Tag Archive for Grants

NASA Selects 2 Proposed Venus Mission Concepts Co-Developed by Gilmore

Gilmore

Martha Gilmore, George I. Seney Professor of Geology and professor of earth and environmental sciences, believes that if scientists are able to measure Venus’s atmosphere and surface, we can better understand the climate, volcanic activity, and the habitability of Earth-size worlds. The selected missions aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like planet after it was potentially another habitable world in the solar system with an Earth-like climate. (Photo by Henry Greenwood)

Two proposed Venus mission concepts co-developed by planetary geologist Martha Gilmore were selected by NASA’s Discovery Program this week. The selected missions aim to understand how Venus became a scorching planet after it was potentially another habitable world in the solar system with an Earth-like climate.

Gilmore, George I. Seney Professor of Geology, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is a co-investigator of both winning concepts. Each project will receive approximately $500 million per mission for development and is expected to launch in the 2028–2030 timeframe.

The projects include VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy) and DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging Plus).

“Venus is so critical to our understanding of how Earth-sized planets form in our solar system and other solar systems,” Gilmore said. “I can’t wait to see what we know about Venus in 20 years—will we know then that Venus was once covered in oceans? Will we know how the inner planets acquired their water inventory? Will we know how to recognize habitable planets around other stars? Will we find evidence of life there?”

VERITAS, a Venus orbiter, will create high-resolution topography imaging of Venus’s surface and produce the first maps of the planet’s global surface composition. By charting surface elevations of nearly the entire planet, scientists will be able to learn more about the geological history of the planet and why it developed so differently than Earth. VERITAS also will map infrared emissions from Venus’s surface to map its rock type and determine whether active volcanoes are releasing water vapor into the atmosphere. VERITAS is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

DAVINCI+ is an atmospheric probe that would be managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. As the probe plunges into Venus’s thick atmosphere, it would measure the chemical composition, revealing the possibility of a history of water on Venus. In addition, DAVINCI+ will return the first high-resolution pictures of the unique geological features on Venus known as “tesserae,” which may be comparable to Earth’s continents, and, as the oldest terrains on Venus, may record past climates. This will be the first U.S.-led mission to Venus’s atmosphere since 1978.

“Having these two such complementary missions is a dream come true,” Gilmore said. “I’m so happy and look forward to working with our students on this fascinating planet.”

According to NASA, these investigations are the final selections from four mission concepts NASA picked in February 2020 as part of the agency’s Discovery 2019 competition. Following a competitive, peer-review process, Gilmore’s missions “were chosen based on their potential scientific value and the feasibility of their development plans.” The project teams will now work to finalize their requirements, designs, and development plans.

NASA“We’re revving up our planetary science program with intense exploration of a world that NASA hasn’t visited in over 30 years,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science in a June 2 press release. “Using cutting-edge technologies that NASA has developed and refined over many years of missions and technology programs, we’re ushering in a new decade of Venus to understand how an Earth-like planet can become a hothouse. Our goals are profound. It is not just understanding the evolution of planets and habitability in our own solar system, but extending beyond these boundaries to exoplanets, an exciting and emerging area of research for NASA.”

Established in 1992, NASA’s Discovery Program has supported the development and implementation of over 20 missions and instruments. These selections are part of the ninth Discovery Program competition.

Gilmore, who also is the co-coordinator of Wesleyan’s Planetary Sciences program, is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, has served on dozens of NASA and National Academy of Sciences-NRC Committees, has mentored more than 20 master’s degree recipients, has served as chair of the Wesleyan’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Venus Exploration Analysis Group, deputy chair of VEXAG, and has a publication record of fundamental research contributions in planetary geoscience, particularly on the geological evolution of the Earth, Venus, and Mars.

In 2020, she received the Randolph W. “Bill” and Cecile T. Bromery Award from the Geological Society of America for her exemplary contributions to research in the geological sciences and for being an instrumental mentor to young people of color.

JCCP Awards 13 Student-Led Groups with Innovation Funds

Thirteen student-led groups are the recipients of Jewett Center for Community Partnerships Student Innovation Fund awards.

These awards support community engagement projects with grants up to $750 each.

“The common theme is that they all want to positively impact the greater Middletown community,” said Rhea Drozdenko, JCCP community participation coordinator. “There is no one right way to do community engagement, and the Innovation Fund supports nontraditional ideas. It’s important that our grantees are grounded in the ideas of mutual respect and collective responsibility as they go out into the community.”

