Grant News

Check out these recent articles about grant-funded research and initiatives at Bates from the Bates Communications team!


GRANTS@BATES

June 2017

In this issue:

  • Will Ambrose to Continue at NSF through August before Returning to Bates
  • Tom Wenzel Receives $25,000 Supplement from NSF to Improve Chemistry Teaching at Community Colleges
  • White House Budget Plan: Possible Impacts for Bates

Will Ambrose to Continue at NSF through August before Returning to Bates

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has extended its agreement with Bates to have Prof. Will Ambrose (Biology) continue serving as Program Director of NSF’s Arctic Observing Network through August 31, 2017. This extension will enable him to help the Division of Polar Programs make some critical strategic decisions regarding scientific research in the Arctic before returning to teach at Bates in the Fall semester. We look forward to working with Prof. Ambrose to schedule opportunities for members of the Bates community and the general public to learn more about the National Science Foundation and how it fulfills its mission of promoting innovative and transformational science.


Tom Wenzel Receives $25,000 from NSF to Improve Chemistry Teaching at Community Colleges

We are pleased to announce that NSF has awarded a $25,000 supplement to Tom Wenzel’s grant on “Moving Faculty from Experimentation with to Long-term Adoption of Engaged Student Learning in Analytical Chemistry.” The purpose of the supplement is to enable Prof. Wenzel to involve four community college instructors in workshops scheduled for 2018.  These four individuals will then lead follow up sessions at conferences that specifically target instructors from community colleges.  This will increase the appeal of future project activities to additional analytical chemistry instructors from community colleges. Project activities that focus specifically on the challenges associated with science teaching in such institutions are expected to lessen potential barriers to implementation of active learning strategies.


White House Budget Plan: Possible Impacts for Bates

Following the release in May by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of the Trump administration’s executive budget request, several faculty and staff have inquired with our office about the possible impacts on grant programs that have been beneficial to Bates College. It is important to recognize that the OMB plan is a blueprint, and ultimately, Congress is likely to pass a budget that is less draconian in terms of funding cuts or program elimination (see for example this article from Inside Higher Education for initial Congressional responses to the OMB proposals: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/06/07/republican-senators-raise-doubts-about-white-house-budget-proposal). Nevertheless, using the White House plan as a foundation for analysis, Bates Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance estimates the financial impacts on Bates of proposed budget cuts and policy changes in these Federal grant programs at more than $400,000. These cuts would impact the availability of funds for faculty and student research, public programming, and community engagement. Items of particular concern in the executive budget request are as follows:

  • An 18% cut to the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to be accomplished in part by limiting reimbursement to institutions of their facilities and administrative costs. Since current Bates policies allow for significant reinvestment of such reimbursements into support of faculty research in all disciplines, these policy changes would have impact far beyond those faculty who currently hold or apply for NIH funds.
  • An 11% cut to the budget of the National Science Foundation (NSF). NIH and NSF are the two largest sources of external support for faculty and student research at Bates. Maine institutions would be particularly hard hit by a substantial reduction in funds for the EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) program, which bolsters research infrastructure in states that receive relatively low amounts of NSF funding.
  • Elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. These eliminations would directly impact active research programs of faculty in the humanities and social sciences divisions at Bates, the Bates Dance Festival, the Bates Museum of Art, and the Harward Center, and could have second-order impacts on several community partner organizations.
  • Substantial cuts to NASA’s educational and earth sciences programs.
  • Elimination of the NOAA Sea Grant program. This program has supported research at Bates in the recent past, and has provided important support for marine research infrastructure and marine-related economic development in the State of Maine.

As described in the Inside Higher Education article linked above, the power of making appropriations resides in Congress, which often creates budgets that differ significantly from executive requests. We encourage faculty and staff to keep abreast of the shifting situation in Washington DC through their professional organizations. For example, AAAS’s Science Magazine has carried detailed coverage of the impacts of the budgetary process on NIH and NSF.

Please note that Bates College’s Computer Use Policy states “Bates College does not permit you to use its computing resources to support commercial enterprises you may have, your work on behalf of political candidates or as an elected official, not-for-profit activities unrelated to the educational goals of the college, or any activity that could compromise the tax-exempt status of the college.” Faculty, staff, and students concerned with any of these proposed changes and cuts may wish to communicate as private citizens with their Congressional representatives, in the tradition of the College’s commitment to “informed civic action.”

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