Faculty Research Grant Awards

2011 Awardees

Erich N. Ottem

Assistant Professor – Biology

Amount of the Award: $6,613

TITLE: Investigating the Role of Muscular BDNF in the Onset of Sporadic Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Abstract:  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating and fatal adult-onset neuromuscular disease that leads to progressive degeneration and death of motorneurons in the spinal cord and associated skeletal muscles which are important for all voluntary movement. There are two general forms of ALS. One form, familial ALS (FALS), is a heritable genetic disease that is caused by a mutation in a gene that codes for an antioxidant protein found in the spinal motorneurons and skeletal muscles. However, FALS, and this mutation, only account for 10% of diagnosed cases of ALS. Most patients suffering from this disease (90%) are classified as having sporadic ALS (SALS), and no single cause has been discovered that accounts for onset of disease pathology. The protein brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), so named because it was originally found to be enriched in neural tissue, but is also found in high concentrations in muscle, is a promising candidate for investigation as a possible trigger for the onset of SALS disease pathology. We have found that mice generated in our laboratory that have the inability to produce BDNF in muscles display an adult-onset neuromuscular disease pathology that is extremely similar to models of FALS. These mice may be the first models of SALS. This proposal will investigate whether the timeline of disease pathology in motorneurons and skeletal muscle mirrors established FALS research models and progression of SALS in humans. If successful, these mice may give new insight into treatment strategies which may prolong the life or cure SALS patients.

K. C. Holder

Associate Professor-School of Education, Leadership and Public Service

Amount of Award: $7,000

Title: Discovering the landscape: On-site charter school monitoring

Abstract:  The purpose of this study is to describe “best-practices” of on-site inspection visits for charter school monitoring. Although program evaluation, school improvement and school effectiveness literature is widespread, there exists no published participant observation research describing best-practices of on-site monitoring of charter schools. Charter schools are publically funded schools that create a charter (i.e., contract) with a state-law approved charter school authorizer (e.g., local school district, higher education, Mayor’s office, etc.). In a nation-wide survey, The National Association of Charter School Authorizers found that over 82% of all authorizers utilize internal employee conducted on-site visits, and over 30% of authorizers utilize external employees (e.g., educational consultant) to conduct on-site visits as part of overall monitoring (over 100% due to some authorizers using both internal and external evaluators). This study will utilize a participant observation methodology and the investigator will work alongside monitors of identified exemplary charter school authorizers. Participants will be recruited from eight states (AZ, CA, CO, FL, MI, OH, PA, TX) that represent over 65% of all charter school students enrolled.  State-level directors of charter school associations will be interviewed to identify exemplary authorizers who in turn will be invited to become the participants for this study. Findings will be of interest to a national and international audience due to the worldwide growing research base on school-inspections as part of school effectiveness and improvement. 

Dennis Staffne

Professor, School of Art & Design

Amount of Award: $6,521

Title: Invitational Exhibit – Portfolio Development

Abstract:  The primary goal for this grant proposal is to create a new portfolio of creative photographic prints for an upcoming invitational exhibit opportunity. In 2009 three of my creative prints were accepted into a national juried exhibit, Photography Unlimited 4, at the Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, Missouri.  From this group exhibit of over 50 artists, four individuals were invited to exhibit in a future Group Four Exhibit. I was one of those four artists. This exhibit will occur in late 2011 or early 2012. Competition of this proposal would be before the start of the Fall 2011 semester. I have a strong professional exhibition record with 28 exhibits and/or art festivals since 2007 (regional, national and international). My exhibition record also includes significant international exhibits such at the New York Digital Salon and SIG GRAPH. I own all the photographic equipment necessary to complete this grant proposal, including two wide format Canon ipf6100 printers. With this printer I can print up to 24 inches in width. The printer uses archival quality pigmented ink. Combined with the appropriate paper, archival prints with the longevity of several hundred years is possible. The completed portfolio will consist to 12 – 14 finished prints, approximately 20 x 30 inches in size. The final prints will be face mounted to museum quality OP3 Plexiglass. Te genre of the portfolio will follow a creative direction unique from my most recent work.

