Holland, MI, United States
Holland, MI, United States

Hope College is a private, residential liberal arts college located in downtown Holland, Michigan, United States, a few miles from Lake Michigan. It was opened in 1851 as the Pioneer School by Dutch immigrants four years after the community was first settled. The first freshman college class matriculated in 1862, and Hope received its state charter in 1866. Historically associated with the Reformed Church in America, it retains a conservative Christian atmosphere. The school's campus—now 125 acres , adjacent to the downtown commercial district—has been shared with Western Theological Seminary since 1884. The school has about 3,350 undergraduates. John C. Knapp assumed office as 12th President on July 1, 2013. Wikipedia.

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Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 21.23K | Year: 2015

Recognizing the national need for significant improvement in undergraduate STEM education, collaborators from six institutions (Rochester Institute of Technology, St. Marys University, Oral Roberts University, Hope College, Ursinus College, and California Polytechnic University) will explore a new approach to introduce students to authentic research in biochemistry laboratory courses. The project will test the hypotheses that engaging in authentic research will improve students abilities to master key aspects of experimentation (experimental design, data processing and interpretation, and communication of research outcomes) and visualization (use of representations to communicate various aspects of the research process). The project is likely to be transferrable to other institutions, and is an example of a cost-effective way to introduce course-based research into the undergraduate curriculum.

Biochemistry laboratory courses will be redesigned to include modules in which students will integrate computational and wet lab techniques as they characterize proteins whose three dimensional structures are known but to which functions have not been previously ascribed. Because the project is focused on discovery, it is reasonable to expect that some of the students will produce novel results that will contribute to the field of biochemistry. Formative and summative evaluation will address assessment of student learning gains in terms of improved conceptual understanding and visualization of experiments using a validated instrument composed of open-ended and closed-ended questions. Faculty members and teaching assistants will be surveyed and interviewed about their satisfaction with the project, its usability, and the extent to which they see the project as part of their own and their students development. The project team will create and disseminate modules (promol.org) that form the core of a new curriculum for undergraduate biochemistry laboratory courses. The results of the work will be presented at professional meetings, such as the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and submitted to scholarly journals.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: METAL & METALLIC NANOSTRUCTURE | Award Amount: 169.28K | Year: 2016


A variety of energy storage materials will be essential in years to come as alternative energy sources become an increasing part of the worlds energy portfolio. Stable, high-capacity, efficient, and inexpensive battery materials are needed, but no one type of storage solution will the best for every type of application. The focus of this research program is to study a class of compounds called metal hexacyanoferrates (HCFs), which show promise as battery materials. HCFs consist of more earth-abundant elements, which will decrease the cost for future device implementations, and because of their open crystal structure, they have increased stability over many charge-discharge cycles. With support from the Metals and Metallic Nanostructures program of the Division of Materials Research, Associate Professor of Physics Jennifer Hampton and a team of undergraduate students at Hope College will fabricate HCF thin films using electrochemical methods. They will quantify the effects of both composition and structure on the energy storage properties of the resulting materials. By doing so, they will increase our understanding of these HCF films, opening up a broader range of materials available for use in advanced battery technologies. This interdisciplinary research program will involve undergraduate students with interests in physics, chemistry, and materials engineering. The students will contribute to research at the boundaries between the different disciplines and will receive training in a significant area of new science which will be broadly applicable to a variety of careers in the modern workforce.


Open-framework intercalation compounds such as metal hexacyanoferrates (HCFs) have gained increasing interest as materials for energy storage applications. The goal of this research program is to characterize HCF films made by electrochemically modifying metal thin film substrates. Associate Professor of Physics Jennifer Hampton and a team of undergraduate students at Hope College will fabricate HCF films and characterize their charge storage and charge transport properties. Specifically, by taking advantage of the wide array of deposition and post-processing techniques available with electrochemistry, starting materials with varying metal composition and deliberately controlled microstructure will be produced for the subsequent HCF formation step. By quantifying the effects of both composition and structure on the resulting charge storage properties of the HCF films, the team will advance the fundamental knowledge of charge transport in this class of open-framework intercalation compounds and will assist in the development of advanced battery technologies for specific applications. Additionally, a new laboratory unit on AC electrochemical analysis will be developed for use in an upper-level physics laboratory course at Hope College, strengthening the connections between current research and education in the context of an undergraduate institution. This work is funded by the Metals and Metallic Nanostructures program of the Division of Materials Research.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: IUSE | Award Amount: 99.69K | Year: 2016

