posted June 6, 2012

Hope First among Liberal Arts 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” (REU) program, in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics.

No other liberal arts college has more than two of the awards, and Hope is the only liberal arts college in Michigan to have any of them.  Nationwide, only 31 institutions, all comprehensive universities or research agencies, hold more of the grants.  In addition to Hope, in Michigan eight universities hold NSF-REU awards.

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 impact of heat acclimation on water balance in rats, a potential stem cell regulator of embryological development in roundworms, a comprehensive study of groundnut, a new promising root crop with both nutritional and medicinal value, a comparative analyses of microbial genomes, molecular recognition of fatty acids in yeast, and the characterization of genes and proteins important in infection by bacteriophages.  The five-year, $250,835 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. Aaron Putzke, assistant professor of biology.

The department of chemistry’s grant is supporting nine 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 third year of a three-year, $185,540 grant, which supported five students in the summer of 2010 and seven students in the summer of 2011.   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 13 students working with four faculty members this summer. The summer includes four research projects: “A Visual Editor for Graph Algorithms,” “Modeling Bacterial Metabolism and Genetic Regulation,” “Creating an Environment to Experiment with Security Threats,” and “Building an online survey system.”  In addition to Hope computer science students and faculty, the department’s summer research includes 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).

Six professors in the department of mathematics will mentor 13 research students in a variety of projects this summer.  The projects are in graph theory, mathematics education, applied topology, modeling the learning curve and combinatorics; there are also joint projects with geology and in mathematical biology.  This is the final year of a five-year, $230,550 grant being administered by Pennings and Dr. Mark Pearson, associate professor of mathematics.

The department of physics is in the third year of a three-year grant.  The $187,317 grant is supporting six students (including one incoming freshman) working with five faculty members this summer. The projects are in nuclear physics, astrophysics, forensic science, 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.