Thomas D. Getman

Professor Chemistry Department

Amount of Award: $7,000

Title: Preparation of Unreactive, Weakly Coordinating Anions

Abstract:  The goals of this proposal are two-fold: first, to prepare the anions [Ga(biscarborane)2], [A1(biscarborane)2], and [B(biscarborane)2] and second, to determine the coordinating abilities of these anions. This proposal describes why these anions are expected to be uncreative and the most weakly coordinating anions known to man. Weakly coordinating anions find industrial use in olefin polymerization and more specialized uses as the conjugate bases of superacids, methylating agents and trialkylsilylating agents. The quest for the most weakly coordinating anion is the quest for the most reactive olefin polymerization catalyst, superacid, methylating agent, and/or trailkylsilylating agent. The preparation of any of these anions would be significant enough to warrant presentation at a regional or national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), and submittal of a proposal to the Petroleum Research Fund of the ACS to further develop their chemistry. If these anions are shown to be weakly coordinating or, ideally, the most weakly coordinating anions known, then publication in a peer-reviewed journal of the highest quality would be appropriate.

J. Marek Haltof

Professor, Department of English

Amount of Award: $6,932

Title: “Representing Auschwitz in The Last Stage (1948)” (book project)

Abstract:  My application requests funding for a book-length project about a seminal Holocaust film about Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, The Last Stage (1948), made by a camp survivor, Polish director Wanda Jakubowska. Arguably “the mother of all Holocaust films,” Jakubowska’s film served as a model for Schindler’s List and other Holocaust narratives.

This summer, I submitted my book on Polish Film and the Holocaust: Politics and Memory to my publisher in New York, Berghahn Books (under contract). The current project, a significant expansion of my previous research, offers an in-depth study of a classic film that shaped our representation of Auschwitz and the Holocaust. It moves beyond the traditional boundaries of Film Studies and involves meticulous historical, political, and cultural research. I plan to write the monograph about The Last Stage within the next three years.

My work is at the preliminary stage. Although my research on Polish cinema and the Holocaust is well documented by my publications, the nature of this work requires more thorough research, particularly in Polish archives and museums. I am confident that I will be able to secure a publishing contract at a later date.

Jaspal Singh

Professor, English Department

Amount of Award: $7,000

Title: Imagining Nations: Gender and Sikh Identity in Indian and Diasporic Literature

Abstract:  I am requesting funding for research travel to India In order to complete a monograph on Indian Sikh writers, who, as religious minorities in India, struggle for national identity in the face of violence and oppression. The book will to examine Punjabi Sikh male and female writers in India and in the diaspora to understand how Sikhs, both men and women, imagine Sikh identity and homeland. While Sikh writers have been the focus of scholarship before, the analyses that I bring to my studies will be cutting edge due to the fact that no one else to date has undertaken a comparative analysis of the representations of the Sikhs before colonialism, during colonialism, and after colonialism. More importantly, I shall examine Indian literature in order to understand the erasure of Sikh womanhood within dominant narratives; why are the Sikhs, represented as wearing the turban, gendered as male, while Sikh women appear only in subservient roles as producers of the nation? I plan to travel to India in December 2011, conduct research, present my findings at a conference, conduct at seminar for students at the University of Baroda, revise the paper for inclusion in the monograph, revise and submit the manuscript by the end of 2011. While my book will be academically rigorous, I will also provide personal narratives as a Sikh woman and an academic, which will enhance readability. The bok, which will be revised by the end of 2012 and submitted for publication thereafter, will be no more than 80,000 words.

