Davidson, NC, United States
Davidson, NC, United States

Davidson College is a private liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina. The college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars. In the past decade, Davidson has consistently been ranked among the best liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Forbes ranked Davidson 22nd overall in their "America's Top Colleges" list in 2014, and 1st among southern colleges. Majors are offered in more than twenty fields; Davidson also offers several minors and self-designed interdisciplinary options. Wikipedia.


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Belloni M.,Davidson College | Robinett R.W.,Pennsylvania State University
Physics Reports | Year: 2014

The infinite square well and the attractive Dirac delta function potentials are arguably two of the most widely used models of one-dimensional bound-state systems in quantum mechanics. These models frequently appear in the research literature and are staples in the teaching of quantum theory on all levels. We review the history, mathematical properties, and visualization of these models, their many variations, and their applications to physical systems. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


Stossel T.P.,Harvard University | Stell L.K.,Davidson College
Nature Medicine | Year: 2011

Overwhelming evidence that relationships between universities, physicians and the medical products industry benefit patients explains the ubiquitous calls to encourage such relationships. Yet accumulating 'conflict of interest' regulations in academic health centers, government and industry have had the opposite effect. Justifications underlying the regulations lack quantitative rigor, and the rules they enforce impose costly bureaucratic requirements of dubious benefit. Evidence shows that they have diminished the collaborations deemed beneficial to health enhancement. © 2011 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: TUES-Type 1 Project | Award Amount: 584.91K | Year: 2013

Intellectual Merit
This project is directed towards developing new methods for optimizing production of useful compounds by genetically engineered bacteria. In typical industrial settings, large scale production is fraught with reduced efficiency and yield of desired compounds. The problem is that an industrially useful compound may not be useful for the bacteria, and so there is selective pressure against producer cells and for non-producer cells which can then overwhelm the population. To address this problem, a strategy called Programmed Evolution has been created, which will introduce genetic variation into bacterial populations and reward cells for producing the largest amount of compound. This project aims to investigate this optimization process using a mathematical approach in order to gain a better understanding as to how the cells reach their final evolved state. Programmed Evolution will be a plug-and-play system for the optimization of any desired output so researchers and companies can produce the most compound possible for applications in energy, and bioremediation.

Broader impacts
The Programmed Evolution project will increase diversity for STEM education since the research is conducted entirely by undergraduates. The investigators will continue their successful model of recruiting students from underrepresented groups. The project will contribute to a trained STEM workforce because the students involved will be highly valued as a result of their authentic research experiences. The Programmed Evolution process could improve efficiencies for industrial-scale commercial production of useful chemicals and pharmaceuticals, thus improving American economic competitiveness. In addition to strengthening the infrastructure for research and education on the two collaborating campuses, the project will enable the investigators to continue to serve as national leaders in undergraduate synthetic biology education and research through the Genome Consortium for Active Teaching (GCAT). The project will enhance the undergraduate education of the students, contribute to their development as scientifically literate citizens, and provide them with the background needed to pursue research careers. As the undergraduate students learn how to program the evolution of bacteria, they also learn how to program the course of their own futures as professionals, educators, and research scientists.

This project is being jointly funded by the Directorate for Biological Sciences, Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education as part of their efforts toward support of Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ARCHAEOLOGY | Award Amount: 260.89K | Year: 2017

The research team of Dr. William Ringle (Davidson College), Dr. Tomás Gallareta Negrón (INAH/ Mexico), and Dr. George J. Bey (Millsaps College) will examine relationships between cultivation, topography, settlement, and regionalism among the ancient Maya inhabitants of the Puuc region of Yucatan, Mexico. Although agriculture usually dominated the economies of archaic civilizations, the manner in which production was organized is often unclear, especially cases in which investment in agricultural facilities appears minimal. Nor is it clear, in many pre-monetary societies, how agricultural produce was converted into bankable wealth and political capital. A related question is the role of elites in such activities. Were they primarily courtiers or warriors, dependent upon the largesse of a ruler, were they absentee landlords resident in towns, or did they more actively direct agricultural production (and perhaps that of other commodities)? At a broader level, do agricultural regimes contribute to inter-community forms of social integration via cooperation in landscape management, perhaps leading to the genesis of regional forms of identity? The Puuc region is interesting in being both well-defined topographically and a distinct regional Maya subculture, famous for its elegant architectural style. Soils are generally fertile, but cultivable tracts were limited by numerous karst hills often supporting residences. Virtually no surface water was available and instead had to be collected in cisterns or reservoirs. Nearly abandoned after about AD 1000, the Puuc had until then had hosted one of the highest site densities in the tropical lowlands. It was also prosperous, with many residing in masonry houses faced with superb stonework. Such houses may have been one way of banking tribute revenues and creating political capital Thus this research will be of value in demonstrating how such a landscape was successfully managed for centuries as well as providing insight into its eventual collapse. The project will also foster the projects long history of training both Mexican and US undergraduate and graduate students, a substantial number of whom have come from traditionally under-represented populations.

