Salem, OR, United States
Salem, OR, United States

Willamette University is an American private institution of higher learning located in Salem, Oregon. Founded in 1842, it is the oldest university in the Western United States. Willamette is a member of the Annapolis Group of colleges, and is made up of an undergraduate College of Liberal Arts and post-graduate schools of business, law, and education. The university is a member of the NCAA's Division III Northwest Conference. Willamette's mascot is the bearcat and old gold and cardinal are the school colors. Approximately 2,800 students are enrolled at Willamette between the graduate and undergraduate programs. The school employs over 200 full-time professors on the 69-acre campus located across the street from the Oregon State Capitol.Originally named the Oregon Institute, the school was an unaffiliated outgrowth of the Methodist Mission. The name was changed to Wallamet University in 1852, followed by the current spelling in 1870. Willamette founded the first medical school and law school in the Pacific Northwest in the second half of the 19th century. In the 20th century, the school started a sister school relationship with Tokyo International University and began competing in intercollegiate athletics.Willamette's undergraduate programs exist within the school's College of Liberal Arts. The school was rated 63rd among American liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report for 2013. The oldest of the graduate programs is the College of Law, founded in 1883 and currently located in the Truman Wesley Collins Legal Center. Established in 1974, Atkinson Graduate School of Management is housed in the Seeley G. Mudd Building. The School of Education, established in 1996, has an enrollment of 100 students, but is set to close in 2014. Wikipedia.

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Willamette University and University of Oregon | Date: 2012-12-14

Disclosed herein are derivatives of tetracaine that, among other things, block cyclic nucleotide gated (CNG) channels and are useful in the treatment of diseases characterized by overactive CNG channels such as retinal degeneration diseases.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Integrative Activities in Phys | Award Amount: 165.02K | Year: 2015

This award supports Optics and Photonics Training for Inquisitive eXperimentalists (OPTIX), a project to create an innovative, hands-on laboratory environment at Willamette University where undergraduate sophomores and juniors can work with research grade optics equipment in a dedicated space designed to foster deep, inquiry-based learning. Students will complete carefully designed modules that encourage creativity and independence, preparing them better for a more rigorous and meaningful senior year capstone project and giving them vital skills and motivation for a career in the STEM fields after graduation. Modules will also be developed for local community college students at Chemeketa Community College, and an optics related hands-on exhibition for the Gilbert House Childrens Museum in Salem, OR.

The optics modules will require different levels of student sophistication, training, and involvement. The most basic optics module will provide an introduction to optics, and serve as a gateway to the more advanced activities. Students at the sophomore level then continue taking three additional basic modules that introduce them to more sophisticated ideas and techniques. The focus at the junior level is on intermediate modules, some of which are extensions of modules encountered during the sophomore year and others which lead into the advanced modules that students can take in their senior year or as independent research projects to prepare them for the transition into research labs. The effectiveness of this initiative will be ascertained by assessing student skills and attitudes before, during, and after exposure to OPTIX modules with the help of an external evaluator.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: PHYLOGENETIC SYSTEMATICS | Award Amount: 359.40K | Year: 2012

Characterizing lifes astounding diversity is fundamental to creating the stable, predictive classifications applied daily in agriculture, conservation, and medicine. Despite new genomic tools, however, species boundaries remain contentious since both the processes and traits that define species are spatially and temporally dynamic. This project uses multiple evidentiary approaches and novel protocols to test discovery-driven hypotheses of species delimitation in closely related Camassia and Hastingsia (rush lilies). Their morphological complexity, hybrids, and variable populations pose difficult classification challenges, making them ideal exemplars for defining the best practices of integrative taxonomy. Analysis of ecological and genetic differences, reproductive barriers, and the response of generalist pollinators to floral traits will add further insights into how diversity arises in a family where highly specialized pollination also occurs.

The ecological and cultural value of camas to indigenous peoples enhances the projects broad focus, which engages K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students in investigations encompassing the full scope of systematics. Volunteer partnerships will foster diverse, structured experiences in threatened habitats. Access to internet keys will further improve rare and common plant identification. Finally, ecological niche modeling and records of insect visits and flowering times may facilitate tracking the effects of climate change on plant-pollinator interactions.

