Ellensburg, WA, United States
Ellensburg, WA, United States

Central Washington University, or CWU, is a publicly assisted university in Ellensburg, Washington in the United States. The university's three chief divisions include the Office of the President, Business and Financial Affairs, and Academic and Student Life . Within ASL are four colleges: the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Business , the College of Education and Professional Studies, and College of the science.CWU is located about 110 miles east of Seattle, Washington on Interstate 90 in Kittitas Valley. Wikipedia.

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Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: ROBERT NOYCE SCHOLARSHIP PGM | Award Amount: 213.81K | Year: 2016

The Next Generation of STEM Teacher Preparation project is led by five institutions of higher education in Washington State. This collaborative effort will engage institutions involved in the preparation of teachers of STEM disciplines, Washington States Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, P-12 educators, and other key stakeholders from business, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in bringing about statewide sustainable change in the preparation of STEM teachers at all levels. The project moves away from isolated, single institutional program improvement efforts, to colleges and universities in Washington State working collaboratively to improve STEM teacher preparation in partnership with two-year colleges, P-12 schools, community groups, and businesses. The project will result in the production of more, highly qualified, P-12 science and mathematics teachers, including a new cadre of teachers prepared to teach computer science and engineering. In addition, the project seeks to increase the diversity of the STEM teacher workforce by actively recruiting and incentivizing underrepresented students from STEM majors at 2- and 4-year colleges to become P-12 middle and high school STEM teachers. Financial support for this project comes from NSFs Improving Undergraduate Education program and the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.

The projects primary goals are:
1. To improve STEM teacher preparation programs in Washington State (impacting greater than 90% of the states future STEM teacher graduates,
2. Increase recruitment of qualified and diverse STEM students into teaching, and
3. Create an adaptive, research-based model for improving STEM teacher preparation through collaboration.
To achieve these goals, the project will: (a) create a common vision for STEM teacher preparation in Washington State, (b) share, develop, adapt, implement, and evaluate resources and models to achieve this vision, and (c) build and assess a model of continuous, collaborative program improvement. The critical components of teacher preparation this project will address include: improving pre-service teachers clinical practice and new teachers induction experiences, improving the disciplinary and STEM pedagogical content knowledge of pre-service teachers, and integrating computer science, engineering, and sustainability into teacher preparation. Cross-institutional Working Groups dedicated to improving each component will research, create, and produce a set of materials and professional development workshops. Regional Teams of faculty and administrators from institutions of higher education, P-12 educators, and representatives from STEM businesses, NGOs, and government agencies, will in turn adapt these materials and professional development experiences to support and sustain STEM teacher preparation program improvements at their institutions. Three capacity-building components: organizational change, increasing the diversity of the STEM teaching workforce, and collaboration building, will underlie the efforts of every Working Group and Regional Team.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES | Award Amount: 123.52K | Year: 2016

The hazards and risks associated with climate change are a pressing concern in the Pacific Northwest. Assessing risks associated with climate-related hazards requires an interdisciplinary approach that explores the nature of the hazard itself; the economic, social, and political vulnerabilities of the communities in the region; and communication strategies that reach a diverse audience. The primary goal of this project is to introduce students to and engage them in interdisciplinary hazards research that is relevant to their lives and livelihoods, and to do so early in their college careers. The project will bring up to 10 students per year from community colleges, tribal colleges, and universities throughout the Pacific Northwest to Central Washington University to conduct research spanning multiple disciplines, including hydrology, atmospheric science, sociology, geography, geology, and documentary film-making. Students will also work together on a grand challenge project to survey their communities about their perceived risks to climate change, integrate their individual research projects, and develop resources for communicating about climate change risks back to their own communities. They will present the results of their work at a regional conference hosted at CWU.