All applicants are required to read the Cardinal Community Commitment —the University’s collective approach to civic engagement—before starting their work.

“Students also must become familiar with the community they wish to serve, practice ongoing self-reflection, embrace a spirit of humility with their work, and be an adaptable collaborator and partner,” Drozdenko said.

Students Awarded $5,000 Seed Grants for Socially-Good Ventures

seed grant pitch

On April 2, six Patricelli Center Seed Grant finalists pitched their projects, virtually, to a panel of expert judges.

Wesleyan’s organic farm, an eco-friendly clothing store, and a clean water supplier in New Jersey are the recipients of the 2021 Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Seed Grants. These student-led social ventures will each receive $5,000 in unrestricted funds as well as training, advising, mentoring, incubator workspace, and other resources from the Patricelli Center.

On April 2, a pool of finalists pitched their projects, virtually, to a panel of expert judges. Applicants were assessed on their project design, leadership qualities, and potential for social or environmental impact.

Seasoned Seed Grant judge and Patricelli Center Advisory Board member Syed Ali ’13 said the PCSE’s Seed Grant competition demonstrates “the best of Wesleyan. These students brought both creativity and critical thinking to their proposals. They see clearly that every person deserves clean water, good food, and a healthy planet and recognize we are going to have to think differently to achieve that.”

On April 5, the Patricelli Center announced the Seed Grant winners:

Infinitely: Doing Good While We’re Here by Nimra Karamat ’23 and Ashley Cardenas ’23.

Nimra Karamat ’23 and Ashley Cardenas ’23 are the co-creators of Infinitely: Doing Good While We’re Here. With Infinitely, Karamat and Cardenas are offering products that are made in an eco-friendly fashion.

Infinitely: Doing Good While We’re Here by Nimra Karamat ’23 and Ashley Cardenas ’23

Karamat and Cardenas are working to launch a sustainable, affordable line of clothing that combats the fast fashion industry and all the environmental and humanitarian concerns it raises. Their first collection will launch later this spring.

“We pride ourselves in doing good while we’re here, for when we’re no longer here,” Cardenas explained. “Fast fashion companies don’t offer quality in sustainable products. They create a high demand production for cheap materials to keep up with the latest trends.”

Infinitely is partnering with other sustainable businesses—small and large—to increase the demand and access to sustainable clothing.

“Unlike other sustainable businesses that overprice their clothing materials, Infinitely is dedicated to remaining accessible for everyone in advocating for social issues through our clothing materials,” she said.

Elam Grekin '22 and Franny Lin '21

Elam Grekin ’22 (pictured) and Franny Lin ’21 are members of Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm community.

Long Lane Farm, Summer Farming by Elam Grekin ’22 and Franny Lin ’21

Since its founding in 2003, Long Lane Farm has worked towards a model of food sovereignty, in which all people not only have access to affordable, healthy meals, but also have a say in how their food is produced.

“Following the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic to both the farm and our communities, we will look ahead, strengthen and expand our role in the community, and shore up our strategies for the future,” Lin said.

Lin and Grekin have both spent ample time growing food at Long Lane Farm, and they hope to use the farm as a means of helping fight food insecurity in Middletown. They seek to create a farm stand, launch educational initiatives, and host community events to bring people together while working towards their goal.

“As the pandemic eases, this is the time for us to rebuild our relationships with the Middletown community,” Lin explained. “This grant would allow us to hire more farmers, giving us the freedom to focus on community building and food insecurity without having to sacrifice our ecological growing practices or vegetable yields. It will also allow someone to focus on the longevity of these relationships.”

Newark Water Association by Vincent Henrich '24.

Vincent Henrich ’24 created Newark Water Association by

Newark Water Association by Vincent Henrich ’24

Henrich launched the Newark Water Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in 2020 to provide the community of Newark, N.J. with access to clean, safe, and free water.

“Newark residents are still drinking lead-contaminated water,” Henrich said. “The immediate need is not being met. This is where Newark Water Association stepped in. We supported the immediate need by supplying those who needed the water the most with our bottled water project.”

He focuses on giving bottled water to groups who could not otherwise access uncontaminated water.

Runners up included: B4 ~ Bold, Brave, Beautiful, Bald by Kara Hodge ’24 and Alexis Papavasiliou ’24; Hearth Creative Co. LLC by Nélida Zepeda ’23; and Olive Branch Pictures Inc. by Andrew Hirsh ’20, Kevin DeLoughry ’21, and Liam Trampota ’18. The Seed Grant and other Patricelli Center programs are made possible by numerous donors and volunteers, including Propel Capital, Newman’s Own Foundation, and the Norman Ernst Priebatsch Endowed Fund for Entrepreneurship.