Why there are so many flowering plants is an evolutionary conundrum that has puzzled biologists since Darwins time. Although the group is evolutionarily quite young, there are over 250,000 species of flowering plants. A long-standing hypothesis suggests that reciprocal adaptation between plants and their pollinators (a process known as coevolution) is responsible for the spectacular number of species of flowering plants, but evidence supporting this idea is circumstantial. This project tests this hypothesis by measuring coevolution between yuccas and yucca moths. The yucca / yucca moth interaction is widely referred to as a model system for studying coevolution, but no study has ever conclusively demonstrated coevolution between them. This project will use experimental manipulations of yuccas and yucca moths to determine whether the plants and their pollinators are adapting to one another. Genomic technologies will identify genetic factors associated with plant and pollinator features and determine whether they are coevolving. Finally, genetic tools will be used to determine whether coevolution was involved in the evolution of new species of yuccas and yucca moths.

This project provides one of the first direct tests of the hypothesis that coevolution promotes the evolution of new species, and will significantly advance our understanding of how the diversity of life originated. Integral to the research are three novel educational initiatives: a citizen science program involving the general public in field studies of coevolution, a summer research immersion course for undergraduates, and a program to train a postdoctoral scientist in best practices for integrating teaching and research.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: WORKFORCE IN THE MATHEMAT SCI | Award Amount: 267.56K | Year: 2015

The Willamette Mathematics Consortium REU is an intensive eight-week summer research program which immerses undergraduate students in a challenging, transformative, authentic research experience. Each summer, three research teams engage in three different but simultaneous research projects which share a common unifying theme. Each research team consists of three undergraduates and one faculty mentor. Research teams live and work in close proximity. This proximity, combined with several organized social outings, give participants ample opportunities to collaborate and establish new and lasting bonds within the greater research community. Program activities include the creation of new mathematics, career development workshops and training, and presentations at regional and national conferences. These activities are designed to increase participants knowledge of mathematical content and process, strengthen their technical communication skills, and increase their awareness of and preparation for careers in mathematics and other STEM fields. Student applicants are recruited nationwide, with targeted recruitment of underrepresented groups and students from schools with limited research opportunities.

Research each summer is organized around a broad mathematical field: ring and matrix theory in the first summer, statistics and random processes in the second, and graph theory and combinatorics in the third. Specific projects planned are algebraic voting theory, predicting decompositions for complete intersections, and unipancyclic matroids for the summer of 2015, mixing times of Markov chains, topological and statistical data analysis, and the modified Ehrenfest chain for the summer of 2016, and geometric intersection graphs, visualizing dessins denfants, and competitive graph coloring for the summer of 2017. These projects are chosen from the faculty mentors ongoing research programs and expertise. Mentors have a proven track record of leading undergraduate research in these areas, having collectively guided 142 undergraduate students on research projects resulting in 73 external research presentations by undergraduate participants, 10 publications, and 13 papers in progress, all with student co-authors.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 513.07K | Year: 2012

The Willamette Valley Mathematics Research Consortium for Undergraduates and Teachers is a summer REU-RET program at Willamette University, Linfield College, Lewis & Clark College, and the University of Portland. Our program consists of four research teams, one per partner institution, each with four students, one teacher, and two faculty mentors for an eight-week REU and seven-week RET. Each team will focus on one of four challenging research projects from a faculty mentors? area of expertise, such as matroid theory, graph theory, combinatorial game theory, stochastic modeling, artificial intelligence, tiling theory, complex algebraic geometry, computational biology, knot theory or digital sensor networks. Consortium meetings will bring together the four research groups regularly to speak about their projects, learn about the progress of their peers, listen to presentations by invited speakers from academia and industry, and network with other students and faculty. Recruitment for student applicants is nationwide and includes targeted recruitment from underrepresented groups in consultation with the Pacific Northwest Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. Teacher applicants are recruited regionally in Oregon and southwest Washington.

