Western Washington University is one of six public universities in the U.S. state of Washington. It is located in Bellingham. WWU was founded as the state-funded New Whatcom Normal School in 1893, succeeding a private school of teaching for women.WWU offers a variety of bachelor's and master's degrees. In 2014, there were 15,060 students, 14,407 of whom were undergraduate students, and 764 faculty. Its athletic teams are known as the Vikings and the school colors are Western blue, bay blue, and white. Wikipedia.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: TECTONICS | Award Amount: 134.09K | Year: 2016
Large-scale faults (>1000 kilometer) are first-order features observed at Earths active and ancient plate boundaries. Active faults, such as the San Andreas, accommodate relative motion between tectonic plates. Ancient plate boundary faults now within plates, such as the New Madrid fault in Missouri, can also continue to be active, as demonstrated by major earthquakes on them. Why some plate boundary faults remain the locus of crustal deformation and uplift 100s of millions of years after they form has remained a topic of debate. This study will provide ideas on how and why some major faults that form at plate boundaries persist as zones of weakness in the crust, prone to reactivation. The results will ultimately inform a broad group of scientists on deep crustal processes that control the location of seismicity, high heat flow, and hydrothermal systems that may have implications for the understanding of geologic hazards and resources. In addition to the scientific goals of the project, important societal relevant outcomes of the project will include the training of graduate and undergraduate students in an important STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) discipline. The project will facilitate collaborative research between three U.S. research institutions, thus contributing to support of scientific infrastructure. It will provide research funding for two early career gescientists. The project will contribute to the broadening of participation of underrepresented groups in STEM. Importantly, the project will foster international collaboration and exchange between U.S. and Argentine scientists. Results of the research will be broadly disseminated through presentations at professional society meetings and in peer-reviewed scientific publications.
The presence of major fault zones within continental crust which show evidence for reactivation over 100s of millions of years defies models for continuum deformation of the continents, wherein faults are viewed as passive features responding to mantle flow. Large-scale faults occur on every continent and many long-lived intracontinental fault systems record complex histories of reactivation, in particular localizing convergent and strike-slip deformation. This research will test competing models for the origin of persistent large-scale faults by studying the tectonic history of exhumed middle and lower crust sections of an ancient fault zone. End member models predict that such fault zones originate either as: 1) convergent-collisional boundaries between blocks of different strength, 2) transform boundaries along pre-existing zones of weakness, or 3) strike-slip boundaries within the arc-forearc region of oblique subduction settings. The Valle Fertil fault zone of western Argentina is an approximately 1200-kilometer-long major crustal lineament that records at least 400 million years of intermittent deformation and is an ideal location to test the above models because of excellent geophysical constraints on crustal strength contrasts, variable depths of exposure along strike, a well constrained tectonic evolution, and ideal mineral assemblages for dating the history of deformation within the fault. The results from the Valle Fertil fault can be applied to other intracontinental faults to address what factors determine the origin of major structures within complex orogens and the processes by which they ultimately become large-scale faults with complex histories of continued reactivation.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 736.75K | Year: 2015
A goal of the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP) is to increase the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) instructional and research capacities of specific institutions of higher education that serve the Nations indigenous students. Expanding the STEM curricular offerings at these institutions expands the opportunities of their students to pursue challenging, rewarding careers in STEM fields, provides for research studies in areas that may be culturally significant, and encourages a community and generational appreciation for science and mathematics education. This project aligns directly with that goal, and moreover will inform the body of knowledge about the importance and conduct of undergraduate and graduate research experiences in recruiting and retaining underrepresented individuals into STEM studies, and preparing the next generation of STEM professionals. The connection of faculty to research and thereby the students to culturally and geographically relevant research is an important step in producing retained students who are more likely to pursue advanced degrees. For those students entering the workforce directly from a tribal college it is equally important that they have a well-defined skill set in mathematics, science, and technology for entry into the STEM workforce.