This project will conduct a workshop to give faculty from liberal arts colleges the tools they need to offer an introductory course in engineering. Exposing students at liberal arts colleges to engineering will expand a little used path into the engineering profession with the potential to increase the gender and racial diversity of the field. The workshop will teach faculty from science departments at liberal arts colleges to offer an introduction to engineering course and provide them with the curriculum and supplies necessary to get started. Liberal arts faculty have already expressed a desire to increase the exposure of liberal arts students to engineering as a career option. Liberal arts colleges have long supplied capable and well-qualified entrants into professions such as law, business, and medicine. The career path of a liberal arts bachelors degree in science combined with a graduate engineering degree represents a highly achievable route to the benefits of an engineering career for liberal arts students and provides the engineering profession with a potential infusion of individuals from the gender and ethnic diversity contained in liberal arts institutions.

The lack of gender and ethnic diversity in engineering merits aggressive exploration of other viable paths into the profession. Professions such as law, business, and medicine are more diverse than engineering, possibly due in part to the greater number of pathways into the profession. Liberal arts students pursue careers in law, business, and medicine but seldom engineering. Engineering has benefited little from the talent pool represented by liberal arts schools in part because the usual path into engineering demands an early commitment on the part of the student to pursue engineering. However, students who complete an undergraduate major in science or mathematics are able to pursue graduate degrees in engineering by completing necessary prerequisites as part of a masters degree program. This proposal will pilot test a design-based introduction to engineering course that can be taught by science faculty and that will be suitable for liberal arts students. This course will help students to become aware of the option of the liberal arts science major combined with a graduate engineering degree. This engineering career path could be a viable replacement for the largely disused 3-2 liberal arts and engineering dual degree programs.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Materials Eng. & Processing | Award Amount: 114.88K | Year: 2016

This EArly-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) project will demonstrate feasibility for a novel one-step printing and polymerization process for liquid crystal material. Liquid crystals are rod-like, rigid molecules that have both liquid-like (free diffusion of molecules) and solid-like properties (ordered molecular arrangements). Liquid crystal elastomers are rubbery materials made from liquid crystal repeat units connected together in long chains forming a true solid. It has been observed that when all the liquid crystal units line up in the same direction that material size changes of 300-400 percent can be produced by heating. These large, reversible deformations could be extremely useful for a variety of applications such as soft, synthetic muscle actuators or rewriteable braille displays. Unfortunately, alignment is difficult to attain while forming the material into the complex structural shapes typically required for practical devices. This award supports fundamental research to demonstrate the feasibility of a new process for aligning these materials during manufacture. This new process will enable advancement toward 3D printing of aligned elastomer materials which will empower new applications in the biomedical, aerospace, chemical, and energy industries. As a result, this work will enhance the U.S. economy, society, and global competitiveness. Additionally, this research will directly benefit the STEM workforce by enhancing engineering education and persistence to graduation among undergraduate participants at a primarily undergraduate institution.

Current approaches to fabricating responsive liquid crystal elastomers rely on elaborate procedures to align the liquid crystal units that represent a serious impediment to the widespread development of these materials for practical applications. The objective of this research is to generate a one-step, facile technique for orienting liquid crystal moieties in the material bulk while simultaneously fixing the alignment through network cross-linking. The alignment will be obtained using guest host interactions between the liquid crystals and photo-responsive dopants. To produce robust alignment of the liquid crystal elastomer the various reaction processes must proceed simultaneously, but with distinct time scales. The approach for this work will involve a systematic exploration of the combined reaction kinetics in order to clarify their role in liquid crystal alignment. Kinetics will be characterized by in situ infrared spectroscopy. Aligned elastomers will be characterized by several techniques including, polarized ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, and dynamic mechanical analysis. The contribution of this research to the greater body of knowledge will be significant because it will advance understanding of how material anisotropies can be controlled in situ during manufacturing processes such as 3D printing, enabling the design of adaptive, shape-programmable structures and devices by a broad range of engineers and applied scientists.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: CONDENSED MATTER PHYSICS | Award Amount: 128.74K | Year: 2015

