Highland Heights, KY, United States

Northern Kentucky University

Highland Heights, KY, United States

Northern Kentucky University is a public, co-educational university in northern Kentucky located in Highland Heights, seven miles southeast of Cincinnati, Ohio. The university is primarily an undergraduate, liberal arts institution, but it also features graduate programs. Total enrollment at the university currently exceeds 15,000 students, with over 13,000 undergraduate students and over 2,000 graduate students served by nearly 2600 faculty and staff. Northern Kentucky University is the third largest university, behind the University of Cincinnati and Miami University, but before Xavier University, of Greater Cincinnati's four large, four-year universities and the youngest of Kentucky's eight state universities, although it is not the last to join the state system, as the University of Louisville did not become a state university until 1970.Notable among the university's programs are the Salmon P. Chase College of Law and the College of Informatics, founded in 2006. The university has been cited for academic quality and value by such publications as CIO Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, and Forbes. The University issues an annual report that recaps significant achievements by students, faculty, and staff. Wikipedia.

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Fernando S.,Northern Kentucky University
General Relativity and Gravitation | Year: 2012

We have studied the null geodesics of the Schwarzschild black hole surrounded by quintessence matter. Quintessence matter is a candidate for dark energy. Here, we have done a detailed analysis of the geodesics and exact solutions are presented in terms of Jacobi-elliptic integrals for all possible energy and angular momentum of the photons. The circular orbits of the photons are studied in detail. As an application of the null geodesics, the angle of deflection of the photons are computed. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: RSCH EXPER FOR UNDERGRAD SITES | Award Amount: 221.56K | Year: 2013

The summer program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (a Minority Serving Institution and the lead institution for NSFs Alabama AMP or Alliance for Minority Participation Program) engages a diverse group of students in interdisciplinary problem based research that has laid the foundation for a model of long-term dynamics in human exploitation of marine biological communities, emphasizing interactions between humans and the environment. This program has enhanced understanding of global culture, biological diversity, and effective strategies in science education. Student activities and projects include: archaeological surveys, mapping, and excavations; collecting and analyzing ethnographic data on resource exploitation, foodways, and domestic social and economic organization; conducting lab analysis of archaeological materials; working with database systems and computer software; and interpreting data in written, digital, and oral presentations for the academic and general public.

Intellectual Merit.

The innovative project produces a model describing millennia of human-environmental interactions. An evolutionary perspective is afforded by the PI-teams expertise in ethnography, archaeology, and historical ecology, providing for the evaluation of changes in marine diversity and resource use through time. A fundamental part of the proposed research is the collaboration of students and faculty from North America, Fiji-based collaborators, and Fijian villagers. These interactions serve to stimulate interest in the understanding and preservation of cultural and natural resources. This project provides a model of innovative strategies for teaching field-based sciences, for disseminating research to educators, and for evaluating the educational effectiveness of this approach. They have developed and continue to develop visual digital media and contribute to technologically savvy curriculum for use in K-16 classrooms throughout the state of Alabama. It is anticipated that an exceptional model for conducting fieldschools will result from the project. This research is expected to have a positive impact on theory and method in anthropology, historical ecology, and science education.

Broader Impacts.

The broader impacts of this project include the teaching and training of students and indigenous collaborators in anthropological field methods. The research findings are disseminated via a partnership between this REU site and Alabama Public Television (APT) through APTPLUS, which is APTs 21st century destination for online learning. State-of-the-art technology combined with a wealth of content-rich resources makes learning a dynamic, interactive experience for all ages. Free for educators, adult learners, parents and youth, APTPLUS provides exciting multimedia education. This video-on-demand service offers pre-K through adult learning curriculum content, professional development, national and local video libraries, and links to state and national educational web sites and support materials.
In an effort to reach as many audiences as possible, the REU team also continues to disseminate information through traditional procedures such as scholarly presentations and publications. Data gathered by REU students are used in displays and presentations to the general public in collaboration with UAB, the McWane Science Center, University of the South Pacific, the Fiji Museum, Birmingham City Schools, and APT. Moreover, this experiential learning opportunity equips students with a broad array of skill sets and numerous opportunities to engage with faculty and form supportive relationships that extend well beyond the 9-week REU. By integrating practical research skills, a broad understanding of scientific theories and methods, specific hands-on involvement in a foreign cultural setting, and training in ethics, students emerge from this REU experience with abilities that prepare and serve them in graduate programs in a variety of potential areas.

