Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 200.00K | Year: 2014
Research Initiation Awards (RIAs) provide support for junior faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who are starting to build a research program, as well as for mid-career faculty who need to re-direct and re-build a research program. It is expected that the award helps to further the faculty member?s research capability and effectiveness, improves research and teaching at the researchers home institution, and involves undergraduate students in research experiences.
Benedict College will research how to remove tetracycline from waste streams because antibiotic resistance associated with tetracycline in these wastes is increasing, and may result in more antibiotic-resistant pathogens to humans and other ecological receptors. The approach of this study is from a process engineering perspective, to use harvested swine and municipal waste cultures in small batch reactors, modifying parameters such as pH, operating temperatures, and solids retention times to optimize performance in terms of tetracycline degradation and methane production rates. The goal of the RIA project is to utilize anaerobic biological waste digestion in an attempt to maximize biological degradation of tetracycline, and also to capitalize on the methanogenesis that occurs in these waste streams. Biologically degrading tetracycline-containing waste in the context of methanogenesis has the added advantage of using the methane for operational energy use, or as a combustible fuel to heat-treat the effluent for thermal abiological destruction of tetracycline.
The educational impacts of this research are to train underrepresented minority students in cross-disciplinary research, combining engineering with microbiology, and training them in emerging contaminant removal and clean and renewable energy engineering. Emerging
contaminant removal and renewable energy research and engineering are both strong growth sectors of the economy and increasingly important to meet future energy and environmental demands.
The RIA expands knowledge on the extent to which biological degradation of pharmaceuticals like tetracycline can be achieved, as well as understanding of the extent of tetracycline degradation that can be achieved in a complex matrix. The research is therefore important because it addresses the above issues, benefitting the global society, while helping to train and place under-represented minorities in these growing research and employment sectors. Students will gain hands-on research skills in microbiology, analytic chemistry, and renewable energy engineering, making them attractive candidates for graduate-level study in the environmental field or in industry. As an Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) jurisidction, the project broadens participation geographically by potentially increasing research capacity and capability statewide.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 600.00K | Year: 2012
The college is enrolling cohorts of ten low-income students per year from groups historically underrepresented in science in this project entitled the Future Chemists Scholarships and Support (FoCuS) program.
Intellectual Merit: The college has designed a curriculum, social activities and an advising infrastructure that support FoCuS scholars throughout their college careers. These efforts are designed to improve retention of the FoCuS scholars and all students in the chemical sciences beyond the first year of college. As FoCuS students matriculate, these students who are majoring in chemistry or biochemistry are being supported through several key activities: 1) scholarships; 2) a Summer Chemistry Bridge program; 3) intensive mentoring and advising; 4) cohort support systems and social activities; 5) leadership opportunities; 6) career exploration; 7) research opportunities and 8) an innovative chemistry curriculum.
Broader Impacts: In order to fill the growing gap in the scientific workforce, the college is recruiting from groups currently underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) fields. This project is increasing retention of students majoring in the chemical sciences and has the potential to increase the diversity of students in the STEM workforce. The college has a long-standing interest in advising and mentoring students through cohort programs and is committed to improving diversity and providing access to education for financially needy students. For each of four years FoCuS is enrolling cohorts of 10 high achieving students from groups historically underrepresented in science. Thus, at least forty students are receiving direct funding and support, but all students enrolled in the chemistry major are benefiting from the redesigned chemistry major and support infrastructure. Results are being disseminated at conferences and through a publicly accessible website.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 349.98K | Year: 2016
Benedict College will examine the impact of a Connected Learning Community Model on undergraduate student retention, academic success, and self-efficacy. The model, based on Banduras Social Cognitive Theory, features student research experiences coupled with peer-to-peer and faculty mentoring and provides an engaging and supportive interactive learning environment to influence student outcomes. The model incorporates several factors: the influence of peers with similar sociocultural backgrounds, the influence of an academic mentor in fostering effective study skills, the influence of acquiring a responsible work ethic, and the influence of a better understanding of the benefits of STEM education. The project is expected to positively impact the pathway of underrepresented minorities in the STEM workforce by producing an evidence-based intervention that could be adapted for similar institutions, including community colleges.
