Minneapolis, MN, United States
Minneapolis, MN, United States

Augsburg College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was founded as Augsburg Seminary in 1869 as a Norwegian-American Seminary. Its first class entered the fall of 1874. The college enrolls approximately 3000 undergraduate students and 800 graduate students. The school is known for its service learning where volunteering in the community is both an instructional strategy and a requirement of a student’s coursework. In 2010 Augsburg College was one of six higher education institutions in the nation to receive the 2010 Presidential Award for Community Service. Wikipedia.

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Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Research Initiation Grants BIO | Award Amount: 141.76K | Year: 2013

Intellectual Merit
Cells employ sophisticated communication systems to manage their activities. One important component of these systems is a family of enzymes called protein kinases. These enzymes transmit signals by phosphorylation, a process by which phosphate groups are added to specific downstream communication elements. A detailed understanding of cellular communication therefore demands a thorough understanding of every type of protein kinase. This project focuses on the Bcr (breakpoint cluster region) kinase, which has no apparent structural similarity to better-studied kinases. How then does Bcr catalyze phosphorylation when it lacks the organization of amino acid components found in all other protein kinases?

Since the order of amino acids in a protein determines how the protein folds into its particular three-dimensional structure and functions, one possibility is that Bcrs unique sequence of amino acids uses a novel structure to promote phosphorylation in a way so far unknown to scientists. Another possibility is that the divergent sequence in Bcr, similar to other atypical protein kinases (aPKs), will still adopt the typical kinase fold. The latter could be true for Bcr but would not be the complete story. In Bcr, the distribution of amino acids resembles those of unstructured proteins. This implies that the kinase domain may rather adopt an extended or unfolded structure natively and exhibit a disorder-to-order transition when active. The clear way to distinguish between these possibilities is to investigate the structure and function of the Bcr kinase domain. Biochemical and biophysical methods will be used to determine the structure of this protein, which will be deposited and publicly available in the Protein Databank. The structure of Bcr will resolve the very perplexing question of how Bcr functions and add substantially to our knowledge of protein kinase structure and function, in general.

Broader impact
This project will provide Carleton College undergraduate students and mentored high school students and teachers with hands-on experience with lab techniques, data presentation and analysis. As a number of computational, biochemical, and biophysical techniques will be used to perform this study, the didactic possibilities for participants are enormous and will engage students at all levels in basic science studies. This interdisciplinary project will introduce students to the physical and chemical approaches that are currently used to address biological problems, encouraging students with varying scientific interests to seek out further opportunities in biology. Moreover, as one of two African American female science professors at Carleton College and one of few minority science professors in general, the PI is a role model to women and underrepresented students within the college and beyond. Support of this project will advance the PIs research program, foster a diversity of emerging scientists, broaden the scientific workforce, and in turn, its pool of role models.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Antarctic Astrophys&Geosp Sci | Award Amount: 396.63K | Year: 2014

Title: Collaborative Research: Studies of ULF waves associated with solar wind coupling to the magnetosphere and ionosphere
PLR-1341677 PI: Marc Lessard, University of New Hampshire (Lead)
PLR-1341493 PI: Mark Engebretson, Augsburg College (Non-Lead)

Since the beginning of the space age, increasingly sophisticated efforts have been made to explore and understand Earth?s space environment. Because those parts of Earth?s magnetic field that reach farthest out into space intersect the ground at high latitudes, arrays of ground magnetometers and auroral imagers at these polar regions have long been a valued means of monitoring processes in remote parts of Earths magnetosphere. This award is to continue to operate and analyze data from six ground-based induction (search coil) magnetometers located in Antarctica (U.S. stations at South Pole and McMurdo, and the British Halley and Rothera stations), and two in the Arctic (Sondrestromfjord, Greenland, and Iqaluit, Canada). This research includes also the comparative analysis of search coil data from the array of automatic geophysical observatories (AGOs), a widely spaced array at Southern Polar Cap latitudes ranging from the auroral zone to near the geomagnetic pole.

The stations in this project are key links in arrays of ground-based ionospheric and magnetospheric observatories in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. With data from other instruments located at these sites and utilizing data from Antarctic arrays of automated instruments and from both low-altitude and high-altitude NASA spacecraft, these instruments play a significant role in a variety of studies of geospace phenomena including the solar wind-magnetosphere interaction and geomagnetic storms and substorms. Taken together, these instruments make it possible to study the entire range of Ultra Low Frequency (ULF) variations, from Pc1 and Pi1 pulsations down to Pc5 pulsations, magnetic impulse events, sudden electromagnetic impulses, and substorm disturbances with high sensitivity. Studies of these waves in conjunction with other instruments and spacecraft observations greatly enhance the scientific potential of the wave observations to provide new physical insights into Geospace dynamics.

