- Whitman College received a planning grant of $90,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support its efforts to foster practices of diversity, inclusion, and equity on campus. The planning grant builds upon work the College has done over the past three years, including creating a diversity council and hiring a Chief Diversity Officer. Funding from the planning grant will enable the College to bring together members of the Whitman community for a series of focused discussions of faculty, staff, and students. In addition, the College will bring in external facilitators (University of Michigan Program on Intergroup Dialogue) and a nationally-known consultant (Dr. Damon Williams) to provide training and guidance to campus groups. These efforts will lead to the creation of a set of implementation strategies that will ultimately contribute to the development of Whitman College’s strategic plan for diversity.
- Alissa Cordner, Assistant Professor of Sociology, is the co-Principle Investigator with collaborators at Northeastern University on a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation entitled "Perfluorinated Chemicals: The Social Discovery of a Class of Emerging Contaminants." The goals of the research are to track the social and scientific discovery of perfluorinated chemicals, hazardous chemicals that are widely used in industrial production. This project will investigate the emergence of lay awareness, scientific research, government involvement, media coverage, litigation, and advocacy around this class of chemicals. Cordner will analyze regulatory documents and public testimony about voluntary and regulatory action related to perfluorinated chemicals, and will conduct interviews with affiliated individuals. The project will lead to a better understanding of chemical risks and environmental health controversies, and will contribute to research on alternatives assessment, chemical substitution, and environmental regulation.
- Melissa Clearfield, Professor of Psychology, was awarded a grant sub-award from the Hemera Foundation. She and Whitman College are part of a larger grant to Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child to launch innovative research focusing on at-risk children from pre-natal to three years of age and their caregivers. At Whitman, Clearfield and students in her Whitman Infant Learning and Development (WILD) lab created a simple Play for Success intervention for low-income infants to boost object exploration and, eventually, executive function. They will partner with the Children’s Home Society of Washington to test this intervention through the Early Head Start program. This intervention will eventually lead to better problem-solving skills in this at-risk population.
- Doug Juers, Associate Professor of Physics, was awarded a grant of $316,455 from the National Institutes of Health for his research on the thermal behavior macromolecular crystals. His project will improve the quality of three-dimensional structures of macromolecules, structures that are key for understanding the molecular basis of disease. His grant will provide research opportunities for several students over three years.
- Marion Götz, Associate Professor of Chemistry, was awarded a grant of $260,647 from the National Institutes of Health for her research on proteasome inhibitors. Her project investigates the development of a new and improved class of proteasome inhibitors that may lead to more effective therapeutic agents for cancer. Her grant will provide research opportunities for 9 students over three years.
- Tim Machonkin, Associate Professor of Chemistry, was awarded a grant of $385,400 from the National Science Foundation. His research examines the mechanisms of a specific class of bacterial enzymes that can be used for bioremediation or other applications. This work, which involves a collaboration with Yale University, will provide research opportunities for 8-12 Whitman students, and send some of them to spend the summer doing research at Yale.
- Tim Parker, Associate Professor of Biology, received conference grants from the National Science Foundation and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to organize an international workshop called “Improving Inference in Evolutionary Biology and Ecology” in November 2015 at the Center for Open Science in Charlottesville, VA. This workshop grew out of Parker's research and his ongoing interests in teaching biology students to critically evaluate the scope of scientific inferences. The goal of the workshop is to develop and promote the adoption of incentive structures, especially editorial policies for academic journals, that will reduce the rate of publication of false positives, promote replication of research, and facilitate synthesis of results across studies. The attendees will include scientists interested in improving scientific inference along with editors-in-chief of many prominent journals in evolutionary biology and ecology. By changing institutions in ways that should reduce publication bias and promote more rigorous evaluation of hypotheses, the organizers hope to improve empirical progress in these fields.
- Nicole Pietrantoni, Assistant Professor of Studio Art, received the Graves Award in the Humanities, a competitive grant available to early-career faculty from liberal arts colleges in Washington, Oregon, and California who demonstrate outstanding teaching and scholarly work and who are nominated by their College’s President. The grant will facilitate a new body of artwork that explores humans’ complex relationship to nature and enable the development of Whitman College’s first Environmental Studies-Art course titled “Art in the Anthropocene.” With this funding, Pietrantoni will conduct archival research at the Center for Art and the Environment at the Nevada Art Museum, travel to historic land art sites in the American West, and participate in “The Practice of Art in the Anthropocene” conference at the University of California-Los Angeles during her sabbatical in Spring 2017.
- Arielle Cooley, Assistant Professor of Biology, received an American Philosophical Society Franklin Research grant to support her ongoing research on the monkeyflower genus Mimulus. This grant will support the purchase of supplies for experiments that will help determine the molecular mechanisms responsible for the evolution of flower color diversity in Mimulus.