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Coe receives $97,000 NSF grant to fund student research in physics

Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8605 or rpritcha@coe.edu

2013-05-28 11:06:08 - General

Coe College has received a $97,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to be used for student/faculty research on the science of glass over the next year. With one of the leading undergraduate science programs in the country, the college has now received NSF research grants continuously since 1986. Over the past 25 years, Coe has garnered more than $8.7 million in funding from the NSF to support scientific research and equipment, as well as the renovation of Peterson Hall.

The proposal that received the award was entitled "RUI: Coe College Undergraduate Research Program in Glass Science." The award is effective from August 2013 through July 2014. According to physics professors Steve Feller and Mario Affatigato, the grant will be used to fund continued glass research at Coe. The Coe Physics Department is known worldwide for working with undergraduate students in glass research.

Specifically, the grant will support Coe student/faculty research in glass both on campus and in laboratories around the world. Coe students will travel to Canada, England, Italy and Brazil in the next few years to conduct research and present their findings at international conferences as a result of the funding provided by the grant.

"We are very pleased by the continued NSF support for our glass research at Coe," said B.D. Silliman Professor of Physics Steve Feller. "The grant represents a continued endorsement of our work by the NSF, and it will provide extraordinary research opportunities for more than 10 Coe students this year."

The funding is the latest in a series of external grants received by Coe's science programs over the last quarter century, with more than $4 million going to the Physics Department alone. Approximately one in six grant applications receives funding, demonstrating the highly competitive nature of the NSF grant process.

Concerning the Coe grant proposal, one of the anonymous NSF reviewers of the proposal offered the following comments in his/her summary statement:

"The Coe College program in glass science can serve as a model for undergraduate research for the entire country. The program is continuously adding new quality to glass science and education. The principal investigators are well known, internationally recognized scientists with extremely high reputations in science and education. The proposal provides an optimal combination of national and international research activities. It will allow students to receive access to the most advanced experimental facilities in the world, such as CERN or the Rutherford Appleton Lab. Commitment to community service and high school education is another strong feature of the proposal."

Another NSF reviewer commented:

"As a researcher who also works at an undergraduate institution, I cannot conceal my envy at the level of undergraduate research activity that is happening at Coe College and its history of sustained success in educating a large number of students in the fundamentals of how to do research. The program at Coe is a shining beacon for others to steer towards. I know of no other RUI program that can boast these levels of student participation."

Coe is currently one of four small colleges in the U.S. to host a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site, also supported by the NSF, which provides opportunities for students from Coe and other colleges across the country to conduct research in chemistry and physics.