Keck Foundation LOI
From Earlham Cluster Department
Earlham College requests $<a-small-boat-load> to develop a set of multidisciplinary science curriculum modules, each with field, laboratory, and computational components. These modules will be created for both introductory and upper-division science courses in geoscience, chemistry, computer science, biology, mathematics, and environmental science. The three methods; field, laboratory, and computational; will be integrated in each module such that students at all levels will experience first-hand how modern scientific inquiry is carried-out using multidisciplinary approaches.
The Keck Foundation's grant, together with direct and indirect support from Earlham College, would support a modest amount of equipment and a three year program of development and initial offerings of the curriculum modules.
In choosing the scientific problem around which to construct this project, we have tried to generate topics centered around faculty expertise, student interest, and local impact. We anticipate that if this approach is successful, both scientifically and educationally, we would be able to expand topics to reflect the changing interests of students, faculty, and the community. Therefore, our selection of the research problem is purposefully flexible, although any topic must meet the following explicit criteria:
- It must be broadly relevant to the scientific community (research results should be publishable in more than one venue).
- It must be easily adapted to both student/faculty research and the undergraduate science curriculum.
- It must involve field work, laboratory work, and computational analysis.
- It must be multidisciplinary in nature.
- It must have local impact or be important to the local community.
This project will focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and curriculum development among the natural and physical sciences departments at Earlham College, including biology, chemistry, computer science, geosciences, and mathematics. It is clear that cutting-edge scientific research is becoming more multidisciplinary and collaborative at all levels; therefore, it is essential to train our students to develop multi-faceted approaches to problem solving. This project will introduce an important scientific problem and ask students to collect and analyze data, as well as make interpretations, using different disciplinary perspectives in both coursework and independent research projects with faculty. We believe this idea of collaborative learning will transform our undergraduate curriculum in the sciences and provide a model for interdisciplinary curricula for other liberal arts colleges.
Local physical aspects
- Back campus study plot. We intend to specify a land surface area located somewhere on the Earlham back campus that can be instrumented for data physical and chemical data collection.
- Springwood Lake is a small (20 acre) pond located within the City limits of Richmond, Indiana. It was created in 1930 by dredging and damming a perennial wetland and was intended to be a recreational destination. The lake is situated between the Middle Fork of the Whitewater River to the east and a steep 50 foot embankment to the west. The embankment is topped by flat land that was the preferred location of industrial development in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Industrial development was attended by uncontrolled releases of contaminating substances, many of which were captured and archived in Springwood Lake sediments. The base of the embankment along the western lakeshore is the locus of perennial springs; elevated concentrations of metals and chlorinated organic solvents continue to enter Springwood Lake via these springs.
- The environmental impact of local industry and geology on ground water sources would be studied using methods such as computational modeling of aqueous speciation to assess bioavailability, quantitative analysis of uptake in different trophic levels and analytical techniques, effects/evidence of metal uptake by plants or aquatic life. The study sites will be a local plot developed on-campus and a small lake several miles from the Earlham campus with documented pollution impacts.
- Snapping turtles are potential heavy metal reservoirs, as such they would provide us with one particularly good angle with which to approach this which builds on significant faculty expertise.
- Computational methods are now an important part of basic research in all of the natural sciences, yet few undergraduate programs have such components. Earlham is very well positioned to develop a template for incorporating computational methods into science curricula, e.g. our interdisciplinary approach, the high percentage of our graduates that go on to earn Ph.D.s in a science, and our existing computational science research program.
Course curriculum module development
Curriculum modules relevant to this proposal will be incorporated into XXX introductory courses in XXX departments in the Sciences with a total enrollment of XXX.
Describe one introductory and one upper-level fully, list the others that will be like this.
Include a total number of students per year, over the life of the grant, and as a percentage of the total number of students at Earlham.
Introductory Course Modules
Hydrogeology, a course in the Geosciences Department, serves to illustrate application of our curricular approach to an upper-level offering. The 1 to 3 week modules developed for hydrogeology will be designed to knit together over the semester to yield a significant end result: the complete characterization of the hydrogeologic setting. During the life of the grant, the course would develop a hydrogeological characterization for both the back-campus research plot and for Springwood Lake. To illustrate our approach for the back-campus plot, characterization will entail installation of several analysis-grade ground water monitoring wells, suction lysimeters and multi-level piezometers. Installations will be subcontracted to an environmental drilling firm and will utilize Hollow-Stemmed Auger (HSA) techniques in order to recover continuous split-spoon soil samples. Smaller subsurface monitoring points may be installed by hand auger. The hydraulic properties of the subsurface will be calculated on the basis of constant head slug tests and constant discharge pumping stress tests. Monitoring points will be chemically characterized to establish background conditions prior to experimental dosing by environmentally benign proxy metal compounds. Total metal concentrations will be quantified by Inductively-Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) and aqueous species distributions will be modeled by use a public-domain equilibrium speciation model (e.g. MINTEQA2,PHREEQC). Hydrogeology students will be engaged in all facets of the subsurface investigation, aquifer property determination and sample collection. Students in other courses will cooperatively engage with Hydrogeology students to develop the protocols for running the environmental fate experiments, chemical analyses and equilibrium speciation modeling.
