Throughout the sciences, St. Lawrence’s faculty are winning
diverse research grants in record numbers.
|Jeromy Chamberlin '03 processes a deer mouse as part of preliminary
data collection that set the stage for an ultimately successful
grant proposal to the Fish and Wildlife Foundation by Fippinger
Assistant Professor of Biology Erika Barthlemess.
By Neal S. Burdick ’72
St. Lawrence must not get a lot of grants for scientific research,
since it’s a liberal arts university, not a technical institute,
Way wrong. As the accompanying chart shows, the University has in recent
history had a growing abundance of such grants, many of them bridging
the disciplines and even stretching past the boundaries of the traditional
sciences. From the vaunted National Science Foundation and National
Institutes of Health, to the more localized Black Lake Association
and Lake Champlain Research Consortium, St. Lawrence is on the radar
screens of a great many providers of funds for scientific research—providers
who do not hand out six and seven figures to just any old college.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jeffery Greathouse says he and his
students are using computer simulation techniques to study how radioactive
elements such as uranium interact with minerals in a groundwater environment. “This
research has particular relevance to the proposed nuclear waste disposal
site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada,” he says.
A large portion of the grant money I receive pays summer stipends for
student collaborators,” Greathouse continues. “I expect
these students to make great contributions. They often present their
results at professional conferences, and they are co-authors of articles
published in scientific journals.”
In biology, Assistant Professor Joseph Erlichman is project director
for several grants from the National Science Foundation and the National
Institutes of Health. “My work focuses on understanding how the
neural circuits in the brainstem regulate breathing,” he says.
“My research is done with a team of wonderfully dedicated students,” Barthelmess
says. “My research and my teaching greatly overlap. In fact, I cannot conduct
my research without help from students. My students are not just ‘grunts’ but
are involved in all aspects of the research, from experimental design, to data
collection and analysis, to writing up the results.” In fact, one of those
students, Jolaine Roycewicz ’03, Hudson Falls, N.Y., was herself awarded
a small grant from the national science and engineering honor society Sigma Xi
for her part in the project.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ning Gao’s grant-funded research project
provides what she calls a “much-needed probe into different pathways
of mercury deposition into Lake Champlain. Bioaccumulation of mercury, a neurotoxin,
in fish in Lake Champlain,” she explains, “has led to restrictions
on fish consumption. Our findings and the mass balance model developed will
be very useful tools for environmental quality management.”
In geology, Assistant Professor Stephen Robinson gets even farther afield.
Last summer, he and research assistant Diana Odorczuk '03, Harwinton, Conn.,
flew to Edmonton, Alberta, and then drove north for two days to a research
site in the Northwest Territories. They were funded by a grant from Natural
Resources Canada to study the “Influence of Permafrost on Northern Forested