An additional goal of this project is to develop a community around the idea of interdisciplinary climate hazards and risks research, one that can not only advance our understanding of these topics, but one that serves as a support network for transfer students, especially those from two-year colleges, to succeed in the four-year college environment. Many students at regional community colleges are from groups traditionally underrepresented in the STEM disciplines, and their communities are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This project will support ongoing interactions between students, faculty at their home institution, faculty and students at Central Washington University, and the surrounding communities, emphasizing the role of research in building resiliency.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 385.45K | Year: 2015

Mathematics faculty members and educational researchers are increasingly recognizing the value of the history of mathematics as a support to student learning. This collaborative project, involving seven diverse institutions, will help students learn and develop a deeper interest in, and appreciation and understanding of, fundamental mathematical concepts and ideas by utilizing primary sources - original historical writings by mathematicians on topics in mathematics. Educational materials for students will be developed at all levels of undergraduate mathematics courses, and will be designed to capture the spark of discovery and to motivate subsequent lines of inquiry. In particular, the student projects to be developed will be built around primary source material to guide students, including pre-service teachers, mathematics majors, and other STEM discipline majors, to explore the mathematics of the original discovery in order to develop their own understanding of that discovery. Mathematics faculty and graduate students from over forty (40) institutions will participate in the development and testing process, thereby ensuring a large national network of faculty with expertise on the use of these educational materials. The impacts of the materials and approaches to implementing them will be investigated in terms of teaching, student learning, and departmental and institutional change.

The TRIUMPHS project will employ an integrated training and development process to create and test approximately fifty (50) student projects, which will include (1) twenty (20) primary source projects (PSPs) designed to cover its topic in about the same number of course days as classes would otherwise and (2) thirty (30) one-day mini-PSPs. In addition to the well-researched benefits of engaging students in active learning, particular advantages of this historical approach will involve providing context and direction for the subject matter. Important goals of the TRIUMPHS project are to (a) hone students verbal and deductive skills through studying the work of some of the greatest minds in history and (b) invigorate undergraduate mathematics courses by identifying the problems and pioneering solutions that have since been subsumed into standard curricular topics. Through intensive, research-based professional development workshops, the TRIUMPHS project will also provide training in various aspects of developing and implementing PSPs to approximately seventy (70) faculty and doctoral students. By working collaboratively to develop PSPs while training faculty across the country in their use, the investigators will ensure that these educational materials are robustly adaptable and proactively disseminated to a wide variety of institutional settings, while simultaneously developing an ongoing professional community of mathematics faculty interested in teaching with primary sources. An evaluation-with-research study will provide formative and summative evaluation of the project, as well as contribute to the general knowledge base of (i) how student perceptions of the nature of mathematics evolve, (ii) how students ability to write mathematical arguments changes over time, and (iii) how to support faculty in developing and implementing this research-based, active learning approach.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ECOSYSTEM STUDIES | Award Amount: 149.45K | Year: 2015

Spruce budworms are the most important defoliators of conifer forests in the United States Pacific Northwest, injuring or killing hundreds of thousands of acres of trees each year. Budworm infestations can decrease forest growth and as a result affect streams that drain from those forests. But the actual connections between infestations and the functioning of streams remain unknown. Budworms could increase the amount of organic material entering streams directly as they feed, or they could increase the amount of nutrients that runoff the landscape indirectly as a result of reduced forest growth and nutrient demand. In either case, the growth of algae and bacteria in streams, both key components of stream food webs, could be stimulated with consequences for fish or other stream organisms. Since so little is currently known about these possible connections, it is difficult to predict how streams will respond to budworm attacks, especially as budworms are expected to become more active in the future under a warming climate. This project will enable better predictions of how streams in the forests of central Washington state will change as a result of increased spruce budworm feeding and how they would likely respond under a warmer climate. There are clear implications of project results for the regional economy, which has a large base in timber production, recreation, and water supply for hydropower, fisheries and irrigation. Researchers will engage natural resource managers in the region to assist in the development of better adaptive management plans for Federal, State, and Tribal forests and streams. The project will support the education and training of two undergraduate students and will provide new activities for local fifth grade classes who already are learning about ecosystems in their science curriculum. Finally, the researchers will collaborate on the curation of a display about the management of Pacific Northwest forests and streams at a public museum at Central Washington University.

