Dr. Vivian Feng receives grant to continue analytical chemistry research

Dr. Vivian Feng, Associate Professor of Chemistry, has received a new research grant that will allow her to conduct another five years of research in analytical chemistry. She will assess the molecular-level interactions between bacterial species, such as Shewanella oneidensis and Bacillus subtilis, and engineered nanoparticles.

Dr. Feng will lead undergraduate researchers to collect and analyze the resulting measurements. This work is a key component of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology (CSN), which recently received a five-year renewal to continue its research, education, and public engagement activities, at a sum of $4M per year. Among the ten other collaborating universities within the center, Augsburg is the only primarily undergraduate institution. Dr. Feng’s grant award totals $400,000.

Read more about the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology here: (This is supported by the National Science Foundation under award number CHE-2001611.)

Dr. David Crowe awarded funding to continue mental health research

Dr. David Crowe, Associate Professor of Biology, has received a new subaward from the University of Minnesota, allowing him to continue his research about cortical system dysfunction in psychiatric disease. Dr. Crowe will be responsible for the processing and analysis of data associated with the NeuroPlasticity Research in Support of Mental Health (NeuroPRSMH) center at the University of Minnesota Medical School. NeuroPRSMH received a Silvio O. Conte Center grant valued at $15M from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which will fund Dr. Crowe’s work, totaling $95,000, until spring 2025. The title of the impactful new research study is “Dysfunctional State Representations in Psychosis: From Neurophysiology to Neuroplasticity-based Treatment.” More about the overall project can be found here: (This is supported by the National Institutes of Health under award number P50MH119569.)

COVID-19-related Guidance for Grant-funded Research:

  1. Ask questions about project extensions necessitated by COVID-19.
    • Projects funded by the National Science Foundation enjoy an optional one-year extension, which can be approved by the Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs (you do not need to contact your program officer to request this extension). Contact Lauren Causey for questions related to federal sponsors or changes to research projects. Contact Carole Kampf for questions related to grant expenditures.
  1. Secure your data.
    • Ensure that you and all study personnel are adhering to your study’s procedures for data format and security, data sharing and access, archiving of data, and other related topics. Reassess your Data Management Plan. Ensure it is still viable given your remote work, or make adjustments as needed.

  2. Identify personnel who are necessary to maintain not easily replaceable perishable research materials. Communicate with the Department of Public Safety (612-330-1717) about such personnel.
    • Example: Long-term experiments where there would be considerable cost and/or time associated with requiring the experiment to end; ongoing maintenance of cell lines. 
    • Students may not be pressured or compelled to take part in laboratory-based activities during the pandemic.
  1. Identify staff who are responsible for maintenance of equipment that, if not done, could result in damage or high cost to equipment. Communicate with the Department of Public Safety (612-330-1717) about such personnel.

  2. Distinguish critical research from research that must be suspended. Critical research may include studies that must continue to conduct experiments that have a small time window for completion.
    • Examples: Time-sensitive experiments with not easily replaceable perishable research materials. Experiments with a specific measurement that can only take place a few times a year.
    • Students may not be pressured or compelled to take part in laboratory-based activities during the pandemic.
  1. Prepare for supply chain disruptions.
    • COVID-19 will have an effect on research related supplies. Laboratories should consider stocking up on consumable supplies, particularly those with a long shelf life. Further, availability of supplies may lag behind the resolution of a health crisis. So, researchers should consider maintaining in their groups supplies of those reagents that can be safely stored in order to assure their availability for the duration of a period of disruption that could last several months.
  1. Notify the Institutional Review Board of changes to protocols for studies involving human subjects.
    • If a researcher must make significant changes to a protocol based on adaptations caused by COVID-19, the researcher must notify the IRB and obtain approval to study changes before proceeding.  
    • Researchers must comply with local requirements for social distancing, or stay-at-home orders, which are likely to disrupt data collection plans and timelines.
  1. Respect local governance and federal recommendations regarding travel.
  1. Identify opportunities to conduct critical research that would shed insight on the scientific or social parameters of COVID-19.
    • The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting proposals to conduct non-medical, non-clinical-care research that can be used immediately to explore how to model and understand the spread of COVID-19, to inform and educate about the science of virus transmission and prevention, and to encourage the development of processes and actions to address this global challenge.
    • NSF’s RAPID structure should be used for these COVID-19-related, urgent proposals which may request up to $200,000 for projects up to one year in duration.

