School of Science and Technology Receives $1M Plus in Grants from National Science Foundation

girlwithnewt.jpgSonoma State University's School of Science and Technology (SST) will receive three National Science Foundation grants this year to help the university expand its efforts to train science, mathematics, engineering, technology and chemistry students.

The largest grant - for almost $1 million dollars over five years - is being awarded to develop programs to encourage an increase in the number of students who will graduate with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors from SSU.

The grant will be used to develop a new Freshman Year Experience course emphasizing environmental sustainability using SSU's Fairfield Osborn and Galbreath Wildlands Preserves. It will offer incoming students a distinctive and relevant course that will help them develop the skills they need to continue as STEM majors.

Dean Lynn Stauffer, who led the proposal effort, commented "We are so excited that NSF selected our proposal. The competition was very strong, less than 1 in 10 proposals to this program were funded this year."

Other major contributors to this project, which was funded by the STEM Enhancement Program at NSF, include Physics and Astronomy Professors Lynn Cominsky and Jeremy Qualls, Biology Professor Nathan Rank, and Claudia Luke, Director of SSU's Field Stations and Nature Preserves.

A grant of more than $300,000 for Major Research Instrumentation was awarded to the Department of Chemistry, which will purchase a new high-power Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer. The NMR equipment is a state-of-the-art piece of instrumentation used by chemists to study open questions related to the physical and chemical properties of molecules.

The Department worked together to draft the winning proposal and relate the urgent need for this important instrument to the NSF. Department Chair Jennifer Whiles Lillig said "We are so thrilled to be able to get Federal funding to buy the NMR, and we believe this is a major turning point for our department. This will help increase our already productive research agendas and increase our future funding."

Undergraduate students will have access to the NMR allowing them to conduct scholarly experiments in collaboration with faculty. Lillig led the successful proposal effort, along with major contributions from Carmen Works, Steve Farmer and Jon Fukuto.

Chemistry Professor and former SSU Excellence in Education award winner Carmen Works received a $129,000 three-year grant to do research with undergraduate students through the Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) program.

Works will study iron-only hydrogenase model compounds which are important for the future use of hydrogen as a fuel. "The undergraduate students at SSU will benefit the most from this award, and I am very happy that I can share this with my students and the Department of Chemistry," she said.

For more information, contact Jean Wasp, Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator, (707) 664-2057.

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