Main Menu

EPSCoR awards more than $250,000 in grants to science faculty

ISSUED: 24 February 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — West Virginia EPSCoR has awarded more than $250,000 in research, innovation, and instruction grants to four faculty members in Shepherd University’s School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The recipients are Dr. Sher Hendrickson-Lambert, assistant professor of biology, who received a $40,000 innovation grant; Dr. Jacquelyn Cole, assistant professor of chemistry, and Dr. Laura Robertson, assistant professor of biology, who each received $20,000 instrumentation grants; and Dr. Colleen Nolan, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, who received a $180,000 student undergraduate research experiences grant to be awarded $60,000 a year for three years.

“All four of the grants are enhancing our abilities for faculty and students to complete cutting-edge research,” Nolan said. “This allows us to better prepare our students to move into graduate programs or for employment in their field of choice after graduation.”

Nolan will use her grant to provide support for students to do research over the summers and during the academic year under the direction of faculty members. It will provide funding for student stipends, research supplies, and travel funding for students to attend professional meetings to present their research results.

It is the second time Shepherd has received the three-year grant and now at a higher rate.

“That is due, in part, to the success of our first grant, and that success is a direct reflection of the exceptional faculty and students that we have here at Shepherd,” Nolan said.

Hendrickson-Lambert will use her innovation grant to establish the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity-Shepherd University (LGD-SU) which will include a bioinformatics computational lab where faculty and students can utilize the most recent techniques in computing and analysis of large biological datasets and a curated genetic repository of tissues, blood, DNA and cell-lines from regional animals that is part of a larger network of LGDs including LGD-Puerto Rico and LGD-China and has full support of the San Diego Frozen Zoo. The genetic bank will provide material for a multitude of different in-depth research studies and class projects focusing on genomics, taxonomy, conservation, and population genetics.

“It’s allowing us to set up a facility on campus that can in some ways position Shepherd to be a leader in the field of bioinformatics and genomic research,” Nolan said. “There are also some great possibilities for collaborative research in the field known as big data.”

Hendrickson-Lambert received the only innovation grant awarded.

Cole and Robertson will use their grants to purchase state-of-the-art equipment that is essential to their research and teaching.

Cole will use her grant to purchase a liquid chromatography instrument to complete a liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) which she will use as her primary research instrument doing proteomics and metabolomics research.

“The students will gain vital hands-on experience using an instrument that we do not currently have here at Shepherd but they will likely encounter in their first job, so this will allow them to include this instrumental experience on their résumés,” Cole said. “My research students may even be on journal articles using this instrument, so it could help in them getting hired.” She added that her research students can be from any scientific discipline. She plans to integrate the instrument into several upper-level courses and to collaborate with other departments on research projects.

Nolan said the grants are a tribute to the Shepherd faculty and students.

“Our students are successful when they present at the West Virginia Academy of Sciences. They are actually winning the different competitions,” she said. “The hard work that the faculty do is really a reflection of the success that we’ve seen over the last few years and this is just an expansion of that success.”

EPSCoR is a university-oriented program with the goal of identifying, developing, and utilizing academic resources that will lead to increased research and development.

— 30 —