This REU Site is co-funded by the NSF Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE) Global Venture Fund.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 228.85K | Year: 2015

With this award supported by the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program, the Chemistry Research Instrumentation and Facilities (CRIF) and EPSCoR programs, Northern Kentucky University (NKU) will acquire a scanning electron microscope with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy capability (SEM/EDX). A scanning electron microscope probes the surfaces of materials with a beam of electrons impinging on a sample. The resultant micrograph (picture) produced from the electrons scattering from the surface provides information on the structure and morphology of the material. The EDX accessory provides information on the elemental composition of the material. This provides insight on the microscopic and macroscopic properties and characteristics of a substance. This acquisition will provide training to students in the use of this important analytical tool. It will be used by students in the chemistry and biological sciences undergraduate research programs at NKU and by women and underrepresented high school students at Nanoscience Summer Camps. It will be employed in several laboratory courses providing training to large numbers of undergraduate students.

The award will be employed in research in areas including: a) development of a biocompatible drug delivery device; b) investigation of in-vivo local detection platforms to understand the metabolic pathway of thyroid hormones in relation to ancillary endocrine disorders; (c) investigation of fullerene-TM polymeric systems and their optical and physical properties; and (d) investigation of digestive physiology of embryonic anurans with the aim of carrying out microelectrode fabrication.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: METAL & METALLIC NANOSTRUCTURE | Award Amount: 154.58K | Year: 2015


Diffusion, the long-range movement of atoms, is a major factor in the processing and performance of materials. Such movement is essential for the thorough intermixing of atoms needed to form intermetallic compounds whereas unwanted diffusion can lead to compound degradation. There is a firm theoretical understanding of diffusion; however, there is limited experimental evidence verifying the correctness of that understanding for the case of complex diffusion mechanisms. This is because it is difficult to observe the individual atomic steps of diffusion processes experimentally. The main goal of this research is to use computer simulations to predict favorable experimental conditions for which the processes of complex diffusion mechanisms can be observed directly and theories assessed. The simulations and corresponding follow-up experiments will provide a better fundamental understanding of diffusion processes and allow researchers to refine preparation methods of intermetallic compounds and to find ways to control potentially destructive diffusion in materials. Since intermetallic compounds are used throughout industry, with applications ranging from medicine to national security, the impacts on society made possible by an enhanced understanding of diffusion are likely to be widespread. Results are to be disseminated to the scientific community through conference presentations and peer-reviewed journal articles and to the general public through informative webpages and public lectures. It is anticipated that between five and ten undergraduate students will receive training in advanced computer simulation and experimental techniques during their participation in this research.


Computer simulations based on the embedded atom method (EAM) are being used to calculate free energies of point defect formation, solute site occupation, defect association, and migration, all including vibrational contributions, to predict diffusion pathways of selected tracers in binary intermetallic compounds. Additional calculations based on density functional theory serve to parameterize the EAM model and predict the electric field gradients experienced by tracers in those compounds. The main goal of this research is to determine compatible combinations of radiotracers and intermetallic compounds for which measurements using perturbed angular correlation spectroscopy (PAC) are likely to allow determination of operative diffusion mechanisms. Of particular interest is predicting systems for which it is possible to verify the existence of complex diffusion mechanisms, that is, those mechanisms involving more than simple tracer-vacancy exchanges, through direct observation of the signals induced by the transient defect complexes formed during cooperative jump sequences. Candidate systems under consideration include Cd, Fe, Hf, In, Ni, Pd, Rh, Ru, Ta, and Ti tracers in B2- and L12-structured compounds. Other activities of this project include examination of the change in diffusion mechanism across the series of rare earth tri-indides, as was discovered experimentally, and laying the groundwork for future experiments through PAC measurements of Cd-111m jump rates in Pd3Ga7.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: STELLAR ASTRONOMY & ASTROPHYSC | Award Amount: 85.69K | Year: 2016

