National Science Foundation grant to Kettering University will enhance undergraduate research opportunities

This REU site will support the training of 10 students for eight weeks during the summers of 2017-2019.”

Kettering University Applied Biology and Chemistry faculty members have been awarded a $270,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide a new Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site. The REU site will focus on utilizing plants for innovative research in order to cultivate the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Dr. Lihua Wang, Chemistry faculty member, and Dr. Jim Cohen, Applied Biology faculty member, are the principal investigators of the grant. In total, 16 faculty members from four different departments with expertise in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Engineering will be involved in mentoring and conducting directed research with participants of the program. At least two faculty members from different, but complementary, disciplines will be involved in each research project.

“The success of the grant proposal is truly the result of a collaborative effort,” Wang said. “The NSF panel that reviewed the proposal indicated that the strong and effective collaboration between Kettering faculty members involved in the program and the interdisciplinary nature of the projects are the major strengths of the Kettering proposal.”

This REU site will support the training of 10 students for eight weeks during the summers of 2017-2019. Participants in the program will conduct research as well as participate in seminars and journal clubs, including discussion and training on ethics and responsible research, and field trips to other research institutions. The objectives of NSF-REU sites are to enhance the interest and ability of undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM research.

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Dr. Jim Cohen is the co-PI on a NSF grant that will expand undergraduate research opportunities.

“One reason the program is exciting is that all of the projects are interdisciplinary and there are projects from a variety of disciplines,” Cohen said. “Given that science in the 21st century has been and continues to move in an interdisciplinary direction, students will become familiar with working as part of a group that bridges multiple disciplines and personalities. In order to be a scientist, it is important to be able to work with others both within and among disciplines.”

The REU site provides opportunities for undergraduate students to come to Kettering from other universities in order to engage in project-based research with Kettering faculty. Any prospective undergraduate student, regardless of major, who is interested in an interdisciplinary research experience is encouraged to apply. Entry into the program is competitive and will be determined by an admissions committee composed of faculty members who will serve as mentors in the program.

“Some students will gain experience with plant histology and microscopy while others will become familiar with the production and testing of biogas. Others will work to identify plants that may have bioactivity,” Cohen said. “We are looking for students that are interested in an interdisciplinary research experience that revolves around the utility of plants, which means that anyone from any major would be welcome in the program.”

The following faculty members contributed research projects for the REU and will serve as mentors in the program (* denotes major involvement in the planning and writing of the proposal):

  • Dr. Lihua Wang, Chemistry (PI)*
  • Dr. James Cohen, Applied Biology (Co-PI)*
  • Dr. Michelle Ammerman, Applied Biology*
  • Dr. Susan Farhat, Chemical Engineering
  • Dr. John Geske, Computer Science
  • Dr. Mary Gilliam, Chemical Engineering
  • Dr. Veronica Moorman, Biochemistry*
  • Dr. Steve Nartker, Chemical Engineering
  • Dr. Matthew O’Toole, Mathematics
  • Dr. Andrzej Przyjazny, Chemistry
  • Dr. Montserrat Rabago-Smith, Chemistry
  • Dr. Gillian Ryan, Physics
  • Dr. Cheryl Storer Samaniego, Applied Biology*
  • Dr. Salomon Turgman-Cohen, Chemical Engineering
  • Dr. Jonathan Wenzel, Chemical Engineering
  • Dr. Ali Zand, Chemistry