A three-year grant from the Merck
Company Foundation will support interdisciplinary summer
research experiences in biology and chemistry for students
at Hope College.
The $60,000 grant has been awarded through the
"Undergraduate Science Research Program" funded by the
foundation and administered by the American Association for
the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and will support four
student researchers during each of the next three summers.
Only approximately 15 of the awards were made nationwide for
The program seeks to promote undergraduate
research at the interface of biology and chemistry. It was
launched in 1993, but 2001 is the first year that awards
have been available to colleges and universities nationwide.
The program was previously available only to 12 northeastern
and mid-Atlantic states.
Public and private universities are eligible to
compete for the three-year grants if located in the United
States; if they offer an American Chemical Society-approved
program in chemistry; and if their primary emphasis is on
undergraduate education. Dr. Joanne Stewart of the Hope
chemistry faculty believes that the college received one of
the awards not only for meeting the general criteria, but
for a demonstrated history of interdisciplinary work and
student research participation.
"For example, we have two faculty who hold joint
appointments to the two departments," said Stewart, who is a
professor of chemistry and chair of the department at Hope.
"We also have several collaborative projects between
chemistry and biology faculty."
Dr. Maria Burnatowska-Hledin and Dr Leah Chase
each hold appointments in both biology and chemistry. Joint
projects have ranged from a study of chemical defense in
tropical pioneer plant seeds, conducted by chemist Dr.
William Mungall and biologist Dr. K. Greg Murray, to a study
of how anti-mutagenic and anti-tumor agents interact using
accelerator mass spectroscopy, conducted by physicist Dr.
Paul DeYoung, biologist Dr. James Gentile, chemist Dr.
Graham Peaslee. Hope students conduct research with faculty
during the school year and summer alike.
Stewart also noted that collaboration will receive
even stronger institutional support in the future. The
plans for the college's new science building, which is part
of the "Legacies: A Vision of Hope" capital campaign, put
biology and chemistry on the same floor with just such
interdisciplinary projects in mind.