Ali, who works as an analyst for HR&A Advisors, an urban planning / public policy / economic development consulting firm, admired the diversity of projects pitched by the students. 

“For every single venture, even the ones who were not crowned winners, the judges saw tremendous potential in what these students could achieve with the passion and leadership they demonstrated,” Ali said. “These students and teams exemplify the spirit of innovation and impact shared by so many members of the Wesleyan community.”

 

Kottos Awarded Simons Collaborative Grant to Advance Wave Transport Research

kottos

Professor Tsampikos Kottos is one of 11 researchers worldwide to receive funding from the Simons Collaborations in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences Initiative. Simons is awarding $16 million total in funding over the next eight years.

With support from the Simons Foundation, Tsampikos Kottos, Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of physics, will work on groundbreaking wave transport research, ultimately benefiting a broad range of technologies ranging from wireless communications and efficient energy harvesting, to biomedical and avionics sensing technologies.

Kottos is one of 11 principal investigators (PIs) from 12 universities and research institutions across the globe to receive funding from the Simons Collaborations in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences Initiative. The group’s project, “Harnessing Universal Symmetry Concepts for Extreme Wave Phenomena,” is based at the Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. (Read Kottos’ ASRC bio online here.)

During the first four years, Simons is awarding ASRC $8 million, out of which Wesleyan is receiving $600,000. In the second phase, Simons will award an additional $8 million.

The grant aims to stimulate progress on fundamental scientific questions of major importance in mathematics, theoretical physics, and theoretical computer science. This research aims to further the fundamental understanding of and ability to manipulate light and sound waves in order to facilitate the development of novel wave-based technologies.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Wesleyan to be part of this international coalition, which hopefully will address the next generation’s needs of classical wave-based technologies,” Kottos said.

Kottos’s research interests include linear, nonlinear, and non-Hermitian wave transport, mesoscopic transport, and mathematical physics. He has published more than 140 papers. During the 2020–21 academic year, Kottos is teaching PHYS 324: Electricity and Magnetism; PHYS 521: Physics Colloquium; PHYS 214: Quantum Mechanics; and PHYS 510: Theoretical Physics Seminar II.

In addition to participating in the research, Kottos also is serving on the Simons Collaboration Initiative steering committee.

Wesleyan University Press Receives Grant from the Literary Arts Emergency Fund

On Sept. 16, the Literary Arts Emergency Fund awarded Wesleyan University Press with a $25,000 grant to help with its financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Literary Arts Emergency Fund is administered by the Academy of American Poets, the Community of Literary Magazine and Presses, and the National Book Foundation. Wesleyan is among 282 nonprofit literary arts organizations, magazines, and presses across the nation that are receiving part of the $3,530,000 million in emergency funding.

“We are delighted and grateful to receive this support from the Literary Arts Emergency Fund. So much in the world is difficult right now, and literature, books, and reading can help,” said Suzanna Tamminen ’90, director and editor-in-chief of Wesleyan University Press. “The act of reading is also a kind of active listening. We are given new perspectives, and we are drawn into a moment that connects us to the past and the future in transformative ways. Reading brings us into dialogue and into community, even when we are remote.”

Wesleyan University Press publishes books of poetry as well as scholarly books in dance, music, and literary studies. The Press has garnered national and international accolades for its work, including six Pulitzer Prizes, three National Book Awards, three Griffin Poetry Prizes, and an Anisfield-Wolf Award, among many others.

Shusterman Awarded $1.8M NSF Grant to Design and Test Preschool Math Games

Anna Shusterman

Anna Shusterman

Before children enter Kindergarten, they’re often interested in mathematical concepts like patterns, numbers, and logic. However, math remains under-supported in most preschool settings in the United States.

As a recipient of a $1.8 million grant by the National Science Foundation, Associate Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman hopes to address this educational need by providing preschool settings with a research-based, developmentally appropriate, conceptually rich, flexible, and fun collection of math games that can be incorporated into any classroom.

“The preschool years have long been recognized as an opportune time to engage children in mathematical thinking, bootstrapping their natural curiosity and laying a foundation for future academic success and lifelong numeracy,” Shusterman said.