For Springwood Lake, previous and on-going investigations by Industrial concerns and Municipal and State Regulatory agencies have developed a library of data, including that from many existing monitoring wells in the area. Little of the extant data has been compiled, yet most of this data is available as public record. Complete hydrogeological characterization of Springwood Lake will require that students compile and evaluate extant subsurface and hydraulic data. as a means of identifying data gaps and the sampling required to fill them. Students must integrate all of the above to construct a comprehensive model of ground water behavior. Installation of data collection points (vadose zone lysimeters, multi-level piezometer arrays, potentiometric surface observation wells),
To illustrate how traditional topics can be introduced in an innovative way using this environmental project as a unifying theme, we propose to incorporate a new environmental chemistry component in our general chemistry class (typical enrollment of 90).Ã‚Â This unit will introduce students to fate and transport modeling by measuring the distribution coefficient, Kd, which is a common parameter used to estimate the concentration of metal pollutants in aqueous systems.Ã‚Â Kd is a measure of the chelating ability of the soil in a soil-water mixture.Ã‚Â A distribution coefficient for copper has previously been measured in a standardized soil material1, and the procedure can be adapted to soils collected from our study sites.Ã‚Â The module will be conducted over two laboratory periods.Ã‚Â The first week will consist of a spectroscopy lab, where the students will be introduced to atomic and molecular absorption spectroscopy for the determination of the metal concentration in water, and to Infra Red spectroscopy for the characterization of the soil.Ã‚Â
In the second week, students will use atomic spectroscopy to determine Kd of a metal (copper in year 1, and additional metals in subsequent years) in both standard soils, as well as soils collected from both our field and test sites.Ã‚Â The effect of pH on Kd will also be investigated for the soils.Ã‚Â The results will be used to discuss such environmental issues as acid rain and metal mobilization.Ã‚Â The soil Kd results will be compiled in a database for use in fate and transport modeling.
Dunnivant, F.M.; Kettel, J., "An environmental Chemistry Laboratory for the Determination of a Distribution Coefficient", J. Chem. Ed. 79(6), 2002, 715-717.
Upper Division Course Modules
The courses will we incorporate these modules into include:
- Introductory Classes
- EcoBio - 100 per year (visit the sites as a lab, sampling)
- Environmental Science and Sustainability - 40 per year (visit the sites as a lab, sampling)
- Programming and Problem Solving - 30
- Introduction to Computational Science - 10
- Computational methods using the local data sets and benchmark data sets
- Groundwater simulator and simulation lab (validation and verification) using our tabletop simulators
- Statistics - 40
- Principles of Chemistry - 90
- Upper-level Classes
- Equilibrium and Analysis
- Environmental Chemistry
- Instrumental Analysis
- Research Seminars
Summer Research and Curriculum Module Development
Overall the projects we envision will involve XXX faculty and XXX students over 3 summers...
Initial work in the chemistry department will center on the collection, sample preparation and analysis of metals in a variety of environmental matrices as well as the development and implementation of metal speciation protocols.Ã‚Â Additional research projects will include investigation of the redox chemistry of soil, characterization of the metal ligand complexes present in these soils/leachates and synthesis of metal chelating ligands for use in soil studies and linking to nanoparticles for detection of metals.Ã‚Â Chemistry will also collaborate in the implementation of remote monitoring of chemical species (such as pH, dissolved oxygen, ion specific electrodes...).
We anticipate an average of 2.5 faculty and 5 students per summer at 8 weeks each.Ã‚Â Supply costs are anticipated to be approximately $5000 per year.
Sample the aquatic biota (macropthytes and animals) of Springwood Park Lake in order to 1) describe and quantify the food chains; 2) evaluate the extent of bioaccumulation of metals by those organisms; and 3) assess the rates of biomagnification occuring in higher trophic levels. This work will involve 1 faculty member and 3 students for 8 weeks each summer.
Development, deployment, and management of the field monitoring equipment.
