Faculty Grants 2016-2017

Rachael Joo (American Studies) has been awarded a grant from the Academy of Korean Studies for a project titled, Projecting Korea as the Future through the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.      The grant will help cover the costs during her academic leave for four months of fieldwork in South Korea – before, during and after the Winter Olympics next year.  The goal of this research is to understand the changing impact and significance of  mega-events,  such as the Olympics,  in South Korean society.

Matt Dickerson (Computer Science) has received two short-term residential fellowships in support of his academic leave and ongoing writing projects. This June, he will be Artist-in-Residence at Glacier National Park in Montana, working on projects in narrative non-fiction and digital story telling about nature and ecology. His particular focus will be streams and rivers, and the importance and role of native cutthroat trout within the ecosystems. In May 2018, he will be Artist-in-Residence at Acadia National Park in Maine.

Michael Kraus, Frederick C. Dirks Professor of Political Science, has received funding for his 2017-2018 leave project, “Digging Through The Ruins of Memory” from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC. Starting on September 1, 2017, the Ben and Zelda Cohen Fellowship provides for a five months residency at the Mandel Center. Apart from conducting their own research in the rich archives and resources of the USHMM, the Center Fellows meet as a group each week to present and discuss their research projects and to evaluate the merits of new scholarship.

Linus Owens (Sociology-Anthropology) has been awarded a grant to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute titled What Happened to the Civil Rights Movement? The 4-week institute is sponsored by and based at the Hutchins Center for African & African-American Research at Harvard University. A major goal of the institute is to work collaboratively in developing curriculum and teaching strategies for incorporating this history into American history courses and related areas of instruction. Professor Owens will be working on two projects: 1) developing an advanced seminar on the civil rights movement and contemporary anti-racist movements and 2) working on a current book project on student protest, and using this to provide necessary historical and conceptual context.

Amy Morsman (History) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled The Worlds of Solomon Northup: Exploring African-American Life in Freedom and Slavery. The grant will fund travel to Louisiana to research primary documents related to Northup and to all the white and black families he knew while enslaved there for twelve years. The goal of this project is to help Professor Morsman create a digital history resource for her students (and for the general public as well) so that they might better understand the impact of slavery and race on American communities before and during the Civil War.

Florence Feiereisen (German) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled Digital Humanities and Foreign Language Pedagogy. The grant will fund travel to an ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) conference in Nashville, TN, participation in the DH (Digital Humanities) Summer Institute at the University of Victoria, and visits to Bucknell University’s Digital Scholarship Center as well as the Five Colleges Digital Humanities Initiative. The goal of this project is to explore effective ways to bridge the gap to the information age to better develop and nurture students’ intellectual curiosity inside and outside of the classroom.

Sebnem Gumuscu (Political Science) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled Democracy and Political Islam in Tunisia: From Islamists to Muslim Democrats. The grant will fund travel to Tunisia for two weeks in July 2017 with a goal of gaining a better understanding of the complexities of the Tunisian transition to democracy through a series of semi-structured interviews with Ennahda leaders, secular political actors, and political scientists.

Elizabeth R. Napier (English and American Literatures) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled In Search of Wordsworth: Travels in the Lake District. The grant will fund travel to the Lakes District in northwest England to examining sites of importance in the life and poetry of William Wordsworth. The goal of this project is to provide Professor Napier with an immersive experience that will help her teach the poetry of Wordsworth with greater attention to an aspect that he elevated above all in his poetry: the power of place.

Jeffrey S. Munroe (Geology) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled Linking Glacial Geology and Glaciology: Field Observations of Modern Glaciers in the Alps. The grant will fund travel to France, Switzerland, and Austria to support field investigations of modern glaciers in the European Alps. The goal of this project is to provide Professor Munroe with an opportunity to visit glaciers and localities that were fundamental to the development of our modern understanding of Ice Ages and natural climate variability.

Guntram Herb (Geography) has been awarded a fellowship from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation for a project titled Border Rights and Border Rites: Indigenous Nations Astride the US-Canada Border. The grant will fund travel to the indigenous borderlands on the West Coast and in Alaska during July and August 2017. The goal of this project is to raise awareness about native nations through the development of new courses and a website.

Jeff Munroe (Geology) and colleagues at North Dakota State University have received a grant from the Great Basin Heritage Partnership to fund fieldwork this summer in Nevada related to a research project titled Glaciation and Climate Change in Great Basin National Park. The project involves producing a glacial geologic map of the park, reconstructing the park’s glacial climates, and evaluating modern water resources in the park. 

