Colorado Springs, CO, United States
Colorado Springs, CO, United States

The Colorado College is a private liberal arts college in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It was founded in 1874 by Thomas Nelson Haskell. The college enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduates at its 90-acre campus, 70 miles south of Denver in Colorado Springs. The college offers 42 majors and 33 minors, and has a student-faculty ratio of 10:1. Famous alumni include Ken Salazar, Lynne Cheney, James Heckman and Marc Webb. Colorado College has an acceptance rate of 18%, was ranked as the best private college in Colorado by Forbes, and listed as the #27 National Liberal Arts College in the 2015 U.S. News & World Report rankings. Colorado College is known for its unique "block plan," which divides the year into eight academic terms called "blocks"; a single class is taken during each block, which run for three and a half weeks.Colorado College is affiliated with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. Most sports teams are in the NCAA Division III, with the exception of Division I teams in CC Men's Hockey and Women's Soccer.In the college education guide, Hidden Ivies: Thirty Colleges of Excellence, Colorado College is listed as one of the "Hidden Ivies." Wikipedia.

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News Article | April 25, 2017

A research team led by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Colorado College has solved a century-old mystery involving a famous red waterfall in Antarctica. New evidence links Blood Falls to a large source of salty water that may have been trapped under Taylor Glacier for more than 1 million years. The team's study, published in the Journal of Glaciology, describes the brine's 300-foot path from beneath Taylor Glacier to the waterfall. This path has been a mystery since geoscientist Griffith Taylor discovered Blood Falls in 1911. Lead author Jessica Badgeley, then an undergraduate student at Colorado College, worked with University of Alaska Fairbanks glaciologist Erin Pettit and her research team to understand this unique feature. They used a type of radar to detect the brine feeding Blood Falls. "The salts in the brine made this discovery possible by amplifying contrast with the fresh glacier ice," Badgeley said. Blood Falls is famous for its sporadic releases of iron-rich salty water. The brine turns red when the iron contacts air. The team tracked the brine with radio-echo sounding, a radar method that uses two antenna -- one to transmit electrical pulses and one to receive the signals. "We moved the antennae around the glacier in grid-like patterns so that we could 'see' what was underneath us inside the ice, kind of like a bat uses echolocation to 'see' things around it," said co-author Christina Carr, a doctoral student at UAF. Pettit said the researchers made another significant discovery -- that liquid water can persist inside an extremely cold glacier. Scientists previously thought this was nearly impossible, but Pettit said the freezing process explains how water can flow in a cold glacier. "While it sounds counterintuitive, water releases heat as it freezes, and that heat warms the surrounding colder ice," she said. The heat and the lower freezing temperature of salty water make liquid movement possible. "Taylor Glacier is now the coldest known glacier to have persistently flowing water." Pettit said she enlisted Badgeley as an undergraduate student to help with the overall mission of understanding the hydrological plumbing of cold-based glaciers. "Jessica's work is a perfect example of the high level of work undergraduate students can do when you give them a challenge and set the expectations high," she said.

Neuropsychological baseline testing is commonplace in the assessment of concussion; however, claims of 'sandbagging' the baseline have led neuropsychologists to ask to what extent athletes can perform intentionally poorly on baseline testing without reaching threshold on the test validity indicators. Seventy-five undergraduate athletes were re-administered the ImPACT neurocognitive battery, which they had previously taken to establish baseline functioning, but were instructed to perform more poorly than their baseline without reaching threshold on the test validity indicators. Eight participants were able to successfully fake significantly lower scores without detection by validity indicators. Concussion history was not related to performance. Successful fakers did not perform significantly worse on the Reaction Time Composite and Three Letters Total Letters Correct, questioning the utility of these measures for detecting 'sandbagging' Successful fakers reported using less purposeful faking strategies which naturally facilitated errors. The data suggest that 'sandbagging' the baseline, even under conditions involving motivation, instruction, and experience with the test, is difficult to accomplish without being detected. © The Author 2012.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ORGANIZATION | Award Amount: 374.73K | Year: 2013

