Academic Spotlight
Faculty Research, Performance and Exhibitions

Bowdoin Research and Institution Grants Top $7 Million

Story posted August 14, 2009

Bowdoin College earned unparalleled support from foundations and institutions during the 2008-2009 academic year, which ended June 30, 2009.

Individual grant money and institutional support for the College totaled just over $7 million, representing a broad range of disciplines across the sciences, humanities, social sciences and fine arts. (Read a summary of individual faculty research, below.)

"This recognition of our faculty expertise and institutional academic excellence is an exceptional vote of confidence in the quality of the liberal arts experience at Bowdoin," noted Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd.

"That depth of support was reflected generously among Bowdoin alumni as well, who demonstrated their abiding commitment to Bowdoin faculty, students and academic programming during the recently completed Capital Campaign."

Support for Bowdoin science research continued to grow with new grants from several prestigious organizations, including the Clare Booth Luce Program, which encourages more women to engage in physical sciences such as chemistry, computer science, physics, math and engineering. A Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program grant will support collaborative, interdisciplinary research among Bowdoin biology and chemistry faculty and students. Both grants include stipends to support student projects.

The College's advances in sustainability and green initiatives drew support from the William Bingham and Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, respectively, while Bowdoin's Environmental Studies program received funding from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.

Faculty development took a leap forward as a result of Capital Campaign funding and a $1.7million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Beginning in 2011, recently tenured faculty will be eligible for a new, post-tenure sabbatical. In the near future, all Bowdoin faculty will be eligible for sabbatic leaves every 10 semesters, rather than 12, which greatly enhances opportunities for research and helps the College remain competitive with peer institutions.

The Bowdoin academic program received additional support from several foundations, including a grant to improve students' quantitative reasoning skills, funded by The Teagle Foundation. This collaborative initiative between Bates and Bowdoin College will help both colleges introduce new curricula and pedagogical techniques.

Finally, Bowdoin President Barry Mills was recognized by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for his leadership in elevating the role of the arts on the Bowdoin campus and across the curriculum. The Liberal Arts Colleges Program grant will help the College bring renowned lecturers, artists and performers to Bowdoin's renovated and expanded arts facilities and classrooms.

Bowdoin Faculty Grants 2008-09

Anthony Antolini (Music) was awarded a grant from the Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation to support the Bowdoin Chorus Tour, which took the group to Greece during summer 2009.

Pamela Ballinger (Sociology and Anthropology) won a prestigious Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship to support work on a new book, tentatively titled, Forgotten Refugees: Decolonization, Displaced Persons, and the Reconstruction of Italy and Europe. The book examines citizens from Italian territories who were forced to leave countries following the collapse of fascism during WWII. When "repatriated" to Italy, these half-million refugees encountered a country devastated by war and overwhelmed by displaced persons from Eastern Europe. Ballinger also was awarded a Stanford Fellowship for a residency at the Center for the Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences Program.

Thomas Baumgarte (Physics and Astronomy) received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to continue his research in numerical relativity and computational astrophysics. Bowdoin students will actively participate in a computational physics research group, providing them with a "hands-on" research-enriched learning environment. These students will have the opportunity to collaborate with scientists and other institutions and to present their work at conferences and in publications.

Connie Chiang (History and Environmental Studies) was awarded a summer fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to work on her second book, tentatively titled, Nature Behind Barbed Wire: An Environmental History of the Japanese Internment. The book examines the role of the physical environment in shaping relations between Japanese American people and the U.S. government during their internment in WWII. Read story.

Eric Chown (Computer Science) received a grant from Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation to support Northern Bites RoboCup Team, Bowdoin's championship team of soccer-playing robots. The grant helped support the team's participation in the 2009 World Championship games, held in Graz, Austria, where Northern Bites placed second world wide. The match was especially challenging since the competition switched from using an Aibo robot dog to the Nao, a humanoid model. The robots are programmed entirely by Bowdoin students. Read story.

Danielle Dube (Chemistry and Biochemistry) received a Cottrell College Science Grant from Research Corporation for her research on Helicobacter pylori, a unique sugar found on bacteria that can cause gastric ulcers and cancer in humans. Dube hopes to develop novel therapeutic approaches to prevent the H. pylori cells from colonizing the stomach. This work offers undergraduate researchers unique training at the interface of chemistry and biology. Read story.

Guy Mark Foster (English) received a 2009 Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowships Foundation. Foster is conducting research on depictions of black-white interracial couples in post-World War II American literature and popular culture for an upcoming book, tentatively titled, Waking Up With the Enemy: Interracial Desire in Postwar African American Texts. The work examines portrayals of interracial intimacy in novels, motion pictures and television. Read story.

