Tag Archive for Grants

NIH to Support Weir’s Research on Ribosome Protein Translation

Michael Weir

Michael Weir

Michael Weir, professor of biology, professor of integrative sciences, received a grant worth $491,599 from the National Institutes of Health in September. Weir will use the award to better understand how ribosomes — the machines that make proteins — choose sequences in mRNAs (messenger ribonucleic acids) to start protein translation.

“This is an ongoing challenge in biology and is of great importance for investigations of cell function,” Weir said.

Weir is testing the hypothesis that sequences downstream of the translation start codon of mRNAs can form transient base pairs with a conserved sequence in 18S ribosomal RNA (called the 530 loop). This ribosomal RNA sequence is part of the structure of the ribosome and is located in the ribosome entrance tunnel for mRNAs.

He proposes that the base pairing is like a car’s braking system that helps the ribosome pause at the start codon, and that the transient base pairing also helps the ribosome walk along the mRNA in three-nucleotide steps as it adds amino acids to the growing new protein chain.

Kuenzli, Horst Honored with NEH Grants for Book Projects

Two Wesleyan faculty received National Endowment for the Humanities grants on Aug. 9.

Katherine Kuenzli

Katherine Kuenzli

Katherine Kuenzli, associate professor of art history, received a $250,000 Scholarly Editions and Translations grant. She and project co-directors Michael André and Kathleen James-Chakraborty will use the funds to prepare a critical edition and translation of a selection of writings by the Belgian artist and essayist Henry van de Velde titled Henry van de Velde: Selected Essays, 1889–1914.

Scholarly Editions and Translations grants support the preparation of editions and translations of pre-existing texts of value to the humanities that are currently inaccessible or available in inadequate editions. Typically, the texts and documents are significant literary, philosophical, and historical materials; but other types of work, such as musical notation, also eligible.

Kuenzli also is working on a monograph titled Henry van de Velde: Designing Modernism. Together with Selected Essays, these projects recover van de Velde’s important role in Neo-Impressionist painting and the German Werkbund, and they demonstrate how ideas of internationalism and the total work of art lie at the heart of modern approaches to museum display, art education, and industrial design.

Humanities Open Book Program Supports Out of Print Book Digitizing

Wesleyan recently received a $100,000 grant through the Humanities Open Book Program for digitizing select titles in the areas of dance and theater that were previously published by Wesleyan University Press but are no longer in print.

The Open Book Program is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities, and is part of the agency-wide initiative called The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square. The purpose of the Open Book grant is to make out-of-print titles previously published by academic presses widely available in an open access (free) e-book format.

Barth, Patalano Receive Major Grant from National Science Foundation

Hilary Barth

Hilary Barth

Andrea Patalano

Andrea Patalano

Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, and Andrea Patalano, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, have received a major grant from the National Science Foundation. The $1,101,456 grant will support collaborative research on quantitative reasoning conducted in the Cognitive Development Lab (directed by Barth) and the Reasoning and Decision Making Lab (directed by Patalano). The research project will be conducted in collaboration with Sara Cordes at Boston College, which will receive an additional $177,496.

According to the NSF abstract, humans have an innate ability to estimate quantities yet their intuitions often contain biases that interfere with learning new ways to think about quantity. Weaving together strands of psychology, neuroscience, economics, and education, the researchers hope to shed light on the cognitive processes underlying our abilities to estimate 4 kinds of quantities: number, space, time, and probability. By comparing processes across these four distinct areas, the researchers aim to provide a unifying account of how children and adults estimate quantities, which has the potential to transform current understanding of the cognitive bases of how people learn in and across STEM disciplines. Achieving a simple unifying account is important because the ability to think well about quantity in all of these areas is fundamental to STEM learning.

Chitena ’19 Receives Davis Projects for Peace Grant to Teach Programming in Zimbabwe

Alvin Chitena ’19 at North College. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Alvin Chitena ’19, pictured here at North College on April 22, grew up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and worked with computers from the age of eight. He took his first computer class at Wesleyan. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Alvin Chitena ’19 has been awarded a Davis Projects for Peace grant of $10,000 to launch his project Zim Code at five high schools in Zimbabwe this summer. Zim Code provides Zimbabwean youth with free access to resources they need—computers, internet access and instruction—to learn computer programming and how to apply their new skills in their community.

Davis Projects for Peace was created in 2007 through the generosity of Kathryn W. Davis, a lifelong internationalist and philanthropist who died in 2013. It supports initiative, innovation and entrepreneurship by undergraduate students focused on conflict prevention, resolution or reconciliation in countries around the world.