Nerve cells, or neurons, are specialized cells of the nervous system that receive and send signals to coordinate animal behavior. Dendrites are the highly branched structures of neurons that are used to gather sensory information from other cells or the environment. These dendritic branches are critical for the function of the nervous system because a loss of dendrites is associated with deficits in learning, motor control, and sensory perception. The goal of this project is to identify the molecular mechanisms that regulate dendrite development. Dendrite development will be investigated in the simple genetic model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, a microscopic round worm because it is completely transparent, enabling the observation of dendrite development in living animals, and because it is high amenable to genetic manipulation. The research will focus on a genetic analysis of a class of proteins called RNA-binding proteins, which are hypothesized to be important in dendrite development because they regulate genetic messages known as messenger RNAs. This research project is expected to identify several specific RNA-binding proteins, present in worms and other species including humans, which are important for regulating dendrite development. Furthermore, the research is expected to determine the molecular mechanisms for how these RNA-binding proteins regulate dendrites. This research will impact the field of developmental neuroscience because it will provide a better understanding of how the individual neurons make the connections that allow for a functional nervous system that responds to the environment and controls behavior. This project will also have an impact on student training and public awareness; Colorado College and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will collaborate on this research project and train several undergraduates and master students, incorporate this research into undergraduate courses, and participate in community outreach programs to illustrate the importance of developmental neuroscience research.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Genetic Mechanisms | Award Amount: 387.32K | Year: 2014

Intellectual Merit: Bacteria have a covering membrane, analogous to human skin, designed to keep their internal components in and foreign bodies out. Some bacteria have developed the ability to import foreign DNA across this membrane and incorporate it into their own genomes. This ability is called natural transformation or competence. Because competent bacteria can import everything from their own native DNA to animal DNA, they can adapt rapidly in stressful environments, such as in the presence of antibiotics. This research project is to better understand how bacteria are able to find DNA and move it across their membranes. What is currently known is that some bacteria can make structures, called Type IV Pili, which consist of pores through their membranes and through which associated long appendages can project outward. Type IV Pili are used by bacteria to pull themselves across a surface, essentially using the appendages as retractable grappling hooks. The machinery responsible for competence is believed to be similar in structure to Type IV Pili. This similarity suggests two hypotheses: first, the set of genes that build the competence machine must be similar to the set of genes that build Type IV Pili, and second, the competence machine performs similar actions to Type IV Pili, albeit for a different purpose. This research will use Type IV Pili genes to identify potential competence genes and then evaluate whether those genes really do participate in building a competence machine. In addition, Atomic Force Microscopy will be used to take very high resolution pictures of competent bacteria to see both the competence machines and appendages. Looking at the competence machines themselves yields an understanding of how a population of cells becomes more competent. Perhaps populations become more competent when each cell makes more machines or when more cells makes machines or when each machine makes more appendages. The pictures will also indicate whether competent bacteria might use their appendages to fish for DNA by throwing them out and retracting them to move the DNA toward themselves. The overall goal of this research is to generate a much deeper understanding of both the genetic basis and the physical mechanisms of competence in bacteria.

Broader Impacts: All the proposed research will take place in collaboration with undergraduate students. The PIs have a strong track record of involving undergraduates in research, having collectively worked with 108 students in ten years each at Colorado College. Many of these students were women and minorities, and the PIs actively recruit such students. The PIs are a physicist and a biologist in collaboration, and the dozen students expected to conduct research in their labs on this project will reflect this same combination of majors. In addition, the PIs developed a biophysics course for first-year students based on the research, which culminates with a project in which the students prepare a bacterial sample, image it with atomic force microscopy, and then write a journal-style paper to present their research, thus giving them an experiential taste of scientific research. This experience will be offered to 48 first-year students during the term of the award.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: GEOMORPHOLOGY & LAND USE DYNAM | Award Amount: 159.07K | Year: 2012

