State College, PA, United States
State College, PA, United States

Swarthmore College is a highly selective, private liberal arts college located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia. Its history, academic influence, and reputation make it one of the leading colleges in the United States.Founded in 1864, Swarthmore was one of the earliest coeducational colleges in the United States. The school was organized by a Committee of "Quakers" from three "Hicksite" yearly meetings: Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia. Many of the founders were prominent in the abolitionist and women's rights movements and other social concerns and included Edward Parrish, , Deborah and Joseph Wharton, Benjamin Hallowell, and James and Lucretia Mott, . Swarthmore was established to be a college, "...under the care of Friends, at which an education may be obtained equal to that of the best institutions of learning in our country." By 1906 Swarthmore dropped its religious affiliation, becoming officially non-sectarian.Today, the college is known for rigorous academics, widely advertised commitment to social responsibility, and the legacy of its Quaker roots. Ninety percent of graduates eventually attend graduate or professional school, and over twenty percent of graduates attain a Doctor of Philosophy degree in their lifetime, rates among the highest of US institutions.Swarthmore is a member of the "Tri-College Consortium", a cooperative arrangement among Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford Colleges. The consortium shares an integrated library system of more than three million volumes, and students are able to cross-register in courses at all three institutions. A common Quaker heritage exists amongst the consortium schools and the University of Pennsylvania also extends this cross-registration agreement to classes at the University of Pennsylvania's College of Arts and science.Swarthmore's campus and the Scott Arboretum share the same borders. Wikipedia.


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Mewes M.,Swarthmore College
Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology | Year: 2012

The effects of Lorentz-violating operators of nonrenormalizable dimension in optical resonate cavities are studied. Optical-frequency experiments are shown to provide sensitivity to nondispersive nonbirefringent violations that is many orders of magnitude beyond current constraints from microwave cavities. Existing experiments based on Fabry-Pérot and ring resonators are considered as illustrations. © 2012 American Physical Society.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: RSCH EXPER FOR UNDERGRAD SITES | Award Amount: 399.66K | Year: 2015

This project is supported under the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites program, which is an NSF-wide program although each Directorate administers its own REU Site competition. This program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in an effort to introduce them to scientific research so as to encourage their continued engagement in the nations scientific research and development enterprise. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects designed especially for the purpose. The REU program is a major contributor to the NSFs goal of developing a diverse, internationally competitive, and globally-engaged science and engineering workforce. The Social, Behavioral and Economic (SBE) sciences Directorate awarded this REU Site grant to Swarthmore College to provide undergraduate students with intensive training in community-based collaborative language documentation. The project builds bridges between indigenous linguists in the US academic community, Mexico, Micronesia, and the Navajo Nation, with collaborative research that benefits all parties. It helps uncover deep connections between languages and landscapes by documenting the knowledge base about the natural world found in endangered languages. The resulting linguistic materials support local communities language revitalization efforts. They will also be a resource to the broader scientific community seeking to understand language complexity, diversity and universals.

This REU site recruits a diverse group of twelve undergraduate students of Linguistics. The project begins with a two-week intensive, hands-on training session on current best practice for recording languages (or areas of grammar within languages) that have not yet been adequately documented. Students learn directly from professional linguists and indigenous language experts how endangered languages are being modernized, digitized, and expanded into new technological domains. In weeks three and four, students participate in a two-week field practicum. Working in teams led by indigenous language experts, students help record basic and specialized lexica, folk taxonomies, toponyms, and ethno-biological nomenclature. They explore and help document the rich knowledge base in each language that uniquely encodes the natural environment (flora, fauna, weather, geography, etc.). They also learn current best practices in sustaining indigenous languages and supporting global language diversity. The program concludes with a one-week workshop, where students reflect on their collaborative fieldwork and prepare presentations for their respective home institutions. This REU Site project is co-funded by the Documenting Endangered Languages program and also by the International Science and Engineering Program.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: DEL | Award Amount: 73.84K | Year: 2016

