Faculty Grant Awards

CMC and W.M. Keck Science Department faculty are research active and routinely submit grant proposals to both federal and private funding agencies. Below is a list of recent federally sponsored research activity. For more information about funding opportunities, please contact Beth Hartnett.

Recent Awards (July 2011 to present)
  • Assistant Professor of Biology, Branwen Williams, was awarded a $34,420 grant from the National Science Foundation. In collaboration with Maria Prokopenko, Pomona College, she plans to study nitrogen isotopic (?15N) composition of carbonate-bound organic nitrogen in “Deep Sea Corals: A new, high resolution proxy for N cycle studies.” The history of the nitrogen cycle provides insight into the links between past climate and marine biogeochemical cycles.
  • Associate Professor of Biology, Emily Wiley, will receive $48,654 through a subcontract with J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI). This National Science Foundation grant sponsors the research project “Tetrahymena Micronuclear Sequence Annotation.” Dr. Wiley will develop new bioinformatics research modules with instructor’s guides to support student contributions to gene function information on the protozoaic microbe known as Tetrahymena.
  • Associate Professor of Chemistry Scott Williams and the other members of the Leadership Council of IONiC (The Interactive Online Network of Inorganic Chemists) have been awarded a $437,962 National Science Foundation grant over four years entitled, “IONiC: Transforming Education Through Collaborative Development of Materials at the Frontiers of Inorganic Chemistry”. IONiC maintains a website, VIPEr (the Virtual Inorganic Pedagogical Electronic Resource, www.ionicviper.org) where inorganic faculty share teaching materials, expertise, and curricular innovations, and also runs annual symposia on undergraduate research in inorganic chemistry at the American Chemical Society National Meetings in partnership with the ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry. This new grant will support these initiatives and support annual “Back to Grad School” workshops that bring together teachers of inorganic chemistry from a variety of institutions with researchers on the cutting edge of research to create teaching materials based on recent discoveries in the field. Adam Johnson of Harvey Mudd College is also a member of the Leadership Council of IONiC.
  • Professor S. Brock Blomberg of the Robert Day School was awarded an additional $25,000 as a sub-award recipient for his work on a grant awarded by the Department of Homeland Security to the University of Southern California Homeland Security Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (USC-CREATE). Professor Blomberg is collaborating with USC on a project titled “Modeling and Estimating the Macroeconomic Consequences of Terrorism.” His work provides an understanding of the underlying macroeconomic consequences of terrorism.
  • Associate Professor of Mathematics, Leonid Fukshansky, was awarded a $39,999 National Security Agency Young Investigators Grant. His project entitled, “Some problems in geometric lattice theory” is in the general areas of Combinatorics, Discrete Geometry, and Number Theory, more specifically dealing with several closely interrelated problems in the geometric theory of lattices.
  • Professor of Psychology, Catherine Reed, was awarded a $4,500 subaward from NSF for her work with the University of Iowa entitled, "Embodied Attention Attentional Guidance by Body Position." She was additionally awarded $12,200 for an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates Supplement Award. This funding will support two undergraduate research assistants who will be trained in electrophysiology and cognitive neuroscience. They will conduct two of the EEG/ERP studies proposed in the grant.
  • Assistant Professor of Biology, Anna Wenzel, was awarded a three-year grant for $180,778 by the National Science Foundation (NSF), “RUI: The development and Application of Gold (I) Catalysts for Asymmetric Organic Transformations.” (“RUI” refers to NSF’s “Research in Undergraduate Institutions” program.) The proposed work addresses a fundamental need for readily available, “user friendly” catalysts for the efficient and sustainable preparation of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and other materials. The award period is April 15, 2012 – March 31, 2015.
  • Assistant Professor of Biology, Melissa Coleman, received a three-year grant of $150,000 from the National Science Foundation for the project “Collaborative Research: Neural Mechanisms for a Cooperative Behavior.” Coleman and her collaborator Eric Fortune, the Johns Hopkins University, will examine the cooperative singing behavior and underlying brain activity in the plain-tailed wren, a bird that lives on the slopes of the Andes in Ecuador and Peru. This award has been supplemented with a $6000 NSF Research at Undergraduate Institutions award to support student research and fieldwork in Ecuador.The award period is April 1, 2012 – March 31, 2015.
