AASU Awarded National Science Foundation Grant

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded two grants to Armstrong Atlantic State University totaling $450,621 as part of the Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) program. The first RUI grants ever awarded to Armstrong Atlantic, they will help advance research being conducted by four faculty members in AASU’s College of Science and Technology.

George C. Shields, dean of the College Science and Technology, was awarded a $255,200 grant that will support his research on the thermodynamics of secondary aerosol formation. The funding will permit Shields to employ three undergraduate students to conduct summer research projects for three years.

It also allows for the establishment of a postdoctoral research associate position and the purchase of additional computational resources required for the project. The postdoctoral associate will help to develop a substantial research program involving undergraduate students.

“As a result of this grant, a significant number of students, including women and minorities, will receive intensive training in computational chemistry and develop specific skills and understanding of the research process that will serve them well in their scientific careers”, said Shields.

Three other faculty members in the Department of Chemistry and Physics and the Department of Biology received a second NSF-RUI grant for $195,421. Assistant professors Brent Feske and Cliff Padgett in chemistry and physics and Scott Mateer in biology are conducting research in the area of biocatalysis and the synthesis of asymmetric molecules, which are notably used in pharmaceuticals.

The grant will allow Feske, principal investigator of the grant, Padgett and Mateer, co-principal investigators, to employee five students to conduct summer research projects over the course of the three-year grant.

“One of the broader impacts of the grant is that we will be able to offer students summer jobs conducting research”, said Feske. The research that Feske and his team are conducting involves the development of purer compounds through techniques such as DNA cloning and the manipulation of non-pathogenic E. coli bacteria.

The fermentation process to achieve this is a relatively new field of green chemistry, which aims to transform the process of pharmaceutical manufacturing to be clean, safe and similar to large-scale beer production.

In addition, Feske’s grant will enable collaborative research among different academic areas at AASU, including biology, chemistry and physics, and potentially computer science and information technology.

Faculty and students involved in the project will come together to discuss research progress every two weeks.

“When students in one area like chemistry and physics get an opportunity to learn what students in another discipline, like biology, are working on, they get a much more diverse background and better understanding of the research”, said Feske.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.