Coe receives $273,000 NSF grant to enhance student summer research

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2014-04-10 10:11:14 - General

Coe College has received an award of more than $273,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support student research for the three-year period from 2013 to 2016. The grant 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 chosen to host an REU site in physics and/or chemistry. In the physics division, Coe is one of only three small colleges in the country with an REU site, with 64 such sites nationally. In chemistry, there are 66 REU sites nationally, with only three at small colleges.

"This grant allows us to provide summer research opportunities for students from Coe and elsewhere in the nation, as well as local teachers," said Coe Physics Professor Dr. Mario Affatigato, who serves as the site director for the research program. "It is absolutely critical to our continuing efforts to create the next generation of scientists and engineers for the nation."

Specifically, the funding allows eight undergraduate students selected from colleges across the country to carry out high-level research at Coe in physics, chemistry and biology, with an emphasis on spectroscopy. Specifically, students and professors will conduct exciting research work in optics, materials science, musical acoustics, biomaterials, molecular biology and particle physics. The funds pay for student stipends, travel to conferences, assorted materials and supplies, and other expenses. The REU site will also fund research by two local high school teachers, who will spend seven weeks at Coe each summer.

Other Coe faculty members instrumental to the REU application and summer research include physics professors Dr. Steve Feller, Dr. Ugur Akgun and Dr. James Cottingham, chemistry professors Dr. Steve Singleton and Dr. Maria Dean, biology professor Dr. Paul Storer, and site coordinator Susan Noreuil.

In addition, the support provided by Coe administration was highlighted by the grant application reviewers. One wrote, "The proposal indicates measurable support from the administration at Coe College for the REU efforts, including some monetary benefits to students with respect to housing and tuition course credit, stipends for all seven research supervisors, some payment for recruitment expenses, and involvement from the school's Dean of Student Retention Services on relevant matters for measuring the program's success. This support is vital to the success of the program and shows the administration's dedication to carrying that out."

Since 2000, Coe has garnered more than $8 million in competitive NSF grants in support of its nationally recognized, world-class science programs. Each summer, approximately 50 undergraduate physics, chemistry and biology students from Coe and across the country participate in a wide variety of scientific research opportunities on the college's Cedar Rapids campus.

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.