Recent Faculty Grants

Middlebury College was recently awarded a grant from the Enduring Questions program of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which will enable development and implementation of a sophomore-level course focused on the enduring question “What is the good life and how do I live it?“ The grant leadership team consists of Patricia Zupan (Italian), Brett Millier (English and American Literatures), Deborah Evans (American Studies), and Jonathan Miller-Lane (Education Studies). Campus-wide discussion about the sophomore-year experience contributed to the evolution of this project;  the new Commons-based course will be taught at least twice during each of the next three years by the four project leaders as well as by other faculty who will participate in developing the common syllabus. A testament to the efforts of the project leaders is the fact that NEH has posted a copy of Middlebury’s proposal on the Enduring Questions website as one of the samples that this year’s applicants may want to consult. http://www.neh.gov/files/grants/middlebury_college_course_on_what_is_the_goiod_life.pdf

Martha Woodruff (Philosophy) has been accepted to participate in the Institute for the History of Philosophy at Emory University in June 2013, to support research for her second book. The topic of the institute, Renewing the Ancient Quarrel: Plato, Hegel, and Adorno, refers to what Plato called “the quarrel between philosophy and poetry” (Republic X). Participants take part in intensive seminars while working on their own projects about the relation between philosophy and art in these three thinkers. The institute funds travel, housing, and food for all participants.

James Larrabee (Chemistry & Biochemistry) has received a three-year research grant from the National Science Foundation through NSF's Research in Undergraduate Institutions activity. This is Jim’s fifth NSF-RUI grant in his career. This grant provides funding to enable at least six undergraduate student to participate in his research, which should lead to a better understanding of enzyme mechanisms that could help other researchers design better drugs. Title: Magnetic Circular Dichroism of Dicobalt(II) Enzymes.

Patricia Zupan (Italian) has been selected to participate this summer in a faculty seminar at Transylvania University in Kentucky, funded by the University’s Bingham Program for Excellence in Teaching. The seminar, titled Twenty-first Century Liberal Education: A Contested Concept, will involve faculty from liberal arts colleges around the country. The award covers all costs of participation, including travel.

Amy Briggs (Computer Science) has been awarded a research grant from the National Science Foundation to support her work in curriculum development for high-school computer science. The award will fund her upcoming leave and participation in the four-year collaborative project Broadening Participation in Computer Science: AP Computer Science Principles Phase II with colleagues at the College Board and Duke University. The goal of the project is to create and deploy a new AP course in Computer Science, designed to promote the interest of more students and increase the numbers of underrepresented students who engage in computer science education and pursue computing careers.

Jason Arndt (Psychology) was awarded funding through the National Science Foundation’s Research Opportunity Award program to enable him to spend part of his 2012-13 leave collaborating with a colleague at the Georgia Institute of Technology examining associative memory processes using Electroencephalography (EEG). Their research project is titled The influence of attention on associative memory in the young and old.

Su Lian Tan (Music) has received support from the New York Foundation for the Arts “Artspire” program for Lotus Lives, a  chamber opera that premiered as a concert at the Manhattan School of Music, NY, 2010 with a production premier here at Middlebury Oct.2011. Lotus Lives celebrates the lives of three generations of women, with classical, rap and pop music within a spectacular video set. Artspire support takes the form of fiscal sponsorship, enabling Tan and colleagues to further develop financial and production resources by supplying strategic guidance, website and clerical support. Tan is in discussion with several venues for future performances and DVD recording including WGBH Boston, efforts that will be a focus of her 2013-14 leave.

Steve Trombulak (Biology and Environmental Studies) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled Enhancing the Quality of Instruction in Conservation Biology. The grant will enable Steve to travel to Australia to work with the key developers of “systematic conversation planning” in order to incorporate this new perspective into the conservation biology course he teaches at Middlebury. While in Australia, he will visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the first in the world designed using SCP principles and tools.