Bill Waldron (Religion) and collaborators from the University of California-Davis and the Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages have received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to support a project titled Putting the Buddhism/Science Dialogue on a New Footing. The grant provides funding for a 10 day ‘brain-storming’ conference in Berkeley CA this summer with 20 leading neuroscientists, clinicians, philosophers and Buddhist scholars, and will take a ‘transdisciplinarity’ approach to the scientific study of meditation.

Sebnem Gumuscu (Political Science) has received a Travel Research Engagement grant from the Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS), a program based at George Washington University. The grant supports research in Turkey this summer for a project titled Islamists between Democracy and Authoritarianism: Comparing Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. The goal of this project is to understand Islamist parties’ trajectories from opposition to power with particular attention to their relationship with democracy in three countries of critical importance in the Middle East and North Africa. This field research will lend itself to a book manuscript on the evolution of Political Islam in these countries. The grant will fund travel expenses.

William Nash (American Studies, English & American Literatures) has been awarded a grant to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute titled Making Modernism:  Literature and Culture in Twentieth-Century  Chicago, 1893-1955. The 4-week institute is sponsored by and based at the Newberry Library in Chicago. Participants will explore Chicago’s contribution to the modernist movement, with particular attention given to literature and the visual arts. Last summer, Will was selected to participate in a two-week NEH Summer Seminar sponsored by Winthrop University, held at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, titled Take Note and Remember: The Commonplace Book and Its American Antecedents.

Frank Winkler (Emeritus Professor, Physics) has been awarded funding from the NASA-funded Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for his role in a collaborative research project involving researchers at NASA's Space Telescope Science Institute and Australian National University (ANU). This project, titled N103B: A Type Ia Remnant with Circumstellar Interaction...Kepler’s Older Cousin?, entails observations from NASA's orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, together with analysis of ground-based data recently obtained from the Wide-Field Spectrograph instrument on ANU’s 2.3m telescope at Siding Spring Observatory. These ground-based observations also include other supernova remnants in the Small Magellanic Cloud, and integrating this information with other data will help to achieve a more complete understanding of supernovae and the interstellar medium.

Tom Manley (Geology) has received additional funding from the Lintilhac Foundation to support two more years for the previously funded project titled High-Resolution Bottom Mapping of Lake Champlain. This long term effort will update the 2005 bottom bathymetric map of Lake Champlain and provide a significant increase in the resolution of the lake bottom that is important to the recreation, research, and management communities.

Kareem Khalifa (Philosophy) has been selected by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) as a 2017 Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellow. This prestigious program provides a full year of support for recently tenured faculty members as they pursue ambitious scholarship at a consequential stage of their careers. The fellowship will enable Kareem to spend the 2019-2020 academic year at the Institute for Liberal Arts at Emory University pursuing a research project titled Explanation as Inferential Practice.

Eilat Glikman (Physics) has been awarded a grant from NASA for observations using the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), which is a telescope carried by a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft developed by NASA and the German Space Agency. Her two-year research project titled Spectral Energy Distributions of Red Quasars involves collaborators from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Yale University, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the University of California San Diego, and the Leibniz Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany. The investigation will involve the study of spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of a sample of dust-reddened quasars and is the follow-up to the results from the summer research of two undergraduates — a Middlebury physics major and a Swarthmore student who was part of the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium Research Experience for Undergraduates program— working in Dr. Glikman’s lab in 2016. SOFIA is the only facility able to observe theses SEDs, due to its sensitivity at long wavelengths requiring observations at high altitudes, and the data will produce a clearer picture of the complex process of quasar/galaxy co-evolution.

Jeff Munroe (Geology) has been awarded a 2017-18 Fulbright Scholar grant for teaching/research in Austria where he will be a Visiting Professor of Natural Science at the University of Innsbruck. Jeff will contribute lectures or a course for the graduate program in Quaternary Geology during the spring semester of 2018. His research for this grant, titled Speleothem-based Reconstruction of Last Glacial Maximum Paleoclimate involves collaboration with Austrian colleagues in one of the world’s foremost cave research laboratories. Samples collected from caves as part of Jeff’s long-term research in the Uinta Mountains of Utah will be analyzed in Innsbruck to shed new light on climatic conditions in the Rocky Mountains during the last glaciation.

