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Ohio Wesleyan Receives National Science Foundation Grant

April 2, 2007

Ohio Wesleyan University has been awarded a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to support summer research opportunities for undergraduate college students and high school teachers through 2009.

The $224,165 grant designates Ohio Wesleyan as a national site for “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” (REU) and “Research Experience for Teachers” (RET). The award marks the first time the university has received combined REU/RET funding from the federal agency.

“These grants are hard to get,” says Bradley R. Trees, Ph.D., chair of Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. “Only about one-fourth to one-third of the applications are funded. We were very excited to get this news.”

As a result of the national designation, college undergraduates from across the United States and high school teachers throughout central Ohio will be able to apply for summer research opportunities led by Ohio Wesleyan professors.

Trees, who oversaw preparation of Ohio Wesleyan’s grant application, says those accepted for the 2007 program will conduct research in the areas of astronomy, computer science, mathematics/statistics, and physics.

“This will provide a real feeling for what it’s like to be a research scientist,” he says. “From 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, participants will be immersed in research for 10 weeks.”

In addition to Trees, Ohio Wesleyan professors who will oversee 2007 REU/RET research projects are: Barbara S. Andereck, Ph.D., physics; Robert O. Harmon, Ph.D., physics; Robert A. Kaye, Ph.D., physics; R. Scott Linder, Ph.D., statistics; and Sean T. McCulloch, Ph.D., computer science.

The topic of Ohio Wesleyan’s new research is “interdisciplinary scientific computation.”

In other words, Trees says, participants will work to gain a better understanding of how different methods of obtaining and analyzing data — numeric, symbolic, and visual — are used in scientific research and how these methods can cross over from one field of study to another.

This year’s research projects will involve everything from mathematical graphs and metronomes to star spots and particle accelerators.

Although Ohio Wesleyan students are eligible to apply for REU opportunities, Trees anticipates that most students will come from other parts of the country. (Student stipend and travel costs are among the items built into the National Science Foundation grant.)

Still, Ohio Wesleyan students will be able to participate in the new research opportunities through the university’s longstanding Summer Science Research Program. This 10-week program also incorporates many additional projects and professors in all fields of scientific study at the university.

Both opportunities help to prepare undergraduate students for whatever future paths they choose, Trees says.

“More and more graduate schools are expecting these types of experiences for students seeking advanced science degrees,” he says. “In some cases, our summer research work even results in published papers. This is an exciting opportunity for undergraduates.”

For more information about Ohio Wesleyan’s new research opportunities, log onto physics.owu.edu.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, dedicated to preparing students for a lifetime of learning, service, and leadership. Located in Delaware, Ohio, 20 miles north of the state capital, Ohio Wesleyan is a coeducational, residential, privately supported undergraduate institution. The university is ranked consistently by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top 100 liberal arts colleges and is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives.” The faculty includes more than 135 educators, all of whom actively teach and hold either doctoral degrees or the highest recognized professional degrees in their fields. Approximately 1,850 students representing 44 states and 45 countries attend Ohio Wesleyan. More information is available at www.owu.edu.