Symmetric sand ripples are among the most common bedforms in modern wave-dominated environments and in the rock record. Whether ancient or modern, visually striking wave ripple patterns are an easily observable signature of the complex interaction of bed topography, turbulent flow, and sediment transport. Ripple spacing is often used as an indicator of ancient wave conditions and water depth, and modern ripples influence bed roughness. However, ripples are often out of equilibrium with respect to rapidly changing wave conditions, and both ancient and modern ripples often contain complicated defects - deviations from straight, parallel crests - that appear to be disequilibrium features but are poorly understood. Our ability to interpret two-dimensional ripple patterns, or to model how those patterns respond to changing wave conditions, is therefore deficient. This project will investigate the mechanisms by which wave ripples respond to changes in wave conditions through a combination of laboratory wave tank experiments, numerical simulations of bedform evolution, and field studies of both ancient ripples exposed in rock outcrops and modern ripples exposed on shorelines. First, in a series of laboratory wave tank experiments, we will use time-lapse photography and image analysis to track the response of rippled beds to step changes in wave forcing, and ultimately produce a phase diagram for different types of wave ripple defects. Second, we will develop a new numerical method for modeling the co-evolution of bed topography and oscillatory flow, and we will use this model to better understand the transient ripple evolution observed in the wave tank. Third, we will compare the results of the laboratory and numerical experiments with ancient ripples in rock outcrops and modern ripples on shorelines. The main outcomes will be a new interpretation of widespread wave ripple patterns, and a new framework for modeling transient bedform evolution.

Patterns generated by flows that move sand, such as the ripples that are a common sight along shorelines around the world, are a rich source of information about ancient and modern flow conditions. These bedform patterns can also influence other geologic flows: modern ripples roughen the sandy bed, slowing coastal flows, and ripples in sedimentary rocks can influence permeability, which controls the flow of water, oil and gas beneath the land surface. This research will improve our ability to interpret common irregularities in ancient and modern wave ripple patterns, and will also produce a new computational framework for modeling their formation. In addition to providing an improved explanation for the striking variety of ripple patterns in coastal settings, our results will provide geologists, sedimentologists, and coastal engineers with new tools for predicting the formation and evolution of bedforms, and will aid geophysicists and hydrologists in understanding the controls on reservoir characteristics.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 76.33K | Year: 2013

There is no precedent for math instruction using wet labs to engage students in mathematics through data-driven inquiry experiences. In this project, we construct Laboratory Experiences in Mathematical Biology (LEMBs) for undergraduate math classrooms. LEMBs are developed collaboratively at Utah State University (USU)and Colorado College, aimed at sophomore classrooms including both STEM and non-STEM majors. Students manipulate and interact with real-world biological mechanisms, construct their own mathematical descriptions and gain deeper understanding of underlying mathematical relationships. LEMBs are open-ended, inviting student participation and creativity. Student acquisition of modeling and problem-solving skills and the effect of LEMBs on other skills are evaluated using pre/post-tests, think-aloud exercises, and instructor/student interviews. We are creating new knowledge about learners construction of modeling and problem-solving skills. LEMBs invite student-centered mathematics instruction and expose faculty to alternative pedagogy. We assemble pedagogical materials to facilitate lab-based instruction, including alternate mathematical pathways rooted in the labs, multiple assessment items, and educational vignettes based on classroom observations to illustrate key pedagogical techniques. LEMBs and instructor support materials are available to faculty nationwide via Open Access publication through USUs Digital Commons. Presentations about LEMBs are made at conferences, and articles are submitted to research and education journals.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HYDROLOGIC SCIENCES | Award Amount: 94.91K | Year: 2015

Humans have dramatically altered the nitrogen cycle through food and energy production activities. Increased nitrogen loading to landscapes often results in nitrogen export to the coast, leading to algal blooms, dead zones, and declines in fisheries. Nitrate removal in riparian aquifers and riverbeds provides an important ecosystem service that mitigates nitrogen loads to coasts. However a vast majority of nitrogen never reaches the coast, rather it is retained within the watershed or transformed by microbes. Riverbanks and bottoms are prime locations for this retention and transformation, providing a valuable ecosystem service. In tidal freshwater zones (TFZs) where tides pump river water in and out of the riverbanks and riverbed, nitrate removal may be particularly effective. This study will determine the nitrogen removal efficiency of TFZs. If TFZs play a disproportionately large role in nitrogen removal within watersheds, management strategies should seek to protect TFZs by maintaining riparian buffer zones and limiting sediment sources that could clog riverbeds, reducing their removal efficiency. The research should improve our ability to manage nitrate in freshwater and better value the ecosystems services of tidal freshwater zones and estuaries. The results will be shared with the public in two ways: (1) Creek Fest, an outreach event that promotes watershed stewardship to over 1000 attendees, the PIs will will discuss implications for TFZ management with local stakeholders; and (2) the PIs will also develop a virtual field trip to educate high school and college students in land-locked classrooms on ecosystem services in tidal environments.