The researchers will implement a mixed-methods design to investigate whether a connected learning community impacts the academic performance, retention, and self-efficacy of underrepresented minority STEM students. Multiple regression models will be used to explain the variation of academic success, retention, and self-efficacy with covariates such as age, socioeconomic status, gender, family education history, and marital status using the quantitative data. Qualitative data will be collected and analyzed for causative factors to support the quantitative effects observed during the study. Pre- and post-project interviews will be used to assess students satisfaction with their academic experience, perceived benefit of membership in the learning community, interest in STEM careers, and commitment to persist in STEM. The study can potentially produce a novel paradigm for undergraduate STEM education targeting underrepresented students.
This project is supported by the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) Broadening Participation Research in Education track. This program track supports ideas to create and study new models and innovations in STEM teaching and learning, investigate the underlying issues affecting the differential participation and success rates of students from underrepresented groups, and produce knowledge to inform STEM education practices and interventions.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SCIENCE, TECH & SOCIETY | Award Amount: 145.42K | Year: 2016
General Audience Summary
This research project proposes to use ethnographic, archival, and interview methods to understand the authorial and decision-making work of scientific assessors, particularly those of the upcoming Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This project marks the first time social scientists will observe the processes of the IPCC in real time, from the inside. The researchers will have a sustained opportunity to observe, analyze, and communicate how expert assessors shape climate assessments during the writing process. In turn, this research will be distributed among researchers as well as climate policy practitioners to help improve the application of climate science to policy, including the inclusion of diverse representation in the assessment process as well as the portrayal and communication of consensus, conflict, bias, error, risk, and uncertainty. This project will inform curricular development of a program in Climate Studies for undergraduate students, improve representation and capacity building among diverse climate scholars including undergraduate students and social science researchers in developing countries, communicate research findings to the public, and feed research findings back to the assessor community.
The primary purpose of this project is to contribute to ongoing scholarly attempts to understanding scientific knowledge production. The field of science studies has provided ample evidence of the empirical inadequacy of algorithmic models of scientific knowledge production, and has of late come to stress the importance of expert judgment within diverse communities. This project explicitly addresses the practice of expert judgment in a major domain of contemporary scientific activity. It will also provide suggestions to improve the assessment and decision process. Assessments are expensive in terms of time, money, and scientific human capital, and it important for the scientific community re-assess the commitment that has been made to them. The researchers will produce policy-relevant and scientist-relevant papers to convey project findings to the IPCC and involved scientist assessors. They will also present to user communities, such as at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meetings.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: LAW AND SOCIAL SCIENCES | Award Amount: 21.54K | Year: 2014
Places of worship are among the most prevalent and visible institutions in communities across the United States. This visibility, though, means that churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other religious congregations are often targets for street crime and ethnic- or even religiously-motivated hate crime. Indeed, it is easy to find hundreds of news reports each year about a religious congregation being victimized by vandalism, theft, arson, or some other crime. Yet, the victimization of religious congregations has received little attention by social scientists. Our research will contribute to the testing and extension of theories of crime and its relationship to community contexts, as well as theories of ethnic conflict and religious persecution.
This project will gather nationally representative survey data on the prevalence, pattern, and predictors of victimization of religious congregations along with in-depth interview data with congregational leaders and their experiences with crime. We will compare and contrast the factors that predict street crime victimization with those that predict religiously-motivated hate crime victimization. These data will not only allow social scientists to test theories of crime, ethnic conflict, and religious persecution, but they will also provide the foundation for law enforcement, community, and congregational leaders to prevent and respond to the victimization of places of worship.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 198.26K | Year: 2012
The objectives of the project entitled: Statistical Models for Real-Time Parameter Prediction from Probe Vehicle Data at Traffic Intersections, are to develop new queue length estimate models at traffic intersections, to teach undergraduate students mathematical and computational modeling skills, and to develop project based undergraduate courses.
The project will investigate the estimation of system parameters such as queue length, delay, and flow rate at traffic intersections based on data from vehicles instrumented with wireless communication and location tracking technologies, so called probe vehicles. Estimating system states in real-time can enable optimal control through efficiently allocating the available capacity such that a defined performance metric is optimized, for example the queue length is minimized. To estimate these performance measures in real time, various surveillance technologies are being employed to measure traffic flow parameters which are subsequently utilized in models for delay estimation and prediction. However, these detection technologies are not effective in estimating queue lengths or delays. Research is needed to develop models using probe information such as count, location, and time, and to understand how probe vehicle technology could potentially improve the estimation of desired parameters. During this project,first queue length estimators for two-lane isolated intersections with left and right turn movements for Poisson arrivals, then platoon arrivals will be developed. Fixed and random service time distributions will be investigated. Finally, developed models will be tested with VISSIM microscopic simulation platform in order to show if the models are accurately estimating the desired parameters and under what conditions the models are adequate.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 1.11M | Year: 2014
Implementation Projects provide support to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to design, implement, study, and assess comprehensive institutional efforts to increase the number of students receiving undergraduate degrees in STEM and enhance the quality of their preparation by strengthening STEM education and research. The project at Benedict College seeks to build on previous successful efforts to increase participation of African-American students in STEM disciplines. The objectives and strategies of the Center for Engineering and Science are consistent with Benedict Colleges goal of increasing the number of well-prepared STEM graduates who enter in the workforce as engineers, teachers, or pursue STEM graduate education and research careers.
The objectives of the project are to: 1) increase retention of STEM freshmen students; 2) increase the five-year graduation rate of STEM majors; and 3) increase the number of engineering and science majors who gain admission and matriculate to graduate school. The project strategies supporting these objectives are evidence-based and will be monitored and evaluated for effectiveness. This evaluation will help to decide which activities will be sustained by Benedict College and will be disseminated as best practices for peer institutions.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 199.51K | Year: 2012
The Research Initiation Award entitled - Response of Microbial Communities to Short-Timescale In-situ Soil Moisture Dynamics - seeks to understand the role of microbial communities in the global carbon cycle, which is the subject of much interest in light of current needs to quantify, model and manage carbon inputs to the atmosphere. Soil water content is a critical determinant of microbial heterotrophic activity and is therefore the single most important parameter linking the water cycle and the carbon cycle in terrestrial habitats. There is a need to integrate a physically-based understanding of soil water processes with an in-depth study of their effects on the microbial community at multiple trophic levels.
The research hypothesis of this work is that microbial responses to wetting/drying cycles vary among microbial taxa primarily as a result of two factors: 1) differences in physiological responses to desiccation, and 2) varying locations within the soil matrix resulting in differential exposure to desiccation stresses. The two trophic levels under consideration in this project are bacteria and bactivorous protozoa. The study will quantify the dynamics of soil microbial community structure as a time-dependent function of soil moisture, then target specific taxa showing appreciable changes. Follow-on work will examine which factor is most influential in determining the desiccation response for specific microbial taxa. The project includes undergraduate students by providing them with an opportunity to gain research skills in both microbial ecology and soil hydrology, making them attractive candidates for graduate-level study in the environmental field or in industry.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 25.48K | Year: 2015
This is a collaborative project involving the University of California, Davis (Award DUE-1525862), Diablo Valley College (Award DUE-1525057), Howard University (Award DUE-1524638), the College of Saint Benedict (Award DUE-1525021), Hope College (Award DUE-1524990), and the University of Arkansas, Little Rock (Award DUE-1525037).
