Keck Foundation LOI

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1) Opening (Charlie)

Specific amount that we are requesting.

Step by step list of what we're doing.

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 and the high percentage of our graduates that go on to earn Ph.D.s in a science. These methods are just one type of scientific inquiry covered by our curriculum modules. /* Is this paragraph placed correctly? */

2) Description (Ron, Mike/Corrine)

Course curriculum module development

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 and the sampling and analyses andincluding selecting and overseeing installations, designing and conducting aquifer tests and running the environmental fate experiments.

For Springwood Lake, previous and on-going investigations by Industrial concerns and Municipal and State Regulatory agencies have developed a library of data that has not been compiled. Complete hydrogeological characterization will require that students compile and evaluate extant 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),

Summer workshops

Physical aspects

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, mathematics, and physics. It is clear that cutting-edge scientific research is becoming more interdisciplinary 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.

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:

We will focus on the following metals:

Water flow through soil both experimentally and computationally.

The courses will we incorporate these modules into include:

(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.)

The environmental impact of local industry and geology on ground water sources would be studied using such methods computational modeling, analytical techniques, and effects/evidence of metal uptake by plants or aquatic life. Again we could employ Clear Creek as our study site. 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.

Course Modules

Summer faculty and student research assistant workshops (See the list in the budget to fill-in here.)

Summer multidisciplinary research community

3) Purposes, Aims, and Impact (Meg Draft)

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.

4) Timetable

4 years, full summer of activity in 2007 through spring semester 2011.

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 (Barbara)

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


Software and hardware $5K



Faculty and student stipends for summer prep of curriculum modules

Faculty Release Time during the academic year for first offering

Faculty and student Stipends for summer research projects based on this

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


Bruce Herbert, Professor
Department of Geology and Geophysics
Texas A & M University
MS 3115
College Station, Texas 77845

Appendix C - College Collateral

Fact sheet

Background on each department, orange flyers?

Division Brag Sheets - EllieV's revisions? SaraP?

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