Because these questions play out across distances too great to be covered by pedestrian survey, this study will commission LiDAR imagery of a 138 km2 study sample. The sample will target two major physiographic zones of the Puuc, the Bolonchen hills and the Yaxhom Valley, to assess how differences of terrain affected urban settlement and organization. To date no Puuc site of significant size has been fully mapped; this sample will provide complete coverage of at least six, as well as several small centers and the hinterlands connecting them. LiDAR will aid in identifying water storage features and masonry structures. It will also allow assessment of the construction industry by determining the distribution of lime kilns. Visual classification will be followed up by ground verification of approximately 15% of the sample, as well as test excavations to assess chronology. Results will permit development of rational plans for management of the archaeological remains within the study zone and will provide data useful to agencies interested in Puuc forest conservation.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: RSCH EXPER FOR UNDERGRAD SITES | Award Amount: 316.10K | Year: 2012

Intellectual Merit:

The Athienou Archaeological Project (AAP) has been investigating long-term culture change in central Cyprus since 1990 (supported by NSF from 1995 to 2008, and again from 2012 - 2014). This multidisciplinary undertaking combines field training in archaeological methods (excavation and survey) with analyses of the natural and cultural contexts of ritual and secular use of the ancient and modern landscape. The specific problem that guides the Projects research agenda is the degree to which rural areas were assimilated into regional and interregional economic, political, social, and religious networks of exchange. A focus on regions is essential to such considerations since it is only by comparison to events in other parts of Cyprus and elsewhere in the eastern Mediterranean that past and present human activity in the area of Athienou makes sense. While the Athienou region and in fact, Cyprus as a whole may be viewed as marginal in the evolution of western civilization, the Project area can, nonetheless, be seen as a laboratory for the study of culture change. Ten outstanding undergraduate students are provided with the opportunity to join AAP and (1) receive instruction in survey and excavation techniques (e.g., remote sensing, computer-assisted mapping), record keeping and data management, and artifact analysis, (2) attend lectures taught by specialists on archaeological methods and theory and the cultural history of Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean, (3) visit archaeological sites and museums on the island, (4) plan and complete an independent research project bearing on the work of AAP, and (5) live in Athienou and learn about life in modern Cyprus.

As part of their AAP experience, students find themselves at the intellectual vortex created by the presence of many international scholars in the fields of Social Sciences, Humanities and Natural Sciences, working towards a common goal. The students benefit enormously through their interaction with different disciplines and learn the value of cooperation across disciplines. By the end of the 7-week experience with AAP, students gain a deep understanding of archaeological theory and field research, including most recent approaches to data collection and analysis. Their undertaking of independent research, sometimes on artifacts brought to light by themselves, with the aim of publication, gives them confidence in their abilities to work as scientists, and accomplish set goals. This mentally and physically demanding program prepares students for productive careers in archaeology or related fields, or for that matter, in whatever other career they ultimately pursue.

Broader Impacts:

AAPs broader impact to society is manifest in many ways. Through site tours, public lectures and articles in the media, the Project contributes immensely in educating people on the importance of archaeological remains and helps stem illicit looting. AAPs impact is further manifested by the recent conversion of portions of the archaeological site into an archaeological park and the paving of the road signs and all leading to it. Moreover, 2009 saw the inauguration of a state-of-the-art Municipal Museum at Athienou which houses scores of artifacts unearthed by AAP (http://www.athienoumuseum.org.cy/). Like AAP, the Museum has primarily educational objectives, as attested by visits of thousands of school children in the short time since its inauguration, and is a source of great pride among the locals. The cross-cultural interaction between the local population and AAP staff and students helps forge lasting friendships and bridges of understanding between Cyprus and the US.