Scientists from the University of Virginia and Northern Kentucky University will work together to count how many stars in the Milky Way galaxy exist in pairs. Using an instrument that splits the light from each star into a spectrum they will show if each pair is made up of large or small stars, hot or cold stars, old or young stars. With this information astronomers can better understand how stars form in the Milky Way, and how important being a member of a pair can be to the birth of planets. The light from over 163,000 stars will be analyzed over a three year period by graduate and undergraduate students from each university. The data will be obtained using the Sloan Foundation Telescope at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico and the Irénée du Pont Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

This is a collaborative proposal between Steven Majewski of the University of Virginia (UVa) and Nathan De Lee of Northern Kentucky University (NKU). Together with graduate and undergraduate students at both universities, these researchers propose to analyze Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) radial velocity survey data of 163,000 stars spread throughout the galaxy (disk, halo and bulge) to search for companions to stars with a broad range of stellar spectral types, metallicities, and ages. They will exploit data acquired as part of the SDSS-III/APOGEE-1 high-resolution IR spectroscopic survey, which has already observed over 14,000 stars in multiple (dozens of) epochs. The proposers will complement these data with a new survey, SDSS-IV/APOGEE-2, to extend temporal baselines and the number of observed sources. Their goal is to determine the frequency of companions as a function of host star chemistry, dynamics, evolutionary stage, position in the Milky Way, and environment. They also propose follow-up near-IR speckle interferometric observations of a sample of targets using a new speckle camera on the WIYN telescope, which they plan to build with funds from this award. A pilot spectroscopic survey based on APOGEE-1 data has already produced samples of stellar, brown dwarf, and hot Jupiter companions in a few hundred systems. Dr. Majewski is the PI of both the APOGEE-1 and APOGEE-2 projects.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Macromolec/Supramolec/Nano | Award Amount: 165.00K | Year: 2013

RUI: Photophysics of Small-Molecule and Polymer Fullerene-Transition Metal Organometallic Supramolecular Systems

The Macromolecular, Supramolecular, and Nanochemistry Program supports Professor Keith A. Walters of Northern Kentucky University for the synthesis and spectroscopic behavior of organometallic systems that combine fullerenes and transition metals. Relatively simple Diels-Alder reactions have allowed for the functionalization of these molecules and provided an opportunity to incorporate fullerene into pi-conjugated ligand structures and ultimately to form complexes with various transition metals (e.g., Rhenium and Ruthenium). Spectroscopic analysis of the ensuing systems indicates the presence of multiple excited states and decay pathways. Stark absorption spectroscopy is being used to confirm that charge transfer is taking place. In this work, the researchers will continue these investigations with several goals: 1) to investigate other reaction methodologies to improve the yields of the reactions, including the use of microwave-assisted reactions; 2) to explore other polyaromatic moieties (e.g., coronene and corannulene) in analogous systems to better understand the role of the organic subunit in the observed photophysics; 3) to modify the linkages between the transition metal and fullerene to possibly increase their excited state interaction; and 4) to expand efforts beyond small molecules and prepare poly(phenylene-ethynylene)-type polymers containing the substituted fullerene building blocks and transition metal chromophores. The research will expand knowledge in the field of organometallic supramolecular chemistry and provide new structures for use in various molecular device applications, for example in solar energy conversion.