The primary goal of the Willamette Valley Mathematics Research Consortium for Undergraduates and Teachers is to immerse undergraduates and teachers in a challenging, transformative research experience that will reveal the nature of mathematics research. Throughout the summer undergraduates and teachers will develop new content knowledge, research skills, and an increased understanding of the process of mathematical discovery and research. Within their research teams and at Consortium meetings, participants will improve their ability to communicate current mathematical research in an effective and engaging manner. All participants will develop a greater awareness of career opportunities in STEM fields. As in previous years, REU research results will be disseminated through student co-authored publications, through public presentations, and online. Teachers will create materials to be used in the classroom and disseminated at professional meetings; the REU-RET provides partial funding for students and teachers to present at conferences. Through these program activities our broader goals are to increase the number of students who pursue advanced study and careers in STEM fields, increase the number of teachers with an understanding of mathematical discovery and research, and increase the effective communication of mathematical research.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING | Award Amount: 325.16K | Year: 2016


Globally, wastewater can be a significant source of carbon, nutrients, and contaminants to surface waters. Endocrine disrupting chemicals such as steroidal estrogens, which have adverse effects on aquatic vertebrates at low concentrations, are among the compounds which can be in the wastewater. This study will be accomplished through a combination of laboratory, field, and modeling experiments, and will take advantage of previously optimized analytical techniques in the PIs laboratory.

The overarching goal of this study is to improve the understanding of the fundamental processes that control wastewater derived sources and the environmental fate of estrogens and halogenated estrogens in aquatic systems. This study has the potential to transform our understanding of estrogen flux from typical wastewater treatment plants that utilize activated sludge secondary treatment and hypochlorite-based disinfection. The objectives of this project use a combination of laboratory, field, and modeling experiments to address: 1) halogenated estrogen formation and distribution in wastewater treatment plant effluent, 2) photolysis and biodegradation at environmentally relevant concentrations, and, 3) fate of halogenated estrogens in a sewage-impacted rivers. The data collected during this project will provide direct numerical inputs into simple mass balance and transport models that will be used to predict estrogen concentrations in the Willamette River, which is representative of many rivers that receive combined inputs from wastewater and storm water. This project will generate kinetic data and transformation product information for a range of estrogen structures that can be used to develop quantitative structure-activity relationships in the future, parameterize existing fate models, and determine the impact on the formation and fate of similar pharmaceuticals and organic contaminants in wastewater and natural waters. The PI and media experts at Mind Open Media will produce and distribute podcasts focused on the concepts and applications of wastewater treatment, and, the fate of chemicals in the environment. The PI will provide the research findings to state entities with a vested interest in wastewater treatment technologies and the health of river systems. Lastly, the project also funds undergraduate students to conduct research at a larger institution where they will be able to utilize the mass spectrometry facilities.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 248.45K | Year: 2015

A rising tide of calls for improved science education underscores the importance and significance of incorporating stronger training of scientific thinking skills into first-year college science courses. This project addresses that need by developing, evaluating, and disseminating a set of scientific thinking teaching materials with proven efficacy in a variety of college settings. The materials will use core topics in Introductory Psychology in combination with real world issues and controversies to train students scientific thinking skills. The project builds on cognitive psychology research on human learning and established best-practices for science education.

The overarching goals of the project are to develop, evaluate, and disseminate a set of flexible, research-based teaching modules to improve the training of scientific literacy and quantitative reasoning skills in Introductory Psychology. The project will develop a set of scientific thinking instructional modules, keyed to the major topics covered in Introductory Psychology. A unique element of the project is its intentionally collaborative framework, which involves a network of faculty from four academic sites in Oregon including two community colleges (CCs), a large four-year Research 1 institution (R1), and a selective, liberal arts undergraduate college (SLAC). This inter-institutional network will collaborate on the development and formative assessment of all resources, including identifying adaptations of modules for different course formats and student needs. A comprehensive assessment plan will provide a summative assessment of the effectiveness of the teaching modules at all three institution types (CC/R1/SLAC) prior to broader dissemination to the psychology teaching community.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: MODULATION | Award Amount: 345.00K | Year: 2014