International Component: The NSF Office of International Science and Engineering has co-funded this award.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Cellular Dynamics and Function | Award Amount: 398.06K | Year: 2012

INTELLECTUAL MERIT
Mitochondria, the structures inside cells where energy is harnessed from food, are moved and shaped in specialized cells such as neurons and sperm to fulfill different energy needs. Spermatogenesis (sperm cell formation) in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is an ideal context for determining the molecular basis of mitochondrial shaping, since mitochondria undergo dramatic events during sperm development, and since the fruit fly is a well-characterized model organism. The project addresses two broad questions: 1) do tissue-specific ATP synthase subunits control tissue-specific mitochondrial shaping, and 2) how are distinct mitochondrial populations defined and maintained within the same cell? Both will be pursued through genetic and molecular analysis of Drosophila male sterile mutants showing defects in the Nebenkern, the structure in post-meiotic spermatids that consists of exactly two interwrapped giant mitochondrial derivatives. The hypothesis that a testis-expressed version of an ATP synthase subunit contributes to the dramatic internal structure of the Nebenkern will be tested through microscopy, molecular biology, fly husbandry, and transgenic techniques. Roles for testis-expressed paralogs of other ATP synthase subunits will also be explored. In addition, to determine how distinct mitochondrial populations are defined, the role of Parkin and PINK1 proteins in the segregation of the two mitochondrial derivatives in the Nebenkern will be assessed. The research could demonstrate how tissue-specific mitochondrial morphology is governed by specific ATP synthase isoforms, as well as how distinct viable mitochondrial populations are maintained.

BROADER IMPACTS
The project will result in the research training of many undergraduate students including four to eight students each academic semester and three summer students. Additionally, one undergraduate student per summer from a historically black college or university (HBCU) will be involved in the research. Davidson students from underrepresented groups in science will also be encouraged to embark upon research in the laboratory. A laboratory technician (usually a recent college graduate aiming to attend graduate school) will also receive research training. For most students this will be their first research experience. All students will be mentored in scientific communication and data presentation, and they will present their work at the Davidson College research symposia that occur annually in May and September. A subset of these students will present their experimental results at the Annual Drosophila Research Conference. Outcomes will be tracked as these students embark upon careers in science. In addition, elements of the project will be integrated into the teaching of a Genetics course so that the entire class (approximately 32 undergraduate students per year) will carry out original research and will be challenged and stimulated to make publishable discoveries.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 199.93K | Year: 2013

While many measures could immediately reduce the environmental burden of disease, making such changes requires scientific literacy that informs environmentally-driven decision making. The purpose of the Breathe, Eat, Touch project is to use environmental health as a strategy to transform undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and create a broadly educated citizenry that understands the intersection of natural sciences and the mathematical science of public health.

In this project, the interdisciplinary team of investigators is developing, implementing, and evaluating an environmental health learning experience that exemplifies STEM education in the undergraduate liberal arts curriculum. One outcome is a collection of new undergraduate environmental health learning resources that are portable and transferable, inquiry-based, and experiential.

The project involves:

* engaging students in the design and implementation of new learning materials for classroom and laboratory-based courses;

* deepening students understanding and enhancing ownership of material by developing a database of service learning opportunities where undergraduates develop resources to enhance STEM education in secondary schools and other community-based programs;

* enhancing the pedagogical skills of faculty through workshops on best practices in teaching;

* developing cross-disciplinary faculty knowledge in chemistry, biology, and epidemiology through an integrated team-teaching experience;

* assessing student learning gains with and without a formal laboratory component, and assessing effective practices in interdisciplinary teaching; and

* disseminating the Breathe, Eat, Touch approach and resources to two-year and four-year postsecondary institutions through print and online mechanisms.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Systems and Synthetic Biology | Award Amount: 616.01K | Year: 2016

Design considerations during metabolic engineering have been based on incomplete understanding of the evolutionary forces acting upon populations of engineered bacteria. This project inverts the metabolic engineering paradigm by harnessing evolution instead of fighting it. The investigators developed an evolutionary approach to metabolic engineering that enables bacteria to integrate their growth environment and their engineered metabolism. The approach is called Programmed Evolution because a population of bacteria is programmed with DNA software to compute solutions to a metabolic pathway optimization problem, and evolution is used to direct the bacterial population toward optimal solutions. The goal of this project is to expand Programmed Evolution by developing a new method for new riboswitch discovery, using the new riboswitches optimally express the enzymes necessary for e the production of new compounds, and developing mathematical models and computational tools to support both processes. These approaches will reduce the cost of producing useful compounds in metabolically engineered bacteria for applications in energy, pharmaceuticals, and bioremediation. This project will increase diversity for science education, contribute to a competitive and scientifically literate workforce, and has the potential to improve American economic competitiveness. This project responds to the call in Vision and Change for more authentic undergraduate research experiences as undergraduates pose research questions, develop testable hypotheses, collect and analyze data, and communicate results. As they learn how to program the evolution of bacteria for metabolic engineering, undergraduate research students will learn how to program the course of their own futures as science literate citizens, educators, and research scientists.

