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April 21, 2004


    OSWEGO -- Since SUNY Oswego's geology program instituted its required capstone experience, "all the students are really, really fired up about doing research," said Dr. Sharon Gabel, associate professor of earth sciences. Now the college's new Student/Faculty Collaborative Challenge Grant program has arrived to help support such work.

    Gabel and sophomore Rob Venczel make up one of four faculty-student pairs who have received the first round of Challenge Grants to work on scholarly projects beginning as early as this summer.

    The campus grant program promotes collaborative scholarly and creative work by undergraduates and faculty. Interim Provost David King initiated the program this year, with $10,000 in funding, in part from the Oswego College Foundation.

    Gabel invited Venczel, a geology major, to join her in her 2-year-old project of monitoring changes in the shoreline of eastern Lake Ontario. The project provides information for plans to preserve the "this unusual and important freshwater beach-dune ecosystem," she and Venczel wrote in their proposal.

    The erosion of the sandy eastern shore has long been a community concern, and Gabel's work in collaboration with students has received support previously from the local chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

    Venczel said that he hopes to pursue a career in environmental science and that the project will help him to do that. 

    The other winning proposals in this first cycle, for projects to be carried out in 2004-05, are interdisciplinary:

*    Katie Miloski, a biology major and chemistry minor, will work with Dr. Kestas Bendinskas, assistant professor of chemistry, on her study of medicinal plants used by diabetics in the Republic of Congo. She hopes to identify the mechanism by which these plants activate a response to insulin in human liver cells. The project is related to a larger project that Bendinskas is working on with Dr. Webe Kadima of the chemistry department and an international team of scientists. Miloski said she plans to attend medical school after graduating from Oswego.

*    Dr. Craig DeLancey, an assistant professor of philosophy and cognitive science, and John Callan, a junior majoring in computer science and cognitive science, will test a series of hypotheses about the nature of the social and economic role of anger. They will use a modeling technique called genetic algorithms to model retributive behavior. DeLancey is the author of the book "Passionate Engines: What Emotions Reveal About Mind and Artificial Intelligence," published by Oxford University Press in 2002, and his work with genetic algorithms has been applied to financial problems on Wall Street.

*    Courtney DeLosh's paper about the justice of the gender-structured family in Dr. Robert Card's public affairs class was the impetus for the project they will conduct. DeLosh, a psychology major, and Card, an assistant professor of philosophy, will conduct a Central New York survey on the division of labor by gender within the family.

    "The possibility for this kind of collaborative work is really valuable," Card said, adding that involvement in undergraduate research improves a student's prospects for graduate school.

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