Undergraduate Education Program

Grant Abstracts 2012

California State University, Dominguez Hills

H. Leonardo Martinez
Carson, CA
$200,000
December 2012

The three inter-related aims of this project, Cyber-Enabled Laboratories for Diverse Students' STEM Success (CELDS3) address larger institutional goals established by California State University Dominguez Hills' (CSUDH) campus leaders to increase access to STEM education for a diverse student population. This project improves the university's capacity to foster diverse, working, and non-traditional students' academic goals in STEM through a new framework for hybrid laboratory instruction that utilizes a cyber-enabled instrument. The aims include re-conceptualizing chemistry laboratory curricula, cyber-enabling a mass spectrometer for remote use, and enlarging the use of the spectrometer through partnerships with community colleges.

California State University, Stanislaus

S. Steve Arounsack
Turlock, CA
$250,000
December 2012

This project will establish a visual anthropology lab to be utilized as an undergraduate classroom and research facility for the production of culturally relevant, socially engaged media. The Central Valley is home to a rich mosaic of ethnicities but their cultural knowledge (oral histories, rituals, and ceremonies) is in danger of being lost, in part because the cultural knowledge of older generations has not yet been documented and preserved for future generations. Using a visual anthropological framework, the project team will engage both the university and the local community to document, analyze, and disseminate this knowledge. In doing so, the university’s equally diverse student population will engage in cross-cultural filmmaking, ethnographic interviewing, and explore the interface between traditional research methodologies and new technologies. By leveraging the strengths of multiple disciplines (anthropology, art, ethnic studies, and others), a digital archive of cultural visual media will be created to serve as a resource for classroom instruction, university research and community outreach.

Reed College

Dena Hutto
Portland, OR
$150,000
December 2012

At Reed College and nationwide, undergraduates struggle with many aspects of the research process, from the early stages of framing a research topic to presenting their analyses and ideas in various forms. Reed is known for providing its students with coursework and research opportunities often identified with graduate-level work at other colleges and universities. This project’s goal is to build a bridge from first-year introductory courses to the competencies students will need to conduct senior-level thesis research in their disciplines. To reach this academic level, students must be able to understand the scholarly literature within a field of research, incorporate existing literature into original presentation and writing, and work with primary source material such as data. Through this project, a team of computing and information services and library staff members will address these issues and help students develop these skills in mid-level courses by focusing on four essential areas: (1) Exploring, saving, and citing scholarly literature; (2) Enhancing learning through portability and collaboration; (3) Working with data; and (4) Visualization and presentation.

St. Edward's University

Thomas Mitzel
Austin, TX
$200,000
December 2012

This interdisciplinary project involves the development and construction of a digital database that will model relationships among species at the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. Specifically, the project will focus on the following areas: (1) student/faculty computer science group to design and construct the underlying database; (2) field research student/faculty scientists to collect the required data for the digital database; and (3) an oversight committee drawn from these two groups and key administrative personnel. This initial project phase of what will become on ongoing program will focus on two central areas of currently active research in the Preserve: (1) The white-tailed deer population and its effect on the golden-cheeked warbler, and (2) the spread of the non-native plant Ligustrum and its impact on soil, local insect population, and golden-cheeked warbler population. Students in the field will be trained to study the deer population and ecosystem. Students in the computer science group will be trained to build the database infrastructure and to handle incoming data used to model the species relationships. Both groups will be leading discovery based experimental work in their areas while collaborating to construct the overall database design.

University of San Francisco

David Wolber
San Francisco, CA
$200,000
December 2012

The project will launch the Democratize Computing Lab in order to increase and diversify the pool of students who become engaged with computing. The Lab will leverage App Inventor, a new visual programming tool for beginners that significantly lowers the barriers to learning programming. A team at the University of San Francisco (USF) has developed an innovative curriculum that utilizes App Inventor, enabling non-technical students to cross the "programmer divide" and build interactive software for mobile phones and tablets. The curriculum has shown promise in terms of attracting a large and diverse group of students to successfully learn the technology skills needed to compete in the 21st century job market. This project will expand, refine, and disseminate the new curriculum to universities everywhere. It will build the App Inventor Education Community to further spread this unique learning tool, and develop an advanced App Inventor course at USF so that more students from all academic disciplines gain the skills required for success in today's increasingly technological world.