Prof. Amanda Case Awarded Grant from American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund

Dr. Amanda Case, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry, has been awarded $55,000 by the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund for a project titled Kinetics of Aromatic Peroxy Radicals in Combustion Chemistry. Funding will provide two years of support for Amanda’s research with undergraduate students. This project intends to measure the rates of peroxy radical reactions in the gas phase. Understanding the fate of peroxy radicals plays an important role in low-temperature hydrocarbon oxidation, autoignition processes, and tropospheric chemistry. The chemistry of these radicals is rather complex, making their chemical kinetics fundamentally interesting and, also, important for comprehensive combustion modeling.

Fiscal Year 2019 – A Year in Review

In May 2018, Provost Kaivola merged the offices of Sponsored Programs and Corporate and Foundation Relations in an effort to align and integrate all grant-funded activities at Augsburg. Below are abstracts from grants awarded this fiscal year.

New Particle Formation Experiments: Nucleation and Growth
Dr. David Hanson

The National Science Foundation provided $384,080 for the project, which focuses on the formation and growth of new particles in the atmosphere. Laboratory experiments will be conducted to measure changes in the rate of new particle formation and growth with changes in composition, temperature, and relative humidity. The results are expected to lead to improved accuracy in predicting the impacts of new particle formation on climate, health and visibility. The project is three years.

Heliophysics Guest Investigator Open Project: Determining the Fundamentals of Physics EMIC Waves: Observations and Theory
Dr. Mark Engebretson

As a subaward of Johns Hopkins University, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration provided $59,773 to Augsburg for conducting data survey and analysis tasks related to the study of EMIC waves observed by the MMS and Van Allen Probes spacecraft. The project is three years.

Medical Education and Research Costs (MERC) – Physician Assistant, Nursing, and Social Work
Dr. Alica Quella, Dr. Joyce Miller, Dr. Bibiana Koh

The MERC Fund was established in 1996 and is administered by the Minnesota Department of Health. The purpose of this grant is to compensate Minnesota clinical training facilities for a portion of the clinical training costs for specific medical professions. The Minnesota Department of Health’s Health Policy Division awarded $1,091,498 to the Physician Assistant, Nursing, and Social Work programs for student clinical hours logged at qualifying sites.

Minnesota Urban Debate League
Dr. Robert Groven (Faculty Advisor)

A program of Augsburg University, the Minnesota Urban Debate League (MNUDL) makes it possible for Twin Cities high schools and middle schools to offer academic competitive debate programming by providing everything a school needs to have a debate team, including training, curriculum, transportation, tournament operations, and volunteer management.  MNUDL began with five schools and 40 students and has grown dramatically. Under the leadership of faculty director Bob Goven (Communications Studies) and Executive Director, Amy Cram Helwich, the program now serves over 930 students in more than 40 Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) and Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS).

MNUDL secured grants totaling nearly $200,000 during fiscal year 2019, including contributions and pledges from the Greater Twin Cities United Way, Bank of America, Sunrise Banks, Saint Paul and Minnesota Community Foundations, and more.

Five-Year M.Div Pathway Program
Dr. Jeremy Myers

The Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Family Foundation, Inc. provided $499,454 to help reduce the overall cost of professional pastoral leadership education by creating an articulated 5-year pathway from Augsburg University to Luther Seminary’s accelerated Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program and by building capacity within the Center for Vocation and the Theology and Public Leadership degree program to incorporate opportunities for high-impact field work, reflection, and discernment into the undergraduate experience.

Urban Resilience and Climate Change Workshop
Dr. Joe Underhill

Mississippi Watershed Management Organization provided $4,396 and additional in-kind supports and services for Underhill and staff from the Nobel Peace Prize Forum to help form a community of practice and accountability among several large property owners in Cedar-Riverside (Fairview, U of M, Augsburg, Riverside Plaza). Project goals included the development and sharing of best practices/prototypes for sustainable stormwater management techniques that could be used as a model for other partnerships and collaborations within the Mississippi River watershed.