Support Wesleyan Researchers in Crowdfunding Pilot

Four Wesleyan academic departments, from psychology to dance to chemistry to biology, are competing for grant funds through a new crowdfunding site specifically designed for research project fundraising.

experimentExperiment.com’s Challenge Grant for Liberal Arts Colleges asked scientists to define a scientific research question for the crowd with a prize for the project with the most backers. The pilot launched on Feb. 24 and concludes March 25.During this 31-day period, the goal is to reach $4,000 in funding. If so, the team is granted the money. If not, they receive nothing and no one’s pledges are charged. By backing a project, participants will receive updates, results and data from project creators.

Wesleyan research include how the brain prevents risky-decision making/addiction; the effects of using artificial sweeteners; controlling seizures with light; and the effectiveness of somatic mind-body practices on victims of the war.

On Wednesday, March 16 at 11:59 p.m., Experiment will award the project with the most backers $2,000 directly through their project page.

Wesleyan’s projects include:

2016 Patricelli Center Seed Grant Winners Announced

Members of team behind TRAP House, one of the three social ventures that won a seed grant, presented their pitch before a live audience of the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and others. Presenting (from left to right) are Irvine Peck's-Agaya '18, Gabe Weinreb '18, Bashaun Brown, and Sara Eismont '18.

Members of the team behind TRAP House, one of the three social ventures awarded a seed grant, presented their pitch before members of the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and others. Presenting (from left to right) are Irvine Peck’s-Agaya ’18, Gabe Weinreb ’18, Bashaun Brown and Sara Eismont ’18.

Three social ventures started by Wesleyan students were recently awarded $5,000 seed grants in the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s annual Seed Grant Challenge. They are Kindergarten Kickstart, TRAP House and Walking Elephants Home.

The last weekend in February, all six finalists for the seed grants presented pitches for their ventures before the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and Seed Grant judges, as well as representatives of CT Innovations and the ‎State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, fellow students, and others. The event was also livestreamed. One of the other finalists, <Zim/Code>, chose to withdraw from the Seed Grant competition before selections were made, after the project received $10,000 from another funder.

The remaining finalists, Give Education and Pertiwi Initiative, were awarded smaller runner-up grants funded by members of the Board of Trustees who attended the pitches and believed all six teams were worthy of validation.

“This was the third year that we awarded seed grants in a pitch competition format,” said Makaela Kingsley, director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “I am always blown away by the finalists, and this year was no exception. From Becca Winkler’s thorough understanding of the environmental and cultural conditions in northern Thailand to Irvine Peck’s-Agaya’s deep personal commitment to her economic development work, every person who took that stage captured the audience’s attention and garnered their support. More than launching ventures, this process helps students develop creative competence and confidence that will make them effective changemakers and capable leaders. I believe it’s a critical piece of a Wesleyan education.”

Patricelli Center Receives Challenge Grant from Propel to Complete Endowment

Propel Capital, a philanthropic and impact investing fund that supports innovative strategies to deploy capital for social impact, has announced a challenge grant to Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE). Every dollar raised in gifts or pledges to the PCSE endowment by June 2017 will be matched 1:1 by Propel, up to $700,000 which will fully endow the Center.

Co-founded by Jeremy Mindich ’87 and Sarah Williams ’88, Propel Capital provides grants and investments to nonprofits and social enterprises early or at critical junctures in their development. Mindich and Williams were part of a small group of Wesleyan alumni who came together in 2009, along with Bob Patricelli, and conceived of the Center. In 2011, Propel Capital provided seed funding to launch the Center’s programming. Williams co-chairs the Advisory Board and Mindich serves as a seed grant judge and advisor to the Center.

“One of the hallmarks of a Wesleyan education is the ability to challenge commonly held assumptions and beliefs and to chart new ways of doing things,” Mindich said. “The Center creates a pipeline of talented students skilled in this kind of thinking and then connects them to the amazing alumni network of Wesleyan social entrepreneurs.“

The Patricelli Center provides students with the training, experience, and connections to accelerate their growth as social entrepreneurs. “Wesleyan students combine ingenuity, drive, and passion for impact,” Williams said. “We are proud of the work the Center has done to date and excited about its future as a critical Wesleyan institution.”

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship provides workshops and a class, seed funding to explore new ideas, opportunities and training to serve on boards of local nonprofits, business mentors, summer internship financing, connections to and between alumni in related fields, and helps incubate new enterprises on campus. This year, the Center organized and hosted the first Social Impact Summit, a conference attended by 120 people that featured many enterprises launched by Wesleyan alumni.

In addition to its work around the world, Propel Capital is a sustaining supporter of key projects across Wesleyan, including the PCSE, the Center for Prison Education, and the Kevin Sanborn ’87 Scholarship and Summer Experience Grants.

To learn more about the Patricelli Center, visit www.wesleyan.edu/patricelli. For information about making a gift or pledge, contact Steve Kirsche at skirsche @ wesleyan.edu. View past News @ Wesleyan stories on the Patricelli Center here.

Wesleyan 1 of 12 Institutions Awarded Beckman Scholars Program

Wesleyan is one of only 12 institutions awarded a prestigious Beckman Scholars Program this year, according to Francis Starr, director of the College of Integrative Sciences and professor of physics, who directs Wesleyan’s Beckman program. The Beckman Scholars Program provides intensive research experiences and career mentoring to help Wesleyan undergraduates develop as leaders in the sciences.

Up to two Wesleyan students will receive this award annually, which carries a total stipend of $18,200 plus funds to support supplies and travel. Awards are normally made to sophomores to support research during the summer through the summer following junior year.

Green Street Receives Grant to Expand K-8 Math Institute

Cameron Hill, assistant professor of mathematics, taught an Intel Math course to area teachers as part of the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center's K-8 Math Institute. The Department of Education recently awarded GSTLC with a grant to expand its program and reach 90 teachers from three new school districts. 

Cameron Hill, assistant professor of mathematics, taught an Intel Math course to area teachers as part of the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center’s K-8 Math Institute. The Department of Education recently awarded GSTLC with a grant to expand its program and reach 90 teachers from three new school districts.

The Green Street Teaching and Learning Center has received a second round of funding from the State of Connecticut Department of Education to expand its K-8 Math Institute to three new school districts over the next two years.

The $428,479 Math and Science Partnership Award will allow Green Street offer the program to 90 teachers from the Hamden, Vernon and New Haven school districts in programs being offered this summer and next. Green Street works closely with district math coordinators to select teachers to participate.

“In Connecticut and all over the country, there are issues with math education—students aren’t achieving at the level they should,” said Sara MacSorley, director of the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. “With the adoption of Common Core standards in math, we wanted to come up with a program that would help improve teachers’ mastery of math concepts as well as their confidence with math.”

Air Force Supports Licata’s Software Verification Project

Dan Licata

Dan Licata

Dan Licata, assistant professor of computer science, is one of 56 scientists in the country to receive a grant from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) through its Young Investigator Research Program. The AFOSR is awarding approximately $20.6 million in grants.

The Young Investigator Research Program is open to scientists and engineers at research institutions across the United States who received PhD or equivalent degrees in the last five years and who show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research. Licata, who received a PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in 2011, will use his grant to study “Software Verification with Directed Type Theory.”

Licata’s proposed work will investigate the foundations of proof assistants, tools that programmers and mathematicians can use to help with their work.

“By using a proof assistant, a programmer can rigorously prove that a program will have good behavior every time it is run, finding errors before the program is deployed and run by the user,” Licata explained. “These tools have been used to verify many large programs and programming language implementations, and in the process many behavioral, efficiency, and security problems have been solved.”

The same tools, he said, also can be used by a mathematician to develop mathematics interactively with the computer, and to formally check that mathematical arguments are correct. This increases confidence in mathematical results and in some cases makes proofs easier to develop.

Licata’s will receive $360,000 over three years. The grant will allow him to hire a postdoc to collaborate on the project. For more information on the Young Investigator Research Program and to view other award recipients see this website.

The Endeavor Foundation Supports First Year Seminar Program

Wesleyan’s First Year Seminar Program (FYS) is benefiting from a three-year, $225,000 grant from The Endeavor Foundation of New York. The FYS program is part of a comprehensive effort to realize the potential of the first year of college to be academically transformative. With the Foundation’s support, Wesleyan will expand and enhance the program. This fall 43 FYS courses were offered to students; 10 FYS will be offered in the spring.

“The FYS program is a key part of our structure to support development of multiple student competencies, in this case in the area of writing, and to tie competency-building to different stages of students’ intellectual development,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Joyce Jacobsen. “On behalf of the university, I would like to thank The Endeavor Foundation for its generous support for our FYS program.”

The Endeavor Foundation’ generosity will enable Wesleyan to build a program that will be a model of pedagogical innovation and collaboration across disciplines.

Grant funds will be used to provide faculty stipends to develop and teach new FYS courses, and to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and the work they have done in the seminars in public presentations. Program funds are also available for faculty to collaborate with or bring to campus scholars and practitioners who are working in fields related to the seminar topic. The grant has already supported visitors at Wesleyan, including Cheryl Rose, DMV, deputy director at U.S. Arctic Research Commission in Anchorage, Alaska who visited the philosophy class, “What do Animals Think;” and Kevin Rothrock, project director at Global Voices Online, who visited the government class, “Writing the World.”

Ellen Nerenberg, the Hollis Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and Dean of the Arts and Humanities, is steering the FYS Program.

“Wesleyan also is considering focusing living-learning groups around a select set of the FYS courses next year,” Nerenberg said.

Founded in 1952 by Christian A. Johnson, The Endeavor Foundation is dedicated to efforts that foster independent thought, ethical understanding, deep appreciation of the arts and reverence for the natural world. The Endeavor Foundation pursues this objective primarily by supporting and catalyzing excellence in liberal arts education and related fields, and has supported the curricular and pedagogical development of a significant number of liberal arts colleges in the United States.