Prior NSF support resulted in a technique to measure, and even to image, distortion of microwave frequency electrical signals in superconducting devices. This project refines the technique, uses it to understand the origin of electrical distortion, and explores opportunities to apply controlled distortion to future technologies. Electrical distortion also provides insight into the underlying physics of superconductors, and the Hope College undergraduate microwave research laboratory has discovered some key distinctions in the physics of the two broad categories of distortion: even and odd distortion. In-depth experiments with this NSF supported discovery are a key component of this project. Domestic and international collaborations, involving experts in distortion as well as materials fabrication and modification, ensure that this research fits into the larger framework of superconductivity, while also exposing undergraduates to the international and collaborative nature of science. Finally, conclusions about superconductivity can only be drawn if the materials are thoroughly characterized. Therefore, undergraduates are also gaining experience in highly marketable electron and ion beam analysis methods.

The scientific objectives of this project include the spatially resolved raster imaging of microwave nonlinearity in superconducting structures, and the role of magnetic flux vortices in the generation of the even and odd orders of this nonlinearity. Superconducting thin film nonlinearity is being studied with a new technique to locally measure intermodulation distortion, which also permits synchronous determination of each orders current. When combined with laser scanning microscopy, the resistive and inductive components of the nonlinearity are also distinguished. With these methods developed with prior support, the physical mechanisms behind these even and odd order spurious signals, which appear to depend differently on induced vortex matter, are being investigated. This research depends on the availability of a large number of industrially manufactured microstrip devices, of which the PI possesses hundreds. Undergraduates are gaining work experience in transferable skills such as microwave test and measurement, electronic design and analysis, high frequency signal analysis, device fabrication, vacuum and cryogenics, electron microscopy, and ion beam analysis. The program at Hope College, which is also open to students from a nearby regional state university, is one of only a handful of US undergraduate superconductivity research programs with demonstrated longevity.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: NUCLEAR STRUCTURE & REACTIONS | Award Amount: 56.09K | Year: 2016

It is a well-known fact that light, stable nuclei, those with which we are most familiar, are made up of roughly equal numbers of protons and neutrons. This project will explore the structure of neutron-rich nuclei that are far from stability and consequently much less familiar. This will provide a vital understanding of the subtleties of the nuclear force in nuclei that can be found in explosive astrophysical environments, such as a supernova. These experiments will help us to understand the different abundances of the observed elements in the universe, in addition to engaging students in the study of these fundamental questions. In addition, the applied nuclear physics efforts at Hope College will use traditional accelerator techniques for the rapid testing of consumer goods and environmental samples containing chemicals of concern. Work on non-destructive characterization of automotive paint samples for forensic applications will continue.

Experiments producing unstable nuclei at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Lab (NSCL) (excited states of helium-9 and oxygen-26) will measure decay neutrons with the Modular Neutron Array, while emitted charged fragments are deflected with a high-field dipole magnet into timing and energy detectors. The properties of the decaying nucleus will be determined with invariant mass spectroscopy. Astrophysics measurements will also be done at the NSCL with the Summing NaI Detector supplemented with an internal beta detector or an internal gas cell constructed at Hope College. The interdisciplinary applied physics portion of the proposed research, done with the Hope accelerator, is principally based on particle induced gamma-ray emission, particle induced x-ray emission, and Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: I-Corps | Award Amount: 50.00K | Year: 2015

Per- and polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in consumer products have come under increasing scrutiny recently, because of their persistence in the environment and their ability to bioaccumulate. Clearly, this is an emerging chemical class of concern, and efforts have begun to monitor its prevalence in both the environment and in human exposure pathways. Generally PFCs are used in stain- or water-resistant applications, such as outdoor clothing, food packaging, and non-stick coatings on carpets and upholstery, although new PFCs are becoming prevalent in cosmetics and low-odor paints. Current analytical methods for measuring PFCs involve solvent extraction, liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry for about 70 different known PFC telomers. These tests are costly (on the order of $1000 per sample in commercial testing labs. This project proposes a novel method that has been developed for screening for the presence of PFCs in a rapid, non-destructive way that can be used to measure the total fluorine present in any type of solid sample.

