Frank Winkler (Emeritus Professor, Physics) has been awarded funding from the NASA-funded Space Telescope Science Institute for his role in two collaborative research projects, both of which entail new observations using the Hubble Space Telescope. One project, entitled Thermal Equilibration and Cosmic-Ray Acceleration in Astrophysical Shocks: UV Spectra of the SN1006 Remnant, will combine forthcoming Hubble ultraviolet spectra with new data Winkler hopes to gather at the 6.5 meter Magellan telescope in Chile in April, to explore the fundamental physics of shock waves in a cosmic environment. The other project, entitled State Transitions of the Ultra-luminous X-ray Source in M83, is intended as a follow-up to better understand a highly unusual object in the “nearby” (15 million light years away) galaxy M83, where matter falling into a black hole produces so much radiation that fundamental laws of physics are close to being violated. The projects involve collaboration with colleagues at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Johns Hopkins University, and Curtin University in Australia.
Ata Anzali (Religion) has been awarded funding from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute in support of a research project titled The Making of Modern “Mysticism” in Iran. As a Roshan Institute Fellow, Professor Anzali will be spending his academic leave next year in Iran, carrying out research designed to shed light on the ways in which the process of modernity influenced the formation of religion and spirituality in Iran during the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The aims of this research project are consistent with the Roshan Institute’s focus on preservation, transmission, and instruction of Persian culture.
Jill Mikucki (Biology) has received funding from the National Science Foundation for her expenses in a collaborative research project titled Minimally Invasive Drilling Glacial Exploration (MIDGE). Originally awarded to Jill when she was at the University of Tennessee, the grant has now been transferred to Middlebury and will support the design and testing of a minimally invasive thermoelectric probe for sample retrieval from subglacial environments in Antarctica. These dark environments provide an excellent opportunity for researching survivability and adaptability of microbial life, and they represent potential terrestrial analogues for life habitats on icy planetary bodies. This grant will support the efforts of a Ph.D.-level technician and at least one undergraduate student.
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.
Priscilla Bremser (Mathematics) is Middlebury’s representative in a network of 61 liberal arts institutions that will benefit from a Teaching Experiences for Undergraduates (TEU) grant awarded to Vassar College by the National Science Foundation. Entitled Summer STEM Teaching Experiences for Undergraduates from Liberal Arts Institutions, this grant will provide opportunities in each of the next five summers for 24 students from the network to participate in programs that involve a pedagogy course (math or science) and a teaching practicum with urban high school students. Co-investigators are faculty at Barnard College, Brown University, Bryn Mawr College, and Trinity College. Although no funds come directly to Middlebury, this grant provides an exciting opportunity for which our students are eligible to apply.
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.