posted April 19, 2004

Hope Has Record-High Six NSF-REU Grants

Hope College holds six grants for summer student research from the National Science Foundation's "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" (NSF-REU) program, topping its previous total of five awards and continuing to hold more than any other liberal arts college in the country.

Among all institutions nationwide, including major research universities, fewer than 10 hold 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.

New this year among the Hope programs with NSF-REU support is the department of geological and environmental sciences. Hope also holds the grants in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics and engineering. It is the 13th consecutive year that at least four Hope departments have had NSF-REU support.

Through Hope's REU grants, undergraduate students from across the nation are joining Hope College students to conduct 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 dozens of students whose summer research at Hope is supported in other ways.

A total of 13 students will be conducting research through the department of biology's NSF-REU grant, working with nine faculty for 10 weeks. They will participate in projects involving the regeneration of rain forests in Costa Rica, the effects of a fungal symbiont on drought resistance in grasses and their impact on insects that feed on those grasses, biochemical mechanisms operating to regulate the function of nerve cells, the molecular biology of lipid metabolism in yeast, and the role of a newly discovered protein in cell growth. The four-year, $318,620 grant is being administered by Dr. Tom Bultman, professor of biology and chair of the department, and Dr. Virginia McDonough, associate professor of biology.

The department of chemistry's grant will support 10 students conducting research in the department this summer. They will work with 12 faculty for 10 weeks on broad range of projects including "Characterization of a Novel Vasopressin Receptor," "Characterization of Metal Contamination in Environmental Lake Sediment Samples," "Polymer Research: Novel Silicone Surfactants and Vesicles," and "Biophysical Studies Using Laser Spectroscopy and Computational Modeling." The four-year, $256,000 grant is being administered by Dr. Joanne L. Stewart, professor of chemistry, and the summer research program is coordinated by Dr. William F. Polik, professor of chemistry.

The department of computer science's grant is supporting nine students working with five faculty for 10 weeks. The projects include "Electronic Textbook Development," "Functional Modeling of Genes and Cellular Processes," "Evaluating the Effect of Text Formatting on Software Comprehension," "HCI and different domains and/or cognitive styles," "Computer Simulation of Biological Processes" and "Tools to Measure Performance of Applications on Mobile Phones." In addition to Hope computer science students and faculty, students from five other institutions will be working on the projects and Professor Mary Granger from George Washington University will be on the Hope campus supervising one of the projects. This is the first year of a five-year, $352,250 grant that is being administered by Dr. Herbert Dershem, professor of computer science.

The grant held by the department of geological and environmental sciences focuses on field and laboratory study of a dinosaur site at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains in central Wyoming. The goals of the project are to understand the ancient environments in which dinosaurs and other fossils at the site were preserved, and to learn more about the extinct organisms themselves. The $232,513 grant will support 10 students per year for the next three years. Dr. Brian Bodenbender, associate professor of geological and environmental sciences, is administering the project and is working in cooperation with the three other faculty in Hope's department, and with Dr. Timothy Demko of the University of Minnesota Duluth, Dr. Mark Uhen of the Cranbrook Institute of Science and Dr. Glenn Storrs of the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History.

The grant held by the department of mathematics is supporting eight students working with two faculty members for eight weeks. They will be using mathematical modeling to analyze heat conduction and animal behavior, and possibly to find optimal solutions to school bus routes. The four-year, $145,000 grant is being administered by Dr. Timothy Pennings, professor of mathematics.

The department of physics and engineering's grant is supporting eight students working with eight faculty members for 10 weeks. The research projects are in the areas of nuclear physics, nuclear theory, general relativity, science education, fracture mechanics, aeronautics, astrophysics, nonlinear control and chemical property modeling. The three-year, $141,125 grant is being administered by Dr. John Krupczak, associate professor of engineering.

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 of the grants as Hope, with six each.