Rarely monitored for discharge or nutrient fluxes, TFZs are dynamic transition zones between rivers and estuaries. In TFZs, semidiurnal stage fluctuations should promote intense bank storage and release. Bank storage zones may be efficient sites of nitrate removal. However, associated water table fluctuations may also aerate shallow groundwater and enhance nitrification, adding nitrate to groundwater. The net effect of these two tidally induced, opposing processes could range from net nitrate production to removal within TFZs. This proposal asks how tidally induced hydrodynamic processes such as bank storage and water table fluctuations control nitrogen transformations within the riparian aquifers of TFZs and how these processes upscale to influence nitrogen fluxes from land to sea. It is hypothesized that: 1) TFZ hydrodynamics promote two hot spots of nitrogen transformation in the riparian aquifer: a nitrification hot spot at the soil-groundwater interface where semidiurnal water table fluctuations oxygenate the shallow groundwater, and a denitrification hot spot near the river-groundwater interface where surface water exchanges through oxygen depleted sediments; 2) as tidal range increases in the downstream direction within the TFZ, nitrate production via nitrification increases more than nitrate removal via denitrification. These hypotheses will be tested using a combination of field observations within a TFZ, laboratory experiments, and numerical models. The field component will characterize fluid and nitrogen fluxes across the river-aquifer interface and identify non-conservative nitrogen transport in the riparian aquifer of a TFZ within the Christina River Basin (Delaware). Sediment cores will be used in laboratory column experiments to explore relationships between water table fluctuations, groundwater redox conditions, and nitrogen transformation. Numerical models will be used to upscale nitrogen fate along the TFZ of the Christina River Basin.

Women continue to be largely under-represented in the geosciences. Female role models and mentors can play an important role in the lives of female students, especially when choosing and committing to a career path. This project is providing a pathway for STEM undergraduate women into the geosciences through a combination of formal and informal, professional and peer mentoring. The research is also providing insight into why mentoring is beneficial to STEM women. This project recruits first-year college women interested in the geosciences (from any STEM major) from institutions in two geographic regions: the Front Range of Colorado and the Carolinas. During their first year, these women are invited to a regional mentoring workshop to i) learn more about geoscience careers, ii) meet peers with similar academic interests, iii) gain better self-awareness of their values, strengths, and abilities for a career in the geosciences, and iv) expand their psychological, social and institutional resources for a career in the geosciences. After the workshop, the program participants have access to peer mentoring and resources through a web platform. Through this platform, they are able to interact with each other via discussion forums. In addition, they have access to in-person mentoring with female role models via scheduled get-togethers at each institution. The research is focused on quantifying i) the impact of the workshops and mentoring on participants intentions and behaviors related to geoscience career choices, ii) the impact of the workshops and mentoring on the skills and resources participants use to overcome career-related barriers, and iii) the key features of the workshops and mentoring strategies that predict positive changes in participants perceptions of and beliefs about the geosciences.

Experimental research on the effectiveness of mentoring has been largely absent from the mentoring literature. This project will fill the gap in the literature by conducting a randomized experiment wherein undergraduate women at Colorado State University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte will be matched based on their initial interest in geosciences, academic record, and demographic characteristics. Matched pairs will be randomly assigned to intervention (workshop and mentoring) or control conditions. Thereafter, women in both groups will participate in a biannual web-based survey with questions concerning their identification with math, their sense of potential fulfillment in careers in the sciences in general and geosciences specifically, their gender stereotypes of the geosciences, and their experiences with mentors. In addition, interviews will be conducted with the women in the intervention group to examine supports and challenges, and the role of the intervention in their interest and/or persistence in geoscience educations and careers. Dissemination of results will be accomplished through publication in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at professional meetings.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ANTARCTIC INTEGRATED SYS SCI | Award Amount: 155.14K | Year: 2015