University of Utah

Ian Harvey
Salt Lake City, UT
$200,000
December 2012

From smart phones to medical diagnostics, micro- and nanoscale technologies play an increasing role in our daily lives and the economy. Systems and devices engineered at these small length scales exhibit unusual properties and require new understanding of fundamental mechanisms. How do educators provide students with a firm grasp of the microscopic world when it is so difficult and expensive to implement hands-on training? Through a course at the University of Utah dedicated to scaling engineering, demonstration chips and lesson modules will be distributed to undergraduate students at institutions within Utah and nationwide. This course will help students bridge their understanding from the macroworld to the microworld with the development of devices and in-class demonstrations, and provides a path for experiential learning at non-intuitive length scales. In addition, these lesson modules can inspire new courses and/or be implemented into existing undergraduate curricula.

California State University, East Bay

James Murray
Hayward, CA
$250,000
June 2012

A team of faculty will acquire a confocal laser scanning microscope for use in undergraduate student research and teaching. This instrument will strengthen the existing BioCore facility and programs in biotechnology, and support and enhance a wide range of extant research projects as well as encourage the development of new projects, particularly in understanding cell and subcellular biology. Availability of this instrumentation at CSUEB will increase faculty research, engagement with local biotech firms, and opportunities for student hands-on engagement in cutting edge research in a supportive teaching environment. In the context of the university’s commitment to STEM education, the confocal will be key to ensuring access to higher level learning experiences for the largely underrepresented student population, promoting scientific literacy and career opportunities in the biotech field.

Loyola Marymount University

Eric Strauss, Curtis Bennett
Los Angeles, CA
$250,000
June 2012

In order to better support interdisciplinary teaching and research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), a team at LMU will design and implement an interdisciplinary training model that enhances professional development for faculty and postdoctoral fellows, and enriches undergraduate science education. The program will specifically support: (1) training for postdoctoral fellows, focusing on their professional development as teacher-scholars in an interdisciplinary environment; (2) a series of collaborative workshops for postdocs and faculty, fostering interdisciplinary teaching and novel undergraduate research collaborations; and (3) the creation of a suite of collaboratively taught interdisciplinary courses that unite the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics.

St. Mary's University

Winston Erevelles
San Antonio, TX
$250,000
June 2012

The goal of this project is to improve the quality of undergraduate engineering education and research at St. Mary’s University by upgrading the Automated Manufacturing and Robotics Laboratory (AMRL). The improved AMRL will significantly strengthen key courses in the industrial engineering, engineering management, and engineering science programs and support the development of new courses in advanced manufacturing technologies. In addition, the AMRL will support the emerging mechanical engineering program and offer capstone design experience support and undergraduate research opportunities to all 6 of the existing undergraduate engineering programs. This will better prepare students for careers in industry or graduate education. The new laboratory, along with the implementation of the educational system known as MARRS (Manufacturability, Assemblability, Reproducibility and Repeatability Synergy) will engage students in the conceive-design-build engineering process and synthesize theoretical and practical knowledge. The new AMRL and related curriculum enhancements will allow St. Mary’s University to serve as a benchmark for professional engineering education within the context of a liberal arts university.

Trinity University

Jennifer Steele
San Antonio, TX
$250,000
June 2012

The ability to see the structure of materials on a nanometer scale is visually stunning and plays an increasingly important role in many areas of scientific research. With this grant, a team at Trinity will acquire state of the art equipment that will allow their students to both image and analyze materials at the nanoscale, illuminating how the structure of these materials informs their function, and telling the story of how these materials were formed. They will purchase a scanning electron microscope with elemental analysis and cathodoluminescence, and two dynamic mode atomic force microscopes. These tools will provide powerful imaging and analytical capabilities for both the curriculum and faculty-led student research projects in physics and astronomy, chemistry, biology, geosciences and engineering science. One new course on nanotechnology fabrication methods will be developed, along with nanoscience lab modules for at least 14 existing courses across the STEM curriculum. The target audience for these curricular enhancements is not only science majors, but also non-science majors enrolled in general education classes. This project will also provide a structure, through faculty workshops and a select number of student research fellowships, for interactions that will spark further interdepartmental collaborations.

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