Published March 15, 2022 by Tom Porter

Busy Times Return for Faculty Research Grant Activity

After a couple of slow years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty research grant submissions have returned to pre-pandemic levels and may go even higher.

Granting institution logos
NASA, NEA, NIH, and NSF are among the institutions behind nearly forty active research grants supporting individual labs and research projects led by Bowdoin faculty.

There are currently nearly forty active research grants that support individual labs and research projects led by Bowdoin faculty.

The recent announcement that Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Kana Takematsu had been awarded a prestigious five-year CAREER grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) worth nearly half a million dollars brought to twenty-four the number of Bowdoin faculty whose research is being funded by the NSF, said Director of Sponsored Research Cara Martin-Tetreault.

“In addition, we have seven grants funded by the NIH [National Institutes of Health] that support basic biomedical research, and three research grants from NASA that support basic research in science, technology, aeronautics, and space exploration—plus a number of individuals being funded from other sources.”

Many of these grant recipients are either scientists or social scientists, in fields where the material need for equipment and supplies is greater, explained Martin-Tetreault.

“Almost all, if not all, science scholars have to secure continuous funding support from outside agencies, so applying for grant renewals every two or three years is part of their training as scholars in their respective fields.” (For example, see Danielle Dube below).

“However, there are many Bowdoin humanities scholars who also receive funding in the form of grants and fellowships from organizations like the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation,” added Martin-Tetreault.

Here’s a look at some of the grant-funded projects initiated at Bowdoin over the last three academic years.

Ongoing Awards from July 2021 to present:


Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures Margaret Boyle and a collaborator at Bates College were awarded a Summer Seminar and Institute grant worth $175,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities for their project titled Identity and Multilingualism through Picture Books. (Bowdoin's share of the grant is just over $32,000.) The initiative aims to enhance language-learning using picture books in elementary schools. The grant will fund a two-week summer seminar for twenty-nine teachers. Read more.


Assistant Professor of Mathematics Christopher Chong was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation, for his project titled RUI: Dispersive shock waves in nonlinear lattices: theory, simulation and application. The three-year grant, worth just shy of $100,000, will help explore how mathematics can be used in engineering: specifically, how the principles of origami could be applied to areas like automobile construction to improve passenger safety. Read more. (NSF Award No. 1615037.)

danielle dube

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Danielle Dube was awarded a renewal grant, worth more than $400,000, from the National Institutes of Health for her project titled R15: Deciphering Helicobacter pylori's glycocode: uncovering and harnessing drug targets. Dube said her project aims to help boost the effectiveness of antibiotics. “Antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens cause more than two million new infections and 23,000 deaths each year in the US.” Read more.


Awards from July 2020 to July 2021:


Professor of Neuroscience and Biology Manuel Diaz-Rios was awarded an Equipment Grant from the Grass Foundation for his project titled Interactive Neurophysiology Workshop to Promote Neuroscience Research in Undergraduate Colleges in Puerto Rico. The award, worth nearly $33,000, will help neuroscience students and faculty in his native Puerto Rico by supplying them with laboratory equipment for teaching and research. Read more.


Associate Professor of English Ann Kibbie was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for her project titled Obstetrics and the Disabled Maternal Body in Nineteenth-Century Great Britain. This interdisciplinary study, which views medical history through the lens of disability studies, delves into an underexamined aspect of women’s reproductive health in Victorian Britain. The fellowship is worth $40,000. Read more.


Assistant Professor of Africana Studies Ayodeji Ogunnaike was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Ford Foundation for his book project titled How Worship Becomes Religion. The $50,000 award enables him to spend nine months examining the religious practices of the Yoruba people of Nigeria and how they have been affected by exposure to European and Western ideas of what “religion” should be. Read more.


Assistant Professor of Education Alison Riley Miller and collaborators from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and Vanderbilt University were awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for their project titled Developing a Modeling Orientation to Science: Teaching and Learning Variability and Change in Ecosystems. The three-year grant, worth more than $500,000, is designed to help middle school educators and students. This is the first time that Bowdoin’s Department of Education has been awarded an NSF grant. Read more. (NSF Award No. 2010119.)

Awards from July 2019 to July 2020:

jack bateman

Professor of Biology Jack Bateman was awarded a grant worth more than $400,000 from the National Institutes of Health for his project titled Know Your Neighbors: Investigating the Influence of Gene Co-localization on Transcriptional Dynamics. He is studying the common fruit fly to explore how genes are turned off and on when they’re crowded together in a tight space. Read more

mike franz

Professor of Government Michael Franz and a collaborator from Wesleyan University were awarded an $8,500 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for their Wesleyan Media Project 2020. Franz studies campaigns and elections, with a specific focus on campaign finance and political advertising. He codirects the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks and analyzes advertising by federal and gubernatorial candidates in real-time during elections. Read more.


Associate Professor of Digital and Computational Studies and Computer Science Mohammad Irfan was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for his project titled Influence Games: a Game-Theoretic Approach to Strategic Behavior in Networks. The aim of the project, said Irfan, is to devise computational tools that analyze interactions among multiple agents and how these agents may influence each other’s behavior. The grant is worth $270,500. Read more. (NSF Award No. 1910203.)

tracy mcmullen

Associate Professor of Music Tracy McMullen was awarded a Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies for her project Jazz Humanism: Responsibility and Blur in the New Human. The $105,000 award enabled her to spend a year conducting research at Berklee College of Music’s Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. Read more.

Check out this link for more information on sponsored research at Bowdoin.