WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Three Whitman College student-faculty teams have been awarded Sally Ann Abshire Research Scholar Awards for the spring semester of 2001.
Recipient teams are junior biology major Rory Bradt of Marysville, Washington, and associate professor of biology Heidi Dobson; sophomore Annelise Heinz of Villa Park, California, and assistant professor of history Nina Lerman; and sophomore Dan Cushing of Petersburg, Alaska, and associate professor of chemistry Ruth Russo.
The Abshire awards have financed undergraduate research projects since the program was established in 1981 by Alfred D. Abshire, Whitman class of 1945, in memory of his wife. The awards give students an opportunity to involve themselves in professional research, provide monetary compensation and pay for research materials.
Bradt will travel to Spain to assist Dobson with research that will address the pollination of wild daffodils in Grazalema National Park in southern Spain. The field research will be conducted during spring break and the data analyzed upon Bradt and Dobson's return to Whitman. This research will help discern differences in plant-pollinator interactions between rare and common plants, which will assist in the development of management plans to protect the plants and their associated communities. The research is a collaborative project led by Dobson, professor Susan Kephart of Willamette University and professor Juan Arroya of the University of Sevilla, and funded through a grant from Earthwatch. Bradt's experience with the Whitman Outdoor Program will be helpful to Dobson as she handles the logistics of dealing with the dozen or so Earthwatch volunteers who will be helping in the research.
Heinz will assist Lerman in a project that will become the final chapter of Children of Progress, Lerman's book on technical education and industrialization in Philadelphia. Heinz and Lerman will sort and index material, previously collected by Lerman, consisting of institutional reports and the writings of educational leaders from 1890 to 1920. They will then explore what became of the major trends and themes that Lerman has already identified for earlier periods as the "long 19th century" drew to a close. (The "long 19th century" refers to the period from the U.S. Constitution to World War I.)
Cushing will assist Russo in the research she is doing for an upcoming manuscript titled "A Natural History of Agonist." "Agonist" in contemporary biochemistry refers to a molecule which binds to and turns on a cellular receptor. Russo will attempt to resurrect some of the poetic origin of the word for the biomedical research audience, which is probably unaware of the fascinating history of the word "agonist," she said. She hopes to have the finished manuscript published in the journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine.