IWU sciences receives $450,000 research grant

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded a $450,000 research grant to Indiana Wesleyan University’s Dr. Matthew Kreitzer, chair of Division of Natural Sciences, for a collaborative undergraduate research project. The project involves four other research-focused institutions across the nation and has garnered a total of $830,000 in NSF grant funding.

The collaborative research project is titled “The Role of Extracellular H+ in Processing Visual Signals” and focuses on visual processing in the eye as well as pivotal regulatory mechanisms important to neural processing throughout the brain. The funding specific to IWU will provide opportunity for two or three IWU students per summer to participate in the research experience (as well as about eight students during the academic year). In addition, the grant will fund the cost of equipment and supplies as well as travel costs associated with students presenting their findings at regional and national conferences.

“My hope is that this work will not only shed light on intricacies required for vision but for processing throughout the brain as well,” said Kreitzer. “My aim in creating this collaborative effort is to bring undergraduates into the center of a multi-institution research collaboration allowing them to see how they as undergraduates can work in collaboration with leading neuroscientists and make contributions toward understanding incredibly complex questions in brain function.”

Kreitzer is the lead principal investigator on the project, but involves co-principal investigators from the four other participating institutions: Dr. Paul Malchow from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Wallace Thoreson from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Richard Chappell from the Marine Biological Laboratory and Dr. Richard Kramer from the University of California-Berkeley. 

This grant award allows the IWU Division of Natural Sciences to build upon its flourishing undergraduate research opportunities, such as the Hodson Summer Research Institute. Already in its sixth year, the Hodson Summer Research Institute provides a faculty-led research experience for nearly 20 undergraduate students each summer. Student participants have gone on to graduate or medical schools at prestigious institutions like Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, Yale University, Indiana University and the University of Illinois.  

“Undergraduate research is a high-impact practice in higher education, as engaging students in cutting-edge research experiences fosters critical thinking and problem solving skills that simply cannot be fully replicated in the traditional classroom or laboratory course,” said Kreitzer. “The research experiences for undergraduates catalyzes an excitement for science and confidence in their abilities that propels them into leading graduate and medical schools where these IWU alum will go on to become part of the next generation of STEM leaders.” 

For more information about the IWU Division of Natural Sciences, visit www.iwuscience.com.

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