$1.1 million in NSF grants fund GVSU research

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ALLENDALE, Mich. — Researchers at Grand Valley State University have been awarded nearly $1.1 million in grants from the National Science Foundation to conduct work in biomedical engineering, math education, aquatic plant life and fossil record research in South Africa.

"These awards acknowledge not only the importance of the work Grand Valley faculty are undertaking, but they also recognize the commitment, dedication and contribution to excellence of our faculty in their respective fields, which Grand Valley values so highly," said Grand Valley State University Provost Gayle R. Davis.

John Farris and Samhita Rhodes from the School of Engineering were awarded $699,997 to develop a master's program in biomedical engineering. The program applies mathematics, science and engineering expertise to medicine and health to help increase understanding of areas from molecules to organ systems. That knowledge is used to develop innovative approaches for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease for patient rehabilitation and for improving health. The curriculum includes foundation courses in human physiology, engineering courses that apply engineering principles to problems in medicine and health, medical device design and the development of courses and research opportunities employing the methods for effectively translating ideas from concept to bedside.

Paul Plotkowski, dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley, said 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.

"Biomedical sciences are playing an important part in the economic recovery in West Michigan, and 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 Grand Valley received NSF awards. "These awards are both a reflection of our nationally recognized quality, and our deep roots in and commitment to our region and its development," said Fred Antczak, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Grand Valley.

William Dickinson, associate professor of mathematics, received a three-year, $228,314 grant to continue a program that provides students with first-hand, experiential knowledge of the process of conducting mathematical research with nationally recognized mathematics professors who have a history of leading successful undergraduate research projects on a wide-ranging collection of mathematical topics.

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 grant for his fossil record research near the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa.