Kareem Khalifa (Philosophy) has received a visiting fellowship from the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh in support of his 2016-17 academic leave. He will spend the fall at the Center pursuing his current research project titled Explanation, Pluralism, and Representation. Using case studies from a variety of scientific disciplines, he will examine the extent to which there are universal features of scientific explanations. He will devote special attention to the use of mathematical structures by economists and physicists in certain explanations to challenge the popular philosophical claim that the fundamental role of explanation is to represent causal structures.
Max Ward (History) has received grants from the Japan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities Japan-US Friendship Commission (NEH-JUSFC) in support of his research during his 2015-16 academic leave. He is currently a Visiting Researcher at Waseda University in Tokyo Japan, where he is completing a book manuscript titled Ghost in the Machine: Imperial Ideology and Thought Reform in Interwar Japan. This book explores the Japanese state’s efforts to police political dissent in the 1920s and how such efforts developed into an extensive apparatus to rehabilitate political criminals throughout the Japanese empire in the 1930s. His next project will analyze the contested claims to urban space in postwar Tokyo.
Erik Bleich (Political Science) has received funding as a Co-PI on a National Science Foundation collaborative grant for a multi-year study titled Comparative Free Speech Jurisprudence. This project involves researchers from multiple countries who are assembling information on judicial decisions about freedom of expression in supreme courts around the world. Bleich will lead the data collection effort with regard to the European Court of Human Rights. At least two Middlebury College undergraduates will be involved in this research.
Jeff Carpenter, Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, Peter Matthews, and Andrea Robbett (all Economics) have received a contract from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for a project titled Dominance Violations in Consumer Credit Choices. This research has the primary goal of revealing the welfare consequences of alternative consumer credit product designs, and will hopefully provide policy insights founded in behavioral economics. At least one undergraduate student will be involved in this project.
Vermont Genetics Network grants for Research in the Biomedical Sciences
Middlebury College is one of the baccalaureate partner institutions participating in a major grant from the National Institutes of Health to the University of Vermont. This grant continues the Vermont Genetics Network support that has been an important source of funding for faculty and student research during the past decade. The following faculty members received individual grants from this program to support their research this year:
Glen Ernstrom (Biology & Neuroscience) received a renewal of his project grant titled Genetic Analysis of Neurotransmitter Release in C. Elegans. The proposed research will help to clarify nerve signaling mechanisms and potentially lead to improved drug therapies for neural disorders. The grant provides funding for summer and academic-year effort for Prof. Ernstrom from June 2015-May 2016 and includes a summer stipend for one undergraduate student.
Clarissa Parker (Psychology & Neuroscience) received a project grant titled Genome-wide Association for Ethanol Sensitivity in the DO Mouse Population. The goal of this work is to use a highly recombinant mouse population to map genes associated with ethanol sensitivity. Understanding the pathways linking genetic variation and expression to neuronal function may enable targeting of specific molecules to treat alcohol use disorders in humans. The grant provides funding for summer and academic-year effort for Prof. Parker from June 2015-May 2016 and includes summer stipends for two undergraduate students.
AnGayle (AJ) Vasiliou (Chemistry and Biochemistry) received a renewal of her project grant titled Thermal Composition of Biomass: Molecular Pathways for Sulfur Chemistry. The aim of this research is to elucidate the detailed chemical mechanisms and kinetics associated with the thermal decomposition of sulfur compounds found in biomass feedstock. The results of this work can be used to develop a sound strategy to suppress the formation of poisonous sulfur compounds during biomass decomposition, generating clean liquid fuels and ultimately lowering sulfur emissions. The grant provides funding for summer and academic-year effort for Prof. Vasiliou from June 2015-May 2016 and includes summer stipends for two undergraduate students.
Michael Durst (Physics) received a project grant titled High-Speed 3D Multiphoton Fluorescence Imaging with Temporal Focusing Microscopy. The proposed work aims to improve the speed of 3D multiphoton microscopy through temporal focusing, with the goal of reaching video-rate 3D imaging in biological tissue. The grant provides funding for summer and academic-year effort for Prof. Durst from June 2015-May 2016 and includes a summer stipend for one undergraduate student.
Peggy Nelson (Sociology-Anthropology) and a colleague from Wellesley have been awarded a month-long residency at the Brocher Foundation in Hermance, Switzerland to work on their collaborative research next July. Their project, titled Social and Biogenetic Factors in the Making of New Families, is funded by National Science Foundation and fits well with the Brocher Foundation’s mission to host researchers who dedicate their work to ethical, legal, and social aspects of medical development and public health policies. They will use their time together to write a paper comparing the response to new medical technologies of clients who received fertility treatment in the United States with that of residents of various European Union countries who received fertility treatment in Spain.
Jane Chaplin (Classics) and colleagues from Hamilton and Skidmore were awarded a grant from the Classical Association of the Atlantic States to support a project titled Summer Institute for the Collaboration of Liberal Arts Colleges to Broaden and Strengthen the Contribution of Classics to a Diverse Student Audience. Representatives from nearly thirty institutions will gather at Skidmore to compile data on Classics at non-PhD-granting institutions and to share insights on attracting and retaining students in order to keep Classics a vibrant part of undergraduate liberal education. The three-day conference will result in an online handbook of statistics and recommendations. In addition to the grant, the conference has financial support from all three institutions involved.
Susan Burch (American Studies), independent filmmaker Rick Tejada-Flores, and independent scholar Hannah Joyner have received a grant from the Media Projects Development Program at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for a project titled Unspeakable: The Life of Junius Wilson. The goal of this project is to develop a 60-minute documentary on Junius Wilson (1908-2001), a deaf African American man detained at a psychiatric institution in North Carolina for 76 years. The film will be based largely on the 2007 biography Susan co-authored with Hannah Joyner, and Susan will serve as a main advisor. The documentary explores the overlaps of race, deaf identity, gender, eugenics, incarceration, and civil rights through Mr. Wilson’s life story. It draws heavily on oral history, signed languages, material culture, and inclusive methodologies—central topics in Susan’s research and teaching. This funding supports preliminary work on the film, including site visits, select filmed interviews, script development, and archival research work.
Molly Costanza-Robinson (Chemistry & Biochemistry and Environmental Studies) has been awarded a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through its Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) mechanism for a project titled Elucidating Interlayer Chemistry for Design of Novel, Nontoxic Organoclays for Contaminant Remediation. The project will involve 2-3 undergraduate researchers each year and will initially focus on elucidating how the chemistry of activated clay minerals (organoclays), specifically their interlayer crystallinity, relates to their ability to remove organic contaminants from wastewater. The second stage of the project will apply this information to the task of designing novel organoclays for more effective contaminant removal. Students in the Environmental Chemistry course will also participate in the project by testing the toxicity of the novel organoclays.
Eilat Glikman (Physics) and a colleagues at California Institute of Technology have received a grant from the National Science Foundation for a project titled New Insights from a Systematic Approach to Quasar Variability. The goal of this project is to understand the physics of supermassive black hole growth in the nuclei of galaxies by utilizing time-domain information. The grant provides support for two Middlebury undergraduates who will work with scientists at Caltech, and use cutting-edge techniques in data science, to extract meaningful results from these large data sets.