It is often assumed that stress is bad, but is this really true? Addressing this question is critical to understanding how humans and other animals respond to prolong periods of disturbance and retain the capacity to navigate the challenges of life. In this context, stress is not bad, merely an experience to navigate. This project promises to reveal the unknown processes by which animals respond to and cope with acute stress - processes that occur on the rapid timescale from seconds to minutes. The project explores the mechanisms using a combination of neurophysiology, confocal microscopy, and behavior. This approach to understanding how hormones and physiological state affects behavior provides an integrated approach to identify important research questions and design undergraduate courses. Student training is integrated with teaching at all levels and is developed through a combination of research-based courses and collaborative student-faculty research. Undergraduate researchers are involved in all stages of the project from experimental design, data collection, and analysis to dissemination through publications and conference presentations. Through involvement in the project undergraduates will be exposed to state-of-the-art research and receive close faculty mentoring. Students are actively encouraged to pursue careers in science through workshops that develop science self-efficacy, and recruits underrepresented students to research through collaboration with the Pacific Northwest Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.

This research will test the hypothesis that CORT employs disparate cellular mechanisms in a cascade that functions within a rapid time frame of ms to min. This cascade is critical for context-appropriate behavioral responses to occur because neurons respond differently to specific temporal input patterns. We know very little about the cellular mechanisms that enable rapid actions of CORT, or about the ability of CORT to affect context-dependent effects. A long-term goal of the research is to identify and characterize the multiple rapid effects of CORT on those neurons that have clear behavioral relevance. The proposed research will use in vivo single-unit and slice whole cell electrophysiology, behavior, and imaging to investigate the following questions: (1) How do hormones impact neurons on different timescales to affect the selection of context-appropriate behaviors? and (2) How do small ephemeral signaling molecules, endocannabinoids, behave as the switch upon which hormones act? Findings from these studies promise to elucidate two novel mechanisms in which CORT modulates intrinsic electrical properties of behavior-associated neurons and receptor-mediated endocytosis of behavior-regulating hormones. Furthermore, this research offers four significant broader impacts: (1) Advancing discovery and understanding while promoting authentic teaching, training, and learning, because student-training is integrated with teaching at all levels and is developed through a combination of research-based courses and collaborative student-faculty research; (2) Participation of underrepresented groups is actively encouraged through a highly impactful workshop to develop science self-efficacy, and by attracting underrepresented students through collaboration with PNW-LSAMP. (3) Enhancement of infrastructure for research and education through collaboration with an assessment expert to develop tools and methods to evaluate learning outcomes, and development of an imaging workshop for novice faculty and students in the region; (4) Broad dissemination of the findings of this work through public lectures, conference presentations, and peer-reviewed publications.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: TUES-Type 1 Project | Award Amount: 499.02K | Year: 2013

This project is developing a Northwest Biosciences Consortium (NWBC), a community of biology faculty of all ranks, diverse pedagogical experiences and scientific training who adopt a bottom-up approach to the Vision and Change: A Call to Action initiative. We are creating a series of learning outcomes and customizable modules that can be incorporated into any first-year or introductory biology sequence that reflects our commitment to scientific literacy for majors and non-majors alike. We are especially interested in developing course descriptions to facilitate curriculum design and student transition, especially from the 2-year to 4-year institutions. The NWBC also fosters professional development, provides support, promotes dissemination, and facilitates curricular reforms at our institutions. The development of a comprehensive framework to advance evidence-based STEM pedagogies for all students, and the attention to faculty mentoring and support are the hallmarks of this proposal. The development of commonly used (and evidenced-based) instructional strategies based on the Vision and Change core concepts and competencies will facilitate discussions on curriculum development and credit transfers at institutions in our region and beyond. This project is being jointly funded by the Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education as part of their efforts towards support of Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education.

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