Eilat Glikman (Physics), a 2014 recipient of the Cottrell College Science Award, has been named a 2017 Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation, a private foundation that aids basic research in the physical sciences. This program is highly selective—only two-dozen top early career academic scientists were selected this year—and it champions the very best early career teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics, and astronomy. This honor comes with a $100,000 award for Eilat for research and teaching. She plans to use this award to study quasar activity and its role in regulating how galaxies and their nuclear supermassive black holes grow, as well as to develop educational opportunities to make astronomy and physics more inclusive, with the ultimate goal of having more voices and minds contributing to solving the problems of the disciplines. Congratulations Eilat!

Peter Matthews (Economics) has been selected as the Fulbright-Hanken Distinguished Chair in Business and Economics for 2017-2018. During the academic year he will conduct research on the measurement and effects of dynamic inequality, and will lecture at Hanken University in Helsinki.

Paula Schwartz (French) has been awarded a 2018 Fulbright research fellowship to France for a project entitled Occupying the Occupiers: Women against the Wehrmacht. She will be doing archival work in Paris, Lyon, Grenoble, and Brussels to complete a study of Communist women resisters who were charged with infiltrating Hitler’s army. This work will complement interviews she conducted in the 1980s of surviving activists, then living in Vienna and Paris.

Pat Manley and Tom Manley (both Geology) have received funding as part of a statewide grant awarded to the VT-EPSCoR program at the University of Vermont (UVM) by the National Science Foundation. The goal of this five-year grant, titled Basin Resiliency to Extreme Events (BREE), is to  study and promote resiliency in the Lake Champlain Basin. Pat and Tom will be working with UVM researchers and Middlebury students to study circulation and sediment dynamics of the Winooski River outflow in order to better understand the delivery and disposition of sediment, nutrients, and potential contaminants into Lake Champlain. Year 1 of this 5 year program will focus on the deployment of 10 year-long subsurface moorings, high resolution bottom mapping of the region, and the deployment of 4 subsurface neutrally-buoyant Lagrangian drifters that will map water movement throughout the Main Lake at various depths. In subsequent years, these operations will be repeated to produce a long-term data set that will concurrently be used to calibrate a 3-dimensional numerical model of lake circulation.

Guntram Herb (Geography) has been accepted to the Digital Native American and Indigenous Studies workshop that will take place in May at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. This award covers all expenses of the workshop, including travel. The workshop will be instrumental for the development of new digital teaching modules on indigenous borderlands.

Noah Graham (Physics), a 2005 recipient of the Cottrell College Science Award, has been named a Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation, a private foundation that aids basic research in the physical sciences. This program is highly selective--only 5% of Cottrell College Science Award recipients since 1994 have been invited to join this stellar group. This honor places Noah in a national community of outstanding scholar-educators who produce significant research and educational outcomes and makes him eligible for unique grant opportunities. Congratulations Noah!

Frank Winkler (Emeritus Professor, Physics) has been awarded funding from the NASA-funded Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) for his role in a collaborative research project titled What Makes Radio-detected and Optically-detected Supernova Remnants in NGC6946 Different? The project, carried out in collaboration with colleagues from STScI, Johns Hopkins University, and Hofstra University, will use new observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, in conjunction with existing data from Hubble, from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, from optical telescopes at Kitt Peak in Arizona and Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and  from the Jansky Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico. The study will focus on understanding the remnants of exploded stars in the "Fireworks Galaxy," so named because it has produced more supernovae (9) in the past century than any other known galaxy. The researchers hope that their work will shed new light on the cycle through which stars are born, live, die spectacularly as supernovae, and disperse matter that will eventually become the raw material for new stars.

Christal Brown (Dance) received a grant from the New England Dance Fund of the New England Foundation for the Arts that provides support for the New England tour of her show The Opulence of Integrity, a multimedia ensemble work inspired by the public life and inner searching of boxing's outspoken superstar, Muhammad Ali.

Eilat Glikman (Physics) has been awarded a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy on behalf of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, to lead a research project titled Testing the Triggering Mechanism for Luminous, Radio-Quiet Red Quasars in the Clearing Phase: A Comparison to Radio-Loud Red Quasars. This three year project, involving collaborators from Yale University, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the University of California San Diego, and the Leibniz Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany, is based on observations of radio-quiet dust-reddened quasars and involves a study of the relationship between radio emission and host galaxy morphology. Evidence for mergers would support a picture in which luminous quasars and galaxies co-evolve independent of their radio properties; whereas the absence of mergers would link radio emission to mergers and require an alternate explanation for the extreme properties of these radio-quiet dust-reddened quasars. If mergers do not dominate the evolution of radio-quiet quasars, then a new paradigm for black hole and galaxy growth will need to be established.