River Semester 2018
Dr. Joe Underhill

Pentair Foundation provided $20,000 for Augsburg’s River Semester, a high-impact educational experience by combining rigorous coursework and a unique, immersive field experience, with strong partnerships all along the Mississippi River. River Semester is a learning model for education in the 21st Century–highly experiential, connected and wired, with project-based and applied learning opportunities for students in the context of an ambitious expedition down one of the world’s iconic waterways. Students end up paddling close to 1,000 river miles, averaging 70 miles per week. Along the way, they earn a full 16 credits.

Global Governance Consortium
Dr. Joe Underhill

The Workable World Trust provided $22,000 for the Human Rights Forum to foster coordination among faculty and staff from the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities around the themes of global governance and the role of students in promoting global governance and/or United Nations reform. Funds will be used to host an annual retreat for students and faculty, organize a series of on-campus events, and involve other community organizations as programming demands.

Vocation E-portfolio Pilot Project
Dr. Marty Stortz

The Council of Independent Colleges’ Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) provided $29,700 to help develop and pilot a student-curated electronic portfolio in which curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular experiences are reflected on and documented around the question of vocation. The vocation portfolio (vPortfolio) will be a modern, flexible tool that provides focus and coherence to vocational discernment processes for our students, and will refocus Augsburg’s institutional emphasis on vocation. This effort will place vocation at the dynamic interface between three stories: the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now.

Engebretson awarded NSF Grant for magnetospheric and ionospheric research

Posted on Categories Awards

Mark Engebretson, Professor Emeritus of Physics, has received a three year grant totaling $512,043 from the National Science Foundation to continue operation of the Magnetometer Array for Cusp and Cleft Studies (MACCS) network as well as analyze and disseminate its data. MACCS is a longitudinal array of high latitude magnetometers, instruments used for measuring the earth’s magnetism, covering the Eastern Canadian Arctic. Each MACCS site transmits data in near-real time, providing critical data for studies of various geospace phenomena, including solar wind-magnetosphere and magnetosphere-ionosphere interactions, the dynamics of the high latitude polar cap regions of the magnetosphere, and geomagnetic storms and substorms.

Engebretson and his team (Jennifer Posch, Laura Simms, Slava Pilipenko, and Erik Steinmetz) will conduct detailed studies of high-latitude ultra-low frequency waves using both ground-based and satellite data during magnetic storms. They will also explore the physical mechanisms involved in the excitation and propagation of ultra-low frequency waves through the magnetosphere-ionosphere system.

Up to six undergraduate students will have the opportunity to conduct research alongside Engebretson.       

***This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No.1651263. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.***

McNair Scholars Program receives DOEd grant to prepare underrepresented students for graduate school

Posted on Categories Awards

The Augsburg McNair Scholars Program has been awarded five additional years of funding through the US Department of Education’s Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program.

Grant funds totaling $1,161,310 ($232,262 per year) will be used to increase the number of doctoral degrees attained by Augsburg students from underrepresented backgrounds (low-income, first-generation, and/or underrepresented in graduate education) through high impact graduate school preparation activities.

The program will maintain a cohort of 26 Scholars each year. Scholars will complete an intensive 21 months of curriculum and activities designed to prepare for and achieve success in doctoral study. Project components include academic counseling; rigorous research and scholarly activities; graduate school preparation seminars and workshops; high quality summer research internships with mentor guidance; research presentation in at least one conference setting; internship opportunities; and individualized tutoring for academic excellence. Participants will also receive guidance in completing quality applications to graduate programs, finding financial assistance, and choosing programs that best fit their graduate aspirations.

The McNair Scholars Program is one of eight federal TRIO programs. The McNair Scholars Program was created by the U.S. Congress in honor of Dr. Ronald E. McNair, the astronaut and physicist who was among the first African Americans in the U.S. space program.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, please contact the project director, “Tina” Maria Tavera or visit Augsburg’s McNair Program website.

Editor’s Note: This project is funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Education. Federal dollars support 75.5% ($1,161,310) of total project costs over the five year period; institutional dollars support the remaining 24.5% ($307,538).

