Research Grants for H&S Science Faculty

Science faculty in the School of Humanities and Sciences continue to do high-quality research and to win highly competitive grants to support their work and bring recognition to the College. Over the last two years, faculty members have received more than $2,000,000 in grants from national organizations and foundations to support basic research projects that not only foster the development of new knowledge but also contribute to H&S students' education by providing opportunities for undergraduate research. In addition to grants in support of basic research, faculty members have also received National Science Foundation grants this year to support research into teaching and learning in mathematics and computer science.

Michael Rogers, associate professor of physics, thinks that the focus on students is the key to the success of IC faculty in receiving research awards: "Part of it has to do with the involvement of our undergraduates. The culture in the sciences at Ithaca College, and at the College in general, is very student-centered. The National Science Foundation and other funding agencies, I suspect, find that very valuable."

In 2009-2010, the following faculty received federal-funding to support their research projects:

John Barr, chair and associate professor of computer science, received a $30,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, in collaboration with colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University, for the project titled Collaborative Research: Increasing Conceptual Understanding through Annotation Visualization. Over a two-year period, Barr and his colleagues are developing software for teaching programming to computer science students. Barr explains that the guiding principles for the software are, first, that "you learn more by making mistakes than by doing anything else in computer science, especially when you find a bug in your code and have to track it down"; and second, that students "learn more from their peers than their instructors." Barr and his colleague will pilot the software, called Classroom Salon, in classes at CMU and at IC over the next two years. In the process, Barr says there are potential opportunities for IC computer science majors to get involved in the development of the software for the project.

Beth Clark Joseph, chair and associate professor of physics, received a $140,836 grant from the National Science Foundation in support of a multiwavelength survey and analysis of asteroids of the X/M/E type. This research will allow scientists to estimate the statistical population of metallic asteroids, which are arguably the most serious impact threat to Earth. It will also provide an evaluation of the potential metal and water resources available in the main-belt asteroid population. Physics major Romaine Isaacs '10 has played an essential role in the research project, synthesizing the radar and infrared results of the survey.

Jason Hamilton, associate professor of environmental studies and sciences, was awarded a National Science Foundation research grant for $80,400 to investigate the hypothesis that plant photosynthesis increases as a result of changes in plant metabolism on exposure to the saliva of the mirid insect. He will be conducting this research in collaboration with Andre Kessler of Cornell University, and plans to include students in the data analysis.

Jean Hardwick, professor of biology, received a four-year grant of $495,000 from the National Institutes of Health Heart, Lung, and Blood for her work researching how chronic heart disease alters the neuronal control of the heart. Professor Hardwick and her students are focusing on the neurons that normally function to help slow the heart and counteract the excess stimulation that can result with disease. "For my lab, this grant means that we have the resources to fund our research," Professor Hardwick says. "The grant will provide funding for a total of eight students to work with me on this research [and] also provides funding for students to accompany me to conferences, such as the Society for Neuroscience or Experimental Biology, to present our research."

Michael Rogers, associate professor of physics, received an award from the National Science Foundation for $60,638 for the noninvasive study of late bronze age cities in Cyprus. The award supports the Kalavasos and Maroni Built Environment Projects, an interdisciplinary and collaborative effort by Cornell University and Ithaca College to investigate the relationships between architecture, social interaction, and social change during the late bronze age in Cyprus. Students play an essential role in Professor Rogers's research, from collecting data using ground-based remote sensing instruments to processing those findings. "I encourage a very collaborative environment. I want them to share their ideas and to voice what’s on their mind, and that very much goes into the decision-making. My students always contribute in significant ways."