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URI advances women scientists, engineers

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Nine grants awarded to support research efforts

KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 13, 2006 -- Nine women faculty members at the University of Rhode Island recently have been awarded grants that support their research efforts.

ADVANCE Incentive grants went to five faculty members from diverse departments. These annual, competitive grants are part of a five year, $3.5-million National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant awarded to URI in 2003.

That grant was created to advance the careers of women faculty in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines in the nation’s universities.

This year, as part of the plan to institutionalize the efforts of ADVANCE, the URI Council for Research also began providing funding, which supported four additional faculty members whose proposals met ADVANCE criteria. Because of this partnership, the total amount awarded increased by 50 percent from $40,000 to $60,000.

The NSF grant program was created in response to the fact that women represent only 22 percent of the science and engineering workforce in the U.S. and less than 20 percent of science and engineering faculty in four-year higher education institutions.

The ADVANCE Incentive grants fund research initiatives by women scientists and support efforts by individuals or departments that support the goals of ADVANCE to promote organizational change. NSF and URI’s Office of the Provost jointly fund the program.

The grant recipients, the amount awarded, and project titles follow:

•Rebecca Brown of Kingston, assistant professor of plant sciences research, $7,000 grant for the development primers for genetic mapping and population studies in Festuca Subgen, Festuca, an ornamental grass.

• Laura Meyerson of Kingston, assistant professor of natural resource science, a $7,000 grant for use of long-term statewide data sets to explore relationships between land use change, water quality and the spread of invasive alien plant species.

• Kathryn Moran of North Kingstown, associate professor of ocean engineering, $2,000 for student support of arctic coring expedition core analyses.

• Yana Reshetnya of West Kingston, resident fellow of physics, $2,000 for novel technology for cancer diagnostics.

• Padma Venkatraman of North Kingstown, coordinator, graduate school recruitment, $2,000 for Women in Oceanography: Perspectives.

The URI Council for Research provides the Research Proposal Development Grant Program, which supports collection and analysis of data, formulation of models and other scholarly research that leads to the preparation of proposals for submission to external funding sources.

The four recipients, the amounts awarded, and the project titles follow:

• Fatemeh Akhlaghi of Wakefield, assistant professor of applied pharmacy sciences, $9,950 for biomarkers of immunosuppression in diabetes.

• Bethany Jenkins of Richmond, research fellow in cell and molecular biology, $9,415 for linking the distribution and expression of nitrogen assimilation genes to the ecological partitioning of marine cyanobacteria.

• Roberta King of Narragansett, assistant professor of biological sciences, $10,000 for the structure-based design of estrogen sulfotransferase inhibitors.

• Carol Thornber of Westerly, assistant professor of biological sciences, $9,615 for the community ecology of macroalgal blooms in Narragansett Bay and the Cape Cod National Seashore.