Charleston, SC, United States

College of Charleston
Charleston, SC, United States

The College of Charleston is a public, sea-grant and space-grant university located in historic downtown Charleston, South Carolina, United States. The college was founded in 1770 and chartered in 1785, making it the oldest college or university in South Carolina, the 13th oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the oldest municipal college in the country. The founders of the College include three future signers of the Declaration of Independence and three future signers of the United States Constitution . It is said that the college was founded to "encourage and institute youth in the several branches of liberal education." The college is in company with the Colonial Colleges as one of the oldest schools in the United States. It is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. Wikipedia.

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Wright J.C.,College of Charleston
Cognition | Year: 2010

Skepticism about the epistemic value of intuition in theoretical and philosophical inquiry has recently been bolstered by empirical research suggesting that people's concrete-case intuitions are vulnerable to irrational biases (e.g., the order effect). What is more, skeptics argue that we have no way to "calibrate" our intuitions against these biases and no way of anticipating intuitional instability. This paper challenges the skeptical position, introducing data from two studies that suggest not only that people's concrete-case intuitions are often stable, but also that people have introspective awareness of this stability, providing a promising means by which to assess the epistemic value of our intuitions. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Clemson University and College of Charleston | Date: 2015-04-10

Biodegradable, radio-opaque polyesters and poly(ester amides) are described herein. The polyesters contain a plurality of radio-opaque agents or radio-opaque agent-containing moieties that are covalently bound along or from the polymer backbone. The agents/moieties may be bound to the termini of the polymer provided they are bound within the polyester backbone as well. The polyester can be aliphatic or aromatic. The polyester and poly(ester amide) is substituted with a plurality of radio-opaque graft agents or prepared from an appropriate radio-opaque monomer agent. The materials can be used for any application where a radio-opaque material is desired or necessary. The materials can be used to form, in whole or in part, a medical device, or coating thereon or therein.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: BIOLOGICAL OCEANOGRAPHY | Award Amount: 894.66K | Year: 2014

Vitamin B12 and nitrogen are nutrients critical to phytoplankton growth. Since B12 is produced solely by bacteria, phytoplankton must acquire their B12 from bacteria. Nitrogen is used to produce the amino acid methionine and B12 is required by the enzymes that form methionine. Methionine is the precursor to the algal metabolite dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP). Bacteria degrade this compound to the climatically-active compound dimethylsulfide (DMS). Subsequent DMS transfer into the atmosphere is considered a significant driver of cloud formation and a possible climate feedback mechanism. DMSP can also be degraded via a secondary pathway to form methylmercaptopropionate (MMPA), which is not released to the atmosphere. Consequently, DMSP formation and the extent of DMSP degradation to DMS or MMPA are susceptible to B12 availability. Nitrogen availability influences this effect by controlling methionine production. Thus, the overarching premise for this study is that B12 availability regulates oceanic DMSP and DMS formation, and is synergistically impacted by nitrogen limitation. By providing a mechanistic understanding of relevant biogeochemical parameters this study will significantly improve the incorporation of sulfur-related microbial processes into climate models. Undergraduate students from the College of Charleston and College-partnered summer research programs will participate in the project, providing them with real-world examples and understanding of traditional biogeochemical and modern genomics-enabled research.

This project will combine established biogeochemistry-based measurements with cutting-edge metabolomics, transcriptomics and proteomics techniques in laboratory and field studies. Culture experiments will examine the interactive effect of B12 and nitrogen availability on DMSP formation in several ecologically-relevant phytoplankton taxa. Second, the microbial degradation of DMSP and DMS in relation to B12 availability will be examined using several environmentally-important bacteria and archaea. Finally, field studies will examine the seasonal variability of B12, DMSP and DMS, and the relative importance of DMS and MMPA formation in the South Atlantic Bight. Gene and protein expression will be assessed at each level of this study to identify gene products, metabolic pathways, and cellular mechanisms underlying the interconnections between B12, sulfur, and nitrogen cycles. The results generated will have a major impact on current understanding of the role of B12 and nitrogen on the DMSP and DMS cycling, as well as the potential role of these stressors in global climate change. In addition to providing evidence for microbe-based mechanisms behind the modulation of oceanic DMS, this project will (1) furnish an explanation for summer DMS paradox, thus having significant implications for the development of future DMS models, (2) assess the interactive impact of B12 and nitrogen availability on intracellular DMSP production and (3) provide insight as to whether B12 may play a far more critical role in modulating climate feedback mechanisms on phytoplankton productivity.