Vanuatu is a group of 80 islands located in the South Pacific, situated roughly equidistant from New Caledonia, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands, all of which are globally important biodiversity hotspots. Despite its significance as a treasure trove of biodiversity, Vanuatus plants and fungi remain poorly documented, leaving a significant gap in our knowledge of regional biodiversity compared with neighboring island countries, all of which have active or completed flora surveys. The few existing plant surveys in Vanuatu have focused primarily on the northern end of the archipelago. In the southern part of the country, little reliable botanical data exist, and there is great potential for new scientific discoveries. This project focuses on Tafea Province, the five southernmost islands of Vanuatu. In March, 2015, Tafea Province was the site of a catastrophic category-5 super-cyclone. Just prior to that, eight forest transects were established to characterize vegetation growth and change over time. These study sites were severely impacted by the storm, and monitoring efforts will provide an important opportunity to understand how Pacific-Island forests recover from this type of event. Along with its rich biological diversity, Vanuatu is also the most linguistically rich country in the world, with 112 languages for a total population of only 253,000; nine of these languages are found only in Tafea Province. As globalization and economic development are proceeding in Vanuatu, local languages are being replaced by English, French, and Bislama (a local Creole), and thus there is a critical need to document local languages and the botanical knowledge that is encapsulated therein. Undergraduate students will be trained in the analysis of linguistic data, and graduate students will participate in all aspects of the research and receive valuable training in tropical botany and mycology.

The researchers will complete the first comprehensive survey of angiosperms, gymnosperms, ferns, lycophytes, bryophytes, endophytic and macro-fungi, and lichens ever undertaken in Tafea Province. Surveys will be conducted using two approaches: 1) establishment of permanent monitoring transects and plots, which will allow for both vegetation analysis and dense floristic and fungal sampling, and provide an opportunity for long-term monitoring in the face of global climate change, and 2) a general collecting approach will be used across larger areas. From these data, an annotated checklist (both hard copy and online) will be assembled using the database of newly collected and historical specimens. The checklist will allow for tests of phytogeographic relationships among Vanuatu and its closest neighbors (New Caledonia and Fiji), allowing the researchers to address questions relating to levels of endemism, species distributions, and evolution of the regional flora. Because most land in Vanuatu is held under customary ownership, and local people are the stewards of their environments, the loss of biocultural knowledge is a serious threat to their ability to manage biodiversity resources sustainably. To support local environmental education efforts, the project will combine the expertise of the teams linguists and botanists to work with indigenous speakers of eight Tafean languages to document names of plants and fungi, providing a tangible linkage between biodiversity, traditional culture, and conservation. Project linguists will produce printed and digital dictionaries of indigenous plant and fungal names and will use web-based videography and story maps, which spatially link names and traditional uses of organisms onto the landscape, helping viewers visualize the connections between biodiversity, knowledge, and place, providing a complement to the botanical databases.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: GEOMETRIC ANALYSIS | Award Amount: 17.86K | Year: 2016

This award provides support for the Generalized Geometry Workshop to be held at Swarthmore College on September 17-18, 2016. The goal is to bring together experts from mathematics and physics to consolidate the current development of the theory and extend its potential for applications to questions of importance in applied fields, as well as to train undergraduate and graduate students to work in this relatively young area with a wealth of accessible open problems. In the 20th century, the evolution of notions of geometric structures, such as Riemannian structures, complex structures, symplectic structures, and contact structures, has had an important impact both in the development of mathematics and in applications to many other areas of study. Generalized geometry is both an extension of these structures and a framework for analyzing the relationships between them. Although the concept is only about fifteen years old, it has made significant contributions both to understanding how various geometric structures on a space interact and has seen applications in string theory and supergravity.

Generalized geometry is a contemporary approach to the study of differentiable manifolds in which the group of diffeomorphisms is extended to include additional symmetries known as B-field transforms. This enlarged symmetry group, which arises naturally from the point of view of loop spaces, has been studied extensively by geometers and string theorists and continues to provide an invaluable bridge connecting the two fields. In addition, since each classical geometry can be realized as a generalized geometry, it provides a framework for studying relationships between various types of classical geometric structures that can occur on a manifold and has been a source of surprising results in this regard. So this topic has intrinsic interest from a differential geometric point of view as well as with respect to possible physical applications. There has been a wealth of results produced in the first decade of activity in generalized geometry that has attracted much interest from mathematicians and theoretical physicists. So far, it has been primarily focused on even-dimensional manifolds, partly because of the special role played by generalized complex structures in string theory. However, recent work suggests that generalized geometry of odd-dimensional manifolds might be just as mathematically rich and physically useful as its even-dimensional counterpart. While significant steps toward a better understanding of odd-dimensional analogues of generalized complex structures (also known as generalized contact structures) have been made, the subject presents specific challenges and it is still in its infancy. To address these issues, this workshop has the following scientific goals:
1) Consolidate the progress made in odd-dimensional generalized geometry in the last two to three years by providing an accessible survey of the most recent developments, with particular emphasis on generalized contact geometry.
2) Bring together experts working in generalized complex geometry and generalized contact geometry with the aim of developing a unified understanding of generalized geometry.
3) Bring together physicists and mathematicians working in generalized geometry to better understand the role of odd-dimensional generalized geometry in string theory and identify open problems of interest for both communities.
4) Advertise generalized geometry, with particular emphasis on odd-dimensional aspects, to graduate students and advanced undergraduate students. Besides the obvious benefits of attracting new generations to the field, it offers excellent opportunities for involvement of students in research at an earlier stage. The very nature of this subject often requires deconstruction and critical rethinking of classical notions, and thereby makes it an invaluable training ground for any student interested in differential geometry. The website for the workshop is: https://sites.google.com/a/vcu.edu/ggw/