Solid science, collaborative effort, international partners, and travel to Antarctica provide an ideal opportunity to achieve education and outreach goals. Operation of the search coil magnetometers at the U.S. Antarctic stations provides excellent opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students at the University of New Hampshire and Augsburg College in Minnesota to make meaningful contributions to cutting-edge science.

Search coils data are broadly employed by other research groups, with applications in studying solar-terrestrial relationships, magnetospheric physics, and space weather. These instruments are critical for the study of Earths space environment, which has become increasingly important to our technologically advanced society. Improving the capability to forecast and characterize major space weather events has direct societal benefit.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: LAW AND SOCIAL SCIENCES | Award Amount: 134.22K | Year: 2014

Forensic DNA testing has freed hundreds of innocent people in the U.S. and approximately 75% of these convictions involved mistaken eyewitness identification. The need to identify reliable ways to sort between accurate and mistaken identifications is readily apparent. Theory and data from laboratory-simulation experiments indicate that accurate and mistaken identifications differ in measurable ways (e.g., identification speed, confidence, witness verbalizations). Lab research also shows that lineup biases (e.g., innocent suspect stands out or administrator unintentionally steers the witness) can inflate mistaken identifications. Lab simulation participants, however, know that the crime is not real and fail to capture potentially important dynamics of actual witnesses (e.g., fear, justice motivations, concern for consequences).

The researchers have unique materials from actual cases involving 855 photo-lineups where only one person in each lineup was a suspect. The other lineup members were known-innocent fillers. Filler identifications, which constitute mistaken identifications, comprise 34% of all identifications. Software provided by the researchers made audio recordings of witnesses verbalizations, speed of identifications, and other relevant information for each lineup. A majority of the lineups were administered double-blind; thus, lineup administrators were unaware of which was the suspects photo and hence could not steer the witness. Four studies were conducted. Study 1 tests whether lineup bias predicts mistaken identifications. Study 2 tests whether witness verbalizations predict mistakes. Study 3 tests whether mistakes are slower and made with less certainty than suspect identifications. Study 4 tests whether double-blind lineup procedures evidence less steering by the lineup administrators. Data analyses involve hierarchical, mixed model log-linear analyses or ANOVAs. This work can help translate lab simulation findings to actual cases and thereby help the justice system sort between mistaken and accurate identifications. Results will be shared broadly with scientists, police and prosecutors. Undergraduate students, including first-generation and those of color at a small undergraduate college, will receive research training in this project.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: MAGNETOSPHERIC PHYSICS | Award Amount: 428.95K | Year: 2014

This project consists of two activities. The first will continue the operation and data distribution of observations from the Magnetometer Array for Cusp and Cleft Studies (MACCS). The second is a research program using the MACCS data along with SuperDARN radar, the Relocatable Atmospheric Observatory in Resolute Bay, nominally conjugate stations in the Antarctic and GPS TEC receivers at two of the MACCS sites. Data from the AMPERE satellites also will be used. The proposal identifies four topics:
* Performing detailed studies of dayside high-latitude ULF waves and transient events, using multi-instrument ground-based and satellite data.
* Providing observational and theoretical support for the recently-launched Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission by investigating the role of ULF waves in energizing or depleting radiation belt electrons during magnetic storms, in part using the recently developed ULF index.
* Investigating the high-latitude field-aligned current structures associated with both transient events and steady convection, using magnetic field and GPS TEC data along with global data from the AMPERE project.
* Using the combination of MACCS data with simultaneous data from both low-orbiting and high-orbiting satellites to separate spatial and temporal variations in magnetospheric and ionospheric processes, and carrying out theoretical and modeling studies of the excitation and propagation of ULF waves through the global magnetosphere-ionosphere system. This study will use the BATS-R-US global magnetohydrodynamic simulation code.

The MAACS data are freely distributed to the entire science community.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 185.94K | Year: 2013

A large array of ground based instruments has been installed on the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. Svalbard is frequently on polar cusp field lines that map to the outer boundary of the Earths magnetosphere where it interacts with the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). This proposal has two parts: One part is for support for the continued operation of and processing data from an array of four search coil magnetometers (induction antennas). The second part is to carry out analysis of data from these four instruments. Svalbard is the only place in the northern hemisphere where polar cusp field lines can be observed for extended periods in darkness at noon. In addition to the four search coil magnetometers auroral imagers and photometers, several radars (EISCAT, SPEAR and SuperDarn) and the northernmost fluxgate magnetometers of the IMAGE chain are located on Svalbard. This makes Svalbard an excellent place to carry out observations of ionospheric phenomena on magnetic field lines that map to the magnetopause.

