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.
Jeff Munroe (Geology) has received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation through its Research in Undergraduate Institutions mechanism for a research project titled RUI: Alpine Loess, Periglacial Uplands, and Exotic Additions: Investigating Past and Present Dust Deposition in the Alpine Zone of the Uinta Mountains, Utah. At least six undergraduate students will be involved in this research, which will lead to better knowledge about modern and past dust deposition in this part of the western United States and thus has the potential to aid in land management decisions in the future.
Noah Graham (Physics) has been awarded a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation for work on a project titled Casimir Forces From Scattering Theory. The project will carry out calculations of Casimir forces, which arise from quantum-mechanical fluctuations at the short distance scales relevant to nanotechnology. The approach is based on developing broadly applicable numerical techniques for computing the reflection and transmission of light. This work will be carried out in collaboration with a research group based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and will involve at least four Middlebury student researchers.