Saint Paul, MN, United States
Saint Paul, MN, United States

Macalester College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, US. It was founded in 1874 as a Presbyterian-affiliated but nonsectarian college. Its first class entered September 15, 1885. Macalester is an exclusively undergraduate four-year institution and enrolled 1,978 students in the fall of 2013 from 50 U.S. states and 90 countries. The school is known for its large international enrollment and has one of the highest percentages of foreign students in the United States. In 2014, U.S. News and World Report ranked Macalester as the 24th best liberal arts college in the United States, 7th for undergraduate teaching at a national liberal arts college, and 15th for best value at a national liberal arts college. Wikipedia.


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Overvoorde P.,Macalester College
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology | Year: 2010

A plant's roots system determines both the capacity of a sessile organism to acquire nutrients and water, as well as providing a means to monitor the soil for a range of environmental conditions. Since auxins were first described, there has been a tight connection between this class of hormones and root development. Here we review some of the latest genetic, molecular, and cellular experiments that demonstrate the importance of generating and maintaining auxin gradients during root development. Refinements in the ability to monitor and measure auxin levels in root cells coupled with advances in our understanding of the sources of auxin that contribute to these pools represent important contributions to our understanding of how this class of hormones participates in the control of root development. In addition, we review the role of identified molecular components that convert auxin gradients into local differentiation events, which ultimately defines the root architecture.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 258.78K | Year: 2015

In this project funded by the Chemical Synthesis program of the Chemistry Division, Professor Paul J. Fischer of Macalester College leads a research group of exclusively undergraduate students in designing and synthesizing new rhenium (Re) metal complexes for chemical synthesis applications. Specifically, the target Re complexes are anticipated to bind organic molecules (for example, benzene and naphthalene, inexpensive substances found in crude petroleum), and activate them toward reactions under mild conditions. The hypothesized results of these reactions include transformations of these abundant feedstock chemicals into more useful substances that require significantly more energy-intensive strategies to prepare using current methods. This project will provide a stimulating training ground in modern research methods for talented undergraduate students including women and African American students. This research program seeks to equip undergraduate students with the skills, tenacity and enthusiasm to facilitate their success in chemical research in subsequent graduate studies.

This project examines the feasibility and advantages of employing tris(phosphino)borates as surrogates for hydrotris(1-pyrazolyl)borate for the preparation of pi-basic fragments with high propensity to coordinate arenes in a dihapto fashion. Thermal and photochemical syntheses are being pursued to open the completely unexplored area of tris(phosphino)borate rhenium chemistry. Special emphasis is being placed on modulating the electronic and steric environment of Re fragments of tris(phosphino)borates for optimum dearomatization of aromatic substrates. Reaction products are characterized by NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) and IR (infra-red) spectroscopies, cyclic voltammetry and X-ray crystallography, the latter via collaboration with the University of Minnesota.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAM | Award Amount: 34.30K | Year: 2017

The conference, Topological Data Analysis: Theory and Applications, will take place at Macalaster College (St. Paul, MN) from June 12-16, 2017. Topological Data Analysis (TDA) is a relatively recent and quickly-developing area of research at the intersection of mathematics, statistics, and computer science. The goal of the conference is to encourage research in TDA by faculty and students, especially at primarily undergraduate institutions, who might not have prior experience with TDA. As such, this conference will attract faculty, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates from colleges and universities across the upper Midwestern states. The conference is designed to equip attendees with not only the theoretical framework of TDA, but also practical computational tools, providing points of entry so that faculty and students from diverse settings can begin research in topological data analysis and incorporate this work into their teaching. The conference will spur new research collaborations between institutions and across disciplines. The resulting monograph, prepared by principal lecturer Dr. Vin de Silva, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Pomona College, should be of interest to mathematicians, scientists and students.

In recent years, Topological Data Analysis (TDA) has attracted widespread interest from mathematicians and scientists looking for new tools to analyze ever increasing amounts of complex data arising from neuroscience, digital imaging, genetics, biological aggregations, sensor networks, cancer research, and other areas. The intellectual appeal of TDA arises from its combination of advanced mathematics, cutting-edge algorithms, and practical applications. Yet, despite its mathematical sophistication, TDA methodology is surprisingly intuitive and lends itself well to research with students, even at the undergraduate level. The principal lecturer at this conference will be Dr. Vin de Silva who has been a key contributor to the development of TDA. Lecture topics will include winding numbers, simplicial homology and cohomology, the persistence algorithm, stability theorems, zigzag persistence, category theory and generalized persistence, and Reeb cosheaves. In addition to lectures, the conference will feature lab sessions that will offer participants hands-on experience analyzing real data using state-of-the-art TDA software, as well as a poster session highlighting TDA research involving students. This conference will focus on mathematics and computation rather than statistics, and it will emphasize research in the setting of primarily undergraduate institutions.