Michelle McCauley (Psychology) has received funding from the Danish Institute for Study Abroad for her 2017-18 leave. She will be teaching one course, Environmental Problems and Human Behavior, and conducting research on understanding the psychological corollaries of environmental behavior. The award covers a stipend as well as housing and round trip travel.

Carlos Vélez‐Blasini (Psychology) has received a grant from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. The grant provides support for a study of the relationship between use of social networking sites, normative beliefs about sex, and relationship quality variables in US adults in and out of stable relationships. The work will provide insights into the impact of social networking on human behaviors and on social norms that can influence these behaviors, as well as help increase understanding of the relationship between use of social networking sites and well-being. Two Middlebury undergraduates will be working with Carlos on this project.

Christian Keathley and Jason Mittell (both Film and Media Culture) have received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the NEH Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities program for a project titled Scholarship in Sound and Image. The grant will support a pair of  two week workshops to be held  at Middlebury in June 2017 and June 2018, and these workshops will  build on the successful experience of their NEH-funded workshop held at Middlebury in 2015. The curriculum for these workshops is based on that 2015 workshop as well as on a course that has been successfully taught four times at Middlebury College. Each workshop will include participants whose objects of study involve audio-visual media, especially film, radio, television, and other new digital media forms. The two iterations of the workshop will subdivide the participants, inviting Ph.D. students in 2017 and faculty or postdocs in 2018.

Will Amidon, Ray Coish, and Pete Ryan (all Geology) have received support from the National Science Foundation for the purchase of a laser to accompany the department's existing inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS) instrument . This new instrumentation will give Middlebury College the ability to analyze isotope ratios and trace element concentrations of virtually all mineral phases, not just dissolved solutions, using laser ablation. Projects to be enabled by the new instrument include better understanding the tectonic evolution of the eastern U.S. and quantifying the sources of radionuclides in shallow aquifers.

Clarissa Parker (Psychology and Neuroscience) has been awarded a research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse through NIH’s R15 AREA program. The grant provides three years of funding to support a project titled Genome-Wide Association for Affective Withdrawal in Outbred Mice. The goal of this work is to use a highly recombinant mouse population to map genes in mice associated with the behavioral and physiological traits that characterize drug withdrawal. A better understanding of the pathways linking genetic variation and expression to neuronal function and behavior in mice will provide novel insights that can inform the prevention and treatment of drug use disorders in humans. The grant includes support for 6 undergraduate students.

AnGayle (AJ) Vasiliou (Chemistry and Biochemistry) has received a National Science Foundation grant through the Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) mechanism for a project titled RUI: Sulfur Chemistry: Molecular Mechanisms. The proposed work seeks to answer questions regarding the reaction mechanisms for the thermal decomposition of sulfur compounds encountered in petroleum and biofuels, which is currently poorly understood and in some cases completely unknown. This knowledge gap prevents any progress in refinery cleanup methodology, and the proposed work could lead to  technology improvements in current desulfurization processes for both petroleum and biomass refineries. Six Middlebury undergraduates will be working with AJ on this project.

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. Project grants support summer and academic-year effort for faculty members from June 2016-May 2017, and pilot grants support summer effort for faculty members from June 2016-August 2016. The following faculty members received individual grants from this program to support their research this year:

David Allen (Biology) received a pilot grant titled Elevational Gradient in Black-legged Tick Density and Borrelia-infection. The proposed work aims to understand how the population and phenology of the black-legged tick, the Lyme disease vector, change with elevation. Understanding this relationship will allow for more targeted tick control and Lyme disease prevention efforts. The grant includes support for two undergraduate students.

Amanda Crocker (Neuroscience) received a pilot grant titled Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Plasticity and Diversity in Neural Circuits. The proposed work aims to understand how long-term memories are encoded molecularly within individual neurons, and the work has the potential to provide novel molecular pathways and drug targets for age-related cognitive decline and diseases. The grant includes support for two undergraduate students.

Michael Dash (Psychology and Neuroscience) received a pilot grant titled Metabolic Consequences of Synaptic Plasticity. The proposed work aims to characterize the basic biological processes that maintain balance between energy supply and demand in the healthy brain, and the work will provide a foundation for novel therapeutic targets to treat the widespread impairments in energy balance and cellular communication characteristic of most neurodegenerative disorders. The grant includes support for one undergraduate student.

