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.
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.
The Physics Department at Middlebury College will host viewing of the upcoming total lunar eclipse at the College Observatory. The Observatory, located atop McCardell Bicentennial Hall, will be open to the public for viewing the moon on Sunday evening, September 27, from 8:30 PM until 10:30 PM, provided the skies are mostly clear.
Viewing of the lunar eclipse will happen from the roof deck with smaller telescopes as well as with the unaided eye. Please note that for this event, the larger computer-controlled 24-inch telescope in the Observatory dome will not be available. The moon is best appreciated with the larger field of view of a smaller telescope or without any telescope at all. The larger telescope is scheduled to be available for stargazing during a subsequent public open house night this fall.
This Eclipse Viewing at the Observatory is free and open to the public, but will take place only if the sky is at least mostly clear. If the weather appears uncertain, visitors may call the observatory at 443-2266 or visit the Observatory web site, after 6:30 PM on the evening of the Eclipse Viewing for a status report. More information can also be found at go/observatory .
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.