Tag Archive for Grants

NEA Supports Orchestra Director’s Ensemble

Angel Gil-Ordóñez is the director of the Classical

Angel Gil-Ordóñez is the director of the Post-Classical Ensemble in Washington DC. (Photo by Tom Wolff)

With a boost from National Endowment for the Arts, Angel Gil-Ordóñez’s Washington DC-based orchestra will continue making music for seasons to come.

Gil-Ordóñez, music director of the Wesleyan Orchestra, adjunct professor of music, director of private lessons, chamber music and ensembles, learned that his Post-Classical Ensemble received a $50,000 grant from The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The award is made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“We are still jumping for joy,” Gil-Ordóñez says. “It is such an honor, and reassurance that the NEA and the Recovery Act consider that our work must be assured continuity.”

Gil-Ordóñez and artist

Bank Foundation Supports Etherington Scholarships

The Etherington Scholarship Program received a grant worth $2,000 from the Liberty Bank Foundation on July 6. The Etherington Scholarships offer outstanding students from Connecticut community colleges a chance to attend Wesleyan.

NSF, NIH Support Burke’s Development, Evolution Research

Ann

Ann Burke, associate professor of biology, received grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health to study amphibian systems.

Ann Burke, associate professor of biology, recently received a three-year, $395,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the development and evolution of the shoulder girdle using transgenic mice, frog and salamander.

The mice will be generated in collaboration with a lab at the University of Michigan and will allow Burke and her associates to turn off Hox genes, which are specific patterning genes, in specific sub populations of the embryonic mesoderm that make the musculoskeletal tissues.

Pictured is a three dimensional reconstruction of a mouse and chicken scapula. Ann Burke, associate professor of biology, received two grants that fund her research on the scapula's development.

Pictured is a three dimensional reconstruction of a mouse and chicken scapula. Burke is studying the scapula's development.

“Comparing the dynamics of gene expression and cell interactions during the formation of the pectoral region in a variety of embryos will help us understand the evolution of these musculoskeletal structures and the dramatic variations among vertebrate lineages associated with adaptations for different locomotor strategies, like swimming, scurrying, crawling and flying,” Burke explains.

The frog and salamander experiments will use transplants of mesoderm between wild type embryos and embryos that have Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) expressed in all their cells, allowing Burke and her associates to fate map mesodermal cell populations.

Fate mapping is determining which cellular structures in the embryo give rise to which adult structures.

“We do this by transplanting the embryonic structure from a labeled embryo (GFP in this case) into the same spot in an unlabeled embryo, and tracing the ‘fate’ of the labeled cells, that is which adult structure they end up in,” Burke says.

Burke also received a two-year $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to use the same amphibian systems (salamander and frog) to develop a model system for understanding body wall defects in humans.

The grants will provide funds for a team of researchers at Wesleyan working with Professor Burke on these projects, including a postdoctoral fellow, graduate students and undergraduates.

“Receiving these two new federal grants, plus a grant from the Eppley foundation earlier this year, is a remarkable accomplishment in any year, but particularly this year as funding levels have dropped precipitously,” says Jan Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Burke Awarded NSF, NIH Grants

Ann Burke, associate professor of biology, received a three-year, $395,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the development and evolution of the shoulder girdle using transgenic mice, frog and salamander. She also received a two-year $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to use the same amphibian systems (salamander and frog) to develop a model system for understanding body wall defects in humans.The grants will provide funds for a team of researchers at Wesleyan working with Burke on these projects, including a postdoctoral fellow, graduate students and undergraduates.

Dierker, Rose Receive NIH Grant for Smoking Study

Lisa Dierker, associate professor of psychology, and Jennifer Rose, research associate professor of psychology, received a grant worth $521,938 from the National Institute of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse on May 14. The grant was issued under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Dierker and Rose are researching “Individual Differences in Smoking Exposure and Nicotine Dependence Sensitivity.” The grant will be applied over two years.

$700,000 NSF Grant Will Transform Plous’ Website

More than 1,500 people are members of the Psychology Social Network, managed by Scott Plous.

Approximately 2,000 scholars are members of the Psychology Social Network, founded by Scott Plous. The National Science Foundation recently awarded Plous a $700,000 grant to transform the site into a full featured social networking service.

