. The three-year, $163,213 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 three faculty members for eight weeks. They will be researching quantum geometry, and the mathematical modeling of bicycles, frisbees and swings. The four-year, $145,000 grant is being administered by Dr. Timothy Pennings, associate professor of mathematics.

The department of physics and engineering's grant is supporting eight students working with nine faculty for 10 weeks. The eight projects include "Studies in Nuclear Physics," "High Energy Phenomena in Neutron Star Magnetospheres," "Control Analysis and Design of Magnetic Levitation Space Launch System," "Development of Laboratory Projects for Technological Literacy," "Physics Curriculum Development," "Blast Damage Predictions of Flat Pressurized Plates," "Experimental Investigations of Novel Semi- Conducting Materials," and "Physical Property Modeling from Equations of State." The three-year, $141,125 grant is being administered by Dr. John Krupczak Jr., who is an associate professor of engineering and director of the college's engineering program.

In addition to Hope, the institutions in Michigan with NSF-REU support currently are: Central Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, Oakland University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan at Dearborn, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. Only Michigan State University and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor hold as many or more of the grants, with five and six respectively.