The significance and importance of this project resides in the diversification and broadening of the STEM talent pipeline in cybersecurity in predominantly undergraduate and liberal arts schools (small institutions). This is achieved by the creation of a curriculum that accommodates students of different levels of computer literacy, that focuses on experiential learning, and that utilizes institutional collaboration via cloud computing. This project will mitigate the challenges small institutions currently face in the cybersecurity area, for example, a tight computer science curriculum and the inability to support the expensive infrastructure required for cybersecurity education. Integrated into this project is research as to whether using this new curriculum and the related online projects, students will attain the same, or an increase, level of cybersecurity learning.

This project will address the above challenges by creating a range of cybersecurity learning opportunities that emphasize hands-on and realistic experimentation for students in small institutions. First, this project will attract a diverse population of students by introducing cybersecurity topics through multiple paths of study and engagement. Students will be introduced to cybersecurity concepts through manageable, stand alone course modules and laboratory exercises. Interested students can study further by taking two cybersecurity focused courses and cybersecurity capstone projects created by this project. Using all these materials students can create a cybersecurity concentration. Second, the project will use the Global Environment for Network Innovation (GENI) infrastructure in the development of empirical labs and the capstone project assignments. GENI offers an affordable cloud solution to small institutions that lack the infrastructure to support sophisticated computer labs. The learning impact of the new curriculum will be evaluated by quantitative competency assessments that are administered yearly. Student cybersecurity persistence will be assessed by a longitudinal study of the number of cybersecurity courses taken during a students course of study. Qualitative assessment of the curriculum will take the form of student interviews and focus groups to gauge attitude towards course modules, perception of learning gains and comfort level with the pedagogies employed. In addition to the collaboration of three college level institutions, this project will leverage relationships with local community colleges to further develop a cybersecurity workforce. This partnership provides a diverse set of students that will support the evidence-based evaluation of student cybersecurity learning via this approach.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: BIOLOGICAL OCEANOGRAPHY | Award Amount: 622.92K | Year: 2014

Biological introductions, defined as the establishment of species in geographic regions outside the reach of their natural dispersal mechanisms, have dramatically increased in frequency during the 20th century and are now altering community structure and ecosystem function of virtually all marine habitats. To date, studies on marine invasions focus principally on demographic and ecological processes, and the importance of evolutionary processes has been rarely tested. This knowledge gap has implications for management policies, which attempt to prevent biological introductions and mitigate their impacts. The Asian seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla has been introduced to every continental margin in the Northern Hemisphere, and preliminary data indicate that non-native populations are both more resistant to heat stress and resistant to snail herbivory. The project will integrate population genetics, field survey and common-garden laboratory experiments to comprehensively address the role of rapid evolutionary adaptation in the invasion success of this seaweed. Specifically, the PIs will answer the following. What is the consequence of introductions on seaweed demography and mating systems? How many successful introductions have occurred in North America and Europe? Where did introduced propagules originate? Do native, native-source and non-native locations differ in environmental conditions? Do native, native-source and non-native populations differ in phenotype?

Intellectual Merit:
The intellectual merit of this project is based on three gaps in the literature. First, while biological invasions are widely recognized as a major component of global change, there are surprisingly few studies that compare native and non-native populations in their biology or ecology. Native and non-native populations will be surveyed in a similar manner, allowing assessment of differences in population dynamics, mating system, epifaunal and epiphytic communities, and the surrounding abiotic and biotic environment. Second, G. vermiculophylla exhibits a life cycle typical of other invasive species (including some benthic invertebrates), yet we still lack data on the effects of decoupling the haploid and diploid stages on genetic structure, and in turn, on the evolvability of their populations. Finally, this project will provide unequivocal evidence of an adaptive shift in a marine invasive. To our knowledge, such evolutionary change has been described previously for only a complex of marine copepod species. G. vermiculophylla will serve as a model for understanding evolution in other nuisance invasions, and perhaps lead to novel methods to counter future invasions or their spread.

