Friday, January 22, 2010

Washington College Receives Research Grant From National Science Foundation

CHESTERTOWN – Washington College is pleased to announce that it has received a research grant of $333,579 from the National Science Foundation.

The Major Research Instrumentation grant will enable the College to acquire an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) with laser ablation system. The instrument will be used by a multidisciplinary team of faculty members who share a critical need for high sensitivity elemental analysis in order to pursue fundamental research in biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science and anthropology.

In addition, the instrument will create a wealth of new opportunities to engage undergraduate science students in cutting-edge research on campus.

The ICP-MS lab will also serve as a center for collaborative research and innovative teaching involving faculty, undergraduate science students, high school science teachers and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students from Kent County, as well as scientists from local environmental organizations.

“Use of the instrument will positively impact traditionally underrepresented groups, as 70 percent of Washington College’s science students are women, and the Kent County STEM academy draws from a student body that is one-third minorities,” said Leslie Sherman, W. Alton Jones Associate Professor of Chemistry at Washington College.

Washington College emphasizes undergraduate education through active inquiry and seeks to promote faculty research.

In addition to Dr. Sherman, principal investigators of the grant are Anne Marteel-Parrish, Associate Professor of Chemistry; and Karl Kehm, Adrian Reed Associate Professor of Physics and Earth and Planetary Science.

The mass spectrometer will further the work of faculty associates on the grant as well: John Seidel, Lammot duPont Copeland Associate Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies,
Chair of the Anthropology and the Sociology Departments, and Director of the Center for Environment & Society; and Mindy Reynolds, Assistant Professor of Biology.

“We are very excited about the new research opportunities this instrumentation will allow us to pursue,” said Dr. Sherman. “In addition, our students will gain invaluable experience working with the ICP-MS in collaborative research projects. Few liberal arts schools have this instrument.”

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