Information about the conference is available at http://pages.stolaf.edu/tda-conference/


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 251.72K | Year: 2015

This work addresses key open questions about semantic relatedness (SR) measures, a family of algorithms used throughout computer science and related fields that help computers replicate human assessments of the relatedness between two concepts. Decades of research and development have transformed SR measures into a critical component of a wide swath of intelligent technologies in areas ranging from information retrieval to human-computer interaction to spatial computing. However, despite the importance and ubiquity of SR, researchers have only recently begun to examine it from a human-centered perspective. These human-centered studies have problematized key assumptions underlying the entire SR literature, e.g. that people from all cultural contexts agree on a single relatedness value between any two concepts. This project addresses long-overdue open questions in the SR literature that will move the field towards a more human-centered approach to SR. To do so, this research will collect datasets of relatedness judgments, mine patterns in Wikipedia and other content, perform statistical analyses, create and evaluate algorithms, develop software, and conduct large-scale user studies.

First, this research will complete four threads of work that redefine semantic relatedness to address human-centered concerns raised in the SR literature: (1) investigate the role of culture in SR and use these results to redefine SR to incorporate cultural context, (2) study SR among the low-notability concepts that are critical to end users but entirely ignored by the SR literature, (3) address the need for SR measures that explain their relatedness estimates to users, and (4) develop more robust human-centered SR evaluation procedures and support their adoption through easy-to-use software. Second, this research will develop new conceptual representations for SR measures that accommodate differing cultural perspectives and create compact contextual SR models that empower applications with tractable human-centered SR algorithms. Finally, the research will demonstrate the power of human-centered SR approaches through their application in improved recommender systems, enhanced Wikipedia reader experiences, and novel information discovery tools.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: APPLIED MATHEMATICS | Award Amount: 219.49K | Year: 2014

In many natural systems, particles, agents, or organisms aggregate and display collective behavior. Aggregation systems include nanoparticle self-assembly, actin-filament networks in cells, and more. This project investigates aggregation systems with an eye towards insect swarms, bird flocks, fish schools, and other biological groups in which social interactions play a key role. The specific objectives are (1) to discover whether computationally challenging models can be accurately approximated with simpler, more tractable ones; (2) to use this understanding to model environmentally and economically destructive locust swarms; and (3) to classify complicated behavior in large data sets related to aggregations. The locust research impacts agriculture. In particular, it will yield insight on swarm suppression strategies. For instance, it may suggest crop-planting layouts that would avert the gregarious locust outbreaks that devastate farmers. Other key elements of this project, which is based at an undergraduate institution, include: extensive undergraduate student involvement and research training; a network of domestic and foreign colleges and universities; a pipeline from research to the classroom; enhancement of student research lab infrastructure; inclusion in research and advising activities of a female recent Ph.D. seeking a tenure-track position; a focus on the participation of underrepresented groups; and an educational public art exhibition on aggregations produced collaboratively with an undergraduate female artist and biology major.

The investigator and his colleagues study aggregation systems from continuum and discrete perspectives. A common aggregation modeling framework is conservation-type nonlocal PDE, which are analytically and computationally challenging. Degenerate Cahn-Hilliard approximations of a class of canonical models will be investigated with linear analysis, numerical simulation, phase plane analysis of equilibria, and a variational analysis of minimizers in order to evaluate the success of the local model in approximating the nonlocal one. Based on this understanding, the investigator will develop a model of phase polyphenic locusts interacting with the environment and use it to develop strategies that suppress destructive locust swarms. Stability analysis and numerical simulation will reveal environmental conditions likely to suppress a hysteretic bifurcation to a dangerous locust swarm. Finally, the investigator will characterize aggregation dynamics using topological data analysis. Data sets arising from numerical simulations and biological experiments will be analyzed with topological barcodes describing their persistent homology. This work will identify dynamical transitions in aggregation processes.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAM | Award Amount: 30.00K | Year: 2016

This award will support participants attending the first Workshop for Women in Computational Topology. Computational topology is a new and exciting field emerging at the intersection of mathematics and computer science, with applications in areas such as big data, image recognition, and medical imaging, among many others. Traditionally, representation of women in these research areas is quite low, and attrition rates are high at all levels. This award will allow the creation of a network of junior and senior women in this research area, a strategy which has proven invaluable to broadening participation in such areas. Participants will spend a week at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, providing a critical opportunity for research collaboration as well as networking and mentoring for women.