Northwest Indian College (NWIC) and Western Washington University (WWU) will collaborate to increase and modify the geosciences curriculum at the tribal college, establish an educational continuum that will facilitate the articulation of NWIC graduates into the graduate geoscience curriculum at WWU, and develop a shared research agenda between the two institutions that uses the ecosystem of the Bellingham Bay as a theme for scholarly studies and place-based instruction. Administrative changes at both institutions will include student mentoring, articulation agreements, co-listing courses, and cross-cultural faculty development.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: RSCH EXPER FOR UNDERGRAD SITES | Award Amount: 112.52K | Year: 2016
This project is funded from the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites program in the SBE Directorate. As such, it has both scientific and societal benefits, and it integrates research and education. This REU Site award to Western Washington University will support the training of 30 students over a 17-week program during the three years of program duration. Students will learn advanced statistical and demographic training in the social sciences, and apply their training to original research projects generated in collaboration with the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda. The REU program provides an experience to undergraduate students that is typically not available to them at their home institutions. Students from primarily undergraduate colleges and universities and from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. The primary objective is to train social science undergraduates in research methodology in a cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary learning environment. This REU site helps social science students learn the basic concepts of good science, develop data management skills, collect original data, reach independent conclusions, mentor subsequent cohorts, and share their findings and data with professional audiences that could benefit from student research. This REU also provides a unique opportunity to contribute research findings to a nations larger focus on health, capacity building, and economic advancement.
Students work with the PIs, Rwandan colleagues, and the NISR staff to create and administer qualitative field interviews with stakeholders responsible for reproductive health. The research question to examine is whether there is variation in identified needs based on gender, age, region, education, and family status. Students also utilize existing quantitative data collected by the NISR staff in Kigali and learn how to document data in compliance with international standards. Student research contributes to studies on the differences in change in reproductive health indicators by region, urban/rural residence, education, and wealth. The REU Site participants explore additional questions utilizing NISR data, with a particular focus on child health and nutrition. The NSF Office of International Science and Engineering has co-funded this project.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: UBE - Undergraduate Biology Ed | Award Amount: 300.00K | Year: 2016
The overarching goal of this project is to enable undergraduate students to think like scientists by integrating metacognitive practice into laboratory experiences. Most scientists implicitly learn metacognitive practice through one-on-one mentoring in the laboratory after finishing their undergraduate education. One immediate goal is to design undergraduate labs with projects involving open-ended research and formulate metacognitive prompts to help student examine their own thinking as they plan and execute experiments and interpret results. Many undergraduate students are not able to participate in a standard research experience working in a faculty research lab because of time and financial constraints. This project will increase the participation of all students in authentic research and strengthen their self-identification as scientists at an earlier stage in their education; it will be particularly beneficial for students from underserved groups.
The particular goal of this project is to develop and validate tools for assessing how students scientific thinking changes in response to metacognitive interventions when engaged in authentic research. These tools will allow assessment of how students change their attitudes and approaches to problem solving as they matriculate through a series of linked laboratory courses with metacognitive training. Student interviews will be used to inform validated surveys administered to students as they move from 200- to 300- to 400-level courses. In addition to quantitative tools, interviews and student work will be used for qualitative analysis of student improvements. Case-by-case analysis, and cross-year interviews will assess changes in students habits of mind. The laboratory course interventions will include 1) authentic research experiences in four laboratory courses from the 200-400 level using the model systems Tetrahymena thermophilae and Caenorhabditis elegans; 2) metacognitive training for students in the same four laboratory courses; 3) multiple exposures to metacognitive training by linking these courses in the curriculum. This project is significant because the novel laboratory courses will give more students the chance to engage in authentic research, and because the assessment tools that are developed will be adaptable for a wide array of STEM research experiences. This project will benefit students of all backgrounds, and help increase the diversity of STEM students at Western Washington University through increased recruitment and retention. Because metacognition is prerequisite for scientific thinking, it is likely that a combination of research experiences coupled with instruction to promote student self-reflection will enhance students ability to resolve scientific problems; the tools developed in this project will be used to test this hypothesis in a future study.
This project is being jointly supported by the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education and the NSF Division of Biological Infrastructure as it aligns with an important subset of the objectives of both divisions that is expressed in the Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education effort (see http://visionandchange.org/).