Shelley Russell

Professor Communications and Performance Studies Department

Amount of Award: $7,000

Title: Water, Woman: A play Exploring the Evolving Relationship Between Women and Their Natual Environment as Translated by the Art They Produce

Abstract:  I intend to write a play exploring the validity of contemporary art as a reflection of the evolving relationship between women and their natural environment. Specifically, I intend to create a drama linking the nearly fatal accident of a contemporary woman with historical mysteries involving the violent death of a female light keeper and the unexplained stone structures known as the Pukaswa Pits on the eastern coast of Lake Superior. The play will focus on the action of the contemporary character and her doubts concerning her art, but will introduce a Native American character who lives quietly within her thirteenth century Algonquian tribe, and a Norwegian immigrant who successfully serves as a light keeper until her death in the late nineteenth century. The plot follows a traditional climactic, two-act structure. The play’s staging requires one partially realistic setting and a media design to establish the dreamlike time and place surrounding the mysterious circumstances of the accident. The play’s key action will follow the main character’s questions about her understanding of contemporary art and culture, and the role of female artists in society. The play will be produced in the studio theatre on NMU’s campus and will be entered in University of Oregon’s Eco-Drama play competition. The faculty grant, if approved, will support the development of the play and its stage setting.

Tara Foster

Assistant Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures

Amount of the award: $6,685

Title: Editing Three Anonymous Anglo-Norman Lives of Saint Margaret: Paris BnF ms. Fr. 19525

Abstract:  I plan to continue my work on the preparation of new editions of three different anonymous versions of the Life of Saint Margaret of Antioch, each contained in a single thirteenth-century manuscript and composed in the French dialects of Norman England. The funding from the Faculty Research Grant would allow me to travel to Paris to transcribe and edit the third and final manuscript; with the funding from my previous Faulty Research Grant, I was able to complete the transcriptions and critical editions of the Cambridge and York manuscripts. Although adapted from Latin sources similar to those used by the redactors of the Cambridge and York versions, the Paris version differs strikingly in its presentation of the female figures and their role in authoritative verbal textual productions. An edition of three rare versions of the life of a martyr saint of major importance to women would be a welcome addition to scholars in medieval history and literature, women’s studies, and gender studies, given the current lively interest in gendered studies of women saints and in violence in medieval society. Since the ultimate goal of the project is to produce a facing-page English translation to accompany each of the new editions, I will provide access to the Lives of Saint Margaret to scholars working in a broad range of disciplines, including those who have not had formal training in French dialects of the Middle Ages.

William H. Bergmann

Associate Professor, History Department

Amount of Award: $7,000

Title: Western Banking: The Bank of Kentucky and Economic Development in the Trans-Appalachian West

Abstract:  A Faculty Research Grant will provide necessary financial resources in support of research for my book manuscript project, Western Banking. This project will use the first Bank of Kentucky and other Ohio Valley state banks to explore the role of state banks in contributing to western economic development, to elucidate how merchants, farmers and manufacturers used banks, to reveal how state banks worked with the federal government for both local and national aims, and to offer insight into the place of western banking within a context of national fiscal development. In contrast to extant scholarship which favors analyses of eastern banks and period following 1820, Western Banking scrutinizes a region and era larely neglected in the literature. My interdisciplinary approach, combining elements of history, political science and economics, serves to portray banking more fully than each disciplinary approach might on its own. By dissecting relationships state banks constructed with the region’s inhabitants, other state banks and the federal government, this project adds understanding to the social and economic emergence of capitalism in the United States. I have already begun research for Western Banking and have been accepted to present some initial findings at a conference in 2011.  A FRG will fund just more than one month’s research at archives in Frankfort, Kentucky and College Park, Maryland, which should be sufficient to complete a draft of the book manuscript by 2013. Travel to these archives is necessary because the resources there cannot be accessed by any other means.

