WMU News

More than $5.5 million in grants received in April, May

June 25, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- More than $5.5 million in grants, including 13 from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium, were received by Western Michigan University in the months of April and May, according to a report presented to the University's Board of Trustees June 23.

The grant total for April and May reached $5,518,269, pushing the total of grants received since the July 1 start of the fiscal year to $39,654,277.

Of the more than 70 grants awarded to WMU during this period, nearly three-quarters were for new projects and included awards from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The largest grant received was the previously announced award of more than $1.9 million from Varatech Inc. to Dr. Mitchel J. Keil, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, and Dr. David M. Lyth, professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering. The grant will provide WMU students with 100 seats of Sigmund software, a program that allows engineers to anticipate variations in CAD drawings that could result in manufacturing problems.

Keil was also the recipient of a second software grant. Microsolid Solutions Inc. awarded Keil and Murari J. Shah, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, $170,550 to establish a campus computer lab utilizing Solidworks mechanical design software.

The University was the recipient of numerous federal grants, including a National Science Foundation award of $316,343 to Dr. Elise deDoncker, professor of computer science, and Dr. Ajay Gupta, chairperson of the Department of Computer Science, to enhance the capabilities of a parallel integration software package currently available over the Internet.

Other NSF grants awarded to WMU include $122,264 to Dr. Lisa Paulius, associate professor of physics, for her work with high-temperature superconductors; $70,000 to Dr. Marc W. Perkovic, assistant professor of chemistry, to continue development of molecules that indicate the presence of environmental contaminants through luminescence; $50,126 to Dr. Susan R. Stapleton, associate professor of chemistry, and Dr. Stephen B. Malcolm, associate professor of biological sciences, to conduct the second year of a program that gives research opportunities to undergraduate students; and $40,970 to Dr. Ikhlas Abdel-Qader, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Dr. Hossein Mousavinezhad, chairperson of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, to establish a digital signal processing laboratory for undergraduate instruction.

Grants received from the U.S. Department of Education will fund new and existing programs targeted at children with disabilities or visual impairments. Dr. Annette C. Skellenger, associate professor of blind rehabilitation, was awarded $290,673 to develop a certification program for teachers of children with visual impairments. A computer-aided approach to improve the oral and written language skills of first-, second- and third-graders with disabilities that is directed by Dr. Nikola W. Nelson, professor of speech pathology and audiology, received $149,984 in additional funding. Dr. Paul E. Ponchillia, professor of blind rehabilitation, was awarded $146,900 for the national implementation of sports education camps for youths with visual impairments, using a model of such camps established at WMU.

A number of grants were also awarded by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services to WMU to continue existing projects. Sandra O. Glista, associate academic career specialist for speech pathology and audiology, and Dr. Maija Petersons, associate professor of family and consumer sciences, were awarded $141,056 to continue to train health students in the skills needed to treat the elderly, especially in underserved rural areas and multicultural populations. James VanRhee, chairperson of the Physician Assistant Department, was awarded $134,738 to continue his development of a problem-based learning track in the physician assistant curriculum, while Dr. Cindee Peterson, chairperson of the Department of Occupational Therapy, and Dr. Richard G. Cooper, associate professor occupational therapy, received $117,334 to continue their work of preparing occupational therapists to work in school-based health centers.

The following were among other grants received by the University during the months of April and May.

A $202,688 award to Dr. James R. Sanders, associate director of the Evaluation Center, from Battle Creek Public Schools will be used to evaluate the implementation of the first two years of a Technology Innovation Challenge Grant at the Battle Creek area schools;

Dr. Subra Murali, associate professor of chemistry, received multiple grants, including a U.S. Department of Energy award for $145,000 for the first phase of a three-year, $380,000 grant to develop a method to separate metal ions from nuclear waste in an effort to find new ways to dispose of the waste. In addition, Murali received $90,000 from the Foundation for International Non-governmental Development of Space to develop technology that will enable astronauts to extract precious metals from asteroids while in space, and $50,000 from the PG Foundation for the first phase of a multi-year grant to develop a method to separate toxic and beneficial molecules in pharmaceuticals.

A $114,422 grant from the Michigan Department of Education to Dr. Robert A. Laing, professor of mathematics and statistics; Dr. Ruth Ann Meyer, professor emerita of mathematics and statistics; and Dr. Mark Jenness, senior research associate of science studies; will be used to train teachers in a new middle school math curriculum as part of the NSF-supported Middle School Mathematics Reform Project;

A $165,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation to Dr. James E. Crehan, professor of aviation sciences, will allow WMU to continue to provide airport management and administrative services at the Romeo Airport in Ray, Mich.

Thirteen grants totaling more than $48,000 from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium to various WMU faculty members will be used to conduct projects including the design and construction of a solar-powered semi-autonomous aircraft, the development of a wireless, portable health monitoring system for pilots and astronauts, and the design and construction of a programmable communication radio.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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