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 269.99K | Year: 2013

With this award from the Major Research Instrumentation Program, Professor Robert Paley from Swarthmore College and colleagues Liliya Yatsunyk, Kathleen Howard and Stephen Miller will acquire a 400 MHz NMR spectrometer. The proposal is aimed at enhancing research and education at all levels, especially in areas such as (a) diastereoselective spirocyclizations directed by planar chiral metal carbonyl complexes; (b) interaction of G-quadruplex DNA with small molecule ligands; (c) application of NMR methods to elucidate how an integral membrane protein induces curvature in cholesterol containing membrane bilayers; and (d) studies of interspecies quorum sensing signal processing proteins.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is one of the most powerful tools available to chemists for the elucidation of the structure of molecules. It is used to identify unknown substances, to characterize specific arrangements of atoms within molecules, and to study the dynamics of interactions between molecules in solution. Access to state-of-the-art NMR spectrometers is essential to chemists who are carrying out frontier research. The results from these NMR studies will have an impact in synthetic organic/inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry and biochemistry. This instrument will be an integral part of teaching as well as research not only at Swarthmore College but also at collaborating institutions such as Ursinus College, LaSalle University, Saint Peters University. The instrumentation will also impact some industrial collaborators.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: IUSE | Award Amount: 58.19K | Year: 2016

The Introductory Physics for Life Science (IPLS) Portal will enhance the education of hundreds of thousands of life science students each year by providing engaging and effective IPLS instructional materials and helping IPLS instructors use these materials. This collaborative effort of the American Association of Physics Teachers and eight colleges and universities, including a community college and a Hispanic-serving institution, will create an open-source, peer-reviewed, and innovatively structured environment for IPLS content. Initially containing materials from multiple NSF-funded research and development projects, the Portal will become a development platform for IPLS curricula. The site will serve as both an archive and a dissemination tool, including a course-building interface for faculty. Instructors will be supported in creating innovative and individualized courses, mixing and matching from multiple sources tuned to their needs, offering a flexible and low-cost alternative to traditional textbooks.

Many of the objectives and features of the project are innovative. Hence, the project also includes research components of four critical and interacting elements: IPLS content, IPLS pedagogy, the organizational structure of the site, including tagging and taxonomy of all elements for appropriate selection to meet the needs of individual users, and the user interface. Three overlapping research teams will carry out this work: the User-Centered Design team, the Instructional Content Design team, and the Community-Building and Professional-Development team. This project focuses on engaging and expanding three communities: (1) physics and biology education researchers, (2) IPLS contributors, and (3) IPLS adopters wanting to use and adapt existing IPLS materials. Merging and expanding the efforts of these communities will occur through a combination of workshops, online support communities, and research to advance the understanding of faculty professional development for IPLS education. The IPLS-Portal infrastructure, once developed, could be used to provide a community-sourcing environment for other STEM disciplines.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: INTEGRATED EARTH SYSTEMS | Award Amount: 96.03K | Year: 2014

The overarching goal of this project is to reconstruct rates and patterns in the evolution
of early animal life and ocean chemistry. To this end, the principal investigators will compile 50 years of published
stratigraphic data, including recent geochronological, chemostratigraphic and biostratigraphic data from China, Mongolia, Siberia and South Australia, together with new field projects in North America and Morocco, to develop an integrated and accessible, globally correlated and radiometrically constrained timeline of early Cambrian fossil appearances and geochemical change. With the new timeline, they will test hypotheses that link patterns in animal evolution to environmental change, and vice versa, using a coupled seawater ? pore fluid Earth-system model.