David Dorman (Mathematics) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled In Pursuit of Mathematical Biology. This grant supports David’s Spring 2014 leave.   The objective for this grant is to deepen his knowledge of mathematical biology and epidemiology and to hone his ability to teach courses in those areas at the undergraduate level. The grant provides travel funds to enable him to attend workshops and courses and to visit Harvey Mudd College to learn how they designed and implemented their strong mathematical biology major.

Rebecca Tiger (Sociology/Anthropology) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled Public Sociology, Digital Media and Social Change. Rebecca’s goal for this project is todevelop training in public sociology and the digital media tools that are becoming central to the public dissemination of sociological knowledge in order to incorporate these approaches into her courses. The grant provides support for a one-month residency during the summer of 2013 at JustPublics@365, the recently established digital media and social justice center housed at The City University of New York’s Graduate Center and funded by the Ford Foundation.

James Fitzsimmons (Sociology and Anthropology) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled Sacred Sites of the Andes and the Desert Coast. The goal of his project is to broaden his knowledge of archaeology and visual culture in the Americas beyond Mesoamerica to Andean South America in order to meet the demand of students for expanded course content. The grant will fund travel to three ancient pilgrimage centers in Peru and Bolivia that were used by the Inca and their predecessors in order to further develop his existing courses and to lay the groundwork for a class on the prehistory and religion of that region.

Armelle Crouzières-Ingenthron (French) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled Beyond French in ActionThe grant provides support for a project she will undertake during her leave next year. She plans to travel to colleges in the northeastern United States and to the American University in Paris to learn how other institutions with strong French programs teach first-year French courses to English-speaking students. Her goal is to make  an informed decision about new methods she can incorporate into the first-year French courses she teaches, to augment or replace the longstanding program called French in Action.

John Bertolini (English and American Literatures) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled Reading Classic American Dramas through Archival Videos. The grant will enable John to spend part of his Spring 2014 leave in New York City, at the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (of the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts). He plans to study videos of NYC/Broadway productions of classic American drama (1930-1960) for what new insights they may offer to him about these plays that he can then relay to students in the courses he teaches on American drama. Study of these Broadway productions will also inform his ongoing scholarship on classic American drama.

Susan Burch (American Studies and Center for the Comparative Study of Race & Ethnicity) has been awarded a fellowship from the National Archives and Records Administration thought its 2013 Regional Residency Fellowship program for research at the National Archives regional facility at Fort Worth, Texas in connection with her book project titled, Dislocated:  Removals, Institutions and Community Lives in American History.   This is one of six fellowships funded by the Foundation for the National Archives, one fellowship at each of six regional National Archive facilities.

Roberto Pareja (Spanish and Portuguese) has received a Department of Education Summer Library Research Fellowship in Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh for research during Summer 2013 on  political subjectivities in Bolivia during the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century.      He will be using the resources of the renowned Eduardo Lozano Latin American Library Collection as part of his 2013-14 leave project.

Svea Closser (Sociology and Anthropology) and a colleague from Oregon State University have been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for a project titled  “Health volunteers in rural Ethiopia:  Discourses and experiences of status, motivation, and wellbeing”.  Svea’s portion of this grant was awarded through NSF’s Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) activity and she plans to involve 6-10 undergraduates in this research, four of whom will participate in fieldwork in Ethiopia.  This project will explore the complex issues surrounding the use of low-paid and volunteer labor to deliver health interventions in rural Ethiopia.

The Environmental Studies program has been awarded a grant  by the Northern New England Campus Compact  for a project led by Diane Munroe, Coordinator for Community Based Environmental Studies.  The grant is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Education program and is intended to support NNECC’s Campuses for Environmental Stewardship efforts.  The grant will fund efforts by the ES program and individual affiliated faculty to incorporate community-connected experiences focused on the topical areas of either climate change or water quality into their courses next year.  Participating faculty include Molly Costanza-Robinson (Chemistry, Biochemistry and ES), Michelle McCauley (Psychology), Jeff Munroe (Geology), Jonathan Isham (Economics and ES), Rebecca Kneale Gould (Religion and ES), and Catherine Ashcraft (ES).

