Loudonville, NY, United States
Loudonville, NY, United States

Siena College is an independent Roman Catholic liberal arts college in Loudonville, Albany County, New York, United States. Siena is a four-year, coeducational, independent college in the Franciscan tradition, founded by the Order of Friars Minor, in 1937. It has 3,000 full-time students and offers undergraduate degrees in business, liberal arts, and science.The college was named after Saint Bernardino of Siena, a 15th-century Italian Franciscan friar and preacher. St. Bernardine of Siena Friary is located on campus.The current president of the college, Fr. Kevin Mullen, is retiring on August 4th, with Br. F. Edward Coughlin becoming interim president. Wikipedia.

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Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 687.88K | Year: 2014

The Siena Plan for Attracting and Retaining Computer Scientists (SPARCS) is addressing the goal of producing one million additional college graduates with STEM degrees over the next decade, established in the February 2012 report by the Presidents Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). SPARCS builds on the success of the NSF S-STEM Tech Valley Scholars program and focuses on recruiting and retaining computing majors in high school and the first two years of college. The program includes a high school dual enrollment program that introduces computer science education to Capital District high schools that are currently not offering it. The program improves computing recruitment by offering high school students an opportunity to gain exposure to computing so they might better assess their interest in computing as a college major. The result is a larger and more qualified computing workforce in New York States Capital Region.

SPARCS recruits and nurtures new computing majors through graduation, with an emphasis on recruiting and retention in high school and the first two years of college. High school recruiting focuses on using partnerships to institute an introductory computing course at schools that do not have computing courses. College level recruiting focuses on undeclared students in each of Sienas three schools (Science, Business, and Liberal Arts). Recruitment also extends to students struggling in their current major who have demonstrated strong academic potential for computing and may not have been afforded the opportunity to explore computing. Retention efforts concentrate on expanding undergraduate internships, incorporating teaching assistantships, and engaging students in other activities designed to foster a sense of community.

The project is being assessed and evaluated by an external consultant who has identified the following outcomes as a measure of the effectiveness of the program: the effectiveness of campaigns to recruit computing students into Siena, the impact of the SPARCS program on students staying in computing at Siena, the quality of student performance in courses and research projects, the number of students from underrepresented groups, and the number of students entering graduate school or the professional workforce after graduation.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ANIMAL DEVELOPMENTAL MECHANSMS | Award Amount: 362.20K | Year: 2013

The development of a single-celled fertilized egg into a multi-cellular adult is an essential part of animal life cycles. Morphogenesis, a critical component of development, is the process by which embryonic structures are molded to generate the final adult form. Morphogenesis is driven by changes in the migration and shape of embryonic cells and tissues. While much is known about the processes that change cells during morphogenesis, very little is known about how these processes are regulated to ensure that they occur in the correct time and place. This research focuses on discovering novel genes and regulatory mechanisms that mediate morphogenesis. To accomplish this, the project team uses the remodeling of the tail of C. elegans males as a model of morphogenesis. Male tail remodeling provides a unique system for identifying novel morphogenetic genes and regulatory mechanisms because: i) C. elegans is remarkably easy to manipulate genetically, ii) tail remodeling involves changes in only four cells, and iii) DMD-3, a conserved regulatory protein, is known to be the master regulator of this process. It is expected that, upon completion of this research, the project team will characterize the role of intracellular vesicular trafficking in male tail morphogenesis, identify novel genes and processes involved in morphogenesis, and characterize how DMD-3 controls these genes and processes. The experiments will be carried out by undergraduate students working in the research laboratory or taking a Developmental Genetics course. This project will provide students with experience using current genetic and cell biological techniques and will introduce them to C. elegans, one of the preeminent invertebrate genetic model systems. In summary, this study will link aspects of cell biology, genetics, and developmental biology to provide a detailed description of morphogenesis in C. elegans, and inform our understanding of similar processes in vertebrates.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: EXTRAGALACTIC ASTRON & COSMOLO | Award Amount: 197.75K | Year: 2016

Stars seem reluctant to form in galaxy dark matter halos. This is a puzzle. To help solve it, the team will study the stars in a vast array of dark matter halos. They will use optical and near-infrared data to measure the mass of the stars in galaxies and also between the galaxies in groups and clusters. The measurements will be used to test theories that claim to have solved the puzzle. Undergraduates will be heavily involved in the research. The PI and his undergraduates will host hands-on events for the public. They will advertise the events at schools in Albany, New York that serve underrepresented groups. The PI will develop learning activities for undergraduates and high-school students and teachers.

The team will study the light from stars in dark matter halos, on the scales of galaxies, groups of galaxies, and clusters of galaxies. Their goals are to (1) measure the relationship between stellar masses and halo masses; and (2) constrain the total baryon fraction in massive dark matter halos.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 618.69K | Year: 2014

The Computer Science and Physics & Astronomy Departments at Siena College, through their Scholarships for Tech Valley Scholars in Computational, Mathematical and Physical Sciences (CMPS), are providing scholarships for a total of forty talented undergraduates with financial need who are majoring in Computer Science, Mathematics, or Physics. By increasing the number and quality of STEM majors through focused recruitment, retention, and career placement practices, the Tech Valley Scholars (TVS) program is helping to meet regional workforce development needs in New Yorks greater Hudson Valley.

Key project elements include cohort support activities centered on a TVS one-credit seminar each semester, continuous mentoring and guidance of students throughout the program, and creation of an innovative learning environment using the latest developments in STEM education research. As TVS participants, undergraduate students gain experience working on teams and developing skills and perspectives that are necessary for innovations in the application of STEM technologies.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Antarctic Astrophys&Geosp Sci | Award Amount: 185.36K | Year: 2013

The ionosphere-thermosphere-magnetosphere (ITM) region constitutes the Earths upper atmosphere that is part of larger Geospace environment, and ITM is a portal upon which the solar wind energy and momentum enter and impact the entire Geospace domain. Though space weather research over the past decade or so has greatly increased understanding of a wide variety of phenomena associated with the ITM physics, the sum of these individual processes occurring in Geospace does not replicate the rich diversity and scope of this complex region. Thus a more holistic approach to the ITM research is necessary, one that integrates clustered instrumentation at multiple locations to have a simultaneous look at the solar wind interactions within the entire Geospace system. This project will support studies of interrelated ITM phenomena observed at high latitudes through the coordinated and collaborative instruments deployed across Antarctica. Specifically, the project will focus on continued operation of a suite of geospace instrumentation currently deployed at both the South Pole (SPA) and McMurdo (MCM) stations. This suite has a sustained track-record of robust operation and community support: ground-based fluxgate and search-coils magnetometers, ELF and VLF receivers, imaging and broadband riometers, sky-looking optical systems, scintillation GPS receivers, and a number of other instruments. Data from this suite will be synergistically combined to study: (a) synoptic variability of the magnetospheric open-closed boundary (OCB) and associated cusp structures (utilizing fluxgate, photometer, and all-sky imager data); (b) simultaneous ELF whistler events at SPA and MCM and their relationship to ionospheric conditions (using ELF receiver, fluxgate, and GPS data); and (c) auroral and polar cap GPS signal scintillation occurrence, strength, and relationship with the ITM activity (using GPS, fluxgate, riometer, imager, ELF/VLF data). These particular topics are only a partial listing of the work that can, and will, be performed with the data obtained from these instruments, especially via established and planned collaborations with other geospace projects taking place in the Antarctica and at magnetically conjugate regions in the Arctic. These include (but not limit) the MCM lidar system, southern hemisphere SuperDARN radars, Fabry-Perot interferometers, balloon campaign, etc. The project will be utilizing (and also providing) data from/to in-orbit satellites, namely the THEMIS suite of spacecraft and recently launched RBSP spacecraft. This will make use of the ground- and space-based data to provide the science context to proposed observations and reveal new insights into underlying physics of the geospace phenomena. The project will train and educate young scientists, graduate, and undergraduate students.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: ELEMENTARY PARTICLE ACCEL USER | Award Amount: 204.00K | Year: 2013

Siena College will participate through the NSF RUI program in research at the Energy Frontier with the CMS Experiment located at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Geneva, Switzerland. The participation will be facilitated through collaboration with the nearby CMS experimental group at Cornell University. The Siena team of PI Matt Bellis and undergraduate students will join efforts within CMS to search for rare and forbidden decays (including baryon number violating decays) of the top-quark, a particle which is produced prolifically at the LHC. The collaboration with the Cornell group means that Siena can access expertise and CMS specific information regarding data access, analysis procedures, and publication procedures. Analyses will be performed by the students at Siena. Broader impacts of the program include participation by the PI in the effort within CMS on open-access to data and outreach by the PI and his students to underrepresented and underserved students in physics in local community high schools in the greater Albany NY region.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: RSCH EXPER FOR UNDERGRAD SITES | Award Amount: 359.92K | Year: 2014

The Siena College Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site provides unique opportunities for undergraduates to develop research expertise in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Siena College REU Site environment fosters learning through research by means of faculty advisors and peer mentors. The students work in teams on real problems in information extraction in areas such as information gathering for military and security needs to targeted marketing of products. Especially due to the emerging area of Big Data, this REU program is having an impact on applications that address national and global societal problems, such as medical information retrieval systems that identify people for clinical trials and systems to predict the focus of a groups with adverse intentions from automated text analysis. Teams working in these areas need to have diversity in skills, knowledge, and cultural perspectives, and the Siena REU program is recruiting a wide range of students, including a focus on women and other under-represented groups, so that the students can gain the broad experience needed to address the big problems in todays society.

The REU students are involved in research teams with Siena College faculty and student mentors working on projects that are conducted at the Siena College Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SCIAI) in computational linguistics (CL) for information extraction. The projects are improving the state of the art in CL, as well as investigating interesting real-world applications. Students are learning about the nature of scientific research and how to communicate their work in student-authored publications and through presentations at research conferences. The results of the students work, including transcripts of presentations and copies of posters, are disseminated via the Siena College REU Site website (http://www.siena.edu/reu).