The focus of this project is on the sensitivity of streams to increased organic matter and nutrient inputs. There are three main approaches to be employed. First, whole-stream experiments will be used to simulate increased nutrient runoff for measurements of how algae and bacteria respond to nutrient additions under light and dark conditions. Second, observations will be made of how budworms affect stream food webs by tracing how stable isotopes of important nutrients derived from budworm material become incorporated into stream insects. Third, historical data about spruce budworm feeding intensity will be gathered to gain insights about where spruce budworms will most likely affect forests in the future. The exploratory nature of the project, which takes advantage of current regional budworm infestations to generate important background data and experimental infrastructure for future studies, justifies this project as an EAGER.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: IRES | Award Amount: 249.50K | Year: 2016

SOBRE Mexico - Student Opportunities for Biological Research in Mexico

This program will partner students from Central Washington University (CWU) with top scientists from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) to explore tropical dry forest ecology in a world-class biological field station in western Mexico. Each year, for three years, cohorts of 5 students will spend 8 weeks at Estación de Biología, Chamela (EBCh) working alongside UNAM and CWU mentors on three general avenues of investigation: 1) interactions in the parasite-host system centered on the agents of Chagas disease (kissing bugs), 2) ecological responses of vertebrates to intense seasonality, and 3) current and future effects of a major coastal highway on ecological connectivity of vertebrates. The world-class facilities and pristine forests of EBCh attract leading scientists from México and throughout the world to conduct cutting-edge research. This setting will provide an exceptional opportunity for students to develop academic relationships with Mexican scientists and their students, laying the foundation for future collaborations. This program will help build the next generation of internationally-literate scientists by guiding bilingual Hispanic-American students to conduct science, facilitating language and cultural literacy with their non-Spanish speaking peers, and developing the skills, connections, and confidence to pursue careers in the sciences. The program will also create opportunities for CWU faculty to develop collaborations with Mexican scientists and encourage Mexican scholars to visit CWU where they can share their insights, discoveries, and culture with our broader community.

The Chamela/Cuitzmala biosphere reserve in western Mexico is surrounded by some of the best examples of seasonally dry tropical forest (SDTF) remaining in the world. SDTF comprise almost half of the worlds tropical forests, representing a larger fraction than rain forests. They provide a set of ecosystem services that rival wet forests, and they harbor a remarkable concentration of endemic species, many of which are threatened or endangered. Despite their importance, SDTFs are among the least studied and most threatened of the worlds forested ecosystems and, as a result, are at greater risk than are wet forests. Students will work UNAMs Institute of Biology to investigate the relationships among blood-feeding triatomine insects, the parasite they carry, Trypanosoma cruzi, and the mammals the insects feed on. This work will aid in our understanding of which mammals in SDTF serve as reservoirs of Chagas disease. Other students will track reptiles and amphibians in the forest during the extreme transition from dry season to wet season in July. This research will contribute new insights into how vertebrate ectotherms manage strong seasonality, a defining feature of SDTF. Some students may investigate parrot ecology in SDTF, exploring variation in food and nesting resources for parrots and other cavity-nesting birds. Others will use remote cameras and transect surveys to monitor wildlife activity in the forest and along Mexican highway 200, which bisects the biosphere reserve. Results from this project will be used to guide decisions on how best to minimize habitat fragmentation associated with planned expansion of that highway. Students will be members of a cohesive team working together on ongoing research by our Mexican mentors to address relevant and important issues in the structure, functioning and conservation of SDTF.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: PETROLOGY AND GEOCHEMISTRY | Award Amount: 210.99K | Year: 2016

Molten rock (magma) forms at tens to hundreds of kilometers below Earths surface. These magmas can ascend, and each year on Earth, about 30 cubic kilometers erupts or stalls, much of it within a few thousand meters of the surface. Transport and storage of magma in the crust (uppermost layer of the solid Earth) is associated with the formation of many strategically- and economically-important mineral resources including gold, platinum, chromium, diamonds and other gemstones and represents a source of untapped green energy called geothermal heat. The research carried out in this study advances infrastructural knowledge of how magmas evolve chemically and thermally through interactions with crust and as they cool, mix, and eventually solidify. Because all magmas initially contain small amounts of dissolved water and carbon dioxide, as magma cools and crystallizes, it often becomes a bubbly mixture containing high-pressure fugitive gas that can produce explosive eruptions, thereby posing risks to humans, property and ecosystems. This research seeks to better understand these phenomena based on the latest results from condensed matter physics, fluid mechanics, and chemical thermodynamics, all in the context of complex system behavior.