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ROBERT NOYCE SCHOLARSHIP PGM | Award Amount: 248.05K | Year: 2016
This Exploration and Design project in the Engaged Student Learning track in the Improving Undergraduate Science Education program seeks to address the intractable concept of transfer of learning to new settings. A central assumption in most systems of education is that students will be able to apply knowledge and skills beyond the context in which they are originally learned and hence transfer their learning. Existing research studies indicate, however, that successful transfer is exceedingly rare. In this project, transfer will be examined within an existing series of undergraduate science courses intended to promote coherent understanding of energy in physics, chemistry, Earth science, and biology. Energy, a unifying concept important in most science disciplines, is central to scientific literacy and is an idea students should be able to apply to a variety of situations. The integrated curriculum presents energy coherently across disciplines, was designed on the basis of cognitive research, and has been extensively classroom tested at multiple institutions. The course sequence thus serves as a natural laboratory to investigate how much transfer is possible under highly favorable, yet still realizable, conditions. Unifying Science for Students will measure and describe transfer, as well as document the specific components of instruction that promote transfer. Special attention will be paid to understanding how to support transfer among students from traditionally underrepresented groups. Findings will contribute to the knowledge base of what works in supporting application of energy concepts across contexts, for all students. This project may also help to establish the integrated course sequence as a national model for coherent, cross-disciplinary undergraduate science education.
The integrated curriculum spans four courses: The Flow of Matter and Energy in Physical Systems, Earth Systems, Life Systems, and Chemical Systems. Unifying Science for Students will bring together expertise in physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and cognitive science at two institutions to add to the research base on transfer, using this course series. It will do so by: (1) evaluating the extent to which students successfully transfer understanding of energy in a coherent, constructivist-based sequence of science courses; (2) documenting the productive and problematic reasoning approaches that arise when students transfer ideas about energy to new contexts; (3) identifying instructional cues that facilitate transfer; and (4) investigating the impact of explicit instruction in metacognition on the understanding, retention, and transfer of energy concepts across disciplines. Quantitative and qualitative methods will be employed to address these goals. A longitudinal study will generate quantitative measures of the transfer of energy concepts from the original learning context, physics, to a target domain, chemistry. Interviews, classroom observations, and analysis of written work will be used to describe what transfer looks like by developing a taxonomy of discipline-specific transfer attempts. Finally, a quasi-experimental study will investigate the impact of metacognitive writing assignments on transfer. The general and discipline-specific knowledge generated through this project will be situated to inform curriculum design so that transfer can become a more realizable goal in higher education. The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program is providing co-funding for this project in recognition of its alignment with the broader teacher preparation goals of the Noyce effort.
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 225.00K | Year: 2016
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will be a reduction in human exposure to harmful chemicals, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced volumes of solid waste for biodegradable foam plastic products. This project describes a project to develop biodegradable plastic cups and other products using a sandwich process that includes a foam core. The strength provided by the sandwich structure is designed to allow weight reduction which reduces the environmental impact. Grow Plastics? technology replaces petroleum-based polymers with reduced amounts of plant-based polymers. The plant-based polymers used in Grow Plastic's process contain no harmful chemicals to leach into humans and the environment and generate as little as 1/3 the CO2 emissions per pound used. Grow Plastic's technology enables the replacement of petroleum based plastics with as little as 1/3 the plant-based plastic, reducing solid waste by up to 67% by weight, and CO2 emissions from raw materials by as much as 90%. The technical objectives in this Phase I research project are to increase the service temperature of foam plastic products to at least 95 Celsius, while maintaining polymer densities below 0.1 grams/cubic centimeter. In polymer products, the weight of plastic used is a key driver in product cost. This Phase I research project, a partnership between Grow Plastics and Western Washington University, will use polymer blending, solid state foaming and polymer crystallization in order to generate samples for evaluation. Samples will be evaluated in terms of thermal performance through dynamic mechanical analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, scanning electron microscopy, and evaluation of product rigidity for final products. The research project will seek to develop extremely lightweight products with service temperatures of at least 95 Celsius.
Purcell J.E.,Western Washington University
Annual Review of Marine Science | Year: 2012
Human populations have been concentrated along and exploiting the coastal zones for millennia. Of regions with the highest human impacts on the oceans (Halpern et al. 2008), 6 of the top 10 have recently experienced blooms or problems with jellies. I review the time lines of human population growth and their effects on the coastal environment. I explore evidence suggesting that human activities-specifically, seafood harvest, eutrophication, hard substrate additions, transport of nonindigenous species, aquaculture, and climate change-may benefit jelly populations. Direct evidence is lacking for most of these factors; however, numerous correlations show abundant jellies in areas with warm temperatures and low forage fish populations. Jelly populations fluctuate in ∼10- and ∼20-year cycles in concert with solar and climate cycles. Global warming will provide a rising baseline against which climate cycles will cause fluctuations in jelly populations. The probable acceleration of anthropogenic effects may lead to further problems with jellies. Copyright © 2012 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY | Award Amount: 172.44K | Year: 2016
Research in the social sciences has shown that effective urban policy must strike a delicate balance between social, economic, and environmental considerations. In a world where over half of the worlds population now lives in cities, finding this balance is crucial because poor urban planning and management may have costly consequences in economic growth, public health, general well-being, and environmental quality. In recent years, a number of American cities have exhibited the effects of infrastructural failures: flagging economic investment, social unrest, and disease outbreaks. But while the effects are clear, the solutions are not. In the research supported by this award, anthropologists Dr. Joshua B. Fisher (High Point University) and Dr. Alex Nading (University of Edinburgh) will address the problem through innovative research in an urban context whose history of experimentation with policy alternatives and relatively small size, will be particularly revealing of what works, what does not, for whom, and why.