  • Assistant Professor of Biology, Branwen Williams, was awarded a one-year grant of $41,036 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the project, “Ages, Growth Rates, and Climatic Reconstruction from Deep-Sea Primnoidae Corals.” With collaborator Peter Etnoyer (NOAA’s Coastal Center for Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research), Williams will collect deep-sea corals using a remotely operated vehicle during a three day research cruise offshore of Monterey Bay, California. The project will determine ages and growth rates of these deep-sea corals and reconstruct environmental stressors to the corals. The award period is May 1, 2012 – February 28, 2013.
Other Active Grants
  • Professor of Psychology, Wei-Chin Hwang, received a grant for $226,568 from the National Institutes of Health as a subaward recipient on a grant from University of California, Davis. His project, “Therapist factors that predict treatment outcomes among ethnic minority groups” helps determine if therapists’ level of cultural competency is associated with client outcomes above and beyond other therapist factors, provide scientific support for the cultural competency movement and help researchers better understand how to improve cultural competency trainings.
  • Professor of Government, Minxin Pei, was awarded $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities for his work entitled, “’Tombstone’” Translation Project.” This funding was provided for the English translation of an edited version of the book Mubei (Tombstone), published by Chinese journalist Yang Jisheng in Hong Kong in 2008. A no-cost extension was recently approved.
  • Associate Professor of Biology, Jennifer Armstrong, continues work on her National Science Foundation award of $442,053 for the project “RUI: Investigations into the Role of the CHD1 ATPase in Chromosome Structure of Drosophila.” Her work aims to understand how chromosomes are formed, how their structure is maintained, and the role of the CHD1 chromatin remodeling factor. Either loss of CHD1, or overexpression of CHD1, leads to defects in chromosome morphology in the fruit fly. As CHD1 is highly conserved, her studies in the fruit fly should be applicable to other organisms, including humans, in whom loss of related proteins result in various diseases and cancers. Awarded in 2009–2010, this grant is scheduled to expire April 30, 2013.
  • Professor of Biology, John Milton, is working on his $335,198 project to study “RUI: Noise, Delays, and Development of Expertise” from the National Science Foundation. This project will test the intermittent neural control strategy necessary to maintain balance in an unpredictable environment through non-invasive high speed motion capture techniques. Mathematical models will be developed to test whether the movements are controlled non-predicatively or predicatively using an internal model. This grant is scheduled to expire July 31, 2013.
  • Associate Professor of Biology, Zhaohua Irene Tang, is using funding from the National Science Foundation for $340,000, along with a $12,000 supplement, for her project “RUI: Cell-cycle Regulation of LAMMER-related Kinases.” The primary objective of this project is to study the cell-cycle regulation of Dsk1 and Kic1. The project aims to build upon earlier work on Dsk1 and Kic1 and to gain a better understanding of their function in cell growth and proliferation. Awarded in 2004–2005, this grant expires March 21, 2013.
  • Assistant Professor of Biology, Diane Thomson, in collaboration with Senior Plant Ecologist Kathryn McEachern of the U.S. Geological Survey, is using a $274,359 from the National Science Foundation for a project titled “RUI: Interacting Effects of Climate and Invasive Herbivores on Island Plant Populations and Communities: Santa Rosa Island as a Model System.” The work involves collection and analysis of plant monitoring data from Santa Rosa Island to predict effects of introduced herbivores and climate change. Awarded in 2009–2010, this grant is scheduled to expire February 28, 2013.
  • Associate Professor of Biology, Emily Wiley, has a grant for $654,228 from the National Science Foundation for a project entitled, “CAREER: Investigating Heterochromatin Assembly through Histone Deacetylases.” This project explores the role of specific histone deacetylase enzymes in heterochromatin formation by determining their spatial and temporal localization and by analyzing genome structure defects in mutant cells. Awarded in 2005–2006, this grant expires May 31, 2013.
Recently Expired Grants, 2010-2012
  • Professor of Psychology, Diane Halpern, and Associate Professor Keith Millis of Northern Illinois University were awarded a grant from the Department of Education for $243,000 for their project “Acquiring Research Investigative and Evaluative Skills (ARIES) for Scientific Inquiry.” Developed and submitted in 2005-2006; awarded in 2006-2007. A no-cost extension for this award period was approved and the grant expired in August, 2012.