Over the past two decades, there has been keen interest in the design of molecular devices for use in energy conversion (e.g., solar cells) and charge transport (e.g., molecular wires). This approach has evolved from purely organic polymeric systems, which require considerable redesign to modify the system?s properties, to organometallic systems that utilize transition metal chromophores to tune the organic polymer. The Walters research group has been interested in these systems for some time, where both the synthetic challenges and system characteristics upon light excitation are explored. This work is centered upon methods developed by undergraduate researchers that attach a simple chemical handles to fullerene. Organometallic systems bringing together these modified fullerenes and transition metals have exhibited complex behavior following light excitation that suggests charge does move between portions of the molecule, a necessary component in the desired molecular devices. Moving forward, this research seeks to further understand how these molecules interact with light. The acquired knowledge will also be applied in the creation of polymeric systems, an essential evolutionary step in the use of these materials in the desired new molecular devices. In addition, undergraduate researchers will work with other department instructors and with the chemistry student group at Northern Kentucky University in their outreach activities to advance the importance of alternative energy and nanoscale materials through presentations and other demonstrations.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS IN CHEM | Award Amount: 349.98K | Year: 2016

This award funded by the Division of Chemistry Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Sites Program supports a dispersed REU site led by Professor K. C. Russell at Northern Kentucky University. The site also includes senior researchers and their undergraduate students at Grand Valley State University, the University of Richmond, the University of San Diego, and Colby College. Research projects supported in this site are focused on the study of theoretically interesting molecules in the fields of synthetic organic, physical organic, organometallic, and materials chemistry. The REU site supports eleven undergraduate research students per summer in a ten-week program. Broader impacts are addressed through the recruitment of students from local two-year colleges and from four-year institutions that lack significant opportunities for undergraduate research. The site seeks to prepare the diverse student cohort participating for further study in the chemical sciences and graduate school, with eventual employment as part of the countrys technical workforce.

Undergraduate research projects include: (1) the exploration of calcium-catalyzed addition reactions (Prof. Kristine Nolin, University of Richmond); (2) the synthesis and characterization of novel [12]- and [14]-annulenes (Prof. K. C. Russell, Northern Kentucky University); (3) the synthesis and evaluation of extraction agents for Ln-Ln and Ln-An separations (Shannon Biros, Grand Valley State University); (4) the synthesis of self-assembled architectures from end-functionalized polysaccharides (Prof. Peter Iovine, University of San Diego); and (5) the synthesis of rigid oxacalixarene scaffolds (Prof. Jeffrey Katz, Colby College). In addition to research activities, the student participants take part in an integrated ethics curriculum that includes training modules and case studies based on current events within the scientific community.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: FIELD STATIONS | Award Amount: 25.00K | Year: 2016

This project will prepare a 5-year strategic plan for the Northern Kentucky University (NKU) Research and Education Field Station (REFS). This station is located adjacent to the St. Anne Woods and Wetlands (SAWW), 155 acres of conservation easement natural areas on and near the Ohio River. REFS is located in the Outer Bluegrass Ecoregion, with open- and closed-canopy forested wetlands, upland grassland, and wooded natural areas containing substantial old growth forest, primarily dominated by beech. Although current and past ecological research at SAWW has included some national data collection programs, the breadth and depth of studies have been limited by the lack of laboratory facilities at the site. The acquisition and recent refurbishment of a building by NKU and associated land as its first field station opens the door to new research initiatives and associated education and outreach opportunities. This project is significant in that it will provide a plan of action for both enhancing and building university research and education programs while initiating and developing P-12 and community outreach programs. The field station provides a space for activities that were previously not possible, including indoor laboratory and field processing procedures, meetings, research and education workspace, storage, and restrooms. Therefore this project is important because it will promote the progress of science in a three-fold manner: namely, it will provide a framework for the new REFS to 1) develop and enrich new and existing field research programs at SAWW to contribute to long-term projects and network with national databases such as our on-going Ecological Research as Education Network (NSF-EREN) studies on litter decomposition and permanent forest plots and active membership in the Kentucky Organization of Field Stations (KOFS), 2) expand ecological and transdisciplinary educational opportunities for undergraduates, and 3) increase engagement with our community partners (business, government, education, nonprofit organizations, and public-at-large) to expand learning and research opportunities, enhance nature awareness, and increase environmental literacy to create a better informed public.

