Federal funding will advance various departments, research

Marquette is expecting to receive a cumulative total of $7.5 million in federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package over the next three years to help continue research opportunities and provide equipment for various departments.

As of June 30, 2010, the university had already been authorized to spend $4.63 million, according to Marquette’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Funding has come from a combination of three federal agencies: the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the National Science Federation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Barbara Ploszay, the director of grants administration in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, said the funds given are going to help increase research projects on campus.

“(The money has) created a number of jobs and given students opportunity that otherwise may not have existed,” Ploszay said. “It has made for scholarship opportunity, infrastructure and equipment money to accelerate additional research.”

According to the 2010 Stimulus Applications Awarded report from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, 23 projects have received funding, allowing various departments to buy equipment or continue with their respective research.

For the fiscal quarter ending Sept. 30, 2010, the university reported that about 18 jobs have been created or retained with the help of the stimulus funds.

Robert Fitts, the chair of Marquette’s biological science department, received a $286,777 grant last year that purchased a confocal microscope. The microscope, being used by 10 other faculty members and graduate students, is helping with their research projects, Fitts said.

Fitts said his own research, which involves studying problems in regulation of contraction in skeletal and cardiac muscle and the role of regular exercise programs in the prevention of heart disease, has been enhanced with the microscope.

“The equipment is the centerpiece of our new imaging facility,” Fitts said in an e-mail. “It has already facilitated research programs in the department as well as researchers from Marquette’s Dental School and the Medical College of Wisconsin.”

But the microscope has been more than a research tool for Fitts.

“The instrument has allowed us to instruct graduate students in state-of-the-art imaging technology, and in the future will be incorporated into our undergraduate curriculum,” Fitts said. “In addition, it allows outreach educational programs between university and industry researchers.”

The College of Nursing was recently authorized $296,263 in federal funding from the USDHHS to purchase low to high fidelity simulators to help students learn how to react to real life patient care scenarios, according to the award report from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

“The simulators will imitate people with asthma or a heart attack and based on what (students) do, and the simulator will give a response,” said Kerry Kosmoski-Goepfert, the associate dean for undergraduate programs in the College of Nursing. “It’s a running scenario with immediate response.”

Another project to receive funding is a team of professors and students working to create an environmentally friendly, all-electric ‘e-LIMO.’ The group received $65,000 according to the award report.

“This is a high opportunity, high visibility project,” said George Corliss, a professor in the College of Engineering who applied for the grant. “This year’s team has a budget. We have had fruitful discussions with Johnson Controls.”

Article by Marissa Evans