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Grants & awards

Mellon Grant Supports CBB Language Teaching

Bates, Bowdoin, and Colby colleges have cooperated on many efforts to improve academic, social, and technical programs on the three campuses. The latest such joint venture will make a wider variety of foreign-language studies available to CBB students and will build structures for future cooperation among the schools.

Recently, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York announced it would award Bates, Bowdoin, and Colby a joint $910,000 grant to enable faculty and students from the three colleges to explore — and invent, where necessary — new methods for teaching languages.

In a time of careful budgeting, college language programs face two challenges. On the one hand, rising enrollments in languages like Spanish can lead to overcrowded classes and overextended faculty. On the other hand, lesser enrollments in non-Western languages crucial to the liberal-arts curriculum (such as Chinese and Japanese) are sometimes too small to support the curricular depth necessary to train students for full fluency and competence.

Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin are hoping for a high-tech answer to these challenges. Working together, they will explore the expanded use of interactive, multimedia technology in foreign-language instruction. By sharing the costs of faculty development, new technology (including dozens of new computer stations at the colleges), and curricular change, the CBB colleges hope to enhance instruction in courses with smaller enrollments while containing costs associated with growing enrollments in other courses.

Joint efforts by faculty members at the three colleges will allow more students to study more languages at higher levels than ever before. This is increasingly important as graduates take their places in the global education and employment arenas, and it supports the colleges’ commitment to foreign study. At Colby and Bates, more than two thirds of all students spend part of their careers studying abroad; half of all Bowdoin students do so.

The grant, to be administered by Colby, is especially welcome, college officials said, because each institution is engaged in or planning an ambitious capital campaign aimed at strengthening academic quality.

After years of informal cooperation in many areas, Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin began a formal consortium relationship in the 1980s with the shared automation of their libraries. Other mutually beneficial initiatives followed. “We are sure that the collaborative infrastructure built during the course of this project will benefit our institutions in many ways, for many years to come,” said President Harward.

NSF Grant to Support Lawson’s Virus Work

Assistant Professor of Chemistry T. Glen Lawson has received a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support his work on “Ubiquitin Mediated Degradation of Picornavirus Processing Proteases.”

Most short-lived proteins in eukaryotes appear to be degraded by a system which selectively targets them for destruction through the attachment of the small protein ubiquitin. Professor Lawson seeks to understand this process, as very little is known about how this system actively selects only certain proteins. A major goal of the project is to explore how the ubiquitin system interacts with and targets a rapidly degraded protein, the 3C protease.

This grant will support two students each summer to assist Professor Lawson on the research.

Lin’s Laser Research Funded by NSF

A $108,214 grant from the National Science Foundation will support Assistant Professor of Physics Hong Lin’s investigation of “Nonlinear Dynamics of the Photorefractive Phase Conjugator and Resonator.

Using the self-pumped BaTiO3 phase conjugator with beam fanning and internal total reflection (a “cat” phase conjugator), various nonlinear dynamic behaviors of light have been observed: periodic and irregular pulsations, frequency shifts between phase conjugate signal and incident beams, and backward beam patterns in shapes other than that of the input beam.

Professor Lin will conduct in-depth research to understand the physical mechanisms responsible for the cat phase conjugator’s spatio-temporal dynamics.

Research Corporation Grant Funds Côté’s Research

A $27,000 grant from the Research Corporation will support Assistant Professor of Chemistry Matthew Côté’s continuing research on “Scanning Tunneling Electroluminescence Microscopy of Silicon Nanostructures.”

His current project is designed to test, using the College’s scanning tunneling electroluminescence microscope, the quantum confinement models of luminescent silicon nanostructures. Professor Côté and several Bates students used previous research grant support to build and test this unusual microscope.

The grant will support one student researcher each summer of this ongoing program.

NSF Grant to Enhance Smedley’s Acoustics Courses

Associate Professor of Physics John Smedley will use a $17,471 grant from the National Science Foundation to create new laboratory experiments and simulations for two current courses open to non-science majors, “Musical Acoustics” and “Physics of Electronic Sound.”

The grant, titled “Microcomputer Based Measurement and Simulation for Introductory Acoustics,” will support a program utilizing microcomputers to measure and record time-resolved acoustical signals and to model standing and propagating acoustic waves in real physical systems. Professor Smedley initially developed the courses with support from an earlier NSF grant.

Axe-Houghton Sponsors Debate Team’s Japan Tour

Last spring’s debate team tour of Japan was sponsored in part by a $2,500 grant from the Axe-Houghton Foundation of New York City.

Team members said the highlight of the trip was their visit to Hiroshima. There, the Bates debaters went up against a team from Hiroshima University, debating whether the atomic bombing of Japan was justified.

The Bates team, which last visited Japan in 1985, enjoys a long history of international debate and has hosted Japanese university teams annually for over a decade.

The Axe-Houghton Foundation has supported debate at Bates in the past, including important grants to help to establish the College’s summer debate institute.


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