The St. Anne Woods and Wetlands (SAWW) contain 155 acres of conservation easement natural areas on and near the Ohio River. It is located in the Outer Bluegrass Ecoregion, with open- and closed-canopy forested wetlands, upland grassland, and wooded natural areas containing substantial old growth forest, primarily dominated by beech. Research at SAWW began over 100 years ago by E. Lucy Braun and most recently has focused on field biology (amphibian and reptile diversity, plant diversity, bird nesting biology), biogeochemical processes, monitoring of the impacts of introduced and invasive species, and the restoration of damaged systems. Through these projects, scientists at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) have also trained undergraduates in field research. Our intent through this project to develop a 5-year field station strategic plan to create a systematic organization of research activities that can be networked with other sites on local, regional, and/or national bases, particularly for long-term data sets. The newly acquired NKU Research and Education Field Station (REFS), which is located adjacent to SAWW and only a few minutes from the NKU campus, will centralize these research efforts and allow for processing and analyses of samples, receive monitoring instrumentation output, and complement field studies. The planning process will facilitate the establishment of a budget-conscious field station usage plan and supply direction for the incorporation of new technologies in monitoring studies and communication informatics. Simultaneously, it will provide incentives for broader research use of this facility by NKU faculty and others. These activities will begin with our current participation in the Ecological Research as Education Network (NSF-EREN) and the Kentucky Organization of Field Stations (KOFS). The proximity of the field station to the NKU campus will expand opportunities for ecological undergraduate instruction while providing unique transdisciplinary teaching opportunities over a range of other disciplines. REFS will expand our partnerships with businesses, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and the public-at-large to catalyze regional growth and vitality. To do so, the facility will enhance community outreach activities for P-12 schools to improve college readiness, host summer camps, and facilitate teacher continuing education. The plan will also incorporate the use of the field station and SAWW by the NKU Center for Environmental Restoration, an instructional-based environmental consulting center, to train undergraduates in improved techniques of land management and restoration. The station website (http://stannewetlands.org/) provides an overview of activities that have been done at SAWW.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: IRES | Award Amount: 177.26K | Year: 2014

This project will facilitate a three-year international research experience for U.S. undergraduates majoring in STEM disciplines. Students from a diverse regional population will be recruited as summer cohorts to participate in an intensive and immersive research project on fishing impacts on a remote coral reef ecosystem off the coast of Belize. Each summer cohort will consist of a minimum of four students who will attend preparatory seminars, travel, and work collaboratively over a six-week period. Students will cooperate as a group but will conduct research on a specific aspect of existing long-term ecological studies to understand the ecology of target reef species and the impacts of commercial fishing on their populations. This international research activity will be coupled with intensive instruction on current marine conservation issues, ecological field methods, quantitative techniques for analyzing harvesting data, and the socio-economics of fishing of the Central America and Caribbean region. The comprehensive learning experience will provide students with unique insights into applied ecological science for marine conservation.