The researchers will travel to Ciudad Sandino, a section of peri-urban Managua, Nicaragua. Recently, in response to increased income inequality, urban environmental degradation, and declining revenues from tourism and foreign investment, the city has undertaken a new, cross-sector, integrated urban development campaign, Live Clean, Live Healthy, Live Beautiful, Live Well. The researchers will examine the complex impacts of this program upon matters of waste management, environmental education, food safety, and public health. They will collect data with a suite of ethnographic research methods including ethnographic interviews, participant observation, photo documentation, and archival analysis. In addition to these more traditional research methods, the researchers will also collect data interactively and dynamically by creating and following a longitudinal ethnographic cohort. Through a series of workshops over three years, a diverse array of citizens including policy-makers, teachers, and informal economy food producers and garbage pickers will be asked to provide feedback to each other and to the researchers on how the programs are affecting them and their worlds. Findings from this research will provide insight into the factors that shape the development of effective urban social policy and successful cities, given their many entangled social, economic, and environmental dimensions.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Fellowship | Program: | Phase: GRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOWSHIPS | Award Amount: 92.00K | Year: 2016
The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is a highly competitive, federal fellowship program. GRFP helps ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and in STEM education. The GRFP provides three years of financial support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in STEM and STEM education. This award supports the NSF Graduate Fellows pursuing graduate education at this GRFP institution.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: ROBERT NOYCE SCHOLARSHIP PGM | Award Amount: 1.41M | Year: 2016
The Next Generation of STEM Teacher Preparation project is led by five institutions of higher education in Washington State. This collaborative effort will engage institutions involved in the preparation of teachers of STEM disciplines, Washington States Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, P-12 educators, and other key stakeholders from business, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in bringing about statewide sustainable change in the preparation of STEM teachers at all levels. The project moves away from isolated, single institutional program improvement efforts, to colleges and universities in Washington State working collaboratively to improve STEM teacher preparation in partnership with two-year colleges, P-12 schools, community groups, and businesses. The project will result in the production of more, highly qualified, P-12 science and mathematics teachers, including a new cadre of teachers prepared to teach computer science and engineering. In addition, the project seeks to increase the diversity of the STEM teacher workforce by actively recruiting and incentivizing underrepresented students from STEM majors at 2- and 4-year colleges to become P-12 middle and high school STEM teachers. Financial support for this project comes from NSFs Improving Undergraduate Education program and the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.
The projects primary goals are:
1. To improve STEM teacher preparation programs in Washington State (impacting greater than 90% of the states future STEM teacher graduates,
2. Increase recruitment of qualified and diverse STEM students into teaching, and
3. Create an adaptive, research-based model for improving STEM teacher preparation through collaboration.
To achieve these goals, the project will: (a) create a common vision for STEM teacher preparation in Washington State, (b) share, develop, adapt, implement, and evaluate resources and models to achieve this vision, and (c) build and assess a model of continuous, collaborative program improvement. The critical components of teacher preparation this project will address include: improving pre-service teachers clinical practice and new teachers induction experiences, improving the disciplinary and STEM pedagogical content knowledge of pre-service teachers, and integrating computer science, engineering, and sustainability into teacher preparation. Cross-institutional Working Groups dedicated to improving each component will research, create, and produce a set of materials and professional development workshops. Regional Teams of faculty and administrators from institutions of higher education, P-12 educators, and representatives from STEM businesses, NGOs, and government agencies, will in turn adapt these materials and professional development experiences to support and sustain STEM teacher preparation program improvements at their institutions. Three capacity-building components: organizational change, increasing the diversity of the STEM teaching workforce, and collaboration building, will underlie the efforts of every Working Group and Regional Team.