Washington, DC, United States
Washington, DC, United States

American University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts curriculum, doctoral, and research-based university in Washington, D.C., United States, affiliated with the United Methodist Church, although the university's curriculum is secular. The university was chartered by an Act of Congress on February 24, 1893 as "The American University," when the bill was approved by President Benjamin Harrison. Roughly 7,200 undergraduate students and 5,230 graduate students are currently enrolled. AU is a member of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. A member of the Division I Patriot League, its sports teams compete as the American University Eagles. AU's 84-acre campus is designated as a national arboretum and public garden that has a rich botanical history.American's main campus is located at the intersection of Nebraska and Massachusetts Avenues at Ward Circle in the Spring Valley neighborhood of Northwest Washington. The area is served by the Tenleytown-AU station on the Washington Metro subway line in the nearby neighborhood of Tenleytown.AU was named the "most politically active school" in the nation in The Princeton Review's annual survey of college students in 2008, 2010, and 2012. American University is especially known for promoting international understanding reflected in the diverse student body from more than 150 countries, the university’s course offerings, the faculty's research, and from the regular presence of world leaders on its campus. The university has six unique schools, including the well-regarded School of International Service that is currently ranked 8th in the world for its graduate programs in International Affairs by Foreign Policy. and the Washington College of Law. Wikipedia.

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American University of Washington | Date: 2016-08-05

The present application relates to cellulose nanocrystals and other anionic carbohydrates and methods of preparation thereof. Specifically, in certain embodiments, the cellulose nanocrystals are modified using ion exchange technology to yield thermally stable or task-specific, dispersible cellulose nanocrystals.

Costanzi S.,American University of Washington
Current Opinion in Structural Biology | Year: 2013

The recent boom of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) crystallography is currently revolutionizing the way modulators of these highly druggable targets are discovered. Not only are these structures directly applicable to computer-aided drug discovery, but they also provide templates for the construction of homology models of other receptors. The study of the binding mode of GPCR modulators through docking experiments remains challenging. In addition to an expert use of advanced modeling tools, the application of experimental knowledge derived from site-directed mutagenesis data is fundamental for the generation of accurate receptor-ligand complexes applicable to drug discovery. We expect that the growing number of experimental and computational GPCR structures will boost the rational discovery of novel modulators in coming years. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Harshman N.L.,American University of Washington
Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics | Year: 2014

Spectroscopic labels for a few particles with spin that are harmonically trapped in one dimension with effectively zero-range interactions are provided by quantum numbers that characterize the symmetries of the Hamiltonian: permutations of identical particles, parity inversion, and the separability of the center-of-mass. The exact solutions for the noninteracting and infinitely repulsive cases are reduced with respect to these symmetries. This reduction explains how states of single-component and multicomponent fermions and bosons transform under adiabatic evolution from noninteracting to strong hard-core repulsion. These spectroscopic methods also clarify previous analytic and numerical results for intermediate values of interaction strength. Several examples, including adiabatic mapping for two-component fermionic states in the cases N=3-5, are provided. © 2014 American Physical Society.

Stoodley C.J.,American University of Washington
Cerebellum | Year: 2012

Evidence for a role of the human cerebellum in cognitive functions comes from anatomical, clinical and neuroimaging data. Functional neuroimaging reveals cerebellar activation during a variety of cognitive tasks, including language, visual-spatial, executive, and working memory processes. It is important to note that overt movement is not a prerequisite for cerebellar activation: the cerebellum is engaged during conditions which either control for motor output or do not involve motor responses. Resting-state functional connectivity data reveal that, in addition to networks underlying motor control, the cerebellum is part of "cognitive" networks with prefrontal and parietal association cortices. Consistent with these findings, regional differences in activation patterns within the cerebellum are evident depending on the task demands, suggesting that the cerebellum can be broadly divided into functional regions based on the patterns of anatomical connectivity between different regions of the cerebellum and sensorimotor and association areas of the cerebral cortex. However, the distinct contribution of the cerebellum to cognitive tasks is not clear. Here, the functional neuroimaging evidence for cerebellar involvement in cognitive functions is reviewed and related to hypotheses as to why the cerebellum is active during such tasks. Identifying the precise role of the cerebellum in cognition-as well as the mechanism by which the cerebellum modulates performance during a wide range of tasks-remains a challenge for future investigations. ©Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011.