Brett Millier (English & American Literatures) has received a 2013-2014 Fulbright Scholar grant in support of her appointment as a visiting professor at the University of Yaounde I in Yaounde, Cameroon.  She will be teaching American Literature in the graduate program of the Department of English and advising masters and doctoral students.

Susan Burch (American Studies and Center for the Comparative Study of Race & Ethnicity) has been awarded a Summer Stipend grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of her book project titled Dislocated: Removals, Institutions, and Community Lives in American History. Burch’s work centers on “dislocated histories” from South Dakota’s Canton Asylum, the only federal psychiatric hospital for American Indians. Individual histories of inmates and their families are inextricably tied to broader stories of forced removals; the rise of penal, medical, and disability institutions; eugenics; and contests over citizenship and American identity in the last 200 years.

Peter Nelson (Geography) has received funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to develop a research partnership with HUD in conjunction with his ongoing cooperative research with the Economic Research Service of USDA. This expanded collaborative effort will use American Housing Survey Micro-Data to further analyze the geography of high cost lending in rural America during the Great Recession.  

Edward Vazquez (History of Art & Architecture) has been awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) in support of his 2013-14 leave. He will spend the year in Germany completing a book project titled Aspects: Fred Sandback’s Sculpture. The book will be the first scholarly monograph on this modern artist who made dramatic, room-scaled installations crafted from individual strands of yarn stretched in simple geometric forms across gallery space. Dr. Vasquez also has been awarded a one-month residency at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, England, a center for the study of modern sculpture, to facilitate work on the same project.

Bill Waldron (Religion) was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities that provides support for his 2012-13 leave and ongoing research. Titled An Introduction to the Yogacara School of Indian Buddhism, this book project aims to provide a useful and relatively accessible introduction to  one of the most influential yet complex schools of Indian Buddhist thought: Yogacara, or "Practitioners of Yoga." This school argues that although we are usually caught up in the "theatre of our minds" it is possible, through the practice of yogic insight, to see through our own cognitive constructions and act more compassionately and wisely for the benefit of others.

Huda Fakhreddine (Arabic) has been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Humanities in support of her 2013-2014 leave for a project titled: A Study of Classic Arabic Poetry through the Lens of Metapoesis (Modern Critical Theory). The goal of this book project is to expand the study of metapoesis from the study of modern poetry in the twentieth century to using a “comparative modernism” approach to studying Arabic literature of the 8th and 9th centuries. Not only does this approach emphasize the critical and poetic consciousness central to the poetry of that period, it also offers a new perspective on the relationship of the Abbasid modernists to their successors: the modernists of the twentieth century. This will be the only work in the field that treats both classical and modern Arabic poetry within a contemporary theoretical framework. It will also add a valuable non-western perspective to the field of World Literature.

Barbara Hofer (Psychology) has received funding for her 2013-14 leave from the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. She will be teaching one course, Virtual Selves: Psychology and Emerging Technology, and conducting research on digital connections and the study-abroad experience. The award covers a stipend and expenses for two study trips in Denmark, as well as housing and round-trip travel.

Erick Gong (Economics) and a colleague from the International Food Policy Institute have received funding from IFPRI and a program for alumni of the Hewlett Dissertation Fellowships program for a two-year research project in Kenya titled Can Savings Accounts Save Lives? Financial products for improving sexual and reproductive health. The goal of this project is to see if providing women with financial independence in the form of mobile phone savings accounts can help them better manage risk in their daily lives.

Svea Closser (Anthropology) received a contract from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a year ago for a comprehensive research project aimed at assessing the impact of the global polio eradication initiative on strengthening routine immunization and primary health care. With the help of a full time coordinator, this project involved consultants and paid staff conducting research in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Angola. Seven Middlebury undergraduates also made substantial contributions to the research. Portions of the work were subcontracted to ISciences, a quantitative analysis firm in Burlington, and CARE International, a major NGO.  An article on methodology has been published, and a results article and report will be released in the coming months.

