posted March 29, 2011

Michigan Space Grant Consortium Supports Several Hope Projects

Several Hope College projects have received grants from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium.

A total of eight projects from Hope received funding from the consortium through its 2011-12 grant period. The awards to Hope projects, which total $35,000, are in five categories: four are fellowships for students conducting collaborative research with members of the faculty, two are "seed grants" for faculty research; one is through a teacher-training program; and one received support through initiatives for pre-college education and for attracting members of underrepresented groups to mathematics and science careers.

The consortium awarded grants in seven categories to a total of 75 projects statewide, chosen from among 125 applications.

Hope will provide additional support for each of the projects, including stipends for the students as they conduct research during the summer, and matching funds for the faculty and institutional projects.

The students receiving fellowships were: sophomore Caleb Billman of New Ringgold, Pa., who will work on "Characterizing the Present Day Spatial Distribution of Nearby Neutron Stars" with Dr. Peter Gonthier, professor of physics; sophomore Leah Labarge of Hudsonville, who will work on "Mathematical modeling and field studies of burial and erosion-dependent plant population dynamics in coastal sand dunes" with Dr. Edward Hansen, professor of geology and environmental science, and Dr. Brian Yurk, assistant professor of mathematics; freshman Cornelius Smits of Hamilton, who will work on "Implementation of an 8-Tetrahedral Robotic Structure" with Dr. Miguel Abrahantes, assistant professor of engineering; and junior Caitlin Taylor of Kalamazoo, who will work on "Unstable Neutron-Rich Nuclei: Beryllium 13 and Oxygen 26" with Dr. Paul DeYoung, who is the Kenneth G. Herrick Professor of Physics and chairperson of the department.

The two faculty seed grants were awarded to Suzanne DeVries-Zimmerman, part-time lecturer in the geological and environmental sciences, for "Using Plant Macrofossils to Determine Paleoenvironmental Conditions in an Allegan County, Michigan Peat Bog"; and Dr. Brian Yurk, assistant professor of mathematics, for "Mathematical modeling and field studies of burial and erosion-dependent plant population dynamics in coastal sand dunes."  The grants are designed for junior faculty, to develop research expertise that will position them to earn support from other sources in the future.

The grant through the teacher-training program was awarded to Dr. Brent Krueger, associate professor of chemistry, for "Implementation and ongoing support for computationally-based investigative lessons in high school classrooms."

The support through the initiatives focused on pre-college education and recruiting and retaining members of underrepresented groups in science, mathematics and technology fields was awarded to Dr. Vicki-Lynn Holmes, assistant professor of mathematics and education, for "Teaching Algebra Concepts through Technology: Linking increased teacher pedagogy to student achievement."

The Michigan Space Grant Consortium seeks to foster awareness of, education in, and research on space-related science and technology in Michigan. Hope and Calvin College are the only undergraduate colleges that are a member of the consortium, which also includes Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Oakland University, Saginaw Valley State University, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University.