Global correlation of the lower Cambrian has been difficult to achieve. Biostratigraphic correlation has been hampered by the provinciality of many early animal groups, including trilobites, and the inevitable diachroneity of fossil first appearance datums (FADs). Likewise, deriving correlations based only on qualitative ?wiggle matching? of chemostratigrapic records such as carbon (ä13C) or strontium (87Sr/86Sr) isotopes usually is ambiguous, and can be distorted by disconformities and carbonate diagenesis. Furthermore, without U-Pb zircon ages from interbedded tuffs and volcaniclastic rocks, even stratigraphy that is well correlated in relative time will not constrain the rate and duration of important biological and geochemical changes. The principal investigators will construct a comprehensive database of animal fossil occurrences, litho- and chemostratigraphy, and U-Pb zircon geochronology of interbedded volcaniclastics. Multiproxy records of variable diversity and completeness from around the globe will be correlated using the CONOP (constrained optimization) seriation software. The resulting composite stratigraphy will place each local record in relative and absolute time, based not on one variable, like FADs or ä13C, but rather on all available stratigraphic observations.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: IUSE | Award Amount: 35.48K | Year: 2015

This collaborative project involving four institutions (University of California-San Diego, Oberlin College, University of California-Berkeley, and Swarthmore College) will develop a Concept Inventory (CI) for the second introductory programming course (CS2) in computer science. CIs are validated assessments of course content knowledge, and can be used to compare teaching approaches, identify student misconceptions, and quantify learning gains. In physics, the Force Concept Inventory was responsible for a widespread shift in the ways that physics students are taught. The development of a CI for CS2 will have a similar impact on the way computer science will be taught across the country.

This project will follow the CI development process established by Adams and Wieman, which has been used to develop CIs for many other sciences. The process includes: consulting with a diverse expert panel to establish common CS2 content and identify core course concepts; interviewing students to identify common misconceptions; consulting with experts to create questions; administering draft, open-ended questions to students; statistically verifying the assessment; and releasing the CI to the community. The project will also design a software system for creating and deploying CIs, and will make this software publicly available. The project team will hold training sessions on (1) using the CI to improve CS education, and (2) using the software to engage in further CI research. Evaluation of the work will be overseen by an external evaluator who will validate the CI via student and faculty interviews.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 149.16K | Year: 2015

General Audience Summary

This project will analyze case studies of mathematical explanation in evolutionary biology to inform the philosophical debate about the nature of mathematical explanation in science. It will take place over three consecutive summers, and will make essential use of undergraduate researchers in philosophy, mathematics, and biology; specifically, it will integrate research and education by involving advanced undergraduate students in the project. Doing so will serve to broaden the scope of participation in science by exposing students in mathematics and in philosophy to a collaborative style of research that is often lacking in these disciplines; it will provide a model for institutional interdisciplinarity, fostering intellectual and logistical connections between the natural sciences and the humanities. The results of this project will be widely disseminated through conference presentations and publication of articles in scholarly journals. One overriding goal of the project is to demonstrate that close engagement with the methodology and outputs of scientific practice can yield philosophical insights that are both interesting in their own right and of direct relevance to working scientists.

Technical Summary

The results of the proposed project have the potential to contribute to ongoing philosophical research into the relation between mathematics and the empirical sciences. The particular focus on the explanatory role of mathematics in science is an area of very active current debate in the philosophical literature. The PI has been a leading contributor to these debates. The goal is to produce research outputs that are of relevance to biology and to applied mathematics. Both of the two core examples, periodical cicadas and bee honeycombs, are the subject of ongoing debate among biologists and mathematicians concerning what causal mechanisms are involved, the role played by optimization of different parameters, and what mathematical apparatus, if any, is essentially involved. Thus the project aims not merely to draw on data from several disciplines but to provide research outputs that are of genuine cross-disciplinary interest.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: ANIMAL BEHAVIOR | Award Amount: 470.00K | Year: 2014

Social organisms, including humans, organize themselves in social networks that dramatically affect disease transmission, access to resources and information, and ultimately biological fitness. Whether properties of social networks are determined by individual characteristics alone, or are emergent features of interacting groups is not clear. The answer to this question informs one of the most contentious issues in biology, does selection act on individuals or on groups and how does the response drive the evolution of social behavior? The proposed work uses remote video sensing technology to monitor multiple populations of forked fungus beetles under natural conditions and combines these behavioral data with molecular genetic analyses of relatedness and pedigree reconstruction. Together, these data will be used to determine whether and at what level genetic variation exists for social network properties. The results of the proposed work have the potential to redirect the focus of behavioral ecologists from individuals to interacting groups, or alternatively to show that what seem to be emergent phenotypes are simply explained through individual differences. The behavioral data archive will be cross-referenced with genotypes and pedigrees, representing a significant infrastructure contribution for future studies of behavior genetics, remote sensing methodologies, and image analysis development. Fieldwork will be conducted at the Mountain Lake Biological Station and allows collaboration with the highly successful MLBS-REU program to provide training opportunities for new scientists from diverse backgrounds. The work also provides training and mentorship opportunities for technicians, graduate students, and additional undergraduates from both PIs institutions. Data from the research phase will be used as the core scaffold for newly developed courses at a RUI institution, and outreach activities will connect the field station community and the Science for Kids program in urban Philadelphia each year.

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