Students, faculty funded to collaborate on six projects

Six SUNY Oswego student-faculty teams, most of them interdisciplinary, have won campus Collaborative Challenge Grants for their scholarly and creative projects to be completed in the coming weeks and months.

Douglas Pippin in anthropology and student Michellynn Barbernitz will research a site on an island in the Bahamas that is reputed to be a Loyalist plantation from the 1780s, part of a land grant from King George III, and determine its potential for archeological excavation. Barbernitz will search the Bahama National Archives to learn about land grant recipients.

“This information will be useful to better understand the fates of those persons who remained loyal to England during the Revolutionary War and to understand the impact the rapid influx of settlers had on the islands of the Bahamas,” Barbernitz said.

Leigh Bacher in psychology and Brad Wray in philosophy, working with psychology senior Christie Hillenbrand, are engaged in a multiyear project to examine factors that relate to college students’ ability to use scientific thinking to solve problems.

Cara Thompson and her team of graduate students in art, human-computer interaction and technology education—Brian Hauser, Michael Donato, Lisette Antigua and Dawn Orlandella—plan to create and exhibit a computer interface with which audiences can interact. The sensors will react to movement to project a dynamic multimedia piece.

Casey Raymond in chemistry and student Leonard Breindel are helping to develop a method for preparing mixed metal oxide materials as part of the Solar Hydrogen Activation Research Kit (SHArK) project now based at the California Institute of Technology. The SHArK project is searching for a new metal oxide photocatalyst to split water into hydrogen and oxygen using solar irradiation.

“Our participation in this project is testing and improving a simple kit for the preparation and characterization of photocatalytic metal oxides. Once perfected these kits can be distributed to other colleges, community colleges, and high schools to help identify a potential photocatalyst,” they explained in their proposal.

Fehmi Damkaci in chemistry working with biology student Samantha Anderson will complete a portion of a larger project whose goal is to synthesize several analogs of the natural product Pterocellins in order to increase its anticancer properties.

David Vampola of computer science and Jack Gelfand, director of research administration and development, working with cognitive science student Elizabeth Trimber, will develop “taxonomies of wisdom” from an empirical database that contains attributes of wisdom. Their long-range objective is to help develop computer systems that exhibit some of the attributes of wisdom.

“This project provides me with the experience of designing and executing a research project, with analytical challenges far beyond those found in undergraduate classes,” Trimber wrote. “On a personal level, this research satisfies my persistent curiosity and personal goal of reaching a clearer understanding of wisdom and bringing it to others.”

Initiated at Oswego in 2004 to encourage undergraduate research, Challenge Grants support projects involving student collaboration with faculty. The grants are supported in part by a donation from Timothy Murphy, a 1974 Oswego graduate and recently retired executive vice president and chief operating officer of the SUNY Research Foundation.

Typically $2,500, this year’s grants range from $1,333 to $3,000. For the first time, graduate students were eligible to compete for the awards.

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(Posted: Apr 16, 2009)

Tags: research news: faculty student collaborations