Broader Impacts:
There are several broader impacts afforded by this project. The postdoctoral researcher will receive extensive training in population and ecological genetics, develop skills necessary to further development as an independent researcher, and develop career-enhancing interpersonal skills by leading the field trips and mentoring undergraduates. At least four undergraduates will be recruited, all of whom will generate data and will be encouraged to pursue independent projects. The results will be published in peer-reviewed journals and be presented at national and international meetings of both applied and basic scientists, during lectures and seminars at our home universities and at other universities. Finally, a co-PI has successfully implemented after-school hands on plant-ecology programs at the urban public library in their after-school programming for K-5 students ( with undergraduate research apprentices and collaboration with undergraduate senior education majors. Offerings will be expanded in this after-school program by developing hands on quantitative inquiry based modules on marine invasive species, marine algae and other topics. Undergraduate students on this project will have the opportunity to interact with undergraduate students in other ongoing projects in our group (see Thus research students across different areas of ecological-genetics will have the opportunity to share experiences and expertise.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: EXTRAGALACTIC ASTRON & COSMOLO | Award Amount: 220.41K | Year: 2016

1. The force of gravity that a black hole exerts is so strong that even light cannot escape. Some black holes form when the core of a star collapses in on itself during a supernova explosion. (A supernova is an exploding star that briefly shines as brightly as the combined light of all the hundreds of billions of stars in an entire galaxy.) Supermassive black holes, with masses millions to billions of times larger than the Suns may lurk in the centers of most galaxies. A black hole exerts strong tidal forces that can rip apart stars that orbit it too closely. A black hole does not emit radiation itself, but the disruption of a star and infall of the resulting debris both generate considerable energy. Many accreting black hole systems exhibit rapid quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs). Some produce jets of very high-energy plasma that speed away at velocities close to that of light. The Principal Investigator will use his improved numerical code Cosmos++ to perform simulations of accretion onto black holes. The Intellectual Merit of the proposed research is that it will advance scientists understanding of black-hole accretion and of the nature of QPOs and properties of jets in such systems. The Broader Impacts include the involvement of students in the research project, as well as the Principal Investigators participation in various public outreach activities and from the incorporation of his results into classroom lessons.

2. The proposed research will employ the general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics (GRMHD) code Cosmos++ to perform cutting-edge simulations of black hole accretion. The Intellectual Merit of the work is that it will advance astrophysicists understanding of the differences between viscous and MHD treatments of accretion disks around black holes, of the nature of quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs) observed in some such systems, and of the orientation of jets in misaligned accretion systems. The Broader Impacts result from the Principal Investigator?s involvement of students in this RUI project, through a variety of public outreach activities, and from the incorporation of his results into his classroom lessons.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Core R&D Programs | Award Amount: 179.47K | Year: 2016

ETR Associates and the College of Charleston will conduct a collaborative research project that is designed to increase diversity in computer science by exploring whether boot camps build students adaptive expertise and how the actual preparation aligns with computing workforce expectations for knowledge and competencies. The study will be conducted in Silicon Valley in California and Silicon Harbor in South Carolina and will yield (1) models of the attributes of effective software developers from the perspective of universities, coding boot campus, and software development companies; (2) a conceptual framework of how software development workforce needs align with training preparation, and how variations in the preparation of adaptive expertise can inform efforts to broaden participation; and (3) longitudinal case studies of students from underrepresented groups from the two types of training settings. The results will inform researchers, educators, and employers about the knowledge and coursework necessary to develop adaptive software developers who are prepared for the computer science workforce.

The researchers will use a three-phase mixed-methods approach to investigate the following research questions: (1) What kinds of software development learning opportunities are offered by undergraduate programs? What kinds are offered at coding boot camps? (2) How well do the different training settings align with regional software development industry needs? and (3) What kinds of learners are attracted to the different learning opportunities and why? They will triangulate the findings across multiple data sources, follow a tested process for developing a conceptual framework, and use a rigorous set of procedures for analysis. Data will include surveys, interviews, and focus groups.

This project is supported by NSFs EHR Core Research (ECR) program. The ECR program emphasizes fundamental STEM education research that generates foundational knowledge in three thematic areas: STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation, and STEM workforce development.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: GoLife | Award Amount: 361.13K | Year: 2015

This project will develop and apply a unified framework for studying the evolution of all fishes, including lampreys, sharks, and the coral reef, deep sea and freshwater fishes. This work will illuminate the genealogical relationships (phylogeny), evolutionary timing, and mechanisms for the origin and maintenance of the worlds diversity of fishes, including the most important food and aquarium fishes. The project will contribute to community-driven scientific efforts, to student training, to web content and application development, and to public outreach. All fish specimens, specimen and DNA data, and analytical results obtained will be made publicly available through a dynamic and open structure that complies with established standards to facilitate wide accessibility to the broader scientific and non-scientific communities. High school, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral student training are central activities for this project. Social media outreach and training will provide diverse professional development opportunities as well. A fish species identification application for smartphones based on image data (FishSnap) will be developed and made freely available to the public to allow accurate identification of selected groups of fishes. Outcomes of this project will form part of a new public exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History to highlight the value of specimen collections at natural history museums.