Professional Development Workshops
Offered for one week each of the three summers.
Topics (possible, refine/reduce to three or four before submission. Make it clear that the workshops are for all of the faculty, need to choose topics that are broadly useful.)
- Computational Science and Modeling Methods - general and domain specific
- Environmental Geology
- Soil Chemistry
- Analytical Laboratory Techniques
- Biochemistry and metabolism of metals
- Computational Chemistry
- Remote sensing and data aquisition
- Bioavailability, toxicity and bioaccumulation.
3) Purposes, Aims, and Impact
The purpose of this project is not only to bridge the gap between scientific research and science education by incorporating research modules into courses and encouraging summer research activity, but also to introduce students to the different disciplinary perspectives that can be used to approach scientific problems. We envision implementing the multidisciplinary aspect of this curriculum by instituting a series of seminars taken by small groups of interested students who are also enrolled in one of the courses with a research project module. These seminars will be offered at multiple levels, with advanced undergraduates leading the underclass seminars, and faculty leading the upper-class seminars. In these small groups, students will discuss and present the work their class is pursuing on the topic, and students will do weekly readings and assignments meant to broaden their understanding of the nature of modern, multidisciplinary science. In addition to learning skills in scientific inquiry and science research, these course modules and projects will also have an impact on the local community. Since all projects will be grounded in scientific issues important to our local and regional environment, we anticipate holding yearly poster sessions open to our community in which students or groups of students will present aspects of their projects and link them into a larger scientific and social context. We believe this innovative approach, combining classroom scientific inquiry, summer research projects, multidisciplinary discussion, and community participation will give our students a unique opportunity to engage in truly collaborative science.
3 years, full summer of activity in 2007 through spring semester 2010.
Include a statement that shows that Earlham will carry this on supported by funds that are described in the current capital campaign menu.
5) Justification for why Keck and not some other funding source
The costs involved in the proposed interdisciplinary science research and curriculum development project far exceed the parameters of the Earlham College operating budget. In order to plan, implement and evaluate this project, we must secure outside funding. Private and government funding sources for interdisciplinary projects are few and far between. Even then, many focus on one core discipline with collaborative disciplines radiating from the core. In addition, most are targeted toward large research universities, and not at undergraduate colleges and liberal arts institutions.
By reviewing W.M. Keck Foundation funded projects, it is clear that Keck places a high value on research at undergraduate colleges and in funding innovative projects. With educational programs that have strength across the full range of the liberal arts and sciences, Earlham has demonstrated unusual strength in the sciences, and stands alongside the undergraduate institutions that have received Keck Support.
Because of the shared interest in multi-disciplinary projects and the confidence in undergraduate collaborative research, Earlham turns to the W. M. Keck Foundation to seek support.
Appendix A - Budget
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total PERSONNEL Faculty Salaries and Stipends Summer research $28,800 $28,800 $28,800 $86,400 Workshop facilitators $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $9,000 Project Coordinator $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $9,000 Student Stipends Summer research $38,400 $38,400 $38,400 $115,200 TOTAL PERSONNEL $219,600 EQUIPMENT Ultrasonic Nebulizer $15,000 Large freeze drier $25,000 Acid digestion system $25,000 Field Monitoring (4 @ $3000per): Temperature PH (digital) Conductivity Redox (reduction oxidation potential) Pressure Transducer Nitrate selective probe Computer, packaging, and communications Total Field Monitoring $12,000 Field Sampling: Lake sediment cores to 2 m Shelby soil cores Monitoring wells (one time install) Drawing equipment Total Field Sampling $15,000 Biology sampling gear $3,800 TOTAL EQUIPMENT $95,800 SUPPLIES Per student per year $1,000 TOTAL SUPPLIES $13,000 $13,000 $13,000 $39,000 GRAND TOTAL $354,400
Appendix B - Reviewers
We'll need complete addresses, telephone, and fax
Lew Reilly Ursinus College Department of Physics Collegeville, PA Scott Brooks - BioGeoChemist Environmental Sciences Division, POB 2008 Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oak Ridge, TN 37831 Mic's friend Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oak Ridge, TN Bob Panoff Shodor Institute Raleigh, NC Brock Spencer Beloit College Department of Chemistry Beloit, WI 53511 Biologist? Bruce Herbert, Professor Department of Geology and Geophysics Texas A & M University MS 3115 College Station, Texas 77845 firstname.lastname@example.org 979-845-2405
Appendix C - College Collateral
Background on each department, orange flyers?
Division Brag Sheets - EllieV's revisions? SaraP?