Carol Strauss Sotiropoulos

Associate Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures

Amount of Award: $3,890.00

Title: Gender Binds: Margaret Fuller and the German Romanticists

Abstract:  I have been invited* to write a lengthy article to appear as a chapter in a volume on women writers who were involved in the nineteenth-century American literary-philosophical movement known as Transcendentalism (*following peer-reviewed proposal vetting). My article will center on the author/journalist/social activist Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) and her links to German Romanticism. Prior related scholarship has centered on Fuller’s promotion of the male Romantic writers, primarily Goethe, to an American audience. Fuller can also be credited with having inspired debate over both male and female Romantic writers’ representations of womanhood. First, my article will address Fuller’s writings about Goethe from a feminist perspective. Here the research to date has been limited and the article will thus provide a substantial contribution to Fuller scholarship. My discovery (through archival work) that Fuller omitted key passages pertaining to women in her translation into English of Goethe’s Conversations with Eckermann opens new ground in Fuller―Goethe scholarship, as does my second focus: Fuller’s literary association with lesser known German women writers with whose works she was familiar (and some of which she translated into English).

Melissa Romero

Assistant Professor, Nursing

Amount of Award: $7,000

Title: Validation of the National Institutes of Health Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (NIH PROMIS) Survey as a Quality of Life Instrument for Patients with Primary Malignant Brain Tumors and their Caregivers

Abstract:  The National Institutes of Health, Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (NIH PROMIS) instrument is a newly developed computer survey that can offer valuable information about a patient’s quality of life. The primary purpose of this study is to validate the NIH PROMIS survey by comparing it with three validated quality of life surveys for patients with primary malignant brain tumors and their caregivers. A secondary purpose of this study is to evaluate the use of iPod touch mobile devices as a means to complete and submit the surveys. Marquette General Health System will enroll 10 dyads (patients with malignant brain tumors and their caregivers) and the Henry Ford Health System will enroll 20 dyads into the study. Patients with malignant brain tumors will use the iPod touch device to complete the NIH PROMIS and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC-30) survey and its brain cancer specific module and caregivers will use the iPod touch device to complete the NIH PROMIS and the Caregiver Quality of Life-Cancer (CQOLC survey. Surveys for each dyad will be completed at three time points. The data will be analyzed by a biostatistician at Henry Ford Health System. Abstracts will be submitted for presentations at the following conferences: (a) Congress of Neurological Surgeons, (b) Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nurses, (c) American Association of Neurological Surgeons, (d) the Society of Neuro-Oncology, and € the Oncology Nurses’ Society.  Manuscripts for publication will be submitted during the fall semester of 2011.

Robert Whalen

Professor, English Department

Amount Awarded: $7,000

Title: “Computing George Herbert’s Poetics”

Abstract:  I will study the aural dynamics of George Herbert’s verse in order systematically to account for his contribution to English poetics. By “poetics” I mean the tools of poetic artifice: meter, rhyme, varieties of repetition, sibilance, consonance, assonance, enjambment, caesura, and other rhetorical figures pertaining to the sheer sound and physical properties of Herbert’s poems. My methodology combines informed critical reading with computational analysis using my forthcoming NEH-funded electronic edition of Herbert’s poetry, The Digital Temple. My goal is to discover, chart, and summarize Herbert’s distinctive signature as a craftsman-poet: a maker of wordy things which consist of thingy words―sonic objects that, in philosopher Paul Ricoeur’s attractive formulation, “make language appear.” Though the considerable literature on Herbert is filled with casual references to technique in service to content, a sustained analysis of the former has yet to be undertaken. I will design pertinent search-and retrieval queries, generate and examine the data, interpret and articulate its meaning, and present my findings at the Spring 2012 meeting of the Renaissance Society of America and in a feature-length article for a major academic journal. Intimately familiar with the Digital Temple database (because I created it), I am ideally suited to exploiting its potential as a research tool. Such a study would be the logical next step in my professional career: to demonstrate, by example, how digital editions can be used to expand our understanding of early modern literature and culture.

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