  • Professor of Chemistry, Mary Hatcher-Skeers, has used an award of $483,521 from the National Science Foundation to purchase a 500 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer. Her collaborators are Associate Professor Thomas Poon, Assistant Professor Anna Wenzel, and Associate Professor Scott Williams, all chemists. The proposal was developed and submitted in 2008–2009, and the grant was awarded in 2009–2010. It expired in summer, 2012.
  • Professor of Biology, Donald McFarlane, is using a $51,751 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project titled “Sedimentology and Tephrochronology of Caves in the Melinau Karst, Sarawak, Malaysia.” The project involves geosciences fieldwork in the caves of Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak (Borneo) and subsequent laboratory analyses. This grant expired in May, 2012.
  • Keck Science Weinberg Family Dean of Science and Professor of Chemistry, David Hansen, continues work on a $191,867 grant from the National Institutes of Health for the project “Self-Assembling Nanostructures of Defined Size.” Recent results reported by the Sanders group at the University of Cambridge will be extended to prepare nanotubes and capsules that spontaneously assemble from naphthalene diimide constructs. Ultimately, the supramolecular complexes under study might be tailored for a variety of applications, and they may ultimately serve as delivery vehicles for drugs that otherwise exhibit poor pharmacokinetics. In addition, the preorganized assemblies may also serve as scaffolds for the creation of artificial enzymes. This grant was funded through ARRA (see above) and expired in August, 2012.
  • Associate Professor of Chemistry, Katie Purvis-Roberts, is using $69,574 from the National Science Foundation for the study of “Reactions and Fate of Amines in the Atmosphere Emitted from Animal Feeding Operations.” Purvis-Roberts will complete an ambient study of amine incorporation into particulate matter using the Particle-Into-Liquid-Sampler Ion Chromatography system in conjunction with an Aerosol Mass Spectrometer. This grant was funded through ARRA. Developed and submitted in 2008–2009, the grant was awarded in 2009–2010 and expired July 31, 2012.
  • Assistant Professor of History, Albert Park, was awarded a $50,654 the Fulbright Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship, Institute for State Governance Studies, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, 2010-2011. His project is entitled, “Agrarian Modernism: Religion and Utopian Agrarian Movements in Colonial Korea, 1925-1937.”
  • Associate Professor of Mathematics, Mark Huber, was awarded a $115,176 CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation for his project entitled, “Perfect sampling techniques for high dimensional integration.” The proposal focused on perfect sampling methods, which are true algorithms for obtaining random variates exactly from a desired distribution.
  • Professor of Psychology, Wei-Chin Hwang, received a grant for $270,589 from the National Institutes of Health for a project titled “Therapist Factors that Predict Treatment Outcomes Among Ethnic Minority Clients.” Developed, submitted, and awarded in 2007-2008. A no-cost extension for this award period was recently approved.
  • Professor of Biology, John Milton, was awarded a three-year grant for $317,133 from the National Science Foundation for a project entitled, “Noise, Delays, and Development of Expertise.” This project focused on the development of expertise in stick balancing and is studied in the context of a model-based description. Since balance control is essential for expert performance of many motor tasks, this study will translate into the design of more efficient teaching, coaching and neurorehabilitative strategies. Developed and submitted in 2005–2006, the grant was awarded in 2006–2007 and expired July 31, 2010.
  • Associate Professor of Biology, Jennifer Armstrong, received $303,878 from the National Science Foundation for “Analysis of the Role of CHD1 in Chromatin Structure and Transcription.” This three-year project used modern techniques in molecular genetics to study the activity of the CHD1 protein. The function of CHD1 in chromatin structure and gene expression in a living organism is not understood, and this project addressed that gap in knowledge. Awarded in 2006¬–2007, this grant expired April 30, 2011.
  • In collaboration with Professor of Chemistry Professor Kersey Black, Associate Professor of Biology Gretchen Edwalds-Gilbert, Professor of Physics Scot Gould, and Associate Professor of Chemistry Katie Purvis-Roberts, Professor of Chemistry Newton Copp was awarded $498,711 from the National Science Foundation for a five-year project that aimed to increase science graduates through interdisciplinary teaching and research. The goal is to expand the pool of undergraduates who complete a major in biology, chemistry, physics, or related interdisciplinary fields, primarily by creating a sequence of introductory courses—the Accelerated Integrated Science Sequence (AISS)—that bring together major principles and concepts of biology, chemistry, and physics. Awarded in 2005–2006, this grant expired August 31, 2011. This initiative is currently being sustained in the department through a major award to Scripps College from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.


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