Programmed Evolution is a modular system for the optimization of orthogonal metabolic pathways in bacteria. It uses combinatorics, fitness, and biosensor modules that can be developed and tested separately, used in combinations, and shared among research groups. A key component of Programmed Evolution is the riboswitch that transduces metabolic output into fitness gene expression and selective advantage. Most riboswitches used in metabolic engineering incorporate RNA aptamers discovered by the in vitro process of Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential enrichment. However, aptamers discovered in vitro rarely function in vivo. The investigators propose to develop Cell-based Exponential enrichment as a new in vivo method of discovering riboswitches that function predictably in bacterial cells. The new method introduces genetic variation in a riboswitch to produce a library, applies negative and positive selection, and characterizes the phenotype and genotype of new riboswitches. The significance of the new approach derives from its potential to advance knowledge of naturally occurring riboswitches and to discover new riboswitches for applications in energy, pharmaceuticals and bioremediation.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 299.92K | Year: 2016

With this award from the Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) and support from the Chemistry Research Instrumentation Program (CRIF), Professor David Blauch from Davidson College and colleagues Durwin Striplin, Cindy Hauser and Nicole Snyder have acquired a liquid chromatograph mass spectrometer (LCMS) equipped with electrospray-ionization (ESI) and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) sources coupled to the liquid chromatograph. Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique used to identify the chemical composition of a sample and to determine its purity by measuring the mass of the molecular constituents in the sample. Chromatography is an isolation technique that precedes the mass spectrometry analysis. It separates a mixture of components in a liquid into its several constituent chemicals which are then analyzed and identified by the mass spectrometer. The electrospray produces an aerosol of ions by applying a high voltage to the sample. These are some of the most widely used analytical instrumentation techniques used to identify and quantify the chemical composition of a sample. The acquisition strengthens the research infrastructure at the University and regional area. The instrument broadens participation by involving diverse students in research and research training with this modern analytical technique and also and also supports research efforts from two other local universities, Queens University of Charlotte, a masters-level regional university, and Johnson C. Smith University, an HBCU.

The award is aimed at enhancing research and education at all levels, especially in areas such as (a) developing chromophores and redox assemblies for solar energy conversion; (b) synthesizing and profiling complex carbohydrate constructs with proteins and other biomolecules; and (c) examining the reactivity of non-innocent ligand-metal complexes.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MODULATION | Award Amount: 462.67K | Year: 2011

How the brain reorganizes itself after an injury and whether this reorganization alters the brains ability to function are among the great mysteries in modern neuroscience. Gaining an understanding of whether this injury-induced reorganization promotes return to, enhances, or impedes communication across brain areas will provide insights into how this brain plasticity might contribute to fundamental functions required for learning and memory. This project uses electrophysiological techniques to ascertain whether two distinct brain areas, i.e. the septum and the entorhinal cortex, that have undergone a rewiring induced by an injury to the brains cortex interact to alter the function of a third area with which they are connected, i.e. the hippocampus -- a key player in learning and memory. Dr. Ramirez and his students have previously shown that accelerating the reorganization of entorhinal connections to the hippocampus promotes the return of memory function. This project will shed light on whether the interaction of the septum and the entorhinal cortex may promote this functional improvement. The project will thereby provide clues as to how the interaction of separate brain regions may cooperate to promote learning and memory. An essential component of the research program is the education and training of undergraduate students in neuroscience. Students will be recruited from the majority, underrepresented minority groups, disabled groups, and socially/financially disadvantaged students to participate as junior colleagues in the research to be undertaken. Each student will be trained intensively in every facet of the proposed research project, from animal care through electrophysiological experimentation to the preparation and assessment of brain tissue. Creating a cadre of students at Davidson College invested in scientific research may energize other students and faculty in the natural and social sciences as well as in the neuroscience program to pursue scientific adventure.

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