Three main types of studies using the data from the search coils and other instruments are:
a.) Make a concentrated effort to understand the observations of Pc 1-2 waves in the cusp and their effect on radiation belt dynamics. In the Pc 1-2 frequency range electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves (EMIC) are thought to interact resonantly with MeV electrons in the radiation belts. The waves and radiation belt dynamics and the persistence of waves (sometimes seen for days) will be studied as well as waves associated with auroral precipitation.
b.) Probe the Ionosphere Alfvén Resonator (IAR) by using the Space Plasma Exploration by Active Radar (SPEAR) heater facility in conjunction with the EISCAT radar. The IAR is a region in the ionosphere bounded by the F or E region at lower altitudes and by a peak in the Alfvén velocity at higher altitudes. This research will characterize the quality factor (Q) of the IAR. The quality factor relates the energy stored in the resonator with the energy dissipated. If the IAR is driven long enough the energy contained in the resonator will be proportional to Q. By controlling the input energy from the SPEAR heater they will be able to determine Q.
c.) Investigate the properties of PC3-4 waves at very high latitudes. In this study SuperDARN radar will be used along with the search coils to determine the intensity of PC 3-4 as a function of position with respect to the cusp. The goal will be to determine how these ULF waves reach the high latitude ionosphere.

The data from the four closely space magnetometers are very valuable for a number of space physics studies. The team will make the data available to the scientific community through the NASA Virtual Observatories. This proposal will support a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire and an undergraduate researcher at Augsburg College.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 386.46K | Year: 2014

This project involves laboratory investigations of homogeneous nucleation on sulfuric acid and its co-reactants water, ammonia and amines. The objectives are to: (1) measure the nucleation rate of particles formed from amines and sulfuric acid over a range of conditions with a bulk source flow reactor; (2) characterize the experimental flow reactor with a photo-chemical source for sulfuric acid and nucleation rate measurements for a few amines at low sulfuric acid concentrations, (3) develop and use computation fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations of the flow reactors, and (4) develop the use of amine sources and detection techniques. The laboratory results will be compared to CFD simulations that treat the cluster chemistry in detail, yielding thermodynamic information for the formation of acid-base clusters.

Nucleation is the driving force for new particle formation in the atmosphere. Newly formed particles can serve as cloud condensation nuclei, important for their role in the indirect effect of atmospheric aerosols on climate. The ultimate goal of this project is to test models for nucleation rates that can be incorporated into global climate models. Undergraduate students will participate in the construction of laboratory apparatuses, running experiments, developing mathematical models, analyzing data, and authoring publications.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 599.98K | Year: 2012

In the AugSTEM program, Augsburg College is awarding 70 scholarships to a cross-disciplinary cohort of students. The program builds on past successes in attracting transfer and underrepresented students to Augsburgs small urban campus and successful retention strategies in introductory STEM sequences. Approximately 50% of the scholarship recipients began their postsecondary careers at area community colleges. Students are united by their common educational stage and a shared objective of graduating and pursuing a STEM career. Programming encourages students to finish their degrees with strong academic credentials and clarity of purpose.

Objectives of the AugSTEM program are to:
- Increase the number of transfer students who obtain a STEM degree by building partnerships and providing programming tailored to the needs and timelines of such students;
- Provide financial support for 30 academically talented upper-division STEM students;
- Retain junior and senior STEM students to graduation by extending earlier successes in first and second-year programming;
- Enhance the readiness of STEM students for successful transitions to the scientific workplace; and
- Develop sustained excellence in undergraduate STEM education.

The AugSTEM program is increasing the Colleges efforts to create a diverse campus, especially serving underrepresented populations who might otherwise leave the STEM pipeline. The program is also pairing with S-STEM programs at partner community college to better serve the increasing population of undergraduates who begin their careers at two-year institutions. Ultimately, the AugSTEM program is increasing the number and diversity of STEM graduates entering the workforce, fostering interactions between Augsburg STEM faculty and community college colleagues, enhancing professional preparedness for students, and providing a foundation for future growth of a vibrant division of natural sciences and mathematics.

