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SHSU Gets Seventh Active National Science Foundation Grant

The National Science Foundation, with an annual budget of $5.92 billion, funds specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising in the United States by a rigorous and objective merit-review system.

The foundation's goal is to keep "the United States at the leading edge of discovery in a wide range of scientific areas, from astronomy to geology to zoology."

The foundation says its job is to "determine where the frontiers are, identify the leading U.S. pioneers in these fields and provide money and equipment to help them continue."

It is no wonder then, that officials at Sam Houston State University are especially proud that SHSU now has seven National Science Foundation Awards totaling almost $2 million, including one announced this semester.

"NSF grants are one of the true gold standards for scientific research in the academy," said David Payne, provost and vice president for academic affairs at SHSU. "The growth in the number of such grants is a clear sign of the increasing quality of leading edge scientific research being conducted here."

The latest award is $599,980 for a four-year program entitled Peers Enhancing their Education through Research and Scholarship (PEERS). Brian Loft, assistant professor in mathematics and statistics, is the principal investigator. Melinda Holt, associate professor in mathematics and statistics, and Anne Gaillard, assistant professor in biological sciences, are co-principal investigators.

The goal of PEERS is to increase the number of well-educated and skilled employees in technical areas of national need based on an analysis of the dominant industries in our region. Twenty-two undergraduate and 10 graduate students will receive scholarships of up to $5,500 for each of the program's four years.

PEERS uses an interdisciplinary team of faculty members, student support specialists and industry representatives working together to recruit and nurture the PEERS scholars. Special features of the program include undergraduate research, tutoring services, faculty and industry mentors, social events, professional development workshops and student travel.

An emphasis with PEERS, as with each of the seven NSF grants at SHSU, is involvement of graduate and undergraduate students in research.

"With some there is the misperception that research has a negative effect on teaching," said Jaimie Hebert, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Research has a positive effect on the teaching mission because it almost always involves students and it keeps faculty members current in their disciplines."

All seven of the NSF projects are housed in the College of Arts and Sciences. They include:        

Electronic Activity of Components of Lithium-Ion Batteries. Principal investigator is Gan Liang, professor in physics. Grant amount is $133,127. "This project will provide a better understanding of the origins of electronic activity of components of Lithium-ion batteries," said Liang. "It can potentially produce breakthroughs in the application of these materials for use in the next generation of Lithium-ion batteries."

Modeling Semiconductor Devices in Strong Magnetic Fields. Principal investigator is Barry Friedman, professor of physics. Grant amount is $125,000 with an additional $78,000 from the Texas Advanced Research Program. "This work will lead to a better understanding of electron-electron repulsion in solid state materials," said Friedman. "This interaction is very significant in the high temperature superconductors and other oxide materials that are potentially of profound technological importance."

Biodiversity Study of Insects and their Gregarine Parasites. Principal investigator is Tamara J. Cook, associate professor in biological sciences, with co-principal investigators Jerry L. Cook, associate professor in biological sciences and Sibyl Bucheli, visiting professor in biological sciences, and collaborator Richard Clopton of Peru State College of Nebraska. The grant amount is $259,000. "The project samples gregarine parasite biodiversity within nine ecosystems within the Primitive Big Thicket of Texas," said Tamara Cook. "This project will more than double the existing gregarine specimen base."

Research Experiences for Undergraduates in Experimental Field Biology. Principal investigator is Diane Neudorf, associate professor in biological sciences, with co-principal investigator William Lutterschmidt, associate professor in biological sciences. The grant amount is $287,137. "This grant will provide eight undergraduate students each summer for four years with an enjoyable and productive research experience in experimental field biology," said Neudorf. "Our goal is to foster an interest and enthusiasm for pursuing graduate studies in biology and careers in research."

Long-term Undergraduate Research Experience (LURE) in Mathematics. Principal investigator is Ken Smith, professor in mathematics and statistics. The grant amount is $300,000. "The LURE model emphasizes the early recruitment of undergraduates to mathematical research and the cultivation of interest in the mathematical sciences," said Smith. Collaborating faculty are from Central Michigan University, Coppin State University, Olin College, and the University of Richmond.

Adaptive Kernels for Partial Differential Equation Models in Image Denoising: Construction and Algorithms. Principal investigator is Jianzhong Wang. The grant amount is $168,645. "This research supports the national interest in nanotechnology and information technology," said Wang. "Its possible application is in improving digital images/videos for low-cost security cameras, mobile digital TV, and cell-video phones, which are useful in homeland security, U. S. border monitoring, and Department of Defense applications."

Delia Gallinaro, project manager in research and special programs, said that amassing the current list of NSF grants was no accident. NSF grants are among the highest measurement of scholarly research for any university, she said, and SHSU wanted to compete with research-intensive institutions.

"The university initiative on promoting scholarly research started when Dr. Gaertner became president," said Gallinaro. "Using internal grants to 'enhance' external research grant applications was a way to develop this initiative. After several years of encouraging faculty to apply, and sometimes re-apply, this year the work has come to fruition with very positive results."  


SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
Oct. 15, 2007
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