Before the internationally-known social network site Facebook existed, there was Social Psychology Network (SPN), founded at Wesleyan in 1996 by professor of psychology Scott Plous. Three years after launching his site, Plous received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to enhance SPN. Now NSF is providing a new $700,000 grant to help Plous transform the site into a full featured social networking service for visitors and its approximately 2,000 members across the world.

The primary users of SPN are researchers, educators, students, and others interested in psychology. According to the site’s usage page, more than 10,000 people from over 100 countries visit the Social Psychology Network in a typical 24-hour period. All told, SPN’s pages have been visited more than 160 million times over the past decade.

The SPN features professional profiles of some of its members.

SPN features professional profiles of some of its members.

The new NSF grant provides support for Plous to hire a social networking specialist to add more Web 2.0 functionality. Currently, the site is operated by a small team consisting of Plous, executive director; David Jensenius, system administrator; Mike Lestik, web designer; Jen Spiller, senior web editor; R.J. Herrick, web programmer; and a few student assistants.

Plous says that the grant will allow SPN to bring the latest web-based networking technologies to the social psychology community. When this work is completed, users will be able to link their profiles to “colleagues” (similar to “friends” in Facebook) and establish mini-networks based on shared research interests, career level, geographic location or other attributes. Users will also be able to track each other’s publications, subscribe to profiles, and be notified of new content.

Social Psychology Network now includes a Google "mash-up" in which the global network of SPN profiles can be searched geographically.

Social Psychology Network now includes a Google "mash-up" in which the global network of SPN profiles can be searched geographically.

These features build on interactive and subscription-based services that Social Psychology Network has already developed. For example, SPN offers RSS feeds, Twitter updates, and a Google “mash-up” in which the global network of SPN profiles can be searched geographically. The Network’s searchable directory also includes nearly 700 Media Contacts willing to talk with reporters about behavioral science topics, and over 450 SPN Mentors offering free career assistance to students from underrepresented groups.

“Scott Plous’ continued success at securing significant financial support is a strong endorsement of his efforts to support the global dissemination of knowledge and facilitate communication among scholars worldwide,” says Ruth Striegel-Moore, professor and chair of psychology.

“Credit is also due to Information Technology Services and the Administration for their early support in the development of Social Psychology Network. And, of course, SPN thrives thanks to Plous’ vision, creativity, and boundless energy,” Striegel-Moore says.

Plous Awarded NSF Grant for Psychology Network

Scott Plous, professor of psychology.

Scott Plous, professor of psychology.

Scott Plous, professor of psychology, received a $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for the Social Psychology Network. Plous founded the web-based presence in 1996.

The grant will be used to transform the site into a full featured social networking service for visitors and its approximately 2,000 members across the world. For more information read the accompanying article in The Wesleyan Connection.

Odede ’12, Posner ’09 Receive Award to Build School in Kenya

Kennedy Odede

Kennedy Odede '12, pictured inside his home in Kibera, Kenya, received a Projects for Peace award to build a School for Girls in Kenya's largest slum. Jessica Posner '09 is a co-recipient of the award, and will assist Odede during the 10-week project this summer.

Born and raised in Africa’s largest slum, Kennedy Odede ’12 witnessed abuse, rape, domestic violence and general mistreatment of school-aged girls in his community. His own sister, at age 17, gave birth to a baby recently as a result of rape.

Sadly, this is the norm. Without access to education, many of the girls are forced into commercial sex work at early ages. The Kenyan Government views the slum, named Kibera, as an illegal settlement and therefore does not provide any services or government-funded schools.

“Girls in my community lose their hope of ever attaining an education and ever leaving the slum,” Odede explains.

Jessica Posner '09.

Jessica Posner '09.

As 2009 Davis Projects for Peace grant recipients, Odede and his project partner Jessica Posner ’09 hope to make a difference in these girls’ lives by constructing the slum’s first all-girls school called the Kibera School for Girls. Project for Peace awards, worth $10,000, are designed to encourage and support today’s motivated youth to create and tryout their own ideas for building peace.

The school will offer 105 girls in grades K through six a high-quality formal education based on Montessori school teachings, as well as daily nourishment, self-empowerment, and a refuge from the pressures of the slum. By preparing students for higher education and skilled jobs, Posner says the school will keep the girls out of prostitution and offer them a potential path out of the slum.

