posted April 20, 2005

Hope a Leader with Six NSF-REU Grants

For a second consecutive year Hope College holds six grants for summer student research from the National Science Foundation's "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" (NSF-REU) program, continuing to hold more than any other liberal arts college in the country.

Among all institutions nationwide, including major research universities, fewer than two dozen hold as many or more of the grants.

Hope holds the grants in biology, chemistry, computer science, the geological and environmental sciences, mathematics, and physics and engineering. It is the 14th 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 15 students will be conducting research through the department of biology's NSF-REU grant, working with 10 faculty for 10 weeks. They will participate in projects involving the chemical defense from seed predators by trees from rain forests in Costa Rica, the evolutionary biology of wild tropical relatives of the pineapple, the neural link between nutrition and reproductive physiology, the molecular biology of the human parasite Giardia, 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. Timothy Evans, associate professor of biology.

The department of chemistry's grant will support 10 students conducting research in the department for the summer. They will work with 12 faculty for 10 weeks on a broad range of projects in analytical chemistry, biochemistry, environmental chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry. 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, who is the Edward and Elizabeth Hofma Professor of Chemistry at Hope.

The department of computer science's grant is supporting nine students working with five faculty for 10 weeks. The projects include "Electronic Textbook Evaluation and Development," "Simulating the ARM Architecture," "Tools to Measure Performance of Applications on Mobile Phones," "A Parallel Processing Platform from Networked Handheld Computers," "An Investigation of Data Mining," "Development of a Software Environment for Comparative Genome Analysis and Annotation," and "Random Workload Generation for Disk Arrays." In addition to Hope computer science students and faculty, students from five other institutions will be working on the projects and Professors Jonathan Geisler from Taylor University and Zachary Kumar from Grand Valley State University will be on the Hope campus supervising projects. This is the second year of a five-year, $352,250 grant that is being administered by Dr. Herbert Dershem, professor of computer science.

The department of geological and environmental sciences is in the second year of its $232,513, three-year grant to study the ancient environments that preserved dinosaur fossils at a site in northern Wyoming. Ten REU students will work at the site this summer. Individual projects will focus on detailed mapping of bone deposits, analysis of how the bones were buried and compacted, the preservation of plant fossils at the site, interpretation of specific sedimentary deposits, and the relationship of the site to other rock units and fossil sites in the region. Dr. Brian Bodenbender, an associate professor, is administering the project and is working in cooperation with the three other faculty in the department at Hope along with faculty from the University of Minnesota at Duluth, the Cranbrook Institute of Science and the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History.

The grant held by the department of mathematics is supporting six students working with four faculty members for eight weeks. Research will include problems in topology, geometry, graph theory, and the use of mathematics to model biological systems. 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 projects are in nuclear physics, astrophysics, cryogenics, blast damage, semiconductor devices, nonlinear control, chemical property modeling, nuclear biophysics and nuclear environmental science. Some students will study how aircraft panels fail after explosives detonate nearby in order to help develop better systems, while others will study the sediments of local lakes in order to better understand environmental issues. The grant is administered by Dr. Catherine Mader, associate professor of physics; Dr. Mark Little, assistant professor of physics; and Dr. Michael Misovich, 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, Michigan Technological University, Oakland University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan at Dearborn, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University.