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Recent grant awards to NIU faculty

August 20, 2010

Posted Aug. 20, 2010

"Grant Getters"College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Christopher McCord, Women’s Studies Director Amy Levin, Associate Professor Brianno Coller in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Professor Lesley Rigg in the Department of Geography will receive $161,284 from the National Science Foundation, effective Sept. 1, to fund planning efforts for the submission of a full proposal to NSF’s ADVANCE program. The program focuses on increasing the participation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers.

Assistant Professor Minmei Hou in the Department of Computer Science
has received a three-year, $316,455 Academic Research Enhancement Award from the National Human Genome Research Institute.The project’s goal is to improve computer methodology for detecting small realignments or rearrangements in genetic sequences.

“Current DNA sequencing methods rapidly produce data with high precision, but current computer software that pieces those large volumes of data together into genomic sequences often misses such fine-scale detail,” Biological Sciences Chair Barrie Bode said. “This research project is significant in that it will provide improved fidelity in reading and interpreting entire genomes and facilitate more useful comparisons, both between species and within single species.”


Associate Professor Philippe Piot in the Department of Physics has received $590,910 from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The grant funds work on techniques in particle acceleration that could pave the way toward a table-top accelerator-based light source that could be used for remote detection of fissionable materials.


Assistant Professor James Horn in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has received $69,354 (the first installment of a four-year, $293,881 award) from the American Heart Association. The grant will support a study of the physical and chemical mechanisms by which antibodies recognize and bind to small target molecules, and also of ways to develop new antibody fragments that can be used to target specific molecules or structures for pharmaceutical or biological research.


Assistant Professor Dmitry Kadnikov in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has received $71,500 (the first installment of a three-year, $214,500 award) from the Greater Midwest Affiliate of the American Heart Association. The grant supports efforts to develop selective modulators that would activate only genes involved in transport of cholesterol out of liver cells, but not genes involved in the synthesis of fatty acids.


Distinguished Research Professor Peter Meserve in the Department of Biological Sciences has received $22,607 (the first installment of a four-year, $42,317 award) from the National Science Foundation. The grant will help him continue a 20-year study of interactions between plant and animal communities in a semi-arid region of Chile. The project, carried out in collaboration with Chilean researchers, also looks at the effects of climate change on the region and is expected to provide a baseline for comparison with other similar regions around the world.


Assistant Professor Christina Papadimitriou in the School of Nursing and Health Studies has received $65,000 from the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research at the U.S. Department of Education for research on the improvement of client-centered care for individuals with spinal cord injuries in inpatient rehabilitation centers.


Associate Professor John Bentley in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures received $6,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend program to use philological, linguistic and literary data from ancient Korean and Japanese texts to create a convenient dictionary of ancient Japanese for students and scholars of Asia. The Japanese language is a linguistic museum, preserving as it does Chinese linguistic data that has disappeared from other countries. Scholars and students who study Asia will now have access to a compact resource for historical linguistics.


Professor John Schaeffer in the Department of English received $50,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to write a book on Giambattista Vico, which resolves the debate over natural law without provoking other debates over reason, religion, public good or individual rights.


Assistant Professor Ismael Montana in the Department of History received $11,000 from the British Library to rescue endangered archival materials and historical manuscripts threatened by overuse and the hazards of the tropical weather in northern Ghana. The materials will be digitized and made available to scholars and library patrons in Ghana, Britain and here at NIU.  NIU and the British Library will be co-repositors of this digitized material.