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Professors awarded grant money to continue research


Three professors have been awarded substantial grants towards research in their areas of study. These research projects are opportunities for students and faculty to join forces for academic pursuits with real world applications.

John Garver, professor of geology, received $231,779 from the National Science Foundation for his collaborative project with a faculty researcher at Carleton College. Garver’s research, titled “Understanding the Provenance and Thermal Evolution of the Chugach Prince William Terrain in Southern Alaska,” will involve hands-on field work in Alaska as well as the direct training, mentoring, and assessment of 18 undergraduate thesis projects through the Keck Geology Consortium. 

Garver plans to target a small but highly significant population of Precambrian grains for analysis and will address key problems in Cordilleran tectonics related to terrain formation, translation, accretion and basin formation.

Joy Wang, professor of mathematics, was awarded $250,000 through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA). At the crux of her project is the reconstruction of medical imaging regarding prostate cancer, the most common cancer after skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men. Ultimately, she hopes to more effectively exploit trans-abdominal ultrasound imaging in prostate cancer treatment planning. Wang’s interdisciplinary research will involve collaboration with Ellis Hospital, a significant number of participating undergraduates and several faculty members.

Another National Institute of Health (NIH) Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) recipient is mechanical engineering professor, Ashok Ramasubramanian. Ramasubramanian’s $300,000 award will enable him to extend his post-doctoral five-year research to the next phase which is a three-year project titled, “Role of Mechanical Forces in Cardiac S-Looping.” Ramasubramanian’s team will include several Union undergraduates and faculty members.

This study will deepen understanding of embryonic heart development and shed light on the poorly-understood mechanics of looping. Since abnormal looping is a primary reason for congenital heart disease, Ramasubramanian’s research has implications for the million Americans who have some form of congenital heart defect and 35,000 babies who are born each year with some form of congenital heart disease.