Magma emplaced in the crust is a classic example of a complex, open system where magmas and crustal host rock exchange material and energy. The thermochemical evolution of magma subject to this exchange is responsible for much of the compositional diversity observed on Earth. This research applies chemical thermodynamics to predict from first-principles the products of magma crystallization and to relate these products to the amount of geothermal energy that flows to the environment. Open system magmatic behavior that emphasizes the consequences of complete blending of two distinct magma batches (a process called magma mixing) is modeled using two mass and energy constrained computational tools: an exploratory model that utilizes simplified mixing thermodynamics and a more complex model, called the Magma Chamber Simulator, that employs state of the art thermodynamics. Simulations using these codes will generate a theoretical magma mixing taxonomy that will classify thermal and chemical characteristics of mixing end-members and products. This taxonomy will be tested by applying it to carefully chosen volcanic and plutonic rock suites that show clear evidence of magma mixing. Analysis of mixed magma products will define mass and thermal consequences of mixing that can be used to refine models of eruption, magma emplacement, and mass and energy exchange from deeper to shallower levels in Earth. Both computer codes will be enhanced to better capture the open-system characteristics identified by these studies, and public distribution of these computer resources to the earth and planetary sciences community will augment computational analysis of magma formation and evolution. The ultimate end product of this research will be enhanced understanding of the transport, storage, and eruption of molten rock, an integral part of the planetary plate tectonic recycling process.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 264.44K | Year: 2016

This Major Research Instrumentation award will fund the acquisition of scientific instrumentation for the new 0.6-meter telescope at Central Washington University (CWU). The instrument will be a compact, low-cost, high-resolution spectrograph designed to detect and measure the orbital characteristics of Jupiter-sized planets around nearby giant stars. While the design is based on an existing instrument, much of the assembly and testing of the instrument will be carried out by undergraduate students. CWU students will also participate in the international partnership that developed the initial design. The spectrograph will give students the opportunity to experience how science, technology, and engineering come together to solve research problems and make new discoveries.

This primary scientific goal is detection and monitoring of exoplanets in long-period orbits around giant stars. This will be accomplished through long-term monitoring of a small number of bright targets, which should also enable asteroseismology of giant stars. The instrument design targets precision radial velocity studies in the m/s range and makes use of an iodine cell. Much of the local engineering work and scientific observations will be performed by undergraduate students. This will provide training opportunities that generally are not available at non-PhD granting schools.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: PREEVENTS - Prediction of and | Award Amount: 267.19K | Year: 2016

On February 27, 2010, a great earthquake of magnitude 8.8 struck the coast of Chile. The uplift of the seafloor during the earthquake triggered a tsunami that swept over the coast. More than 525 people were killed and estimates of total economic losses were US $15-30 billion. Worldwide, only five great earthquakes since 1900 have been larger, including the largest earthquake ever recorded, which also occurred in southern Chile in May 1960. It is difficult to fully understand the behavior and effects of great earthquakes based on the handful that have occurred since scientific measurements began 100 years ago. A research team from Central Washington University and Rutgers University are using the long historical record (500 years) and geologic evidence of past earthquakes and tsunamis in Chile to investigate the effects of great earthquakes and tsunamis. Unusual sand deposits indicate that powerful tsunami waves swept landward multiple times in the last 2,000 years. Changes in the soil above and below the tsunami sand layers also indicate rising or sinking of the coastal landscape during earthquakes. Microscopic algae (diatoms) that live in coastal sediments are very sensitive to changes from fresh to salt water and vice versa. By identifying changes in the fossil diatoms present within ancient sediment layers, the amount of land-level change during past earthquakes can be precisely determined. The researchers are also using computer models of tsunami waves to calculate the locations and sizes of the fault ruptures that produced the past earthquakes based on these results. This combination of evidence will improve understanding of the frequency, location, and size of ancient earthquakes, and thus of the long-term behavior of the ocean-floor faults that produce them. The research team will engage in diverse activities to increase public awareness and education about earthquake and tsunami hazards in both the U.S. and Chile that include: production and distribution of a public service handbook in Spanish and English on preparing for and surviving a tsunami; presentations to the public, government officials, and local stakeholders; earthquake and tsunami activities for U.S. grade school children; and workshops for Hispanic and low-income students who are underrepresented in science careers. Graduate, undergraduate, and postdoctoral researchers will gain valuable research experience in the project.