Michael Durst (Physics) received a renewal of his project grant titled High-Speed 3D Multiphoton Fluorescence Imaging with Temporal Focusing Microscopy. The proposed work aims to improve the speed of 3D multiphoton microscopy through temporal focusing, with the goal of reaching video-rate 3D imaging in biological tissue. The grant includes support for two undergraduate students.

Glen Ernstrom (Biology and Neuroscience) received a renewal of his project grant titled Genetic Analysis of Neurotransmitter Release in C. Elegans. The proposed research investigates how the pH of synaptic vesicles regulates how neurons signal. Greater understanding of this process could aid the development of novel drug therapies to either enhance or inhibit neurotransmitter release. The grant includes support for four undergraduate students.

Clarissa Parker (Psychology and Neuroscience) received a renewal of her project grant titled Genome-wide Association for Ethanol Sensitivity in the DO Mouse Population. The goal of this work is to use a highly recombinant mouse population to map genes in mice. A better understanding of the pathways linking genetic variation and expression to neuronal function and behavior in mice will provide novel insights that can inform the prevention and treatment of psychiatric disorders in humans. The grant includes support for two undergraduate students.

AnGayle (AJ) Vasiliou (Chemistry & Biochemistry) received a renewal of her project grant titled Thermal Composition of Biomass: Molecular Pathways for Sulfur Chemistry. The aim of this research is to elucidate the detailed chemical mechanisms and kinetics associated with the thermal decomposition of sulfur compounds found in biomass feedstock. The results of this work can be used to develop a sound strategy to suppress the formation of poisonous sulfur compounds during biomass decomposition, generating clean liquid fuels and ultimately lowering sulfur emissions. The grant includes support for two undergraduate students.

Will Amidon (Geology) has received support from the National Science Foundation for a project titled Testing Models of Passive Margin Rejuvenation in the Eastern U.S. He and a collaborator at the State University of New York Plattsburgh received a three year grant to work on understanding mountain uplift and erosion over the last 100 million years (Myr) in the northeastern United States.  The work address the fundamental question  of why mountains still exist in the northeastern U.S. despite more than 300 Myr since that last major tectonic collision.  One idea is that the northeast has experienced subtle tectonic events in the last 100 Myr which were strong enough to grow mountains, but difficult to detect through conventional methods.  Seven Middlebury undergraduates will be working with Will on this project.

Frank Winkler (Emeritus Professor, Physics) has been awarded funding from the NASA-funded Space Telescope Science Institute for his role in a collaborative research project involving researchers at Curtin University in Australia and Johns Hopkins University. This project entails observations from the Hubble Space Telescope and is titled Diagnosing the super-Eddington accretion/outflow regime using the microquasar MQ1 in M83. The goal of the observations, which come as a follow-up to previous studies from Hubble and from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, is to better understand an unusual black hole in the southern spiral galaxy M83, also known as the southern pinwheel. Previous studies suggest that the black hole provides the energy source for radiation in excess of what simple physics models allow (the "Eddington limit") , and has done so for thousands of years. The team hopes to learn how this is possible, or else why this interpretation may be incorrect.

Michael Linderman (Computer Science) has received funding from the National Institutes of Health for a research project entitled Developing a Genomics Literacy Measure. This NIH Small Grant, awarded to Michael earlier this year while he was at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has been transferred to Middlebury. The grant will fund the development and validation of a new measure to assess genomic literacy that is reliable across diverse groups of examinees. This tool will enable the rigorous measurement of genomic literacy in the general population and the evaluation of educational programs designed to improve genomic literacy.

Will Amidon (Geology) has received an Undergraduate Research grant from American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for a project titled Post-Rift Tectonism on Circum-Atlantic Margins. The goal of this research is to study the history of geologically recent mountain uplift and erosion in the northeastern U.S., where offshore sediment records suggest subtle tectonism occurred in the Late Cretaceous and Miocene. This work should provide basic information on when modern topography in the northeastern U.S. developed and also provide information about the stratigraphic evolution of Atlantic-style passive margins where many petroleum bearing deposits are formed. Six Middlebury undergraduates will be working with Will on this project.

AnGayle (AJ) Vasiliou (Chemistry and Biochemistry) has received an Undergraduate New Investigator grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for a project titled Sulfur Chemistry: Molecular Mechanisms. The proposed work seeks to answer questions regarding the reaction mechanisms for the thermal decomposition of sulfur compounds. Because raw energy sources such as coal, petroleum, and biomass all contain varying quantities of sulfur contaminants, this work should provide useful information for improving sulfur removal technologies. Six Middlebury undergraduates will be working with AJ on this project.