This project will expand the content and capabilities of the STEMWiki Hyperlibrary, which was launched to provide vetted Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning resources to the public in the form of easily accessible, online college textbooks that alleviate the rising costs of postsecondary education. The STEMWiki Hyperlibrary consists of a number of connected, discipline-focused hypertext applications (ChemWiki, BioWiki, MathWiki, StatWiki, GeoWiki, PhysWiki), which are freely accessible to students regardless of socioeconomic or educational backgrounds. The ChemWiki (http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu) is currently the most developed STEMWiki, with millions of visits each month. By making high-quality STEM learning resources readily available, the project will positively impact at least four main populations: (1) the non-science community; (2) socioeconomically disadvantaged students; (3) smaller or financially disadvantaged academic institutions, including high schools, that wish to adopt new learning technologies but cannot afford the initial steep costs of a new curriculum; and (4) discipline-based education researchers looking for a platform on which to evaluate new interdisciplinary approaches and curriculum modifications, which would otherwise absorb too large of a budget to develop from scratch. Once sufficiently developed, the Hyperlibary will be a power platform for the dissemination of new educational content and the evaluation of emerging educational technologies.
The STEMWiki Hyperlibrary is designed as a collaboratively constructed learning environment that enables the dissemination and evaluation of new educational resources and approaches as online course textbooks, with an emphasis on data-driven assessment of student learning and performance. The STEMWikis allow learners to cooperatively construct and organize knowledge, providing an important alternative to one size fits all instruction in which content is presented in a static, prepackaged manner. In this project, the investigators will augment the constituent STEMWikis of the Hyperlibrary with ancillary homework and simulation applications, as well as formative assessment modules. They will integrate the content of the STEMWikis both horizontally (across multiple STEM fields) and vertically (across multiple levels of complexity) within a network that will provide not just single textbooks but a rich hyperlibrary through which new, interconnected STEM textbooks can be constructed. The result will be an easy-to-use platform on which faculty members can collaborate to create and publish reusable, online pedagogical content. The project team will add ancillary online homework (the Student Ability Rating and Inquiry System [SARIS]) and simulations (via the ChemCollective, http://www.chemcollective.org). From these components, they will build an assessment infrastructure that tracks and correlates use of individual Wiki-based textbooks with simulations, homework activity, and exam performance, with the goal of identifying and tracking student performance across multiple STEM curricula.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Software Institutes | Award Amount: 181.59K | Year: 2012
Partial differential equations are used in a wide variety of applications as
mathematical models. Their numerical solution is, consequently, of prime
importance for the accurate simulation and optimization of processes in the
sciences, engineering, and beyond.
The last decade saw the emergence of large and successful libraries that
support such applications. While these libraries provide most of what such
codes need for small-scale computations, many realistic applications yield
problems of hundreds of millions or billions of unknowns and require clusters
with thousands of processor cores, but there is currently little generic
support for such problems, limiting access to the many large publicly
supported computing facilities to experts in computational science and
excluding scientists from many fields for whom computational simulation would
be a useful tool. This project intends to build the software infrastructure that will allow a
wide cross section of scientists to utilize these large resources.
This project intends to support the software infrastructure for the
large-scale solution of partial differential equations on massively parallel
computational resources in a generic way. It will build on two of the most
successful libraries for scientific computing, the finite element library
deal.II, and Trilinos that provides the parallel linear algebra capabilities
for the former. Specifically, we will: (i) Make support for massively parallel
computations ubiquitous in deal.II; (ii) Research and develop seamless support
for problems with billions of unknowns in both libraries and improve the
interaction between the two; (iii) Exploit intra-node parallelism on todays
clusters; (iv) Ensure the applicability of our work on a broad basis by
implementing two real-world applications.
Both deal.II and Trilinos have large, active and diverse developer and user
communities, and this project will actively engage these communities through
user meetings, short courses, regularly taught classes, mailing lists, and
direct contact in focused projects.