K-12 Programs



HHMI logo

Faculty Research Grants


This program supports faculty/student collaborative research at Hope in the nine HHMI 2012 departments.  All funded projects must support the overall goals of the Hope HHMI 2012 program, which is to help develop future STEM research leaders. Preference will be given to projects that include explicit connections to the HHMI 2012 program components (course-based research experience program, the bridge program and the CSI program), though research with undergraduate collaborators is the minimum qualifying criterion.

Funding details

This program has $30,000/year for each of the four years of the HHMI 2012 grant period. At least two awards will be made each year. Applications are due November 1 in November 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Check out the program guidelines and application requirements webpage for more details

Current Recipients

2015 Awards

Dr. Charles Cusack and Dr. Airat Bekmetjev: "Exploration of Graham’s Conjecture in Graph Pebbling." Proposal.

Certain network optimization problems can be modeled using graph pebbling. Graph pebbling problems have sparked the interest of numerous researchers in mathematics and computer science, with an increasing number of published papers in the area each year. Graham’s conjecture about the pebbling number of the Cartesian product of two graphs has been of particular interest and has been one of the driving forces in the further development of the field. The goal of this project is to analyze problems related to Graham’s conjecture. This will involve creating more efficient algorithms to determine pebbling solvability of certain classes of graphs as well as studying several specific graphs (e.g. the Lemke graph) in considerable detail in order to better understand their relationship to the conjecture.

Dr. Jianhua Li, Dr. K. Greg Murray, and Dr. Kenneth Brown: "An Interdisciplinary Study of Bocconia and Macleaya (Poppy Relatives): Systematic Relationships, Invasive History, and Chemical Profiles"

Plume poppy (Bocconia) is a plant genus with 10 species in Central and South America. As in many other species of the poppy plant family, the group contains various alkaloids, which are important chemicals in traditional herbal medicine. A close relative of Bocconia is Macleaya from eastern Asia. In comparison with other intercontinental disjunct distributions, the C & S American and eastern Asian disjunction is rare, providing a model system to test hypotheses about the formation of the geographic distribution. Species of Bocconia occur in open habitats and can be potentially invasive when introduced to areas with similar environments. Indeed, Bocconia frutescens has been listed as a noxious weed on Hawaii and Maui. Macleaya also produces various alkaloids with antibacterial and antifungal capacities, and has long been utilized as a traditional Chinese medicine. In the proposed research, we will focus on three questions: 1) are species in Bocconia more closely related to other species of Bocconia than to either of the two species in Macleaya? In other words, are Bocconia and Macleaya separately evolving lineages? 2) where in the C & S Americas is the source of Bocconia frutescens on the islands of Hawaii and Maui? 3) are there differences in the diversity of alkaloids between Bocconia and Macleaya, and between populations of B. frutescens in C & S Americas and the Islands of Maui and Hawaii? Exploring answers to the questions will clarify the taxonomy of Bocconia and Macleaya, provide insights into the formation of the C & S America and eastern Asian disjunction, help control invasive species and preserve native diversity, and lay a solid foundation for medicinal usages of the plant resources in both the New and Old Worlds.

Dr. Courtney Peckens: "Development of wireless sensor node for structural monitoring and damage detection in civil infrastructure" Proposal.

Recent structural failures, such as the roof collapse at the Charles de Gaulle airport or the I-70 overpass collapse in Pennsylvania, have called public attention to the problem of deteriorating infrastructure systems. To enhance the resiliency of urban communities, permanent deployments of arrays of wireless sensors have been proposed to monitor infrastructure systems in order to detect damage prior to complete failure. Over the last several decades, wireless sensor technologies have arose as an inexpensive and robust method of data collection and are used in a variety of structural monitoring applications for various types of infrastructure systems. These systems can offer low-cost and low-power communication between a large number of sensing devices but can also be limited by several factors, including the need for a constant power supply, unreliable communication, and the necessity for dependable data collection strategies. These can often be challenging to achieve in real-world applications due to harsh environmental conditions and overall limitations of the current technology. We will attempt to overcome many of these challenges in a new wireless sensor node that directly interfaces with a renewable energy source. This new wireless sensor will be used in a long-term monitoring application for civil infrastructure that will focus on early damage detection techniques.

Dr. Katherine Polasek: "Mathematical Models to Predict Nerve Activation to Develop a Treatment for Phantom Limb Pain."

Phantom limb pain adversely affects 64% of amputees and most treatment options are ineffective [2]. The long term goal of my research is to develop a non-invasive, home-based therapy for treating phantom limb pain. This proposal focuses on the development of mathematical models for predicting effective electrode configurations and stimulation parameters in order to activate different portions of the nerve. Following this work, an algorithm will be developed to assign stimulation levels to each electrode and eliminate the need for perfect electrode placement. The first objective of this proposal is to determine which physiological and/or anatomical differences between motor and sensory axons explain the selective activation of sensation that has been found experimentally. These differences will be used in a mathematical model to predict axon firing and explain the different excitabilities. The second objective of this proposal is to determine an electrode configuration that predicts differential activation of the nerve. A previously-developed anatomical 3D model of the arm will be combined with the model from the first objective. This combination of models will be used to evaluate different electrode configurations. An effective electrode array will allow adjustment of the relative electrode activations to change which part of the nerve is active. This funding will provide significant summer research experience for at least two Hope students and further the field of biomedical engineering.




©2015 Hope College Howard Hughes Medical Institute Program | 35 E. 12th St. | Holland, MI 49423
hhmi@hope.edu | phone: 616.395.7265 | fax: 616.395.7118