Montana State University

National Science Foundation honors MSU faculty with $1.5 million

May 5, 2004 -- By MSU News Service

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Bozeman -- Four Montana State University professors received awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for contributions to research, education and outreach. The awards total $1.5 million and cover salaries for three years, research expenses and graduate student work.

Linda Young, College of Agriculture, and Sarah Codd, College of Engineering, received NSF's Advance Fellowships. James Becker and Joe Seymour, both from engineering, received NSF's Career awards.

The Advance program is designed to increase participation of women in science and engineering by assisting them in developing competitive and sustainable research programs. The Faculty Early Career Development program recognizes activities of faculty who are likely to become academic leaders.

"Our faculty is simply incredible, competing successfully with the nation's best researchers and providing superb education on campus," said MSU President Geoff Gamble.

Young's $379,000 award recognizes her work in economics that explores the tension between the achievement of domestic policy goals and trade liberalization.

"I will use the NSF award to continue my research on international food aid and the impact of potential food-aid rules in the World Trade Organization," Young said. She explained that often food aid is sold on a developing country's markets, which affects domestic prices. She will evaluate the price impact of those sales as a disincentive to local production.

The award also enables her to develop and teach an undergraduate political science course on economic globalization.

Codd received $387,000 for her work as co-director of MSU's Magnetic Resonance Microscopy Laboratory. The lab explores uses of high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in engineering applications.

"This award will allow me to continue a study of the molecular dynamics in colonies of bacteria, called biofilms, in conjunction with MSU's Center for Biofilm Engineering," Codd said. "Biofilms are responsible for oral plaque and the persistent infections in catheters, medical implants and lungs. The use of novel MRI microscopy techniques will allow some of the vital questions surrounding the function of biofilms to be answered." She co-directs the lab with Seymour.

Seymour's $400,000 award recognizes his work in Magnetic Resonance Microscopy. He studies the flow of cells and particles in small channels and porous media, which provides information on how blood flows through very small vessels, how environmental contaminants move through earth formations, and how microbial cells behave in biosensors and biomedical devices.

Research in his lab includes the development of magnetic resonance techniques for applications in geophysical field research, industrial processing and online biomedical device monitoring. The Career award also provides for integration of the research into the graduate and undergraduate curricula.

"The award will allow me to fund a Ph.D. student to study the fundamental physical and chemical forces involved when small particles like cells move in restricted spaces," Seymour said. "Research of this type has broad application to areas as seemingly diverse as designing better medical devices like blood filters to designing bioremediation schemes to clean up contaminants."

Becker, electrical and computer engineering, teaches courses in electronics and microwave circuits. His $400,000 award will fund five years of research and teaching to address the pressing need for developing low-cost power sources for millimeter wave and submillimeter wave frequencies. Becker explained that low-cost sources are needed to enable a new set of applications that take advantage of this portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, often considered the most difficult to harness.

"Such sources will find use in a variety of scientific, commercial and military applications including remote sensing, communications, chemical and biological-agent detection and high-resolution radar," Becker said.

He explained that the educational portion of the project addresses issues of recruitment and retention of a diverse student population in electrical and computer engineering at MSU. It includes a collaboration with Salish Kootenai College in Pablo in an effort to provide an effective bridge between the two-year pre-engineering program at Salish Kootenai College and the four-year program at MSU.

Contact Linda Young 994-5604, Sarah Codd 994-1944, James Becker 994-5988 or Joe Seymour 994-6853