Understanding the physics of subduction-zone deformation and accurately assessing the hazards from megathrust earthquakes and their accompanying tsunamis requires earthquake and tsunami histories of considerable detail over multiple earthquake cycles. Accurate and precise estimates of the amounts and timing of coseismic uplift and subsidence over multiple earthquake cycles are critical to understanding the long-term history of strain accumulation and release at subduction zones. South-central Chile was the site of two of Earth?s largest earthquakes (1960, Mw 9.5; 2010, Mw 8.8). However, prior to the past century, the 500-year written history of earthquakes and tsunamis provides limited information on rupture extent and magnitude. This research project uses coastal stratigraphic evidence of subsidence, uplift, and tsunami deposits to measure coseismic and interseismic vertical deformation and construct tsunami chronologies at sites along 600 km of the south-central Chilean subduction zone. Comparisons with forward simulations of tsunamis will identify best-fit rupture parameters (length, location, depth, magnitude) for megathrust earthquakes during the last 2000 years. Two new paleoseismic methods will be developed in this project. First, Bayesian diatom transfer functions that employ the relation between diatoms and salinity, tidal elevation, and life form will be used to reconstruct records of vertical land-level change during large earthquakes. The expanded modern diatom dataset, combined with new Bayesian diatom-based transfer functions, will significantly increase the accuracy and precision of microfossil-based reconstructions of coseismic and interseismic coastal deformation in south-central Chile. Second, tsunami simulation models will be used to create forward simulations of tsunamis and match them with the distributions of paleotsunami deposits to differentiate the rupture locations and lengths responsible for past tsunamis. By combining the deformation reconstructions with mapped tsunami-deposit inundation and latitudinal extent, the researchers will use numerical simulations to evaluate different rupture scenarios for past megathrust earthquakes. Such rupture modeling has not been attempted in south-central Chile, or published elsewhere at this large spatial scale. Maps of the deposits of the 1960, 2010, and earlier tsunamis in a variety of coastal geomorphic settings will provide important calibration comparisons for identifying prehistoric tsunami deposits and using them to infer inundation extent at other coastal sites subject to tsunami hazards.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 735.14K | Year: 2014

The SOLVER (Sustainability for our Lives, Values, Environment, and Resources) project is offering two year scholarships to 26 academically talented, financially needy transfer or rising junior students majoring in biology, geology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, engineering, or computer science. The overall objective of the program is to increase the quality and diversity of students graduating with baccalaureate degrees in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, with an emphasis on recruitment, retention, and graduation of Hispanic and Native American students. The program is providing scholars with financial, academic, personal, and professional support. It is using six interrelated practices that have been shown to increase both student persistence and achievement on essential learning outcomes for STEM professionals: a learning community organized around the issue of sustainability, common intellectual experiences among scholars, diversity learning, undergraduate research opportunities, academic service learning, and internships. These practices are being coupled with strong student support, including targeted recruiting and application assistance, community and family involvement, individualized academic counseling, faculty and peer mentoring, tutoring, career development, and leadership training.

