Saint Michael’s College,Principal Investigator, Professor Ellis-Monaghan of Grand Isle, and co-principal investigator Dr. Greta Pangborn, SMC assistant professor of computer science, of Winooski, have been awarded a three-year National Science Foundation grant of $200,000 for the period from September 1, 2010 through August 31, 2013.‘With this support, we’ll be able to explore math questions that have never been raised before,’ said Dr. Joanna Ellis-Monaghan, Saint Michael’s College associate professor of mathematics, ‘and those are the interesting questions.’‘This NSF grant allows us to continue the collaborative work between math and computer science of designing nanoconstructs, with student assistants, that has the potential for wide practical application,’ Dr. Ellis-Monaghan said.The professors, who have been collaborating for several years now, will involve four, funded, research assistants, who are Saint Michael’s students: Mary Spuches, a junior math major from North Syracuse, N.Y., Thomas Dickerson, a sophomore computer science major from Bristol, Vt., Christopher Lessard, a sophomore mathematics major from Stoneham, Mass., and Kelsey King, a sophomore mathematics and education double major from Lyndonville, Vt. These, and other students, will work on the project over the course of the three-year project.Awarding of this grant was enhanced by the strong track record these professors and others at Saint Michael’s have in propelling their students into post-graduate studies. Professors Ellis-Monaghan and Pangborn have co-authored a number of journal articles with students, and they have now or have had former students pursuing advanced math- and CS-related degrees at RPI, UNH, Colorado State, UVM, Notre Dame, NC State, Dartmouth, WPI, Johns Hopkins, the University of Chicago and elsewhere.The NSF funded project titled, ‘Collaborative Research: New Graph Theory from and for Nanoconstruct Design Strategies,’ focuses on using mathematics and computers to design nanoconstructs to carry out practical jobs in the future. These could be applied to such tasks as directing medicines within the body to precisely the right location for effective drug delivery, or any number of other challenges in chemistry, biology and other areas.Nano (tiny) technology has great promise for biosensors, nanoelectronics (inside high tech equipment), biomolecular computer activity, as well as drug delivery.DNA self-assembly of nanostructures‘Recent research has focused on DNA self-assembly of nanoscale geometric constructs,’Professor Ellis-Monaghan said, because DNA replicates itself. Working with biologists, the mathematicians and computer scientists have developed a variety of three-D structures from self-assembling DNA, including cubes, octahedrals, buckyballs, and even tiny boxes with opening lids.One essential element in the process is designing the molecules needed for the nanostructure, the fewer needed the better the design. The NSF grant specifically supports the professors and their students in developing the tools needed to minimize the number of molecules to be created for a given nanoconstruct. Professor Ellis-Monaghan says the potential for putting these constructs to practical use are boundless. In the meantime, she and Professor Pangborn and their student assistants will forge ahead in developing the necessary tools.Source: Saint Michael’s College. 9.8.2010Photo: Saint Michael’s College Professors Joanna Ellis-Monaghan and Greta Pangborn. Photo credit: Andy Duback Learn What Matters at Saint Michael’s College, The Edmundite Catholic liberal arts college, www.smcvt.edu(link is external) . Saint Michael’s provides education with a social conscience, producing graduates with the intellectual tools to lead successful, purposeful lives that will contribute to peace and justice in our world. Founded in 1904 by the Society of St. Edmund and headed by President John J. Neuhauser, Saint Michael’s College is located three miles from Burlington, Vermont, one of America’s top college towns. It is identified by the Princeton Review as one of the nations Best 371 Colleges, and is included in the 2011 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Saint Michael’s is one of only 280 colleges and universities nationwide, one of only 20 Catholic colleges, with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Saint Michael’s has 1,900 undergraduate students, some 500 graduate students and 100 international students. Saint Michael’s students and professors have received Rhodes, Woodrow Wilson, Pickering, Guggenheim, Fulbright, and other grants. The college is one of the nation’s top-100, Best Liberal Arts Colleges as listed in the 2011 U.S. News & World Report rankings.-30-
A study led by Sarah Townsend, assistant professor of management and organization at the Marshall School of Business, discovered a new mechanism for coping with stress.Stress-free · Marshall assistant professor Sara Townsend hopes her study will eventually be beneficial to solving stress in the workplace. – Photo courtesy of Sarah TownsendThe study asserts that those in a stressful situation will benefit from discussing their feelings with those who are in a similar emotional state.Townsend’s study involved analyzing 52 female undergraduates who were paired up into teams of two for a public speaking exercise. The students were then told to prepare for and deliver a speech that was taped on video with their partner.Before their speeches, the participants were encouraged to discuss their feelings on the upcoming task. At this time, as well as during and after the recorded speeches, researchers measured each student’s level of cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” which is released by the adrenal glands during the body’s fight-or-flight reaction to stress.USC News reported that, according to the study, the results showed “that sharing a threatening situation with a person who is in a similar emotional state, in terms of her overall emotional profile, buffers individuals from experiencing the heightened levels of stress that typically accompany threat.”Having people in similar situations is key to the intended results.‘When you’re facing a threatening situation, interacting with someone who is feeling similarly to you decreases the stress you feel,” USC News reported.Marshall professor Trudi Ferguson, a lecturer in management and organization, discussed different coping mechanisms for stress in the workforce.“My personal experience is that stress can be reduced by grounding to validate people’s feelings, basically taking a step back and putting the project or presentation into context as to how big of a problem it actually is and will it matter a month from now,” Ferguson said.In addition to this study, Townsend is also spearheading a new Culture, Diversity and Psychophysiology Lab at Marshall.“My intention in the CDP lab is to get a group of graduate students and graduate research assistants to develop and run studies of high-impact research,” Townsend said. “As the name suggests I am interested in cultural differences and how people’s backgrounds shape their behavior, perceptions of the world, expectations and values, which in the end can lead to important benefits for future business leaders.”In an interview with USC News, Townsend went on to mention the future possibilities of her study in creating a better workplace.“We’ve found that emotional similarity is important,” she said. “So now the question is: How do we get people to be more similar? What can you do to generate this emotional similarity with a co-worker? Or, as a manager, how can you encourage emotional similarity among your team?”This post has been updated.