Kristen Ghodsee (Gender and Women Studies) was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to support her study of advanced statistical analysis. A cultural anthropologist, Ghodsee is studying below-replacement fertility rates in Bulgaria and the political effects of population decline among various ethnic and/or religious groups in the Balkans. Low fertility is part of a wider European trend, which in some countries has contributed to a steep increase in nationalism and scapegoating of foreigners and ethnic minorities. Read story.

Page Herrlinger (History) received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of a book project, tentatively titled, Defying Orthodoxy: Faith, Authority, and Identity under Russian and Soviet Rule,1894-Present. The book analyzes and reconstructs the history of the Churkov movement, a sect of Russian Orthodoxy founded in 1894 by the charismatic lay preacher, Brother Ioann Churikov. The community has remained on the margins of both Russian and Soviet society throughout the political and religious changes of the 20th century.

Susan Kaplan (Arctic Museum/Arctic Studies) received a grant from the Kane Lodge Foundation in support of a film festival, a daylong symposium, and a special exhibition commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the attainment of the North Pole by Robert E. Peary, Matthew Henson, Ootah, Egingwah, Ooqueah, and Sigloo. Read story.

Edward Laine (Geology) was awarded a three-year grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for collaborative research on marine algae in the Gulf of Maine, including those known to cause red tides - harmful algal blooms (HABs) that produce toxic effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine animals and birds. The research methodology includes satellite remote sensing of ocean color, as well as in situ sampling of algae cells at coastal sites and at a Harpswell Sound buoy deployed and monitored by Bowdoin researchers, including undergraduates. The work is expected to lead to forecast modeling of HAB events. Read story.

John Lichter (Biology/Environmental Studies) received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to continue his research on soil carbon and nitrogen sequestration and turnover at the Duke Forest Free-Air (FACE) CO2 Enrichment experiment. John has completed time series measurements over nine years that show an additional carbon sink in the forest floor of the elevated CO2 treatment. He and four Bowdoin students plan to re-sample the soil to better understand the capacity of these soils to sustain the plant-growth response to elevated CO2. Read story.

Stephen Naculich (Physics and Astronomy) was awarded a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to support his research titled: "Supersymmetric Gauge Theory and Dirichlet-branes." This program encompasses ongoing explorations of aspects of string theory and supersymmetric gauge theories, and includes the continued involvement of Bowdoin students in the exploration of exactly solvable Yang-Mills theories in two dimensions.

Jill Smith (German) received a Fulbright Fellowship in support of her research for a book, tentatively titled, Self-Conscious Commodities: Literary, Cultural, and Social Discourses on Prostitution in Berlin 1880-1933. Smith is examining a broad range of cultural texts, including speeches, novels, dramas, and films, to chart changing attitudes toward prostitution. She argues that prostitution became a central vehicle through which social activists, artists, and cultural critics negotiated gender and labor divisions in the modern metropolis during the Weimar Republic.

Richmond Thompson (Psychology and Neuroscience) received a grant from the National Science Foundation in support of his ongoing research on how sex steroids influence social behavior. While it has been shown that some sex steroids likely modulate brain circuits associated with motor output, Thompson seeks to understand whether they change an animal's perception of social information in a way that immediately affects the animal's response to other individuals. Read story.

Laura Voss (Chemistry) received a grant from Research Corporation for her research on atmospheric chemistry. Voss has developed a novel technique of optical trapping to study the heterogeneous chemistry of aerosol oxidation and growth mechanisms. Her research, which will include Bowdoin students, adds to knowledge of how particulate matter impacts atmosphere and climate.

Nathaniel Wheelwright (Biology) was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to summarize and disseminate his research on the evolutionary and behavior ecology of an isolated bird population. His studies involve populations of Savannah Sparrows breeding on Kent Island, New Brunswick, and have the potential to be a model system for understanding the evolution of mating systems and the operation of natural selection in the wild. This project will allow several undergraduate students each year to contribute to the long-term research through honors theses. Read story.

Mary Lou Zeeman (Mathematics) received a grant from the National Science Foundation for her research titled Computational Sustainability: Computational Methods for Sustainable Environment, Economy, and Society. Mary Lou proposed encompassing computational and mathematical methods for a sustainable environment, economy, and society. She also received another grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a Climate Math Web Portal, which will facilitate high-level collaboration between mathematicians and climate scientists to solve mathematical problems in climate change research.

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