Grants on Rise as Bowdoin Research, Scholarship Earn Widespread Attention

Story posted October 13, 2010

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Bowdoin College earned the largest amount of support from foundations and institutions in its history during the 2009-2010 academic year.

A total of $7,349,699.00 in grant monies and institutional support was awarded, an increase of nearly 14 percent over last year's record-breaking total.

"Bowdoin faculty have a long and distinguished record of support for their outstanding work," notes Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd. "The level of interest from federal and state organizations confirms that Bowdoin is increasingly seen as an incubator for new and collaborative research on some of the most pressing issues of the day. Additionally, individual faculty have been awarded highly competitive grants and fellowships from private sources."

Two significant, collaborative grants awarded during the 2009-2010 academic year that will provide outstanding opportunities for undergraduate research for years to come:

NASA awarded Bowdoin a $1.5 million grant to conduct important mutidisciplinary climate change research in the Gulf of Maine. Findings from the project will become part of NASA's ongoing investigations of climate change. Bowdoin was one of only 25 research institutions selected from among 112 applicants nationwide. Read story.

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation awarded Bowdoin with a highly competitive Beckman Scholars grant that offers four students in the biosciences the opportunity to work with Bowdoin faculty members on collaborative research that extends over two summers, and part-time during one academic year. Bowdoin was among only nine institutions selected for funding, chosen from a competitive field of 27 final applicants. Read story.

The College has also received a number of grants in support of the academic program, including a three-year grant from the Davis Educational Foundation to support the assessment of the general education curriculum that was instituted in 2006. Through a cyclical process of review and refinement, the stated goals of the curriculum will be used as reference points against which to examine course offerings and student achievement.

Bowdoin's library and museums also have been supported by a number of grants including a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of a new curatorial staff position at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. The new staff position, to be called Collections Curator and Coordinator of Academic Programs, will support a three-year post-doctoral fellow who will sustain and expand relationships with faculty and develop exhibitions and publications that deepen the Museum's integration with the academic mission of the College.

A grant from the Kane Lodge Foundation to the Peary-Macmillan Arctic Museum and Studies Center helped to support preparation of conference papers for publication from North by Degree: An International Conference on Arctic Exploration, which took place May 21, 2008, in Philadelphia. The conference, organized by Susan Kaplan (Director of the Arctic Museum) and Robert Peck (Academy of Natural Sciences), marked the hundredth anniversary of the attainment of the North Pole and celebrated the International Polar Year.

Richard Lindemann (Special Collections, H-L Library) was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a general preservation assessment of the Bowdoin College Library.

Highlights of individual faculty grants include:

Anthony Antolini (Music) was awarded a grant from the Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation to support the Bowdoin Chorus Tour.

Rachel Beane (Earth and Oceanographic Science), along with colleagues from Carleton, William and Mary, Montana State University, Hamilton College, North Carolina State University, City College of San Francisco, and Washington University, received a grant from the National Science Foundation titled "On the Cutting Edge: A Community Resource Transforming Geoscience Education." The ongoing project is attempting to engage, through participation in face-to-face or online experiences, about half of the total number of geoscience faculty in the United States through workshops and professional development opportunities.

Phil Camill (EOS and Environmental Studies) was awarded a supplement from the National Science Foundation to his 2007 grant titled REU: Collaborative Research: Landscape-Level Controls on Terrestrial, Aquatic and Wetland Responses to Climate Change in the Southern Canadian Arctic to support one undergraduate research fellowship in his lab. Camill's collaborators on this project are St. Olaf, Trinity College, and the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Eric Chown (Computer Science) was awarded a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation for his project titled Robust Intelligence:Small:RUI:Spatial Prototypes. The project aims to integrate undergraduate research and education by evolving and extending a successful RoboCup program from one that focuses purely on robotics to one that also addresses cognitive issues, including developing and testing methods by which streamed visual information can be turned into compact spatial prototypes in a manner analogous to the human dorsal system. The project gives undergraduates an opportunity to engage their peers (and graduate students) from other institutions worldwide in dialogues about research and how to approach difficult problems.

Danielle Dube (Chemistry) was awarded an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grant from the National Institutes of Health: National Institute of General Medical Sciences to support her project titled Chemical Tools to Understand and Target Helicobacter Pylori Glycosylation. Helicobacter pylori (Hp) is the leading cause of duodenal ulcers and gastric cancer worldwide. Unfortunately, existing antibiotics no longer effectively eradicate Hp infection and cure these ailments. The development of new treatments will be greatly aided by insights into the pathogenesis of Hp.

