The Advance Project

Enhancing the academic careers of women in science, technology, engineering, & mathematics

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2005 ADVANCE Incentive Award Winners

Spring 2005

Faye Boudreaux-Bartels, College of Engineering
Joan Peckham, College of Arts & Sciences
Cathy Roheim, College of Environment & Life Sciences
Karen Wishner, Graduate School of Oceanography

The Evaluation Committee received 9 excellent proposals for ADVANCE Incentive Awards, of which 7 were awarded funding on March 23. The names, project titles, and abstracts appear below. Congratulations to all.

And The Winners Are….

Araceli Medina Bonifant
Assistant Professor 
Department of Mathematics

Dynamics of Self-Maps of Complex Projective Spaces


It is known that a curve invariant under self-maps of the complex projective space of degree greater than one must be rational or elliptic. Given a rational plane curve Q, it is relatively easy to find regular (holomorphic) self-maps of the complex projective plane for which Q is invariant and critical. In a previous paper (Self-maps of the complex projective plane with invariant elliptic curves), Marius Dabija and the P.I., give a criterion to identify in which cases a regular self-map g of a (possibly singular) elliptic curve C admits a regular (resp. rational) extension f to a self-map of the complex projective plane that leaves the elliptic curve C, invariant and satisfies f|_C=g. In this project we will continue our investigations on the subject, paying special attention to the study of the dynamical properties of the invariant elliptic curve. We are very interested in deciding in which cases or under which conditions, the invariant elliptic curve could be or not an attractor and which kind of attractor could be.

Rebecca Nelson Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of Plant Sciences

Successful Networking as a Tool for Success 


Modern scientific research is generally a collaborative effort. Collaboration is particularly important for young researchers seeking to win major grants. Having a respected researcher as a co-investigator can reassure granting agency reviewers who might be hesitant to award funds to someone with little experience. However, developing collaborations requires networking and forming collegial relationships with others whose research interests overlap one’s own area of study. These other researchers often work in other countries. Large international meetings provide a valuable opportunity to network and meet colleagues from around the world as well as from here in the United States.

Mayrai Gindy
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Integration of GIS and Infrastructure Sensing Technologies for Bridge Condition Assessment and Management 


The way engineering is practiced today is very different from a decade ago. The increased use of instrumental bridge components, non-destructive testing and monitoring, and intelligent transportation systems has greatly impacted the profession. However, the instrumented infrastructural system, as is, suffers from information isolation. The majority of the existing sensors and instrumentation serve only one purpose specifically defined for each project. oftentimes, there is little or no continuity in data streaming and exchange among different projects and agencies. The proposed research initiative is to develop a visual approach to monitoring, assessing, and managing bridge performance through an integration of geographic information system (GIS) and infrastructure sensing technologies. The funds requested herein will be uses to launch this new research program by funding GIS technical and software training and a comprehensive review of currently available traffic and bridge sensors, databases, and data collection efforts from various sources. This integrated network has many benefits including cost and time savings, efficient use of information, and improved decision-making tools.

Donna Meyer
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics

Development of a Proposal for Research on Biosensors for Detection of Contaminants in Rhode Island Waters 


In the past year, work has been performed in Dr. Meyer’s lab, on the basic science and engineering of a portable, handheld biosensor. The application approached in the preliminary work includes the rapid detection of bacteria in food, specifically meat and poultry. The Advance Incentive Fund request is to develop and write a proposal during July and August 2005 in which another application of the biosensor may be applied. It is proposed to design and fabricate a biosensor to detect illness-causing contaminants in the beach and fishing waters of Rhode Island. The proposal will be submitted to the NSF.

Yana Reshetnyak
Assistant Professor
Department of Physics

Design and Construction of the Spectrograph Imager for Protein Folding Studies 


The main goal of this project is to design and construct spectrograph imager, which would allow recording the whole fluorescence spectra simultaneously in fast time scale (miliseconds). We propose to use the designed instrument to study folding of membrane peptides. The stopped flow spectral kinetics system that we plan to construct is not available commercially. The construction of such system will give a significant advantage in fundamental studies of kinetics of protein folding. PI plans to use the instrument to collect preliminary data for the submission of research proposal to NSF and NIH.

Carol Thornber
Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences

Scott Nixon
Graduate School of Oceanography 

Measuring the Contribution of Natural and Anthropogenic Nitrogen to Macroalgal Blooms in Narragansett Bay Using a Stable Isotope Bioassay 


Large amounts of nitrogen (N) enter the head of Narragansett Bay from human sewage. This nitrogen mixes throughout the bay with large volumes of seawater that contain much lower concentrations of oceanic nitrogen. During the summer, macroalgae in the bay take up much of the available inorganic nitrogen from both sources. We propose to use stable nitrogen isotope ratios to determine the relative contribution of anthropogenic (from sewage) and natural nitrogen to supporting the growth of macroalgal blooms during the summertime. Our research will determine the relative contribution of anthropogenic nitrogen on the formation of macroalgal blooms in Narragansett Bay.

Mirang Yoon
Assistant Professor
Department of Physics

Quantification of the Effect of Strain on the Stability of Nanoscale Facets 


An experimental study is proposed to quantify the effect of strain on the stability of nanoscale facets on silicon and silicon germanium surfaces. A preliminary set of data obtained under a previous Advance Incentive Fund suggests that applying a strain to certain silicon surfaces enhances the stability of the surfaces so that they can manifest themselves as facets in nanoscale structures. Here, a more systematic study is proposed to construct a sample holder that finely controls the amount of strain applied and correlate the amount of strain with the morphology and stability of the strained surfaces by means of x-ray scattering.

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