“Our hope is that after they leave the school, they will be academically qualified for scholarships at prestigious government boarding schools, and can eventually attend college,” Posner says.

Mukerji Awarded NSF Funding for Her DNA Research

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, uses a UV resonance Raman spectrometer to measure molecular vibrations. She examines the structure of DNA, to understand how protein modulation of the structure can lead to tumors and other diseases.

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, uses a UV resonance Raman spectrometer to measure molecular vibrations. She examines the structure of DNA, to understand how protein modulation of the structure can lead to tumors and other diseases.

Errors in genomic DNA can lead to tumors and other diseases. By probing specific DNA structures, Ishita Mukerji hopes to gain an understanding of how such medical conditions can be prevented or possibly cured.

Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, studies how different proteins recognize and bind to DNA. Specifically, she examines four-stranded DNA structures, known as “Holliday junctions,” which are involved in DNA repair and recombination. These are different from the common, two-stranded DNA.

On April 1, Mukerji will receive a four-year grant worth $798,368 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund her research project, “Structure and Function of Holliday Junctions Complexed With Proteins Probed by Fluorescence and UV Raman Spectroscopic Methods.”

“Both DNA repair and recombination are vital functions of the cell, which are needed to maintaining a stable and active genome,” Mukerji explains. “Our goal is to study the structure of the junctions and how that relates to their function.”

Holliday junction structures can be changed by protein binding. Mukerji will examine how these structures are altered by proteins that are known to be involved in repair and recombination and are known to bind to junctions.

“These studies address the overall mechanism of how DNA recombination occurs in the cell and the function of these proteins,” she says.

Chemistry graduate students Andrew Moreno and Jon King, MBB graduate student Yan Li and molecular biology and biochemistry major Olga Buzovetsky ’10, will assist Mukerji with the ongoing research.

Two different methods are used to study the DNA interactions: fluorescence spectroscopy and a laser technique, UV resonance Raman spectroscopy. By using the fluorescence method, the Mukerji group can examine and compare the structure of the junction and the protein-binding sites. By using the Raman technique, which examines molecular vibrations, they can probe protein and ion binding sites.

Wesleyan’s Chemistry Department and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department own several fluorescence spectrometers, and Mukerji has built her own, specialized UV resonance Raman spectrometer.

Most of the proposed research will be completed in Mukerji’s lab, although some computational studies will be done in collaboration with David Beveridge, the University Professor of the Sciences and mathematics, professor of chemistry. She is also collaborating with the Hingorani lab (MBB department) to study how proteins involved in mismatch repair and meiotic recombination bind to Holliday junctions. One set of experiments will be conducted at SUNY Buffalo.

The group will also examine how the protein-junction complex either facilitates or suppresses certain processes.

“One theory that we have is that the proteins we are studying suppress recombination as a means of preserving or maintaining the genome.” Mukerji says. “This is an idea that will be tested with the proposed experiments.”

Grant Supports Green Street’s Community Mural Project

The Green Street Arts Center received a grant worth $10,000 from Citizens Bank and the Citizens Bank Foundation to support the Community Mural Project, an 18 month-long art program that will culminate in a large public mural, to be installed in the spring of 2009 on the corner of Main and Green Streets in the North End of Middletown. Led by mural artist Marela Zacarias, the project’s participants are a diverse group of Middletown children, their families, professional artists, Wesleyan students, and other community members.

Mukerji Awarded $780K from National Science Foundation

Ishita Mukerji.

Ishita Mukerji.

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a $798,368 grant from the National Science Foundation for her project “Structure and Function of Holliday Junctions complexed With Proteins Probed by Fluorescence and UV Raman Spectroscopic Methods.”

The grant is a continuing grant which has been approved on scientific / technical merit for approximately four years. The grant will be awarded April 1.

Dierker Receives $50K for Addiction Research

Lisa Dierker, professor of psychology, has received a $50,000 research grant from the Peter F. McManus Charitable Trust. The award will support her work focusing on individual differences in the development of addiction. This research is aimed at identifying youth at greatest risk for dependence at various levels of alcohol and tobacco exposure.