Augsburg Professor of Biology speaks at the 2017 Grant Recognition Luncheon

Posted on Categories Events

Dr. David Crowe, Associate Professor of Biology, was featured as the project spotlight speaker at the 2017 Grant Recognition Luncheon. Professor Crowe discussed his latest research in neuroscience, specifically in the mental disorder schizophrenia. Dr.Crowe and his collaborator, Matthew Chafee, recently received an award from the National Institutes of Health to investigate the cause of this disease. They are exploring whether schizophrenia could be caused by disruptions to the normal timing of electrical impulses in the brain.

The purpose of the Grant Recognition Luncheon, hosted by the Office of Sponsored Programs, is to celebrate and recognize the efforts of Augsburg faculty and staff in grant seeking. Grants at Augsburg provide direct financial support for individual scholarship and inquiry, enable students to engage in research and access specialized programs that support learning and retention, and provide opportunities for deeper engagement and collaboration, both on our campus and within our community.

To see how faculty and staff at Augsburg have been engaged in grant-seeking over the past year, please view the program.

***Research reported in this post was supported by the National Institutes of Health under award number 5R01MH107491-02. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Augsburg professor and student plan to implement 3D Printing module in middle school for mathematics education

Posted on Categories Awards

Dr. Matthew Haines, associate professor of mathematics at Augsburg College, is working alongside Nora Helf (teacher at Sanford Middle School) and Lewis Istok (Augsburg undergraduate) in order to develop an interdisciplinary unit in a middle school STEM support course utilizing 3D printing. This module’s objective is to enhance middle school student’s learning in mathematics by exploring the implementation of 3D printing into the classroom. The investigators received funding from the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 2016, providing the project with a 3D printer and 3D printing supplies. Lewis Istok, a mathematics major, is working toward his teaching license to teach high school math and served as the TinkerCAD expert on this project. The module was implemented in Nora Helf’s classroom at Sanford Middle School in February 2017. Augsburg undergraduates Lewis Istok and Lexander Boukal volunteered their time to help facilitate the implementation of the module in Helf’s STEM class.

Augsburg Awarded $237,851 to Collaborate with Partner Disciplines on Calculus Curriculum

Augsburg College has been awarded $237,851 over 5 years as part of a $2.6 million National Science Foundation grant to fund the project Collaborative Research: A National Consortium for Synergistic Undergraduate Mathematics via Multi-institutional Interdisciplinary Teaching Partnerships (SUMMIT-P) led by Dr. Susan Ganter at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  Eleven colleges and universities, including Augsburg, will form a consortium to renew the lower division undergraduate mathematics curriculum based on research about the needs of partner disciplines. The project studies the role of interdisciplinary and inter-institutional faculty learning communities in building collaborations for meaningful curricular change. At each institution, mathematics and partner discipline faculty will collaborate to understand recommendations from the (prior) Curriculum Foundations (CF) project, determine how these recommendations can be used to effectively improve the content of affected courses, introduce modifications in pilot sections, work with a central evaluation team to measure the effectiveness of new approaches especially as pertains to students from underrepresented groups, offer workshops and support for instructors using these new curricula (locally, regionally, and nationally), and scale-up these new offerings within the consortium and through dissemination to additional campuses.

The CF recommendations rest on two pillars: contextualizing problem solving and active learning, both of which align with Augsburg’s curriculum and commitment to student learning.  The Augsburg team, headed by Dr. Suzanne Dorée, will work with science and economics/business faculty to renew the 3-semester calculus sequence.  They will increase the relevance and frequency of applications in the courses; adapt and develop materials to make the quantitative labs the primary focus of the courses; and examine the ordering of topics to better mesh with the timing needed by the partner disciplines. The team will also support mathematics review when needed in introductory courses in the partner disciplines and the existing calculus workshop that has successfully supported students from underrepresented groups in STEM, and will bolster the transition from pre-calculus to calculus. The Augsburg team includes Dr. Jody Sorensen and Dr. Pavel Bělík, also from Mathematics & Statistics; Dr. Joan Kunz from Chemistry; and Dr. Stella Hofrenning from Economics.  Drs. Dorée and Hofrenning also serve on the national leadership team for the project where Dr. Hofrenning will lead multiple institutional collaborations with Business, Economics, and Social Science.

Editor’s Note: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1625142. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.