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Campus Cyberinfrastrc (CC-NIE) | Award Amount: 394.71K | Year: 2016

Siena College is a vibrant undergraduate liberal arts college with a strong School of Science. Siena faculty in the sciences conduct cutting-edge research and involve undergraduate students in that research. Students also conduct independent research with faculty supervision as part of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (CURCA) program.

This two-year project creates a state-of-the-art research oriented network infrastructure to support STEM research at the College. Research projects in the fields of computational chemistry (using Sienas High Performance Computing Cluster or HPCC), nanoscience, biophysics, astrophysics, and particle physics have been hampered by currently limited network transfer speeds. This project significantly enhances the ability for faculty and students to carry out their work.

The project creates a network infrastructure designed to optimize networking and security for high performance scientific applications. This includes improving data transfer speeds within the School of Science building complex and between the sciences and the College data center where the HPCC is housed by a factor of 10. The proposed upgrades also position Siena to create connections to external high-performance networks such as NYSERnet and Internet2, facilitating collaboration with researchers at other institutions as well as access to instrumentation and research tools at other institutions.

As a result of this project interdisciplinary research projects are fostered and encouraged. Sophisticated cyberinfrastructure is a critical underpinning to scientific research initiatives and this project creates that foundation at Siena College.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Polar Special Initiatives | Award Amount: 105.48K | Year: 2015

The near-Earth environment (Geospace) is mostly controlled by the Earths magnetic field, which provides the Earth with protection from phenomena of electromagnetic nature, such as solar flares, coronal mass ejection, etc.; some of these events could be very dangerous and affect and even damage satellites, their instrumentation, and their communication with ground centers. However, the Earths magnetic field has some specific regions where it is exposed to all these impacts from outer space. The polar caps are specific areas around the geomagnetic poles where geomagnetic field lines are open and directly interact with the interplanetary magnetic field (that is an extended magnetic field of the Sun). During strong geomagnetic disturbances, the polar caps increase their size - sometimes dramatically. Monitoring the Earths polar regions, geomagnetic disturbances, currents that flow over these regions, polar cap boundary dynamics, etc., are important issues of space weather studies. Hundreds of magnetometers observe the Northern hemisphere polar cap and auroral zone on a regular basis. However, the Southern hemisphere has many fewer observatories. Having a large network of magnetometers for monitoring the geomagnetic environment is vital for understanding space weather-related events and their impact on environments, since the number of satellites in Geospace continues to grow very fast.

One of the major problems in developing an observational infrastructure in Antarctica is the enormous difficulty for people to reach the region and to stay there. This factor makes any scientific project extremely expensive. Therefore, the development of Automatic Geophysical Observatories (AGO) that can function autonomously with minimal human interaction and maintenance provides a unique opportunity that can solve the problem. The arrangement of instrumentation produces data with a high potential to provide key advances in the field and that are highly demanded by scientific community. The science questions to be addressed in this research effort are: (1) Is the synoptic fluxgate magnetometer determination of the open-closed magnetic field boundary (OCB) valid; (2) What are impacts of solar wind structures on the OCB morphology; (3) How synoptic structures of GPS scintillations are relevant to OCB dynamics, and (4) Could the Iridiums Short Burst Data system be used to transmit fluxgate magnetometer data at a 1-hour time lag. The research is a cost-effective investment that will advance the state of knowledge of the Geospace domain and provide scientific community with vital observations.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: ELEMENTARY PARTICLE ACCEL USER | Award Amount: 70.00K | Year: 2016

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located at the CERN particle physics laboratory in Switzerland, is the largest machine that humanity has ever constructed and allows scientists to study matter and energy on the smallest scales. The goal of these efforts is to answer questions about how our Universe came into exisitence and how it evolved to look the way it does today. The PI is a member of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment, one of the large particle detectors at the LHC that collects data produced by the collisions of 40 million protons every second. The CMS collaboration consists of 3000 scientists the world over that study all the different particles that come out of these collisions in an effort to understand precisely how they were produced and whether or not there are indications of new Physics: cracks in our current understanding of Nature or glimpses of new and exciting theories. This project looks for new physics through the search for as-yet-unobserved decays of the top quark, one of the particles that make up the list of fundamental particles known to date.

The PI will be conducting an analysis to search for baryon-number violating (BNV) decays of the top quark. The top quark is the most massive fundamental particle yet discovered, and while it was first observed 20 years ago, it is only relatively recently that experiments have begun to collect enough data to study them in detail. This analysis is related to another as-of-yet unobserved phenomenon, proton decay. Some theories suggest that the same protons that are found in every atom will eventually decay away and these theories are invoked to try to explain why our Universe is dominated by matter and does not consist of equal amounts of matter and antimatter. Any sign of BNV decays, whether in top quarks or protons or other particles, would instantly change how we understand fundamental particle interactions. A preliminary analysis was performed with the first set of data from CMS, but in the next couple of years, we will have 10x the data to work with and so we will be much more sensitive to any signs of new physics. In parallel, the PI will continue to work on innovative outreach techniques, such as making real experimental data from CMS and other experiments available to teachers and the general public, simplifed so that anyone can use it and learn from it. The PI will also continue to host high school teachers for workshops where they build cloud chambers, one of the earliest particle detectors, for use in their classrooms.

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