Ata Anzali (Religion) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled A Comparative Exploration of Sufi Sacred Spaces: The Cases of North India and the Balkans. The grant will fund travel to the Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia, and Kosovo and to northern India to enable Ata to learn, first-hand, about the lived experience of Muslim devotees in Sufi sacred spaces. The goal of this project is to help Ata complement his text-based understanding of the rich tradition of Sufism and thus enhance his ability to teach about it.
Cynthia Packert (History of Art and Architecture) has been awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation as well as a semester-long Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar Award in support of her academic leave in 2016-2017. The Guggenheim project, titled ‘Brand BAPS’: Swaminarayan Hinduism, Visual Culture, and Sectarian Identity, represents the culmination of 5 years of prior research in the US and India on this transnational Gujarati sect of devotional Hinduism, focusing in particular on its elaborate neo-traditional temples and other multi-media visual productions. The related Fulbright project, titled From Gujarat to the Globe: The Art, Architecture and Visual Culture of Swaminarayan Hinduism, involves four months of research in India and includes travel to unpublished and little-known historical sites that are important to the development of Swaminarayan art and architecture in Gujarat and beyond.
Stephen Abbott (Mathematics) has been awarded a one-month research fellowship from the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in support of the book project, titled Mathematics as Art in Contemporary Theater, that he will be pursing during his academic leave in 2016-17. The fellowship will enable him to conduct research on the Center’s collection of Tom Stoppard materials, as well as other 20th century theater materials.
Eilat Glikman (Physics) has been awarded a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to lead a research project titled Probing Accretion and Obscuration in Luminous Red Quasars. This one year project, involving collaborators from Yale University, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Astronomical Observatory of Rome, and the Leibniz Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany, is based on observations of two luminous quasars with the XMM-Newton X-ray space observatory. These quasars are hypothesized to be growing at their maximally allowed rate, giving off tremendous luminosity. However, because of dust in their immediate environments, their visible light is extinguished. These X-ray observations will measure the amount of gas that is blocking visible light and probe the growth of the quasars independently for comparison with other existing estimates. The result of this work will complete the multi-wavelength study of this key population of quasars.
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.