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Pinedale Online > News > August 2009 > UW receives 7 federal Stimulus grants
UW receives 7 federal Stimulus grants
by University of Wyoming
August 20, 2009

The University of Wyoming has received about $2 million in federal stimulus funds allocated to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to energize competitive research projects at universities across the nation.

Seven UW grants -- covering research on astronomy, climate change, geology, insect cells and neuroscience -- have been approved on the heels of another record-breaking year for external funding at the university. UW received a record $81 million in external funding in the 2008-09 fiscal year, marking the 23rd consecutive year that the UW Office of Sponsored Programs has reported an increase in external awards by faculty, research scientists and administrative personnel.

"We are especially pleased with the National Science Foundation's and National Institutes of Health's support of our faculty's continuing research and their efforts to enhance understanding in each of their fields of expertise," says Bill Gern, UW vice president for research and economic development. "This is an exciting time for the university. We are celebrating yet another record year in external funding, and I think it's clear that this recognition from the NSF and the NIH illustrates that we can -- and do -- successfully compete against other universities for major research funding."

It's likely UW will receive additional competitive federal stimulus funding in the near future. Through mid-August, the university has submitted 44 applications, totaling about $30.5 million, for competitive awards in areas of advanced scientific research and related capital construction, and Gern says he expects some of those requests to be approved.

Three of UW's approved federal stimulus grants from the NSF -- including the largest of $586,581, awarded to Terry L. Deshler and Jennifer Mercer in the Department of Atmospheric Science -- will help stimulate research on various aspects of climate change.

The second-largest grant, a $399,249 award to Chip Kobulnicky, an associate professor in the UW Department of Physics and Astronomy, will aid research that could help astronomers distinguish between two conflicting theories on the formation of massive stars.

"We have previously been funded by the NSF to do this work and we're just delighted that we'll be able to continue for four more years," says Kobulnicky, who is working with graduate and undergraduate students to study the Cygnus OB2 Association, a young and populous cluster of stars. "Some astronomers have been trying to understand the formation of massive stars in the universe, stars that are 20-40 times more massive than our sun, for years.

"We're in a privileged situation at Wyoming to aid in that research, because of our Wyoming Infrared Observatory (WIRO) and the fact that we have so many clear nights of observation."

The third-most lucrative grant, $326,140, was awarded to Barbara Carrapa and Mark T. Clementz, a pair of assistant professors in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, to help conduct an interdisciplinary project with international collaborators from Argentina, Canada and Chile in the Central Andes of South America.

The project, which will include aspects of structural geology, sedimentology, paleontology, geochemistry, geomorphology and climate study, will feature a five-week research expedition into the Andes next spring.

"We are really thankful to the NSF for believing in us and investing in our potential," says Carrapa. "We are all young scientists, so I think the risk is higher for the NSF and sometimes they prefer lower-risk projects, but they are showing confidence in us and we all appreciate that. I think that puts more pressure on us, because we need to show we can do it, but I know we can succeed."

With the largest of five grants awarded to UW, Deshler and Mercer plan to obtain and analyze measurements which may lead to the first signs of ozone recovery in the Antarctic.

The other UW grants to study climate change were awarded to Gary Franc, a professor in the Department of Plant Science, and Elise Pendall, an associate professor in the Department of Botany.

Franc received $234,416 for a project that will focus on advancing the understanding of critical issues related to atmospheric ice nucleation, one of the most basic processes affecting precipitation and impacting the radiative properties of cold clouds.

Pendall's award of $149,961 will be used to study how the timing of summer precipitation affects the responses of boreal forest to changes in the climate.

The two NIH grants, worth approximately $400,000 in total, were awarded to Donald Jarvis, a professor in the Department of Molecular Biology, to research the N-glycosylation mechanism in insect cells, and to Qian-Quan Sun, an assistant professor in the Department of Zoology and Physiology, to lead a study on neocortical inhibitory networks.

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