Computational topology brings together tools from topology, geometry, algorithms, and statistics in order to tackle a range of problems from applications that include graphics, sensor networks, medical imaging, materials engineering, GIS, big data analysis, and many others. This workshop will form a series of working groups that will tackle open problems posed by senior women researchers in computational topology on topics ranging from computing optimal mappings between surfaces to investigating open problems related to persistent homology to applying techniques to new applications. Results from the workshop will be published in an AWM Springer volume, and follow-up events will be organized in conjunction with AWM to continue to grow the network.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: TECTONICS | Award Amount: 163.44K | Year: 2015

This award will provide support for the career development of a junior investigator in the area of Earth Sciences. The study will foster new collaborations and enhance old partnerships with scientists at the University of Arizona and Rice University. This project will constitute the intellectual basis and support the training for three undergraduate students. A classroom- and field-based outreach program, through University of Arizona Extension and intended for students in grades 6-8, will be integrated with this research. Course materials produced through this program will be shared with the geosciences community through the Science Education Resource Center (SERC). The results from this study will contribute to the fundamental goals of Earthscope and will be published in major peer-reviewed scientific journals and in an article for non-specialists. Data resulting from this study will be made accessible to the public in Integrated Earth Data Applications, EarthChem, and PetDB databases.

A growing body of geophysical data suggests geologically recent mobility of the continental mantle beneath western North America. Several lines of evidence suggest that mantle lithosphere beneath southern California was tectonically displaced eastward by a Late Cretaceous episode of shallow subduction and relaminated to the base of the continental lithosphere beneath the Colorado Plateau transition zone (central Arizona). The principal investigator will test this hypothesis by comparing the petrogenetic and thermal histories of mantle xenoliths derived from both areas. If Arizona and California xenolith suites evolved in a similar manner, then a strong case can be made for major Phanerozoic displacement and subsequent reconstruction of southwest U.S. mantle lithosphere. This study will provide a geodynamic and geologic context to understand mantle displacements beneath western North America. This research will provide key constraints on the origin and evolution of mantle lithosphere beneath the southwest U.S., an enhanced ability to recognize modern and ancient analogous settings worldwide, an improved understanding of the effects of subduction angle on the stability of mantle lithosphere at craton active margin transition zones, and a high probability of recognizing a remnant of the southern California mantle lithosphere that has been relaminated beneath central Arizona. This result would imply a >500 km tectonic displacement of the southern California mantle fragment and provide intriguing explanations for the long-term strength of the Colorado Plateau relative to adjacent geologic provinces and for active lithospheric delamination beneath the plateau.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Environmental Chemical Science | Award Amount: 300.00K | Year: 2014

This project is funded by the Environmental Chemical Sciences Program in the Division of Chemistry at the National Science Foundation. Professors Keith T. Kuwata of Macalester College and Professor Stacey A. Stoffregen of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and their undergraduate research students are developing more accurate and detailed theoretical models of chemical reactions in the atmosphere. The most significant broader impact of the project is the training that Macalester and River Falls undergraduates receive to conduct significant research in atmospheric chemistry, which in turn equips them to pursue advanced study in STEM fields. This research also contributes to the intellectual vitality of the Midwest Undergraduate Computational Chemistry Consortium (MU3C), to which both Professor Kuwata and Professor Stoffregen belong. Their students will make presentations on their research projects at the in-person MU3C conference every summer and the on-line MU3C conference every winter. MU3C membership gives the PIs and their students opportunities to interact with fellow computational chemistry faculty and students at nine other primarily undergraduate institutions at conferences twice a year.