The teams proposed method (Particle-Induced Gamma-ray Emission) has been demonstrated to detect total fluorine content on a variety of matrices (food-wrapping papers, textiles, carpets, etc.) at nearly 1/20th of the cost. This effort represents the commercialization of an analytical method in nuclear physics applied to consumer products and environmental samples. The adaption of analytical methods to best serve a commercial role in society is the primary intellectual merit of this proposal. The model developed here will be as unique as the analytical method already developed, and may serve as a model for future spin-off technologies. The proposed tool can revolutionize the testing industry with respect to testing for PFCs in consumer products and environmental samples. Optimizing this model will allow for the best price reduction in analytical costs for PFC detection, and will allow more manufacturers, retailers, regulatory agencies and consumer groups to test for PFCs that represent a risk to human health.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Systems and Synthetic Biology | Award Amount: 256.11K | Year: 2016

This project aims to address whether Escherichia from watersheds can serve as a reservoir for horizontal gene transfer to host-associated strains such as Escherichia coli, which is a known source of human infections. Watersheds can become contaminated with Escherichia via treated sewage, livestock farming, wild animals, fowl, and sediment runoff from urban and agricultural environments. Several studies revealed that Escherichia may adapt and persist in these environments, and eventually may be able to pass the genes for new traits to host-associated strains such as Escherichia coli. In addition to examining this idea, the data from this study will allow the broader scientific community to evaluate existing water quality monitoring methods. The research for this project will be integrated into authentic research experiences for undergraduate students in STEM fields through course-based research experiences (CREs). In particular, undergraduates in first year and upper level laboratories will actively participate in all aspects of the project.

This project focuses on two related scientific goals: 1) characterizing genomic diversity of environmentally derived Escherichia isolates to understand variation in naturally occurring populations over time; and 2) linking profiles of 16S community surveys to observed variation in Escherichia isolate genomes and to environmental changes in a watershed. Remarkable genetic diversity has been characterized by global studies of E. coli through analysis of representative fully sequenced genomes, and targeted studies of pathogen sub-types through hundreds of draft genome sequences of clinical isolates. The preponderance of genomic data is from clinical and host-associated environments. This project produces 720 draft genome sequences of environmentally derived Escherichia isolates. The longitudinal data enable testing hypotheses about genome structure and genetic exchange in naturally occurring, non-host-associated populations through comparative genomics of genome content, arrangement and single nucleotide polymorphisms. The data address long term persistence of Escherichia populations in non-host environments, potentially serving as reservoirs for genetic exchange and renewal of fecal indicator bacteria in bodies of water. Oligotyping will estimate diversity in the Escherichia populations; water samples will produce coupled isolate genome sequences and microbial community 16S rRNA sequences. It is asserted that single nucleotide changes in 16S rRNA represent diversity of genome structure; the data will be used to test this assertion. Fine scale sampling produces longitudinal 16S rRNA microbial community profiles used to understand changes in Escherichia and other microbial populations. Work linking 16S rRNA variation to genome variation enables prediction of population changes based on 16S rRNA surveys alone. High quality recreational and drinking water sources are essential for society, and as water quality monitoring shifts to molecular based approaches, the types of datasets produced here become critical to ascertaining effective and broadly applicable monitoring techniques. A third goal fully incorporates undergraduate students in STEM fields through individual and course-based research experiences (CREs). Over 100 students in courses will gain first-hand knowledge of authentic research. The effectiveness of these experiences will be assessed through convergent mixed methods approaches designed to gauge student attitudes toward STEM fields, comparing effects of individual research experiences and CREs on first year and upper level students.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Macromolec/Supramolec/Nano | Award Amount: 209.01K | Year: 2015

RUI: Enabling Rational Design of Smart Interfaces Incorporating Metal-Organic Coordinated Assemblies (CHE-1508244)
Mary E. Anderson, Hope College

Public Abstract
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are crystalline, porous materials with extremely high surface areas that exhibit great potential for chemical sensing, reaction catalysis, and gas storage. For many of these applications, the incorporation of MOF thin films grown directly on supporting materials is required. To effectively fabricate devices with smart interfaces that harness the properties of these MOF materials, it is crucial to understand the fundamentals of film formation. This research systematically investigates thin film MOF growth and develops design rules for low-energy processing techniques on a variety of technologically-relevant substrates. These design rules, for tailoring film structure and composition, are utilized 1) to tune the optical, electrical, and mechanical properties of the film and 2) to develop fabrication techniques that integrate MOF thin films into cutting-edge technologies for chemical sensing and harvesting solar energy. Undergraduate students are actively engaged in all aspects of the research, providing them with experience in the interdisciplinary areas of materials chemistry, surface science, and modern analytical instrumentation.

