A number of faculty members have received National Science Foundation and other competitive awards in recent months to support a range of research projects and field work.
Karen Brison, professor and chair of the Anthropology Department, has received a National Science Foundation award for her project, “A Multi-Sited Ethnography of Global Pentecostal Networks: The View from Fiji,” to examine Fijian Pentecostals’ participation in global networks. Her research involves visiting missionaries in Tanzania and Kenya and working with Diaspora communities in the U.S. and Great Britain. A second focus will be on missionaries from African and Korean independent churches working in Fiji. Brison will use her research results in a course on Global Christianity. Funded through NSF’s Research at Undergraduate Institutions (RUI), the $74,992 grant complements Brison’s success last year in securing funding through USC’s Pentecostal Charismatic Research Initiative (PCRI) program.
Holli Frey, professor of geology, has received an NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) award of $95,850, effective Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2011, to support the acquisition of a Laser Ablation (LA) System for Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy (ICP-MS). Also directing the project are professors John Garver and Kurt Hollocher. This award enables the Geology Department to acquire a CETAC LS-213 laser to enhance geochemistry capabilities and do in situ analyses of solid materials.
Union’s participation in the NY NASA Space Grant consortia program continues this year, thanks to a $10,000 award made possible by a new five-year NASA grant to Cornell University. This funding, renewable each year, enables Rebecca Koopmann, associate professor of physics and astronomy and director of Union’s Space Grant, to support summer undergraduate research and outreach to local secondary schools and teachers. The program provides information, training and experience to a diverse group of students to help them make educated choices regarding their future in the STEM disciplines.
Robert Olberg, the Florence B. Sherwood Professor of Life Sciences, has received a four-year grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) to support his research project, “The Neuronal Control of Flying Prey Interception in Dragonflies.” The award of $317,344, effective through August 2014, will enable him to continue investigations into the dragonfly brain. Specifically, he will examine how visual information about the prey’s position and velocity are transformed into steering instructions, directing the dragonfly’s flight trajectory to a point of future intersection with the prey’s trajectory.
Donald Rodbell, professor of geology and director of environmental studies, has received a three-year, $302,272 NSF grant through Research at Undergraduate Institutions. Effective Oct. 1, it will support his project with The Ohio State University, titled “Collaborative Research: RUI: Tropical Holocene Climatic Insights from Andean Paleoglacier Dynamics.” This collaborative effort was approved by NSF’s Paleo Perspectives on Climate Change (P2C2) program. It gives Rodbell and student research assistants the opportunity to travel to Lima, Peru to conduct field work that will substantially improve understanding of the link between alpine glacial variability, water resources and mass and energy fluxes in the tropical “heat engine” of the planet.
Rebecca Surman, associate professor of physics, has received a renewal grant from the Department of Energy of $99,000 over three years to support continued research through her project, “Neutrinos and Nucleosynthesis in Gamma Ray Bursts.” The project involves Union students, who will work through the summer months as research assistants. DOE has sponsored this research since 2005.