Fairfield University's College of Arts and Sciences faculty awarded $1,400,000 in research grants in 2010



Image: Fairfield campusFairfield University has announced that six grants totaling more than $1,400,000 have been awarded this year to faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences for projects as diverse as a project on Duke Ellington and American culture to a study abroad science program in Brazil and research for cancer and Crohn's disease.

Dr. Robbin Crabtree, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said, "These grants speak to the caliber of faculty in our school and to their interest in making a contribution to the greater good in our world. The grants have the added value of providing our undergraduate students with the opportunity to assist in research often limited to graduate students."

Dr. Laura Nash, director of the music program at Fairfield, received a prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) award in the amount of $177,096 for a project on "Duke Ellington and the Development of American Popular Culture." It will be part of the NEH "We the People" project that encourages and strengthens the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture. Included in her research will be a study of how the interaction of music and the issues of race, class, gender, and age helped develop American Popular Culture, from the Jazz Age up to the door of Civil Rights. The 2009 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Connecticut Professor of the Year, Dr. Nash will conduct workshops open to school teachers across the country as part of the project.

Dr. Brian Walker and Dr. Soyong Byun from biology, Dr. Dina Franceschi from economics, and Christopher Johnson from International Education, have been awarded $300,000 from the Department of State for their project, "Tropical Environmental Science: Study Abroad for Science and Non-science Majors in Brazil." Fairfield is partnering with Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense (UENF), in Campos, Brazil to increase the capacity of UENF to host undergraduates from the United States and provide credit-bearing courses, both short term and semester long, in the interdisciplinary field of environmental science. The project seeks to broaden and diversify the options for U.S. undergraduate science majors and ensure that students traditionally less likely to study abroad begin to do so in greater numbers, including under-represented populations as well as students of science. This international grant award is the first of its kind in which Fairfield will manage an overseas contract.

Dr. Jessica Davis, assistant professor of chemistry, has been awarded a $267,829 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to research small, orally available therapeutics that have been designed using the mechanism of current therapies for Crohn's disease, a debilitating autoimmune disorder that affects the gastrointestinal tract. Current therapies require injection and have poor efficacy with many side effects.                                    

Dr. Shawn Rafalski, assistant professor of mathematics, has been awarded a three-year, $296,569 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in Mathematics and Computational Science Program. Each eight-week summer session of the program will provide active and original research opportunities for undergraduates, between nine and twelve student participants per year, who will work in small groups on focused research topics in mathematics and computing under the guidance of Fairfield faculty mentors. The principal goal of the program is to prepare the participants (many of who will come from institutions with limited access to undergraduate research opportunities) for research-based scientific careers, and to engender in each student a deep understanding not only of the importance of individual scientific research, but also of the broader context of collaboration into which that research fits.

Dr. Min Xu, assistant professor of physics, has been awarded $298,601  via the US Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC) Office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) for the research on Prostate Cancer. The proposed research project aims to develop a novel optical imaging modality, low coherence enhanced backscattering mesoscopic tomography (LEBT), for detection, diagnosis and prognosis of prostate cancer. Generally, this funding is distributed to large research universities and/or medical schools. Being funded by CDMRP is a great achievement and speaks to the importance of Dr. Xu's research.

Dr. Min Xu and Dr. Shelley Phelan were awarded $75,000 from the Research Corporation for a research initiative entitled, "Multimodal monitoring of oxidative stress, proliferation and cell death with Light: the role of peroxiredoxins in breast cancer." The results of their research will provide important clues to understand the paradoxical role of peroxiredoxins in breast cancer with potential applications in cancer therapy.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 30, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 62