Technical Abstract
With this award the Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanchemistry Program of the NSF Chemistry Division supports the research of Dr. Anderson at Hope College to investigate the formation of surface-anchored metal-organic frameworks (SurMOF) for integration directly into device architectures for chemical sensing and photonic applications. Film formation is studied for different systems with incrementally increasing complexity (i.e. HKUST-1, MOF-14, MOF-5, IRMOF-3). Effects of deposition variables such as temperature, time, and deposition methods (i.e. layer-by-layer, co-deposition, seeded deposition) are investigated. Studies are extended to understand deposition on different substrates of technological relevance, such as oxide materials (i.e. SiO2, ITO, Al2O3) and flexible polymeric materials. Rational design rules for growth initiation as well as inhibition are determined. Scanning probe microscopy (SPM) and surface-specific spectroscopies (i.e. ellipsometry, FT-IR) are used to characterize SurMOF film growth to determine the effect of deposition conditions with particular focus on foundational layers forming at the substrate-film interface. Mechanical, electrical, and optical properties of films are evaluated using advanced SPM modes (i.e. quantitative nanomechanical mapping, conductive probe), electrochemistry (i.e. cyclic voltammetry, chronocoulometry), and spectroelectrochemical characterization. By following developed design rules, understanding material properties, and employing membrane-templating techniques, this research integrates SurMOF films as smart interfaces into test-bed structures fabricated for chemical sensing and solar energy harvesting.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 35.74K | Year: 2015

This is a collaborative project involving the University of California, Davis (Award DUE-1525862), Diablo Valley College (Award DUE-1525057), Howard University (Award DUE-1524638), the College of Saint Benedict (Award DUE-1525021), Hope College (Award DUE-1524990), and the University of Arkansas, Little Rock (Award DUE-1525037).

This project will expand the content and capabilities of the STEMWiki Hyperlibrary, which was launched to provide vetted Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning resources to the public in the form of easily accessible, online college textbooks that alleviate the rising costs of postsecondary education. The STEMWiki Hyperlibrary consists of a number of connected, discipline-focused hypertext applications (ChemWiki, BioWiki, MathWiki, StatWiki, GeoWiki, PhysWiki), which are freely accessible to students regardless of socioeconomic or educational backgrounds. The ChemWiki (http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu) is currently the most developed STEMWiki, with millions of visits each month. By making high-quality STEM learning resources readily available, the project will positively impact at least four main populations: (1) the non-science community; (2) socioeconomically disadvantaged students; (3) smaller or financially disadvantaged academic institutions, including high schools, that wish to adopt new learning technologies but cannot afford the initial steep costs of a new curriculum; and (4) discipline-based education researchers looking for a platform on which to evaluate new interdisciplinary approaches and curriculum modifications, which would otherwise absorb too large of a budget to develop from scratch. Once sufficiently developed, the Hyperlibary will be a power platform for the dissemination of new educational content and the evaluation of emerging educational technologies.

The STEMWiki Hyperlibrary is designed as a collaboratively constructed learning environment that enables the dissemination and evaluation of new educational resources and approaches as online course textbooks, with an emphasis on data-driven assessment of student learning and performance. The STEMWikis allow learners to cooperatively construct and organize knowledge, providing an important alternative to one size fits all instruction in which content is presented in a static, prepackaged manner. In this project, the investigators will augment the constituent STEMWikis of the Hyperlibrary with ancillary homework and simulation applications, as well as formative assessment modules. They will integrate the content of the STEMWikis both horizontally (across multiple STEM fields) and vertically (across multiple levels of complexity) within a network that will provide not just single textbooks but a rich hyperlibrary through which new, interconnected STEM textbooks can be constructed. The result will be an easy-to-use platform on which faculty members can collaborate to create and publish reusable, online pedagogical content. The project team will add ancillary online homework (the Student Ability Rating and Inquiry System [SARIS]) and simulations (via the ChemCollective, http://www.chemcollective.org). From these components, they will build an assessment infrastructure that tracks and correlates use of individual Wiki-based textbooks with simulations, homework activity, and exam performance, with the goal of identifying and tracking student performance across multiple STEM curricula.

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