This integrative project will combine genomic, paleontological, anatomical, functional, ecological, and comparative approaches. The research team blends strengths in collections-based research on fishes, molecular and morphological phylogenetics, bioinformatics, and comparative analyses, allowing them to synthesize big data sets to resolve the phylogeny of all described fish species and conduct evolutionary analysis of key traits. Time-calibrated trees will be used to reveal diversification patterns of the major groups. Image analysis, morphometrics, and phenomic data will enable the discovery of evolutionary patterns in size, shape, and biomechanical function across thousands of species.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: PHYSICAL & DYNAMIC METEOROLOGY | Award Amount: 266.59K | Year: 2015

This award provides funding for researchers to study the topic of raindrop clustering. As can be seen in nature, rain does not fall with equal spacing between the individual drops. Rather, the raindrops tend to cluster or bunch. This can make the interpretation of tools used to measure rainfall, such as simple rain gauges or advanced weather radar, more complicated. In this study, researchers from two institutions will expand a measuring site that includes a significant number of disdrometers, which are instruments that can provide images and information about individual raindrops as they fall. The additional data will help the researchers answer a variety of questions which are ultimately relevant to the interpretation of data from radar and the effect of rain on soil erosion. Undergraduate students would be directly involved in the collection and analysis of the data, providing opportunities for the next generation of scientists.

The research team will continue and expand upon their work making measurements of small scale variability in rainfall. In their prior research grant, the researchers set up an array of optical disdrometers and a video disdrometer within a small 100m x 100m area. This award will add a second video disdrometer and a newer type of optical disdrometer in order to collect data that would answer questions raised by the investigation of the original data. Specifically, the research plan is to: (1) expand the library of data to obtain better and more complete sets of observations in a wider variety of meteorological conditions, (2) achieve higher temporal resolution of some instruments to reduce advection smoothing, particularly for more detailed studies of the spatial pair correlation function, (3) characterize further the spatial correlation function for many more rain events beyond the current 100m, (4) focus on centimeter scale studies using 2DVD data yet to be explored with particular regard to scales relevant to radar Bragg scatter, (5) expand the study of the effect of domain size on drop size distribution and their integrated parameters to include more data sets under different meteorological conditions, (6) focus on calculating 2D spatial correlation in different meteorological settings and different temporal resolutions with the aim of developing useful parametric expressions for applications, and (7) combine 2DVD observations from two instruments for unique simultaneity studies similar to historic and prize winning photon work.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: EVOLUTIONARY GENETICS | Award Amount: 652.39K | Year: 2014

The unPAK (undergraduates Phenotyping Arabidopsis Knockouts) project uses the plant Arabidopsis thaliana to examine how and when differences in DNA sequences lead to differences in traits related to survival, growth, and reproduction. It will detect effects, if any, of mutation in a comprehensive collection of mutants generated by the Salk Institute, and will then compile results in a comprehensive database. To examine the interaction of genetic and environmental effects, unPAKs experiments are replicated within and across multiple growth facilities and labs, and a subset of experiments deliberately manipulate soil factors, moisture, and temperature to see how these important ecological factors interact with genetics.

unPAK will survey enough mutant lines to reach coverage of a third of the A. thaliana genome (approximately 9,000 genes). All data will be uploaded into a public database at, and this database of observed traits is linked to existing genomic databases. Evidence produced by unPAK will enable testing central hypotheses about the relationship between genomic features and important plant characteristics. For example, the data can be used to test whether the effects of mutation are predicted by gene attributes such as molecular signatures of selection in the past, gene function, gene family size, or by patterns of variability in natural populations.

unPAK is centered around participation of undergraduate researchers in the lab and the classroom, educating and training undergraduates integratively in genetics, ecology, evolution, and bioinformatics. The network extends across diverse post-secondary institutions, with over 100 undergraduate apprentices participating across 13 laboratories in 3 years. Greater than 20 course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) will be supported by the program, reaching over 600 students. Any discoveries about the influence of particular genes on fruit production, survival, or life history will have significant broader impacts in potential application to crop species.

As a final part of the project the unPAK research network itself is being studied. Using mixed-methods approaches from the social sciences, researchers are documenting interactions among network participants to analyze changes in network structure over time, and to investigate factors that influence student participation and outcomes, including students accrual of human, cultural, and social capital.

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