The project focuses on clarifying the impacts that intermediates in hydrocarbon oxidation reactions have on free radical and carboxylic acid concentrations. One intermediate of interest is the vinyl hydroperoxide (VHP) formed in atmospheric alkene ozonolysis. Current experimental and theoretical studies suggest that the tendency of the VHP to undergo homolysis to form OH varies with both the size and structure of the original alkene and with atmospheric conditions. Understanding these variations requires more creativity about possible VHP chemical reactions and the application of quantum chemical methodology that can accurately model molecules with substantial static electron correlation. Such models provide new mechanistic insights about atmospheric processes by making predictions about transient species that cannot be directly characterized experimentally. At the same time, these models are also used to predict experimentally known quantities such as the concentrations of stable atmospheric species. Comparisons between theory and experiment both validate theoretical predictions and drive the development and application of new theoretical methods.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SCIENCE, TECH & SOCIETY | Award Amount: 24.70K | Year: 2016

General Audience Summary

The aim of this workshop is to bring together scholars whose work addresses technologies, practices, and forms of knowledge related to the mining of minerals, groundwater and fossil fuels. The workshop will be held in November 2016 at the Colorado School of Mines over a three-day period. Its goal is to define a new subfield in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) on subterranean extraction. The workshop will highlight the theoretical and topical commonalities as well as disagreements and debates that make the study of mining and extraction a vibrant, emerging subfield. Workshop participants will include mining and extraction experts as discussants and field trip leaders. Workshop organizers will develop a public website that includes the workshop agenda, conference papers, an executive summary of the event, and a video of the keynote address, which will be live streamed. The organizers have plans to draw audience members from the dense network of industry practitioners in the Front Range, which is home to many mining, oil and gas, and other energy companies. They also plan to prepare an edited volume that includes new and existing STS work on mining and subterranean extraction.

Technical Summary

The workshop will focus on societal aspects of extractive processes of mining and other forms of natural resource development, which is a potentially rich new area for the field of STS. The existing scholarship on extraction from anthropology, geography and environmental studies provides important insights on the social and environmental dimensions of natural resource production, especially the consequences of this development for vulnerable communities. Yet these fields remain largely distinct from STS and rarely engage practitioners, such as scientists and engineers. STS scholars have studied recent technological developments such as high-volume hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas from shale, solar technologies that require rare earth metals, and even the pursuit of minerals found in asteroids. However, subterranean extraction is not yet an identifiable domain of research in STS. STS is well positioned to make an impact in this domain, opening up crucial questions about the expertise, knowledge, and power animating extractive practices. The mapping and extraction of underground resources are technoscientific practices that engage multiple, and sometimes competing, forms of expertise. An STS perspective on extraction will examine the technoscientific aspects of how questions about extraction are posed and deliberated, how extraction itself occurs, and how the consequences of such extraction are addressed. Underlying each of these areas are issues of knowledge, expertise and power that STS is uniquely positioned to explore, but has not yet done so in a systematic way.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SCIENCE, TECH & SOCIETY | Award Amount: 155.19K | Year: 2015

General Audience Summary

This research project is a comparative analysis of three case studies that aims to better understand how experts and civil society are defining, modeling, and measuring responsible mining. The objective of the project is to assess the green bargain required to fast track rare earth mining in order to fuel the American clean energy revolution. The project will be conducted over three phases. First, the PI will review the responsible mining literature, drawing together scholarship from the fields of geography, anthropology, and STS work on responsible innovation. She will also interview rare earth industry analysts to understand how they are shaping and communicating corporate social responsibility. Second, the PI will develop case studies of three rare earth mining sites in California, Wyoming, and Minnesota. The three cases represent varied landscape types, project scales, and developers. This phase will document how responsible mining is negotiated and deliberated in project development. She will focus on the kinds of demands and concessions developers, regulators, and environmentalists are making to gain a social license to operate. In the final phase, the PI will compare the cases to understand the socioeconomic, political, and institutional configurations that present the greatest potential for a green bargain to emerge. In addition to research articles, this final stage will result in a Citizens Guide on rare earth mining. Given the importance of rare earths to the clean energy economy, this project has the potential to broadly impact new mining policy. The research aims to move the current political impasse toward a more robust, civically engaged, discussion about how we value and protect nature, people and place in the face of critical materials supply challenges.

Technical Summary

This project will synergize two emerging areas of social theory: the geologic turn in geography and anthropology, and the STS interest in responsible innovation. The project aims to answer a range of micro and macro questions about the role of the green bargain in rare earths debates. At the local level, the project aims to reveal how new vulnerabilities and opportunities are being co-produced with the new energy economy. These include asking local residents: What are your concerns about rare earth minings landscape and livelihood impacts? What does it mean for a mine to operate responsibly? The research also addresses broader STS concerns about energy policy, and the balancing of deliberative processes and outcomes. Toward furthering the responsible innovation scholarship, the research will ask: What are the appropriate upstream moments to engage communities in articulating their hopes and fears with emerging technologies? Whose responsibility is it to negotiate the green bargain and when? What kinds of local and federal regulatory mechanisms are necessary to shape and watchdog responsible mining?

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