Leticia Arroyo Abad (Economics & IPE)  has received funding from the National Science Foundation to  research the history of fiscal capacity, inequality, and growth in Latin America. Her work is part of the Global Prices and Income History Group, a long-term NSF-funded collaborative effort administered by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Susan Watson (Physics) has been awarded supplemental funding from the National Science Foundation to cover travel expenses to Denmark for her and two students for each of the next two years. While at the University of Copenhagen, where her main collaborator has relocated, she and her students will continue the quantum physics research funded by the original grant. In addition, the supplemental funding will cover costs for these students to be trained at the National Center for Nanoscale Systems at Harvard.

Will Pyle (Economics) has been selected to participate in the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad program for Summer 2013. The award covers all expenses for the four week seminar titled, Social Sciences in China. During the course of visiting four cities, the seminar will examine China’s economic system and growth, political and legal systems, and social and demographic changes. Will intends to use the experience to help boost the China-related content in his elective courses and, specifically, to learn more about urban land issues.

Leticia Arroyo Abad (Economics), with co-coordinators at Denison, Scripps, Furman, and Williams, has received funding through the AALAC Mellon 23 Collaborative Workshop program for a workshop titled Change and Continuity:   Economic History in the Liberal Arts Context, to be held in April 2013 at Denison University. The workshop builds on past efforts and will focus more explicitly on research and teaching in economic history, while continuing to explore the close relationship that economic history has to many fields within economics.

John Schmitt (Mathematics), with colleagues from Dartmouth College, Bard College, Haverford College, St. Michael's College, SUNY Albany, Wesleyan University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, has received funding for a series of four conferences on discrete mathematics to be held at various locations in the Northeast over the next two years. The first was hosted by Middlebury at Bread Loaf during September. The main purposes of these conferences are to enhance the national infrastructure for research and education in discrete mathematics by creating and strengthening a regional network of interacting researchers and to facilitate the dissemination of cutting-edge research ideas, methods and results.

Pete Ryan (Geology) has been awarded a grant through the National Science Foundation’s RUI mechanism to research rates and mechanisms of mineral reactions and associated chemical changes that occur as tropical soils mature. The project, titled Landscape-scale Implications of Mineral Reaction Rates and Mechanisms in Tropical Soils: Insights from Soil Chronosequences and Synthesis Experiments, involves field work in Costa Rica during the first year, with one Middlebury undergraduate and collaborators from the University of Costa Rica, followed by lab and analytical work with collaborators at IACT in Granada, Spain that will involve one Middlebury undergraduate and a student from the University of Costa Rica. Over the next two years, four additional undergraduates will work on this project at Middlebury.

Jeff Howarth (Geography) and Jeanne Albert (Center for Teaching, Learning & Research) have each received a small grant to develop a blended approach to courses they’re scheduled to teach this coming year: GEOG 0120 -  Fundamental of GIS and MATH 0100 - A World of Mathematics. These grants are part of the Next Generation Learning Challenges Wave 1 grant initiative based at Bryn Mawr College. The purpose of this initiative is to integrate open source courseware modules available through the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative (CMU OLI) into traditional classroom-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) courses within a liberal arts college setting to enhance student engagement as a means of improving course completion, persistence in the science/math major, and college completion.

Molly Costanza-Robinson (Environmental Studies and Chemistry & Biochemistry), with co-coordinators at Vassar and Furman, has received funding through the Mellon Foundation’s Faculty Career Enhancement program for an inter-institutional project titled Sustainability in Europe: The Limits of Possibility. This award provided funding for a diverse group of 18 faculty from Vassar, Denison, Furman, DePauw, Claremont-McKenna, and Middlebury (including Rebecca Gould, Andrea Olsen, Lynn Owens, and Helen Young) to embark on a 10-day travel seminar to Denmark and Germany to engage with scholars and community leaders associated with successful environmental sustainability initiatives. The goal is bring back case studies, problem solving strategies, ideas, and inspiration for advancing sustainability education across the curriculum.