Her project, titled “Implementation and Efficacy Study of the Wesleyan Preschool Math Games,” has the potential to provide evidence for the benefits of incorporating a simple, playful set of materials into early childhood settings to increase children’s foundation for STEM learning.

NSF Funds Mark’s Research Into Impact of Pandemic on Courts

Alyx Mark

Alyx Mark

Assistant Professor of Government Alyx Mark studies the American separation of powers system, access to justice, and Supreme Court decision-making. She was recently awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant to study the response of state courts to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Congratulations on receiving the NSF RAPID grant! Can you please explain how this opportunity came about?

Near the beginning of the pandemic, NSF sent out a Dear Colleague letter soliciting project proposals related to COVID-19. When I read that letter, my first thought was that this was relegated to epidemiologists and others working in areas directly applicable to studying the pandemic. But when I began thinking about how it related to my own research, I realized there are quite significant impacts to how court systems work as a result of the pandemic. I submitted a brief overview of a project idea, and then they invited me to submit a full proposal. The funding was just awarded, and ultimately the whole process took just under a month—versus four months or more, which is typical for NSF funding. The NSF has a special funding stream that is exclusive to these types of projects.

Redfield Receives NASA Grant to Study the Properties of Outer Space

Seth Redfield

Associate Professor of Astronomy Seth Redfield will use the Hubble Space Telescope to measure composition, density, temperature, motion, and the spectroscopic signatures of gas and dust.

If a spacecraft were to quickly travel outside the solar system—potentially en route to a nearby exoplanetary system—it would need to pass through an atmosphere unfamiliar to scientists on Earth.

As a recipient of a $415,000 grant from NASA, Seth Redfield, chair and associate professor of astronomy, hopes to learn more about the mysterious makeup of this “outer space.”

“There are several very early designs for an interstellar probe, but first, we need to understand the properties of the space in between the stars if you are traveling through it, especially at high speed,” Redfield said. “Given the vastness of space, even in our nearest cosmic neighborhood of the closest stars, very high speeds are needed. The designs for an interstellar probe involve speeds that range from 11,000 miles per hour to 6 million miles per hour! These require the biggest rockets that NASA has ever built and new propulsion ideas that are still in very early design phases.”

Kurtz, Rose Receive NIMH Award for Schizophrenia Study

Matthew Kurtz

Matthew Kurtz

Jennifer Rose

Jennifer Rose

Two Wesleyan faculty received a $492,410 Academic Research Enhancement Award (R15) from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) to support their study titled “Comparing Cognitive Remediation Approaches for Schizophrenia.”

R15 awards provide funding for small-scale, new, or ongoing health-related meritorious research projects, enhancing the research environment at eligible institutions and exposing students to research opportunities.

The R15 principal investigator Matthew Kurtz, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, and R15 co-investigator Jennifer Rose, professor of the practice and director of the Center for Pedagogical Innovation, will work with a group of Wesleyan undergraduates for the duration of the three-year, randomized clinical trial that compares—for the first time—two well-studied approaches to cognitive training in schizophrenia.

MacQueen, Coolon, Mukerji Receive NIH Academic Research Enhancement Awards

Three Wesleyan faculty recently received Academic Research Enhancement Awards (R15) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

R15 grants stimulate research at educational institutions that provide baccalaureate training for a significant number of the nation’s research scientists, but that have not been major recipients of NIH support. Awards provide funding for small-scale, new, or ongoing health-related meritorious research projects, enhancing the research environment at eligible institutions and exposing students to research opportunities.

Amy MacQueen

Amy MacQueen

Amy MacQueen, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a $492,900 award on Aug. 7 for her research titled “How do Synaptonemal Complex Proteins Mediate the Coordinated?”

MacQueen investigates the molecular mechanisms that underlie how reproductive cells (sperm and eggs in humans and spores in yeast) form. In particular, she focuses on how the genetic material (DNA)—which is packaged into chromosomes—is evenly distributed during the cell division cycle (meiosis) that gives rise to reproductive cells.

NASA Supports Poulos’s Wildfire Research

Helen

Helen Poulos examines a high fire severity site.

Wildfires can transform forest ecosystems to varying degrees, depending on fire severity. While low-severity wildfires change plant community composition by killing short-statured trees and understory plants, high-severity fires result in top kill of above-ground vegetation. This variation in wildfire effects can have major impacts on post-fire vegetation composition and water stress.

Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, received a $300,000 grant from NASA on Dec. 5 to examine how forests can permanently change in response to high-severity wildfire in southeastern Arizona.