What will $500K buy? ASU gets research boost with stimulus funds

Article Published: Oct. 29, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Appalachian State University is capitalizing on its research to get federal-stimulus funding.
ASU has received more than $552,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support six projects, four of which were research projects funded through the National Science Foundation.

Appalachian also has submitted proposals for another $6.5 million in stimulus funding for additional projects related to economic growth and stability.

"Most people associate stimulus funding with direct workforce creation, but the ARRA also funds projects related to technological advances, environmental protection and other purposes that can lead to long-term economic benefits," Susan McCracken, ASU director of sponsored programs, said.

Her office coordinates all grants, contracts and cooperative agreements Appalachian faculty members receive for their scholarly work.

McCracken said the number of federal grant proposals submitted by Appalachian faculty has increased 25 percent compared to this time last year and the dollar amounts requested has increased by 97 percent.

Appalachian has a number of proposed projects for ARRA funding, with the ASU Board of Trustees discussing the pursuit of such funding at its last meeting.

The proposals include installing solar thermal systems in campus buildings; purchaslng additional instrumentation to enhance atmospheric research at the Appalachian Atmospheric Interdisciplinary Research program; researching methane production by microorganisms in peat bogs in the southern Appalachian mountains; developing training curricula for families and professionals involved in early childhood intervention through Appalachian Family Innovations; renovating the Department of Biology's greenhouse complex on campus; beginning advanced use of the university's scanning transmission electron microscope; and purchasing a new telescope system for research and teaching at Appalachian's Dark Sky Observatory that is usable by astronomers worldwide through the Internet.

Appalachian should receive confirmation of these proposed projects within the next three to six months, according to McCracken.

Stimulus Research
ASU's funded projects and dollar amounts include:
$182,953 - Research into the relationship between the growth of the ponderosa pine and Douglas fir and the rise in carbon dioxide in the Northern Rockies, by Peter T. Soule in the Department of Geography and Planning.

$145,935 - Research into topography and vegetation at Bent Creek Experimental Forest and Grandfather Ranger District, both located in Pisgah National Forest, by Ryan Emanuel in the Department of Geology.

$79,959 - Research to evaluate the downstream impact of the fly ash spill from Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston, Tenn., coal-fired power plant in December 2008, and to provide data and predictions of how best to rehabilitate the site, by Roy Sidle of the Department of Geology. Chris Thaxton, Carol Babyak and Ellen Cowan are also working on this project.

$77,910 - Creation of 43 additional work-study positions for students, at an average award of $1,800 per student.

$65,341 - Hiring of additional personnel in the Appalachian-Foothills Regional Service Center of the N.C. Small Business and Technology Development Center hosted by Walker College of Business. The center supports economic development in a 14-county region of North Carolina.

$43,495 - Acquisition of a cathodoluminescence microscopy system for Appalachian's Optical Petrography Lab to investigate mineral precipitation around plants in wetland environments and to determine whether groundwater has interacted with sediment samples prior to chemical analysis, by Sarah Carmichael and Cynthia Liutkus in the Department of Geology.

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