American University of Washington | Date: 2016-05-13

The present application relates to an apparatus for controllably rotating an object, such as a baseball or any sporting ball, and methods of using the apparatus for measurement of visual acuity and/or training. Specifically, in certain embodiments, an object is rotated at a selected revolutions per minute (RPM) and a subjects exposure to the rotating object is controlled by illumination and/or controlled exposure, and assessing a subjects ability to recognize the direction of rotation.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: PLANETARY ASTRONOMY | Award Amount: 97.76K | Year: 2016

Comets are early Solar System objects, mostly unchanged from the time the Solar System was created. The orbits of comets trace them to the locations in the outer Solar System where they formed. The compositions of molecules released from a comet can be measured by looking at their spectral signals. Combining these compositions with the comet orbits allows scientists to learn what materials were present at different locations in the early Solar System. The investigators will measure the amounts of many molecules in comet spectra, including H2O, HDO, CH4, C2H2, C2H6, H2S, SO2, OCS, CO, H2CO, CH3OH, HCOOH, HCN, HNC, CH3CN, HC3N, NH2CHO, and NH3. They will use ground-based observatories such as the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, the W. M. Keck Observatory, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. The years of 2017-2019 provide an excellent opportunity to study Jupiter Family Comets - comets with smaller orbits for which little is known about their compositions. This research serves the national interest by advancing our knowledge of the materials that served as the building blocks of our Solar System. Shows at the Watson-King Planetarium, Towson University, and the University of Missouri, Saint Louis new planetarium will feature this research. Students from St. Louis and Baltimore, including many minority students, will have the chance to see them.

The Principal Investigators will use high-resolution molecular spectroscopy of comets to measure the compositions of volatiles released from their nuclei, and to test theories about the early formation of the Solar System. While the orbits of observed comets link them to their dynamical reservoir (the distant Oort cloud or closer Kuiper belt), the suite of detected molecules for an individual comet provides a snapshot of the volatile inventory at their location in the protoplanetary disk where these comets formed. The investigators will use ground-based near-infrared and radio observatories, including the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, the W. M. Keck Observatory, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. By combining the advantages of each wavelength domain, the investigators goal is to measure the relative abundances among various molecular species, including H2O, HDO, CH4, C2H2, C2H6, H2S, SO2, OCS, CO, H2CO, CH3OH, HCOOH, HCN, HNC, CH3CN, HC3N, NH2CHO, and NH3. New observations are planned of Jupiter Family comets and Oort cloud comets. The 2017-2019 period brings the best opportunity for many years to study Jupiter Family comets - a dynamical class underrepresented in compositional studies of all parent volatiles. These studies will be integrated into a planetarium program that will be hosted at the Watson-King Planetarium, Towson University, and at the University of Missouri, Saint Louis new digital planetarium, reaching St. Louis and Baltimore students, including many underrepresented minorities. One investigator will also mentor graduate and undergraduate students.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: LIGO RESEARCH SUPPORT | Award Amount: 214.89K | Year: 2015

This CAREER grant supports work on optics research to improve the sensitivity of gravitational wave detectors and other precision optical measurements as well as using expertise in optics to organize and host a day of fun competition, the Optics Olympiad, for Washington DC high school students. Gravitational waves come from Einsteins theory of gravity, and are one of the few specific predictions of Einsteins theory that can be experimentally checked against other theories of gravity (like Isaac Newtons). Determining if Einsteins, Newtons, or perhaps some other theory of gravity correctly describes our universe is necessary to developing a complete understanding of the laws of nature. This experiment is being performed by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) with two large, four kilometer long detectors in Louisiana and Washington state. Once gravitational waves are detected by LIGO, these detections will serve as another method of studying the universe, complementary but different from optical, radio, and other conventional telescopes. With gravitational wave detections, we expect to learn more about black holes, neutron stars, supernova, the origins of the universe, and other high energy astronomical events. Unfortunately, the effect of gravitational waves on the LIGO detectors is very small, and noise from other phenomenon can easily overwhelm the gravitational signal. This grant supports work to better understand and reduce coating thermal noise, a critical noise source that limits our ability to detect gravitational waves. The related education and outreach project is to pass on the excitement about optics we develop working on LIGO to high school students through a fun and educational competition, the Optics Olympiad. In addition to individuals and teams competing on knowledge and understanding of optics, there will be panel discussions, a guest lecturer, and tours of science laboratories at American University.

Thermal noise in the coatings of the LIGO optics is caused by mechanical loss, as shown by the Fluctuation Dissipation theorem. We will reduce this thermal noise by developing Aluminum-Gallium-Arsenide (AlGaAs) crystals and silicon nitride for use as LIGO coatings. AlGaAs has already shown lower thermal noise in other precision optics experiments under different conditions. Preliminary results with AlGaAs under LIGO conditions indicate some improvement in mechanical loss compared to current coatings, but not as much as expected. This may be due to surface conditions on the substrate, which will be explored using various chemical and mechanical surface treatments. The effects of these treatments on AlGaAs mechanical loss will be explored using normal mode quality factor, or Q, measurements. We will also better characterize and understand thermal noise from AlGaAs using the complete description of mechanical loss as the imaginary part of the stiffness tensor. This may allow for ways to improve thermal noise through the layer design of the coating beyond improvements from better materials. The Optic Olympiad will include a formative assessment to determine what elements of the Olympiad are helping to reach the goals of increasing students understanding of physics and optics as well as improving their impression of STEM careers. Results of this assessment and the Olympiad in general will be presented to the physics education research community, likely as a journal article or conference presentation.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: I-Corps | Award Amount: 50.00K | Year: 2016

The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is to bridge the gap between genomics and medicine by bringing a technology used in research laboratories to the forefront of diagnostics at an affordable cost. There is a vital need for a more accurate and faster diagnosis of dangerous and infectious microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. Treatment for infections and viruses are two of the top ten reasons people visit hospitals, and infectious diseases are a leading cause of death in children worldwide. Additionally, the numbers of these illnesses continue to grow as bacteria and other microbes become more resistant to current medications. Fortunately, the next-generation sequencing revolution has provided a flood of genomic sequence data from a variety of organisms, including pathogens. This data has remained untapped in the medical field, which can benefit from the ability to quickly and accurately identify genetic markers of dangerous pathogens. The potential market for this project extends beyond research hospitals and includes smaller clinics in remote locations, or military field hospitals situated near global conflicts.

This I-Corps project optimizes the well-established qPCR (quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction) technology to amplify pathogen specific DNA sequences. The technology leverages publically available genomic resources to design unique and specialized primers to be supplied in a simple kit for PCR that will identify specific classes of pathogens. The equipment for quantitative DNA amplification is standard, and the resultant amplification results are visualized in-hospital also on standard equipment. The kits could enable medical specialists and other healthcare providers to give patients more accurate and rapid diagnoses at a fraction of the cost while accelerating treatment, reducing the number of repeat visits, decreasing antibiotic usage, and shortening hospital stays.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY | Award Amount: 101.04K | Year: 2016

Economic growth depends of the development of infrastructures that allow for enterprise to thrive and innovate. Infrastructural development often significantly impacts the communities in which it takes place, and transportation and energy initiatives, for example, can require that these communities be displaced and resettled. Public confidence in these efforts depends on the mitigation of uneven development outcomes to these displaced communities. Scientists know much about the short-term dynamics of displacement and resettlement. This research would give scientists a rare opportunity to understand those dynamics over the long-term. In addition, the project would strengthen collaboration among international communities of scientists, train a graduate student in methods of scientifically-grounded and empirical data collection, and contribute data that would be of benefit to public policy experts concerned with development and resettlement.

Dr. Dolores Koenig of the American University will lead a team of researchers investigating the long-term dynamics of forced displacement and resettlement resulting from large infrastructural development projects. The research would revisit a region for which there is substantial baseline data and analyses: the Manantali dam in Mali, which displaced large numbers of Senegal River Basin residents in the late 1980s. The projects asks whether the long-term impacts of forced displacement and resettlement vary depending on the access that resettled individuals and their descendants have to economic and social resources. In collaboration with researchers from the Institut des Sciences Humains in Bamako, the research team will track household samples from two studies of migrants conducted in the 1980s, and another larger sample from a study conducted in 1993-94. Date will be gathered at four different sites with varied access to resources, to test whether livelihood and other decision-making strategies differ significantly. Data on food security, socioeconomic status, social organization and kinship, health care and education access, consumption patterns, and a range of other decision-making practices will be collected through interviews and other ethnographic data collection techniques. The project will advance anthropological and other scientific understandings about economic livelihoods and their sustainability, and the social structures that sustain livelihoods and access to resources.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CHEMICAL INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 438.55K | Year: 2016

With this award from the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) and Chemistry Research Instrumentation and Facilities (CRIF) programs Professor Shouzhong Zou from American University and colleagues Colin Saldanha, Matthew Hartings and Douglas Fox have acquired an analytical transmission electron microscope (TEM). A TEM propels a beam of electrons at a thin sample. The electrons interact with the material to produce an image of the substance much as an optical microscope. However, the magnification is typically better than with optical microscopes. The microscope is used in a broad area of fields from materials research, to chemistry and biology to medicine. The microscopic knowledge gleamed from the TEM images can help understand the properties of the material and perhaps improve them. At American University the TEM is used to advance a number of research projects and it also impacts undergraduate research training and it is used in lecture and laboratory courses. It is also used in outreach activities to local institutions such as the University of the District of Columbia and Montgomery College to further enhance research and student training.

The proposal is aimed at enhancing research and education at all levels, especially in areas such as (a) revealing structure-catalytic activity relationships of catalysts for fuel cell reactions, carbon dioxide to organic fuel conversion and gas sensing, (b) understanding formation mechanisms and exploring structure-function properties of polymer-nanocomand organic ligand-stabilized noble metal nanoparticles, (c) developing advanced functional materials for water purification and disease detection, (d) understanding the expression and regulation of synaptic aromatase that synthesizes estrogens, (e) exploring structural modifications of retina associated with ambient light conditions and (f) revealing the reproductive system structure of decapod crustaceans.

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