posted May 25, 2011

Hope First among Colleges in Holding NSF-REU Grants

Hope College continues to hold more grants for summer collaborative faculty-student research from the National Science Foundation (NSF) than any other undergraduate college in the country.

Hope holds five awards through the NSF's "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" program, in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics.

Nationwide, only 20 institutions, all comprehensive universities or research agencies, hold more of the grants.  In Michigan, only the University of Michigan has more of the awards, with 11; no other college or university in the state has more than two.

Through Hope's REU grants, undergraduate students from across the nation have joined 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.

The department of biology's grant is supporting seven students conducting research in the department this summer. They are working with six faculty members on a broad range of projects including the development of a model of schizophrenia in animals, the role of specific proteins in cancer development, a potential stem cell regulator of embryological development in roundworms, the mechanism by which viruses take over host cell metabolism, the role of endophytic fungi in managed and natural ecosystems, and forest dynamics and pioneer plant demography in a Costa Rican cloud forest.  The five-year, $250,835 NSF-REU grant is being administered by Dr. Christopher Barney, professor of biology and Dr. Gregory Fraley, associate professor of biology and the summer research program is being directed by  Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray, professor of biology.

The department of chemistry's grant is supporting seven students this summer conducting research in the department this summer. They are working with some of the 13 faculty doing research on a broad range of projects in analytical chemistry, biochemistry, environmental chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry.  This is the second year of a three-year, $185,540 grant, which supported five students in the summer of 2010.  The grant will support nine students in 2012.  The grant is being administered by Dr. Kenneth Brown, associate professor of chemistry; Dr. Graham Peaslee, professor of chemistry and chairperson of the department, and professor of geology/environmental science; and Dr. Elizabeth Sanford, associate professor of chemistry.

The department of computer science's grant is supporting 10 students working with five faculty members this summer. The summer will include six research projects: "Algorithms for Graph Pebbling," "Human Computing Games for Graph Problems," "Modeling Bacterial Metabolism and Genetic Regulation," "Assistive Technology with Android on Mobile Phones," "Building an online survey system" and "Android Robotics: Android makes Robots Smarter." In addition to Hope computer science students and faculty, the department's summer research will include a faculty member from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., and four students from four other institutions. This is the final year of a three-year, $320,686 grant that is being administered by Dr. Michael Jipping, professor of computer science.  The award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) (Public Law 111.5).

The grant held by the department of mathematics is supporting six students working with two faculty members this summer.  Dr. Timothy Pennings, working with five research students on two projects, will be mathematically modeling natural and social phenomena. Two students working with Pennings will study the dynamics of the recent "Arab Spring." Oppressed populations use Facebook and other modern communications to organize rallies to wrestle power away from the rulers, who counter either with intimidating force or by acquiescing to the demands in order to retain control. Research questions include the best strategy for each, and whether compromises and shared power result or if the process is a "zero-one game" of winner take all. Three students working with Pennings will be modeling the dynamics of dune movement, considering questions such as why dunes assume their characteristic shape, what does their present shape ways about past weather conditions and possibilities for the future.  Dr. Brian Yurk, will be working with one mathematics REU student, who will be studying the influence of changing climate on insect populations, developing, calibrating and testing mathematical models that describe the effects of temperature on insect metabolism and developmental rate.  The five-year, $230,550 grant is being administered by Pennings.

The department of physics is in the second year of a three-year grant. The $187,317 grant is supporting nine students working with five faculty members this summer. The projects are in nuclear physics, astrophysics, forensic science, biophysics, solid state physics and plasma physics. The grant is administered by Stephen Remillard, assistant professor of physics, and Dr. Jennifer Hampton, assistant professor of physics.