Grant News


September 2014

NSF Boosts Research at Bates with $1.17 Million

In the last month, Bates College has received three new grant awards from the National Science Foundation, totaling $1,170,158. The resulting projects, each briefly profiled below, will involve faculty in each of the departments in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

NSF Awards $337K to Ambrose and Retelle for Collaborative Research in Norway

William Ambrose of the Biology Department and Michael Retelle of the Geology Department have been awarded a $337,228 grant by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs for a collaborative research project on “the role of oceanic and atmospheric forcing on Arctic marine climate from newly developed annual shell based records in coastal Norway”. Together with Prof. Alan Wanamaker of the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences at Iowa State University (which received its own NSF grant, for a total project cost of $810,000), Profs. Ambrose and Retelle will test the relative influence of dominant climate modes on the regional oceanography in northern Norway during the last millennium. Students from both Bates and Iowa State will be supported by and involved with the project, and the PIs will use data and ideas developed in this project for several courses at Iowa State and Bates College relating to climate change, paleoclimate and oceanography. In addition, the PIs will make visits to local K-12 schools in both Maine and Iowa and conduct teacher professional development and curriculum development in the area of climate change.

Confocal Microscopy Comes to Bates, thanks to NSF-MRI Grant

In January of this year, after several months of planning, a multidisciplinary team of faculty put in a proposal to NSF’s Major Research Instrumentation program for the purchase of a Leica SP8 confocal microscope with white-light laser. Led by Larissa Williams (Biology), the team included Matt Côté (Chemistry), Travis Gould (Physics) and Nancy Kleckner (Biology and Neuroscience). As a result of the proposal they put together, Bates has been awarded a $791,480 grant. The Leica, which we expect will be delivered and installed within the current academic year, will be housed in the basement of Carnegie Science Hall, and scheduling of training and usage will be managed by the Bates Imaging and Computing Center. Until now, Bates biologists requiring confocal microscopy for their research have had to try and get time on a microscope at Bowdoin, or travel even further to do their sample preparation and imaging at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. The versatility of this new device will enable not only biological research, but also research in nanotechnology (Côté) and photophysics (Gould). The only comparable microscope in the State of Maine is at the Jackson Labs in Bar Harbor. Because of the Leica SP8’s capabilities, researchers at Bowdoin College wrote in support of our proposal, and the microscope will be incorporated into the professional development and training in advanced imaging of faculty and students at Southern Maine Community College. Thus the confocal microscope will enhance not only the research infrastructure of Bates, but the resources available to researchers throughout southern and western Maine.

Katharine Ott Joins Math Department, Brings $41,450 NSF Award With Her

The newest tenure-track member of the Mathematics Department, Katharine Ott, comes to Bates from the University of Kentucky, where she had an NSF research grant to investigate boundary value problems in partial differential equations. The unspent balance of that grant ($41,450) has been transferred to Bates for completion. While the equations that Katy studies are used in describing or modeling natural processes in physics, biology and ecology, she prefers to focus on the theoretical aspects of mathematics, discovering new properties of increasingly complex equations. She is particularly interested in the effect of singularities—boundary conditions that are not conveniently smooth—on the equations she studies. When asked what attracted her from a large university to a liberal arts college like Bates, she cited the opportunity to work closely with undergraduate students and shape their interest in mathematics. Please welcome Katy to the community of researchers at Bates!

Nathan Tefft Collaborates with Boston Children’s Hospital, Receives $8,713 Grant

Nathan Tefft, who returns this year to the Economics department at Bates after a stint at the University of Washington, is now part of an interdisciplinary research team led by Dr. Bryn Austin at Boston Children’s Hospital that is examining the effectiveness of various public health educational campaigns. Nathan’s role in the current project is to characterize the spatial (market-level) and temporal distributions of the quantity of and expenditures on appetite suppressant products using Nielsen’s Consumer Panel Data and Retail Scanner Data. As part of this, he is leading the empirical analyses of both datasets, which includes data extraction and refinement, analytic file construction, and all statistical and econometric analyses. In support of his role in the project, he has received a grant in the amount of $8,713, which provides summer salary and access, for Nathan and select students, to the proprietary Nielsen data sets.

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