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1. Abstract [150 words]:

Earlham College requests $358,877 to develop multidisciplinary science curriculum modules and student/faculty research projects focusing on a common core problem: metals in the environment. This project will emphasize collaboration among our natural science departments, including biology, chemistry, computer science, geosciences, mathematics, and environmental science. Scientific research is becoming increasingly multidisciplinary, collaborative, and computational. Therefore, it is essential to train our students to develop multi-faceted approaches to problem solving that use both traditional laboratory techniques and computational methods. This project will introduce an important scientific problem (metals in the environment), ask students to collect and analyze data, and to make interpretations using different disciplinary perspectives. This idea of collaborative multidisciplinary learning will transform our undergraduate curriculum in the sciences and provide a model for programs among the sciences at other liberal arts colleges.

2. Unique Aspects:

Four aspects of our project work together to make it unique and valuable: 1) emphasizing computational methods in combination with the use of field and laboratory techniques; 2) introducing students to modern multidisciplinary science that utilizes teams of scientists to inform and illuminate different disciplinary perspectives of a problem; 3) involving students in introductory through upper-level science classes; and 4) focusing on a problem of local concern. With the incorporation of research modules into courses and further development of our multidisciplinary research activities, this project will blur the line between modern scientific research and education.

3. Key Personnel:

Michael Deibel (Assoc. Prof. of Chemistry, Ph.D.) 10 years teaching, 13 publications (6 related to metal analysis), expertise in multiple methods of metal analysis. Will develop modules for environmental chemistry and instrumental analysis. Corinne Deibel (Assoc. Prof. of Chemistry, Ph.D.) 10 years teaching analytical, extensive experience in metal analysis. Will develop modules in general and analytical chemistry. Meg Streepey (Asst. Prof. of Geosciences, Ph.D.) 6 years teaching, experience developing interdisciplinary undergraduate curriculum. Will create teaching modules in geoscience courses. David Matlack (Visiting Asst Prof. of Biology, D.V.M.) 14 years as a practicing veterinarian, 8 years teaching. Will develop modules for cell physiology and animal physiology. John Iverson (Prof. of Biology, Ph.D.) 28 years teaching, 150 publications (40 with student co-authors), one of the world's leading herpetologists. Named 2005 Carnegie Professor of the Year.

Charlie Peck (Asst. Prof. of Computer Science, Ph.D. expected 2006). 14 years teaching, instrumental in development of the computer science department, instructor for NCSI 's summer workshops, develops computational tools and curriculum modules for NSDL and BCCD.

Other science faculty: Lori Watson and Mark Stocksdale (Chemistry), Mic Jackson (Mathematics), Ron Parker (Geosciences); which in total represents approximately 50% of the science faculty.


The $358,877 requested from WMKF will be allocated in the following manner: 56% Personnel (student, faculty, and admin. asst. stipends) 27% Equipment and 17% Operations.

5. Justification for WMKF support:

Funding for collaborative projects involving such a breadth of disciplines at small, liberal arts colleges is limited. The WMKF is known and respected throughout the scientific community for supporting innovative science programs at high-quality undergraduate institutions.