The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest existing ice shelf in Antarctica, and is currently stabilizing significant portions of the land ice atop the Antarctic continent. An ice shelf begins where the land ice goes afloat on the ocean, and as such, the Ross Ice Shelf interacts with the ocean and seafloor below, and the land ice behind. Currently, the Ross Ice Shelf slows down, or buttresses, the fast flowing ice streams of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), a marine-based ice sheet, which if melted, would raise global sea level by 3-4 meters. The Ross Ice Shelf average ice thickness is approximately 350 meters, and it covers approximately 487,000 square kilometers, an area slightly larger than the state of California. The Ross Ice Shelf has disappeared during prior interglacial periods, suggesting in the future it may disappear again. Understanding the dynamics, stability and future of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet therefore requires in-depth knowledge of the Ross Ice Shelf. The ROSETTA-ICE project brings together scientists from 4 US institutions and from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited, known as GNS Science, New Zealand. The ROSETTA-ICE data on the ice shelf, the water beneath the ice shelf, and the underlying rocks, will allow better predictions of how the Ross Ice Shelf will respond to changing climate, and therefore how the WAIS will behave in the future. The interdisciplinary ROSETTA-ICE team will train undergraduate and high school students in cutting edge research techniques, and will also work to educate the public via a series of vignettes integrating ROSETTA-ICE science with the scientific and human history of Antarctic research.

The ROSETTA-ICE survey will acquire gravity and magnetics data to determine the water depth beneath the ice shelf. Radar, LIDAR and imagery systems will be used to map the Ross Ice Shelf thickness and fine structure, crevasses, channels, debris, surface accumulation and distribution of marine ice. The high resolution aerogeophysical data over the Ross Ice Shelf region in Antarctica will be acquired using the IcePod sensor suite mounted externally on an LC-130 aircraft operating from McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Field activities will include ~36 flights on LC-130 aircraft over two field seasons in Antarctica. The IcePod instrument suite leverages the unique experience of the New York Air National Guard operating in Antarctica for NSF scientific research as well as infrastructure and logistics. The project will answer questions about the stability of the Ross Ice Shelf in future climate, and the geotectonic evolution of the Ross Ice Shelf Region, a key component of the West Antarctic Rift system. The comprehensive benchmark data sets acquired will enable broad, interdisciplinary analyses and modeling, which will also be performed as part of the project. ROSETTA-ICE will illuminate Ross ice sheet-ice shelf-ocean dynamics as the system nears a critical juncture but still is intact. Through interacting with an online data visualization tool, and comparing the ROSETTA-ICE data and results from earlier studies, we will engage students and young investigators, equipping them with new capabilities for the study of critical earth systems that influence global climate.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ROBERT NOYCE SCHOLARSHIP PGM | Award Amount: 1.19M | Year: 2015

With funding from the National Science Foundations Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, the Colorado College Noyce Scholarship Program is recruiting Noyce STEM Teaching Scholars in the sciences and mathematics. The project is funding 29 scholarships over 5 years: 9 of these are graduating from the 9th semester Teacher Preparation Program (Noyce Scholars) and 20 are graduating from the 5th Year Master of Arts in Teaching Program (Noyce MAT Scholars). In this project, Colorado College is collaborating with Colorado Springs School District 11 and Harrison School District 2. The goal of the project is to develop high-quality, culturally-conscious science and mathematics teachers. To achieve that goal, the project is creating a community of undergraduate Noyce STEM Interns who develop a sense of self-efficacy for teaching diverse learners and consider teaching science or mathematics as a career. To further support the goal, the curriculum is infused with the practice of culturally relevant pedagogy to prepare the teachers-in-training for the high-need schools in which they will work. The project also includes a newly-designed teacher induction program, with an integrated mentoring program, to help teachers thrive in the environment of high-need schools.

The PI team has identified four barriers to recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality teachers and has developed strategies to address them. The first barrier is exposure of STEM educators to culturally diverse teaching experiences. To address this barrier, the PI team is providing 20 STEM freshmen and sophomores in summer internships that focus both on culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) and research methods and analysis. The strategy to address the lack of appropriate preparation for CRP is to integrate the principles of CRP into the teacher education curriculum. To overcome the barrier of staffing and retaining qualified STEM teachers in high-need schools, the project is combining the financial incentive of the scholarships with a rigorous clinical experience that links educational theory on multicultural education with pedagogical practice and long-term teacher professional development. To overcome the barrier of retaining thriving STEM teachers in high-need schools, the project is developing a two-year induction program that includes mentoring and intentional engagement to prevent teacher burnout. The project is being evaluated using demographic data, grades and graduation rates, lesson plan analysis, and, through surveys, student perceptions. The data collected will inform teacher preparation program nationwide in best practices to recruit, prepare and retain culturally relevant teachers for under-resourced schools.

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