Coe receives $215,000 NSF grant to extend student summer research

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
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2010-05-04 10:04:50 - General

Coe College has received an award of nearly $215,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support student research for the three-year period of 2010 to 2012. The grant, which is funded by the United States Department of Defense, will be used to extend the college's highly successful Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer research program. Coe remains one of only a handful of small colleges nationally in physics and/or chemistry to host an REU site.

The funding allows seven undergraduate students from small colleges to carry out high-level research at Coe in glass science, optics, environmental chemistry, acoustics, biology, and biomaterials. Each summer, approximately 50 undergraduate chemistry and physics students from Coe and across the country participate in a wide variety of scientific research opportunities on the college's Cedar Rapids campus.

According to Coe Physics Professor Dr. Mario Affatigato, who sought the award by serving as principal investigator for the proposal, the grant was fully funded, supported by high ratings in both physics and chemistry from the scientific educators who reviewed the proposal.

As an example, one grant reviewer commented, "Coe College has a strong culture of undergraduate research, going well beyond the REU program. Students that attend the REU program at Coe College are likely to have a valuable research experience that will increase the likelihood that they will remain in science and be successful. The program promotes training without compromising the research productivity."

Another reviewer noted, "Coe has a proven track record with undergraduate research, and NSF should continue to fund this program. The proposal documents the success of the previous program and appears to be a model to me for further development."

In the physics division, Coe is one of only three small colleges in the country with an REU site, with 57 such sites nationally. In chemistry, there are 73 REU sites across the country, and Coe is one of four located at small colleges.

Other Coe faculty members instrumental to the REU application and summer research include Physics Professors Dr. Steve Feller and Dr. James Cottingham, Chemistry Professors Dr. Steve Singleton and Dr. Maria Dean, Biology Professor Dr. Paul Storer, and site administrator Susan Noreuil.

With one of the leading undergraduate science programs in the country, Coe science departments have received more than $3 million in grants over the past decade. During the past year alone, Coe scientists have garnered more than $712,000 in NSF grants.

The REU proposal reviewers were complimentary of the interdisciplinary opportunities offered by Coe's science faculty. In addition to work in materials science, other interdisciplinary areas of specialization in the sciences at Coe include biochemistry/molecular biology, environmental science and musical acoustics.

The REU program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects designed especially for the purpose.