GVSU uses $1.1 million from NSF for research, graduate programs

Courtesy Photo / Google Images
National Science Foundation

Courtesy Photo / Google Images National Science Foundation

Molly Waite

Researchers at Grand Valley State University were honored by the National Science Foundation this past March with multiple grants totally at almost $1.1 million to fund work in biomedical engineering, math education, aquatic plant life and fossil record research in South Africa. In the few months since receiving the funds, the recipients have been hard at work putting them to use.

“I am extremely pleased and proud of the efforts of our faculty resulting in this grant from NSF,” said GVSU President Thomas Haas. “It demonstrates the active scholarship of our faculty in very relevant areas of study. I know that NSF has the confidence in Grand Valley State University to deliver on the promises of our research.”

Dana Cruikshank, a spokesperson from the NSF, explained the difficulty in selecting who would receive these grants.

“It is a very competitive process, selecting the programs that we fund,” Cruikshank said. “Based on the recommendations of their peers, the folks that applied for funding with us submitted proposals that were of a high enough merit and quality to get funded. Most proposals that are submitted are not funded, so the ones that are deemed to be of high enough merit and are funded should be considered pretty strong quality projects.”

According to a university press release, John Farris and Samhita Rhodes from the School of Engineering were awarded $699,997 to develop a new master’s program in biomedical engineering. The program applies mathematics, science and engineering expertise to medicine and health to increase understanding of areas from molecules to organ systems.

“The master’s program in biomedical engineering, the only one of its kind in West Michigan, is designed to educate engineers in developing innovating, marketable products for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, for patient rehabilitation and for improving health,” Rhodes said.

Paul Plotkowski, dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at GVSU, said in a GVSU press release that this program will make a much-needed contribution to Michigan’s burgeoning biomedical sector by preparing students for work in the medical device industry, for medical school, health care management or careers in research and development.

“This program provides the only opportunity for graduate biomedical engineering education in the region,” Plotkowski said. “The program will ensure the continued development and growth of Michigan’s workforce and help make the region a leader in health sciences.”

Three other projects at GVSU also received NSF awards.

Ryan Thum, assistant professor at the Annis Water Resources Institute, received a $7,000 supplement to a previous grant for his research into hybridization in a rapidly expanding aquatic plant species – a high priority for research into invasive species. Thum’s project has received a total of $142,000 in grant support.

Justin Adams, assistant professor of biomedical sciences, received a $84,939 grants for his fossil record research near the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa.

William Dickinson, associate professor of mathematics, received a three-year, $228,314 grant to continue a program that provides students with first-hand knowledge of the process of conducting mathematical research with nationally-recognized mathematics professors.

“Having this program at Grand Valley is an honor and this increases our national reputation for being a leader in the area of undergraduate instruction,” Dickinson said. “Having this program makes a degree from Grand Valley more valuable.”

Associate professor Jonathan Hodge was the co-principal investigator for the mathematics program.

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