Research Assistant Professor Anja Forche (Biology), in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Minnesota, was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health: National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAID) to support her ongoing research about genome integrity in Candida Albicans (a form of yeast) and a causal agent of oral and genital infections in humans.

Michael Franz (Government) with a collaborator at Wesleyan, received a grant from the Sunlight Foundation to support their research analyzing the upcoming Congressional elections in 2012 and 2014 and to measure the impact of the recent lift of the ban of donations made by corporations to candidates.

Damon Gannon (Biology) was awarded a grant from the Maine Sea Grant Program, a state-federal partnership based at the University of Maine and sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the State of Maine. Funds from this award will help to support the Ocean Policy Symposium to be held at Bowdoin the weekend of October 15-17, 2010. The goal of the symposium is to discuss the need for a coordinated approach to ocean management. The featured speaker will be Tom Allen '67.

Kristen Ghodsee (Gender and Women's' Studies) was awarded the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship for her work titled Nationality, Religion and Church-State Symphony: An Ethnographic Study of Secularisms in Southeastern Europe. While on leave, Ghodsee will explore the cultural biases embedded in modern ideals of the appropriate relationship between the church and state, and how these ideals are exported and often imposed upon non-Western cultures through international institutions and organizations charged with upholding religious freedom. Ghodsee also was awarded a research Fellowship from the National Council of Eurasian and East European Research to support this research.

Peter Lea (EOS) was awarded a grant from the US Department of the Interior to support an undergraduate research fellowship in his lab for a project titled Phosphorus Dynamics in Androscoggin Lake, Wayne and Leeds.

John Lichter (Biology and Environmental Studies), Philip Camill (Environmental Studies and Earth and Ocieanographic Science) and Guillermo "Ta" Herrera (Economics) and collaborators from Bates and the University of Southern Maine were awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation Office of Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR): Sustainable Science Partners Program. The five-year study will integrate economic and ecological models to predict both the pace and level of restoration across rivers in Maine. The restoration of migratory fisheries will serve as an ecological marker, but also as an important human component both for recreational fisheries as well as the secondary benefits to commercial fisherman.

Dhiraj Murthy (Sociology/Anthropology) was awarded a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to study Virtual Organizations, a temporary coalition of geographically dispersed individuals. This research will examine empirically two pioneering instances of the use of social networking site technology in two scientific Virtual Organization Breeding Environments to assess the ways that they are utilized and to understand their potential to foster trust and social cohesion between potential VO team members. Bowdoin was the only liberal arts college to receive a grant in this highly competitive category.

Elizabeth Muther (English) was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for sabbatical research to complete a book focusing on strategies African American writers and artists have deployed since the 1920s to contest the social injustices reflected in resilient forms of cultural caricature. The book concerns the haunting "comedy" of the black subject just at the period when the minstrel figure leaves the stage and becomes a mobile, shape-shifting specter in radio shows, films, cartoons, and advertising.

Collin Roesler (Earth and Oceanographic Science ) was awarded a three-year grant from NASA, along with colleagues from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science and the University of Maine, to study widespread algal blooms in the Gulf of Oman and western Arabian Sea. Roesler and her team will carry out a targeted program aimed at developing the capacity to identify and quantify these blooms from space using satellite ocean color data. They seek gather data on how ocean ecosystems and the biodiversity they support are influenced by climate and environmental variability and change.

Richmond Thompson (Psychology/Neuroscience) was awarded two supplements to his 2008 grant from the National Science Foundation titled, RUI: Rapid Effects of Sex Steroids on Visual Processes Related to Social Communication to support two students who will conduct research in his lab. Additionally, Thompson and collaborators from Emory University and Maine Medical Center, were awarded a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health: Institute of Mental Health to make the leap from his research with vasopressin (steroids) and goldfish to the same studies with human subjects

Nathaniel Wheelwright (Biology) was awarded a supplement to his 2008 grant from the National Science Foundation titled OPUS: RUI: Long-Term Studies of an Island Bird Population: Vertebrate Ecology Across Generations. The supplement will enable Wheelwright to travel to Switzerland to write with a colleague with the same research focus. The end product will be an article in a scientific journal.

Mary Lou Zeeman (Mathematics) with her collaborators at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill was contracted by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a semi- federal agency funded by the National Science Foundation for her work to organize the Theme-of-the-Year, a project to engage mathematicians more fully into the field of climate change research. Despite the fact that climate science is about prediction of future climate conditions, mathematicians have been notably uninvolved in the development of climate models and their supporting theory. Zeeman's project will be a step towards integrating mathematicians into this dynamic discussion.

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