The intellectual merits of this research are aimed at understanding, predicting, and preventing overfishing. Overfishing continues to plague coral reef conservation efforts, and effective management is hampered by the lack of life history data on key species and quantitative assessment models. Cohorts of undergraduate students will collaborate on a comprehensive study of a multi-species fishery on an isolated coral reef in Belize. Under the mentorship of professional researchers at the Wildlife Conservation Societys Glovers Reef Marine Research Station, each student will collect data on a specific project designed to determine population dynamics and fishing impacts on a suite of key commercially-valuable reef species. Students will study aspects of recruitment to reef nursery habitats, population size structure in primary habitats in fished and protected regions, and dispersal dynamics among reef habitats, as well as fishing yields and fisher preferences by examining catches. Prior to departure, students will receive broad training in marine conservation science, marine ecological methods, statistical and mathematical modeling for data analysis, and cultural sensitivity. After the international research experience, students will be mentored in data analysis and will be expected to present results at scientific conferences. Data also will be incorporated into a new predictive model for this reef fishery. The U.S. researchers will then complete development of a hybrid systems-dynamics/individual-based model for this ecosystem and for further conservation assessment.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 136.29K | Year: 2014

With funding from the National Science Foundations Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) Program, this project will address the national need for high quality mathematics teaching in elementary schools. In particular, the project will represent a research and materials development effort aimed at helping prospective elementary teachers to develop responsive teaching skills and practices in the areas of numeracy and early-algebraic thinking. These responsive teaching practices, referred to as professional noticing (of childrens mathematical thinking) are comprised of three interrelated components; namely, (i) observing and attending to the childs mathematical actions and words, (ii) interpreting these actions and words with respect to a particular developmental progression, and (iii) responding with an appropriate instructional or diagnostic decision. Researchers from Northern Kentucky University (lead institution), Morehead State University and the University of Kentucky will collaborate to develop online and classroom materials and conduct research to push the field of professional noticing forward to provide teachers of elementary mathematics with valuable tools to help improve teaching and student learning. The project will build on earlier work by the investigators regarding prospective teachers development of professional noticing skills. The previous project focused exclusively on noticing with respect to individual childrens numeracy strategies; whereas, this project will investigate prospective elementary teachers development of professional noticing skills in group and whole-class contexts in a more sophisticated, but essential mathematical domain - early algebraic thinking. The project will also engage personnel from Appalachian State University, Eastern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University to use the materials developed and provide important feedback. Each university has committed to institutionalize the project activities as part of their teacher education programs. In connection with this, the project will directly impact over six-hundred (600) prospective (pre-service) teachers across the State of Kentucky as well as parts of North Carolina during the period of the grant funding. These teachers, in turn, will collectively have impact on thousands of elementary students throughout their teaching careers. Making the developed and well-researched materials available online will further enhance the overall impact of the project.

Broadly speaking, professional noticing is an ability to recognize and act on key indicators significant to ones profession. In connection with this, the Project Team will develop online and in-class modules for teaching professional noticing to pre-service elementary teachers (PSETS) and, in turn, will investigate research questions related to the extent to which the innovative learning experience for pre-service elementary teachers (PSETs) focused on the professional noticing of childrens numeracy and early-algebraic thinking will enhance PSETs teaching and observation skills. The research questions include: (1) To what extent can teacher educators facilitate the development of PSETs capacity to professionally notice childrens mathematical thinking in the context of early numeracy in individual settings? (2) To what extent can teacher educators facilitate the development of PSETs capacity to professionally notice childrens mathematical thinking in the context of algebraic thinking in whole class settings? (3) To what extent do PSETs professional noticing skills in individual settings relate to their professional noticing skills in whole class settings? (4) To what extent do PSETs professional noticing skills relate to PSETs mathematical knowledge for teaching and attitudes towards mathematics? (5) What differences (if any) occur in PSETs professional noticing skills, attitudes towards mathematics, and mathematical knowledge for teaching when professional noticing modules are administered via an online format when compared to a traditional face-to-face format? Researchers will use proprietary video-based professional noticing measures to determine changes in PSET skills in this area and will administer according to a pre-, mid-, and post-assessment design with a video-based professional noticing assessment. Mathematical knowledge for teaching and attitudes towards mathematics will be assessed on the same time schedule. Assessment instruments will be the LMT-TKAS and the Mathematics Experiences and Conceptions (MECS) instrument, and interviews also will be conducted with PSETs to understand their experiences with the modules and their professional noticing skills.

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