Intellectual Merit:
This program is based on educational practices that have been shown to be exceptionally effective in promoting retention, academic excellence, and career preparation in STEM students. Based on published STEM education research, these represent best practices for all students, but are particularly powerful for underrepresented minorities. Quantitative and qualitative data on SOLVER scholars and a control group of STEM students are being gathered to assess the impact of each practice. In addition, all scholars have the opportunity to contribute to the STEM knowledge base through independent research projects.

Broader Impacts:
The SOLVER program is designed to increase the number and diversity of STEM majors by instituting practices that target Hispanic and Native American students. SOLVER scholar projects, involving academic service learning, research, or internships, are designed to have direct, positive impacts on local communities. The program is strengthening the ties between the university and the local Hispanic and Native American communities; training faculty mentors in cultural responsiveness and student support services; and making the university community generally more inclusive and aware of regional diversity through campus wide events. All of these activities build the capacity of the university to increase the number and diversity of STEM graduates into the future.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 127.54K | Year: 2016

This Major Research Instrumentation award provides funding for the acquisition of an Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectometer (ICP-OES) at Central Washington University, a regional comprehensive university that serves primarily undergraduates. This new instrument will provide high-quality chemical analyses of water, wine, aerosol, soil, snow and ice core samples, allowing for a range of interdisciplinary research on how chemicals vary and cycle near the Earth?s surface and how their presence is influenced by human activity. Four faculty members in the Geological Sciences, Chemistry, and Biology Sciences Departments, and the Environmental Studies Program will incorporate the new instrument into their research, their classes, and their outreach activities. The four faculty members all have active externally-funded research programs that include undergraduate and Masters students; the instrumentation will broaden the research scope and training for these students. The faculty also have strong ties with local, regional and national agencies such as the National Park Service, the Washington Department of Ecology, the Yakama Nation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The new instrument will enhance these collaborations and provide more opportunities for students to interact with these external agencies. The instrument acquisition is timed to coincide with the occupation of a new science building by the Geological Sciences Department at CWU. As such, the instrument is supported by the addition of modern laboratories and associated support staff, greatly amplifying the infrastructure improvements provided by the new instrumentation.

The ICP-OES is a stable, reliable instrument that can generate large quantities of high-quality concentration data for a range of major, minor and trace elements in water; this instrument will provide new data that is fundamental for ongoing research in environmental geochemistry/chemistry, atmospheric science, climate science, and environmental science and complements data that can be obtained using existing instrumentation (e.g., isotope ratio mass spectrometer, single particle soot photometer, ion chromatograph) at CWU. The ICP-OES will be integral to several lines of research at CWU that include elemental concentrations in water, wine, aerosol, soil, and snow and ice core samples. PI Gazis, an environmental geochemist, uses elemental data combined with other geochemical tracers to characterize groundwater in order to better understand groundwater mixing, groundwater-surface water interactions and groundwater recharge versus withdrawal rates. She and her students have also used elemental data to quantify changes in stream and soil water chemistry related to anthropogenic perturbations and natural variations such as clear-cutting, agriculture, wildfire, and climate. Co-PI Johansen, an environmental chemist, studies aerosol chemistry, in particular how trace metals contained within carbonaceous aerosols affect their toxicity and their effects on global climate. In addition, she is a principle researcher in CWU?s wine quality testing laboratory in which the chemistry of wines, including elemental analysis, is compared to the wine terroir and wine characteristics and faults. Co-PI Kaspari is a climate scientist who uses geochemical records from ice cores to reconstruct past climate and environmental variability. Additionally Kaspari studies how the deposition of black carbon and other impurities on snow and ice reduces albedo and accelerates melt. Co-PI Arango studies nutrient cycling in aquatic ecosystems and the response of these cycles to perturbations such as stream restoration and metal deposition. All of these areas of research will benefit from the fundamental geochemical data that an ICP-OES can provide. In addition, this instrument will create opportunities for new collaborations between these scientists in their areas of overlapping research interests such as snow and precipitation chemistry, biogeochemical cycles in and around streams, and atmosphere/climate interactions.

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