Vermont Genetics Network grants for Research in the Biomedical Sciences
Middlebury College is one of the baccalaureate partner institutions participating in a major grant from the National Institutes of Health to the University of Vermont. This grant continues the Vermont Genetics Network support that has been an important source of funding for faculty and student research during the past decade. The following faculty members received individual grants from this program to support their research this year:

Michelle McCauley (Psychology) Renewal of project grant to continue her work developing a new pediatric interview (title: Adapting the Cognitive Interview for Pediatric Health Interviews: Identifying Why the ECI Works). The grant provides funding for summer and academic-year effort from June 2012-May 2013 and includes a summer stipend for one undergraduate summer research student.

Mark Spritzer (Biology) Renewal of project support for ongoing research related to adult neurogenesis and spatial cognition (title: Effects of Testosterone on Spatial Working Memory and Adult Neurogenesis). The grant provides funding for 2012 summer effort and includes summer stipends for three undergraduate students and academic-year support for two additional undergraduate assistants.

Suzanne Gurland (Psychology) New pilot project grant to support research into children’s prior expectancies of their teachers as a causal determinant of the quality of their relationships with those teachers (title: Do children's expectancies determine teacher-student relationship quality?). The grant provides funding for summer effort during 2012 and includes funds for Dr. Gurland and one student to attend the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting.

Mark Spritzer (Biology) has received funding from BioTherapeutix, LLC to support experiments related to research with colleagues at other institutions on the efficacy of various growth factor derivatives in treating the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Heidi Grasswick (Philosophy) has been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to fund a project titled Trusting Knowledge: Agency, Dependence, and Responsible Knowing in a Scientific World. Starting from the premise that knowing agents’ social locations shape their possibilities for knowledge, it will develop a model that explores the need for, and limits of, trust in science. The project will provide support for her 2012-13 leave and for two undergraduate research assistants and will culminate in an eight-chapter monograph on the trust and trustworthiness required for scientific institutions and laypersons to engage in sound and effective knowing.

Frank Winkler (Physics) has recently been awarded funding from the NASA-supported Space Telescope Science Institute for two research projects related to observations made from the Hubble Space Telescope earlier this year. The project Stellar Life and Death in M83: A Hubble-Chandra Perspective, in collaboration with an international team of scientists from the US and Australia and led by  colleague at Johns Hopkins University, is conducting the most detailed study ever undertaken of the galaxy M83, some 15 million light years away. Known as the "southern pinwheel," it  has produced six supernovae over the past century — more than any other galaxy except one.

The project The Remarkable Young Supernova Remnant in NGC 4449, in collaboration with colleagues at STScI, Dartmouth, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, will focus on the remains from a supernova that probably occurred 60-100 years ago. Although no sightings of this event were recorded at the time, today its remnant is the brightest such object known in the universe.

Noah Graham (Physics) has been awarded a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation for work with collaborators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dartmouth College, Tübingen University in Germany, and Stellenbosch University in South Africa on a project titled Scattering Theory Casimir Methods and Coherent Structures in the Early Universe. The project, which will involve three undergraduate researchers, will focus particularly on techniques for calculating quantum-mechanical Casimir forces and on how oscillons — stable, localized, self-organizing lumps of nonlinear waves — might affect the process of cosmic reheating that followed the Big Bang.

Rebecca Tiger  (Sociology/Anthropology) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled Public Sociology, Digital Media and Social Change. Rebecca’s goal for this project is todevelop training in public sociology and the digital media tools that are becoming central to the public dissemination of sociological knowledge in order to incorporate these approaches into her courses. The grant provides support for a one month residency during the summer of 2013 at JustPublics@365, the recently established digital media and social justice center housed at The City University of New York’s Graduate Center and funded by the Ford Foundation.