Tapestry depicting two birds
Sample of the “Bayeux Stitch,” part of History of Art Professor Eliza Garrison’s class titled The Bayeux Tapestry: Models, Contexts, and Afterlives, one of the courses in the Axinn Center for the Humanities’ Public Humanities Labs Initiative.

The Davis Educational Foundation has awarded a three-year grant to Middlebury College for its Public Humanities Labs Initiative.

This project will be led by the Co-Directors of the Axinn Center for the Humanities, Professor of History Febe Armanios and Henry N. Hudson Professor of English and American Literatures Marion Wells.

With support from the grant, at least twenty-one faculty members will design new courses or revamp existing ones to include a Public Humanities Lab, a venue for different forms of experiential learning within the Humanities. The Labs courses will collaborate with local Vermont nonprofits, museums, and businesses—or interact with national experts who will provide training to students seeking to acquire specific skills. They will culminate in a variety of public-facing humanistic projects including the production of exhibits, installations, blog posts, podcasts, digital storytelling, among many others. In all, they will represent applied aspects of the Humanities that confer a variety of concrete skill sets upon our students, encouraging them to appreciate the value of humanistic learning for their future careers and life goals.

This grant was received from the Davis Educational Foundation established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis’s retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarket’s, Inc.


Picture of female smiling brown hair and dark background

U.S. Department of Defense’s Army Research Office Grant Awarded to Professor Shelby Kimmel, Assistant Professor of Computer Science

The grant titled “Robustness of Quantum Algorithms,” is designed around the study of how to improve the run time of quantum algorithms. Kimmel and two students are supported by an Army Research Office grant in their work together on quantum algorithms.

Kimmel explains: “Quantum algorithms are procedures that are run on quantum computers. Small-scale quantum computers are just being built, but full-scale quantum computers will be able to solve certain problems faster than standard computers can.

“In past work, people have found that given a quantum algorithm, it can have a range of runtimes, depending on whether the input is worst case or not. This means that if someone promised you ahead of time that the input was not worst-case, you could run the algorithm for a shorter amount of time and still be successful.”

The grant will also allow the team to develop ways to overcome certain conditions that if present, cause an entire computation to be destroyed.

The Army Research Office is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory.

Large white and black microscope

Middlebury Awarded Two National Science Foundation MRI (Major Research Instrumentation) Awards

NSF states: “The MRI Program enables research-intensive learning environments that promote the development of a diverse workforce and next generation instrumentation, as well as facilitates academic/private sector partnerships.”

This year’s awards are led by Co-PIs Amanda Crocker, Michael Durst, Mark Spritzer, Catherine Combelles, and Clint Cave and by Co-PIs Anne Goodsell and Paul Hess, respectively.

Professor Crocker’s award will provide a confocal microscope for multidisciplinary research and teaching. In physics, a confocal microscope will allow students to employ a novel absorption-based imaging technique using the photothermal effect for contrast. In neuroscience, this microscope will allow students and faculty to investigate the development of the nervous system through multi- channel, high-resolution fluorescent immunohistochemistry and 3-D reconstructions. The grant also supports the pursuit of questions pertaining to the cellular response in neurons and glia to mechanical stress. The confocal microscope will allow Biology faculty to pursue questions involved in the regulation of vesicle release in C. elegans, memory formation in rats, and oocyte development.

Female looking over equipment of hoses, wires, elctronics
(Credit: A. Goodsell )

The award for Professors Goodsell and Hess will provide coupled wavemeters for precise excitation of charged and neutral particles in their work to cool and trap particles. In a process called laser cooling, diluted gasses of atoms or ions can be slowed and confined, levitating inside ultra-pure steel vacuum chambers. At this point the trapped particles can be used for next-generation applications, like voltage sensing or the simulation of microscopic crystal structure. To pursue such applications, Goodsell and Hess plan to use two different exotic atoms, rubidium and ytterbium, which each require several lasers with vastly different colors to successfully laser cool. These lasers’ colors will span from the ultraviolet to infrared regions of the spectrum of light, and levitation can only happen if the energy of the packets of laser light (laser photons) is precisely measured and controlled to within about 0.0001%. These advanced measurement capabilities will not only generate new scientific results, but also help generate meaningful research projects for undergraduate students at Middlebury College.

According to NSF rules, Institutions are only allowed to submit two MRI Award applications per year. Middlebury College is proud to have both applications approved.


Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs
Middlebury College Mail Center
14 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury, VT 05753