posted May 27, 2010

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.  Among all institutions nationwide, including major research universities, fewer than a dozen hold more of the grants.

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.

"This is a major achievement for the natural and applied sciences division at Hope and I am very proud of my faculty," said Dr. Moses Lee, who is dean for the natural and applied sciences and a professor of chemistry at Hope.  "The success we enjoy is the labor of my faculty's hard work, the passion and dedication of our students, and the support of Hope's administration. With 169 students, 50 faculty members, and a handful of teachers participating in summer research 2010, Hope has the largest undergraduate research program among undergraduate institutions in the nation, and the opportunity for students to learn science by doing science is a distinctive of a Hope education."

The department of biology's grant is supporting seven students conducting research in the department this summer. They are working with some of the 10 faculty on a broad range of projects including the development of a model of Parkinson's disease in animals, impacts of oxidative stress on membrane transport in nerve cells, the role of specific proteins in cancer development, the neural link between nutrition and reproductive physiology, ecological impacts of  the chemical defense of seeds in Costa Rica, gene transfer in parasitic plants, the molecular biology of the human parasite Giardia,  the role of endophytic fungi in managed and natural ecosystems, environmental factors mediating competition among birds, the role of intercellular signals in embryological development, and using ecological processes in the discovery of naturally occurring, medicinally useful compounds.  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. Fraley and by Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray, professor of biology.

The department of chemistry's grant is supporting five students 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.  The three-year, $185,540 grant, which will support seven students in 2011 and nine students in 2012, 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 eight students working with four faculty members this summer. The projects include "Simulation of a Software Development Process," "Human Computing Games to Solve NP-Complete Problems" and "Assisting Vision-Impaired People with Mobile Phones."  In addition to Hope computer science students and faculty, students from three other institutions will be working on the projects. This is the second 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 four faculty members this summer. The research projects include problems in topology, combinatorics, numerical analysis and dynamical systems. The five-year, $230,550 grant is being administered by Dr. Timothy Pennings, professor of mathematics, and Dr. Mark Pearson, associate professor of mathematics.

The department of physics is in the first year of a three-year grant. The $187,317 grant is supporting seven students working with five faculty members each of the three summers. 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.