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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.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 259.35K | Year: 2012

With this award, researchers from three U.S. institutions will focus on exploring and understanding near-Earth?s space environment (geospace) through the coordinated use of multiple data sets, including both a variety of individual spacecraft and strategically located ground observatories. Because those parts of the Earth?s magnetic field that reach farthest out into geospace intersect the ground at high latitudes, arrays of ground magnetometers and auroral imagers have long been a valued means of monitoring processes in remote parts of the magnetosphere. The ground stations used in this project are key links in arrays of ground-based ionospheric and magnetospheric observations in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. In conjunction with data from other instruments located at these sites, with other Antarctic arrays of automated instruments, and with both low-altitude and high-altitude satellites, these instruments have played and will continue to play a significant role in the studies of geospace phenomena including solar wind?magnetosphere interactions and geomagnetic storms and substorms. Taken together, search coil instruments at these stations make it possible to study the entire range of ultra-low frequency (ULF) variations, from Pc 1 and Pi 1 pulsations down to Pc 5 pulsations, magnetic impulse events, sudden impulses, and substorm bays, with high sensitivity. The analysis efforts associated with this project will involve, and are highly suitable for, research training of both undergraduate and graduate students, and build on currently strong programs of faculty and student research.

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

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: 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: 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.

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