In conjunction with the Committee on Curriculum Renewal Across the First Two Years (CRAFTY) of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), a consortium of eleven institutions will collaborate to revise and improve the curriculum for lower division undergraduate mathematics courses. A key element of these innovations will be interdisciplinary partnerships, with partner disciplines directly involved in decisions about curricular needs. Collectively, the consortium will impact over 52,000 undergraduate students and 200 college faculty from a wide array of disciplines through implementing major recommendations from the MAA Curriculum Foundations (CF) Project and changing the undergraduate mathematics curriculum in ways that support improved STEM learning for all students while building the STEM workforce of tomorrow. The project will also foster a network of cross-disciplinary faculty in order to promote community and institutional transformation through shared experiences and ideas for successfully creating functional interdisciplinary partnerships within and across institutions. Materials and ideas generated by the curricular changes and the interdisciplinary collaborative process will be widely disseminated through workshops at national conferences, two journal special issues, extensive publications, and open webinars.

This project will be based on research about the needs of partner disciplines, as identified in a series of 22 workshops organized by CRAFTY. At each of the eleven participating institutions in the project, mathematics and partner discipline faculty will collaborate to better understand the CF recommendations, determine how these recommendations can be used to effectively improve the content of affected courses, introduce modifications in pilot sections, work with a central evaluation team to measure the effectiveness of new approaches (especially as it pertains to students from underrepresented groups), offer workshops and support for instructors using these new curricula (locally, regionally, and nationally), and scale-up these new offerings within the consortium and through dissemination to additional campuses. The central evaluation will yield extensive, consistently-collected data to accurately determine the effects of innovative partnerships and resulting curricular changes. Additionally, the project will contribute significantly to the Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) knowledge-base and generate a greater understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of mathematics within the broader undergraduate curriculum.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAGNETOSPHERIC PHYSICS | Award Amount: 47.12K | Year: 2016

This is a short-term (less than one-year) effort to organize and plan a workshop to bring together U.S. scientists and lead personnel who are operating individual ground-based magnetometer arrays. The purpose is to explore efficiencies in the management of these arrays and optimize resources by designing a shared framework for integrated data storage, archiving, dissemination, and high-level data products. Since these independent arrays observe different portions of Earths space environment (Earth-space), their further development and integration has potential for providing a powerful tool for synthesizing information about its global dynamics. The planned shared framework will be separate from the scientific research, proposed and performed by individual investigator teams, and thus will provide much needed continuity for funding the instrumentation and data distribution during lapses in individual research funding. The effects of these interruptions are compounded because observations from these magnetometer arrays are used by the broader research community and in international collaborations, in addition to their use in scientific research by the magnetometer teams, themselves. Efficiencies in the operation and maintenance of ground-based magnetometer arrays as well as in the development of new global high-level data products will strengthen and improve a valuable U.S. infrastructure for exploring Earth-space and understanding its long-term evolution.

Ground-based magnetometers make use of signatures in the Earths magnetic field to explore and understand Earth-space. These signatures provide information about ionospheric currents associated with geomagnetic storms and substorms, the magnetospheres response to interplanetary shocks, the reconfiguration of currents and convection as the solar wind driving changes, and the propagation of energy through Earth-space carried by long-period plasma waves. They provide the longest record of Earth-space observations and thus are key to our understanding of long-term variations in that environment. Magnetometer arrays are supported and maintained by countries all over the world so the US arrays contribute valuable information to synthesizing an understanding of the global dynamics in Earth-space. Efficiencies in operations and maintenance of these arrays are important to enable the continuing support and further development of this valuable national observing capability.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 122.68K | Year: 2013

An award is made to Augsburg College to purchase a Li-Cor LI-6400XTR portable photosynthesis system to investigate the physiology of economically important plants infected by fungi and also to study mathematical modeling of ecophysiological processes. The portable photosynthesis system will support interdisciplinary research in the plant biological sciences, mathematics, and environmental sciences, and collaboration between a liberal arts college and a large research institution. The LI-6400XTR will be used for a wide range of research activities including: 1) The physiology and productivity of economically important plants colonized by pathogens that do not cause symptoms of disease; 2) The functional role of endophytes in plants; 3) The impact of sublethal infections by soilborne pathogens of roots on plant productivity; and 4) The measurement of leaf-level physiological processes to parameterize ecosystem models of carbon cycling. This research will largely focus on soybeans as a model plant because it is economically important and grown throughout the U.S.

The portable photosynthesis system will be used for faculty research and undergraduate research in plant biology, environmental science, and mathematics. Augsburg College is a primary undergraduate institution and dedicated to providing training and research opportunities for undergraduate students. Undergraduate students are introduced to research early in the curriculum, and many students participate in faculty led research. The portable photosynthesis system will generate data sets that are large and complex, resulting in research students to be involved in extensive quantitative data analysis in biology and mathematics. The instrument will also improve collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects with faculty at the University of Minnesota. Results from these collaborations will improve our understanding of plant-fungal interactions, and will be applied to improving soybean yield and productivity. New research findings will be published in peer reviewed journals and presented at national scientific meetings

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