Wooster Receives $325,000 Grant from NSF in Support of Summer Research Program

Physics and chemistry departments will continue to serve as REU site over next three years

WOOSTER, Ohio – The College of Wooster was awarded a grant of $326,132 on Tuesday from the National Science Foundation, extending support to the department of physics’ long-running and successful Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site.

The three-year grant supports Wooster’s summer research program, which closely guides undergraduates in publishable research projects for 10 weeks each summer. The NSF agrees that “this REU site has had a significant impact on science and on the retention of students in science and helps build the technological workforce that is essential to our nation’s future,” as cited by the abstract.

Among the research to take place will be the continuation of “its long-running granular flow experiment allowing investigation of critical phenomena like avalanches and earthquakes; its reaction-diffusion simulation that sheds light on wave-front recovery in damaged cardiac tissue; and its on-going study of a unique swellable glass, discovered at Wooster, which will inform its commercial use in environmental remediation projects.”

It is notable that this program welcomes a wide variety of students, from novice undergraduates to students attending two-year colleges or other institutions where research opportunities are scarce as well as those at prestigious liberal arts institutions, including Wooster’s own. Overall, students have come from 52 colleges or universities in 21 states since the program’s inception in 1994.

“The Wooster REU site will provide an environment for young students to learn the tools and techniques of scientific research that spans a broad range of fields, such as granular materials, spatiotemporal pattern formation, swellable glass, quantum optics, nonlinear dynamics, celestial mechanics, and astrophysics,” said John Lindner, professor of physics at Wooster and the principal investigator of the grant. “Each student takes ownership of an individual project, conducts original research, and becomes a practicing scientist through the research project. Students also benefit from making oral and poster presentations as well as written reports.”

Past summer research at Wooster’s REU site has contributed to 35 scientific papers involving 57 undergraduate co-authors in such journals as the “Physical Review.” Results have also been featured twice on the cover of the “American Journal of Physics,” and in news stories in “Physics Today” and “Nature News.”

Susan Lehman, chair of the physics department at Wooster, is the co-principal investigator, while also assisting are faculty members Paul Bonvallet (chemistry), Laura DeGroot (physics), Cody Leary (physics), and Niklas Manz (physics).

For more information, including a link to a student application, visit physics.wooster.edu/REU.