Recent Faculty Grants

Peggy Nelson (Sociology-Anthropology) has received an REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) Supplement to the National Science Foundation grant awarded last summer to Peggy and a collaborator from Wellesley, titled Social and Biogenetic Factors of New Forms of Families. This additional funding creates an unusual research training experience by covering  travel expenses and wages for a student to accompany Peggy and her collaborator to conduct interviews during Spring Break and after the semester ends.

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 STScI and University of Toronto. This project entails  observations from the Hubble Space Telescope and is titled To be or not to be the Progenitor: The Question about Tycho-B. The goal of the observations is a better understanding of the star that exploded as a supernova in 1572, commonly known as Tycho's Supernova, after the 16th-century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe who made careful records of it at the time.

John Schmitt (Mathematics) received a grant from the NSF-sponsored Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications, located on the campus of the University of Minnesota, to attend a workshop this fall titled Probabilistic and Extremal Combinatorics. While there, he presented a poster highlighting his work with two collaborators, one from the University of Georgia and the other a College alumnus.

John Emerson (Mathematics) received a modest grant through the Yale University Provost’s Fund for support of a project  titled Advances in Statistical Software Environments, on which he is working while on academic leave this year. The project grows out of an interest in changing the way statistics is taught,  and  it will develop educational materials and supporting illustrations suited for guiding students in undergraduate courses in using modern statistical computation.

John Schmitt (Mathematics) and colleagues from Dartmouth College, Bard College, Smith College, St. Michael's College, SUNY Albany, Wesleyan University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute have received funding from the National Security Agency  for two conferences this year on discrete mathematics. 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.

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:

Glen Ernstrom (Biology & Neuroscience) Project grant for work on Genetic Analysis of Neurotransmitter Release in C. Elegans. The grant provides funding for summer and academic-year effort from June 2014-May 2015 and includes summer stipends for two undergraduate summer research students.

 Clarissa Parker (Psychology & Neuroscience) Pilot support for a new project titled Genome-wide Association for Ethanol Sensitivity in the DO Mouse Population. The grant provides funding for 2014 summer effort and travel to present a paper at a conference in Uppsala, Sweden. Clarissa also applied for and was awarded funds to support an undergraduate summer research student.

 An-Gayle Vasiliou (Chemistry and Biochemistry) Project grant to support research into Thermal Composition of Biomass: Molecular Pathways for Sulfur Chemistry. The grant provides funding for summer effort during 2014 and includes funds for two summer research students.

Christian Keathley and Jason Mittell (both Film and Media Culture) have received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a two-week workshop at Middlebury in June 2015. Twelve participants will come to campus to explore the topic of producing video-based scholarship for the study of the moving image, with the goal of creating a special issue for the video-based journal [in]Transition that Keathley and Mittell co-edit. This grant, titled Scholarship in Sound and Image: Producing Videographic Criticism in the Digital Age, is funded through NEH’s Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities program and will be run in conjunction with the college's Digital Liberal Arts Initiative. See http://sites.middlebury.edu/videoworkshop for more information.

Peggy Nelson (Sociology-Anthropology) and a colleague at Wellesley College have been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for a two-year project titled Social and Biogenetic Factors of New Forms of Families. The goal of this project is to better understand the new kinds of relationships that are made possible when individuals have children through reproductive technologies involving “donor” eggs or sperm. Researchers will interview parents and offspring who participate in networks of connection with others who share the same donor as their children or themselves. Where possible, the researchers will also interview donors who have had contact with the parents of their offspring or the offspring themselves. At least two undergraduate students will be involved in this research.

Catherine Combelles (Biology) has been awarded an R15 research grant through the National Institutes of Health’s AREA (Academic Research Enhancement Award) program. This grant will support work to determine the effects of endocrine-disrupting compounds on the oocyte and the ovarian follicle, the structure that nurtures the developing oocyte. Because the health of adults, neonates, fetuses, and embryos all depend upon normal oocyte development, the findings will help to provide a foundation for improving not only female reproductive but also adult health. The grant funds research at Middlebury, the University of New Hampshire, and Emory University, including supplies and travel to conferences as well as Catherine’s 15-16 academic leave. At least 15 undergraduates will be involved in this research over the  next three years.

Susan Burch (American Studies) and Tara Affolter (Education Studies), with colleagues from Barnard, Haverford, Macalester, Oberlin, Vassar, and Scripps, have been awarded funding from the AALAC consortium (Alliance for the Advancement of Liberal Arts Colleges), the successor to the  Mellon 23 program, for a collaborative workshop that will be held at Barnard in the fall of 2015. The workshop, titled Critical Disability Studies and Universal Design for Learning, will bring together participants from 10 to 13 liberal arts colleges and Columbia University who have varied levels of expertise in these related topics that are so critical to better educating disabled and nondisabled students. Participants will collaborate to pursue four related goals: curricular development, pedagogical development, faculty collaboration with disability support services, and inter-institutional development across and between colleges.

Peter Nelson (Geography) and a colleague at Point Park University have received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation for a project titled International Rural Gentrification; research teams from the United Kingdom and France are also funded through their own respective national funding agencies. The entire project is part of the Open Research Area funding scheme for international social science research that now involves agencies in four European countries as well as the NSF. The objective of this multi-national collaborative project is to undertake the first in-depth cross-national integrated comparative study of the theory, forms, and dynamics of rural gentrification encompassing France, the UK, and the USA. The US team will compile a comprehensive database of rural gentrification indicators for each of the three countries and then identify a set of communities in the US in which to carry out in-depth case study analysis focusing on the different forms of rural gentrification and the various actors involved in the process. Scholars from the UK and France will do similar case study analyses in their respective countries. In addition to funding all the costs of the research in the US, the grant will also fund trips to Europe to meet with the entire research team; this research will be the focus of Pete’s academic leave in 2015-16.Three undergraduate students will be involved in this research.