A Global Prize: Class Project Nets $100,000 Gates Foundation Grant for Three Students
A project for an introductory engineering course has resulted in a $100,000 Gates Foundation grant for three Smith students. With support from the grant, Christine Yee ’17, Darpan Bohara ’18 and Yashna Sureka ’17 will develop a fingerprint authorization system that will allow merchants in Nelamangala, India, to accept non-cash purchases from customers.
Smith received a $800,000 grant from MassMutual for a new program in the emerging field of data science, which involves extracting knowledging from massive stores of data. Beginning in the fall of 2015, Smith students interested in data science will have an opportunity to study the topic in depth through the Women in Data Science collaboration with Mount Holyoke College and MassMutual.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) awarded Smith a $300,000 three-year grant for a pilot teaching program aimed at increasing the number of women and underrepresented minorities in science and technology fields. Smith was one of 14 colleges and universities nationwide to receive a full grant award under the AAC&U's Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM (TIDES) initiative.
Smith joined the Posse Foundation in its STEM Initiative to support low-income students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In the fall of 2015, Smith will expand its commitment to educational access by enrolling and supporting a cohort, or "posse," of 10 low-income students each year who seek majors and careers in STEM fields.
The Branta Foundation awarded Smith a $2.5 million grant to support Design Thinking and Innovation and the Picker Professor of Practice initiatives. Design Thinking and Innovation will pilot courses in which students, faculty and staff collaborate in identifying problems and building solutions by providing "maker" spaces that support design-based curricula for a wide range of disciplines. The Picker Professor of Practice funding will allow Smith to hire a respected engineering professional who brings a practitioner's perspective to his or her teaching to open new areas of instruction, research and creative work that connect students with current developments in the field.
The William Randolph Hearst Foundations awarded Smith a $100,000 grant to support the Achieving Excellence in Mathematics, Engineering and Mathematics (AEMES) program. AEMES serves students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and promotes the success of students from social groups that are historically underrepresented in those fields.
Two Smith faculty were awarded National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grants. The Major Research Instrumentation program serves to increase access to shared scientific and engineering instruments for research and research training in our nation's institutions of higher education, not-for-profit museums, science centers and scientific/engineering research organizations.
Assistant Professor of Physics Will Williams was awarded $271,649 to acquire a Frequency Quadrupled Titanium Sapphire Laser. This system will enable two main developments: the next generation of a technique called "Atom Trap Trace Analysis (ATTA)," which is expected to significantly improve the ability to monitor activity at known and suspected nuclear reprocessing sites, as well as to analyze ice core samples for climate history studies, and to measure several energy levels of neutral beryllium to high precision, which improves our understanding of atomic theory and helps to advance basic science.
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Nate Derr and co-investigator Professor Stylianos Scordilis received $553,640 in funding for the Acquisition of a TIRF Microscope. This microscope provides an opportunity to go from textbook descriptions of molecules to real-time witnessing of their behavior and understanding of the molecular activity that leads to the behavior of whole cells.
Assistant Professor of Government Kim Dionne received a National Science Foundation grant on her research titled "Tracking and Explaining Americans' response to the Ebola outbreak." This project examines the American public's response to the current Ebola outbreak and asks how public opinion is shaped by: (1) the policy responses offered by leading politicians; and (2) the framing of Ebola not only as a public health issue but also as an immigration issue.
Funding from Smith's Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant supported the Smith Science Fellows Program. During January interterm in 2015, 10 Smith students gave hands-on lessons to 15 students in Northampton's JFK Middle School. Smith's science teaching fellowship program provides Smith students a one-week teaching stint in local public schools.