Science Research Roundup: February 2019

This month, Arts & Sciences researchers were awarded grants from organizations including the NASA Astrobiology Program and the National Science Foundation.

Jeffrey G. Catalano, professor of Earth and planetary sciences, is co-investigator of a new research collective that aims to replicate the cradle of life on planet Earth. NASA’s Astrobiology Program has awarded a $9 million grant to tackle this effort through the Earth First Origins project, which seeks to uncover the conditions on early Earth that gave rise to life by identifying, replicating, and exploring how prebiotic molecules and chemical pathways could have formed under realistic early Earth conditions.

The American Academy of Microbiology has named as fellows two Arts & Sciences faculty members: Robert Kranz and Petra Levin, both professors in the Department of Biology. The faculty are among 109 fellows elected this year to the academy, which recognizes scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology. 

Joshua Blodgett, assistant professor of biology, was awarded a $900,500 CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate leveraging polycyclic tetramate macrolactam biosunthesis as a model for understanding actinobacterial metabolic silencing. 

Thomas Oltmanns, Edgar James Swift Professor in Arts and Sciences, and Ryan Bogdan, associate professor, both in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, received a $630,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the psychosocial and biological mechanisms of intergenerational stress transmission.

Victoria May, assistant dean of Arts & Sciences and executive director of the Institute for School Partnership, was awarded $325,000 from Monsanto in support of scaling up the MySci program, which equips elementary school teachers with instructional materials and professional development opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. May also recived a $50,000 grant from the Bellwether Foundation to support STEM education.

Desiree White, professor of psychological and brain sciences, was awarded $130,500 from the National PKU Alliance for a project titled "Validation of the NIH Toolbox for use in phenylketonuria clinical trials."

Michael Nowak, research professor of physics, was awarded $25,500 to collaborate with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory on a project titled “Investigating new integral sources with Chandra." Nowak also received $10,000 to work with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/CalTech on a project titled “Using NuSTAR to assess the mass, spin, distance, and FeLine of 4U 1957+11."

Washington University in St. Louis has been awarded a $20,000 “mini-grant” by the Association of American Universities (AAU) to further existing efforts to improve undergraduate education in STEM disciplines. The funding from the AAU will support faculty development programs and other new resources organized by the Center for Integrative Research on Cognition, Learning and Education (CIRCLE).

Timothy Wencewicz, assistant professor of chemistry, received a $10,000 award from the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation to collaborate on a project seeking to identify optimal opiate disposal. 

Arpita Bose, assistant professor of biology, received a $7,500 award from the U.S. Army to support research on understanding how microbes interact with charged surfaces.

Did we miss something? Let us know.

For assistance with proposal writing, editing, coordination, and other related projects, please contact 
Crystal Gammon, assistant director of science communications in Arts & Sciences.