Professors awarded NSF grants for sleep and plasma research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded two Gettysburg College professors with grants totaling nearly half a million dollars.

Physics Prof. Michael Strickland (pictured below) received a three-year grant in the amount of $141,000 for his proposal entitled "Dissipative Dynamics of the Quark Gluon Plasma." The quark gluon plasma is an ultra hot state of matter that dominated the universe when it was only a few microseconds old. It is now possible to recreate such temperatures in particle accelerators, which allows physicists to experimentally study conditions as they existed in the very early universe. The funding provides Strickland and two physics students with the resources to develop a new theoretical method for obtaining dynamical equations to describe the plasma's evolution, and also enables the physics department to host guest speakers on campus.

Cecilia Diniz BehnMathematics - Sciences Prof. Cecilia Diniz Behn (pictured left) received a three-year grant in the amount of $299,998 to study the dynamics of sleep-wake regulation. The experimental techniques available to probe the neuronal regulatory mechanisms governing sleep are limited to post-mortem studies and those that can be conducted in vivo without disrupting sleep. The funding allows Diniz Behn and her collaborator, Victoria Booth from the University of Michigan, to use mathematical modeling as an investigative tool to bridge the gaps left by these limitations. The funding will also allow research students and postdoctoral fellows to join the team, providing an opportunity for training and mentoring. "We are fortunate to work closely with excellent experimental collaborators," said Diniz Behn. "We hope that our simulation results and predictions will help guide their work and contribute to new breakthroughs in understanding sleep-wake behavior."

Michael StricklandThe National Science Foundation was founded in 1950 as an independent federal agency to promote the progress of science. Today, the NSF is the funding source for 20% of all federally supported research conducted by American colleges and universities. Working from a "bottom up" approach, the NSF maintains constant contact with the research community, identifying promising fields and people to later conduct the research.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Article by Tracey Dukert and Libby Conroy, communications and marketing intern

Contact: Tracey Dukert, assistant director of news content, 717.337.6521

Posted: Mon, 31 Oct 2011

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