WMU News

Two-month grant total tops $2.1 million

Jan. 27, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Grants to Western Michigan University during November and December exceeded $2.1 million, Western Michigan University trustees learned at their Jan. 24 meeting.

A report presented to trustees showed that the two-month grant total was $2,144,416, with November awards totaling $1,055,418 and December grants tallying $1,088,999. The amounts brought the year-to-date total grants received since the July 1 start of the 2002-03 fiscal year to $20,668,717.

Research grants during the two-month period topped $1.1 million and were led by a renewal grant of $461,697 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Dr. James M. Hillenbrand, professor of speech pathology. Hillenbrand's research seeks to shed light on how the human brain deciphers complex and radically different speech patterns and translates those sound waves into readily understood phonetic patterns. Hillenbrand has been researching how sounds are made and perceived since 1992 in collaboration with Robert Houde of RIT Research Corp. in Rochester, N.Y.

A new research grant of $108,425 from the U.S. Department of Transportation to Dr. Christopher D. Nelson, a senior research associate in the WMU Evaluation Center, aims to help the agency improve safety performance in the railroad industry through an evaluation of behavior-based safety methods. This approach, which emphasizes organizational and psychological factors, has not been used in the rail industry in the past. As a result, the evaluation activities are geared toward helping the agency assess the potential benefits of investment in this emerging area.

Another new research grant, this one for $92,103 from the National Science Foundation to Dr. Steven B. Bertman, associate professor of chemistry, will be used to measure atmospheric nitrogen delivered to the forests of northern Michigan. The project includes the building and deployment of a device to measure how much fixed nitrogen from the atmosphere is deposited into the forest over time. The research has implications in the debate over global warming and elevated carbon dioxide levels, since the amount of carbon dioxide that forests can consume is limited by the amount of nitrogen present in the soil.

A public service grant of $337,734 from Kalamazoo Community Mental Health to Carol Sundberg, director of the WMU Center for Disability Services, will assist people with handicaps. The renewal grant will provide daily living, communication, behavior control and social skill services to adults with developmental disabilities.

Other grants received during the period include the following.

A public service grant of $149,134 from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to Floyd Pientka, general manager of WMUKFM, will be used to sustain public radio services.

An academic support grant of $118,169 from Battle Creek Unlimited to Dr. Willem J. Homan, professor of aviation sciences, will fund a feasibility study and produce a strategic plan for the proposed Michigan Aviation Research Institute in Battle Creek.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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