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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

The University of Rhode Island receives more than $300,000 from the Champlin Foundations

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 24, 2006 -- The Champlin Foundations, one of the oldest philanthropic organizations in Rhode Island, has awarded the University of Rhode Island three grants totaling $317,000.

This year the grants are funding new equipment to further student exploration of the physical and biological sciences. These technologies will enable students to practice real-world patient care in simulated learning environments, monitor underwater earthquake and tsunami activity on the west coast, and zoom through the galaxy without leaving their seats.

“We are very grateful to The Champlin Foundations for their support,” said Paul Witham, the University’s associate vice president of development. “These grants will allow faculty to enhance the educational experience for students, who as a result will be better prepared when they graduate.”

The Champlin Foundations’ generosity towards URI spans more than three decades. In 1970, The Foundations made their first donation to the University in the form of an annual scholarship grant for the College of Pharmacy. Their next gift was in 1982 and since then The Foundations have awarded grants to URI every year, consistently placing the University as one of the top five organizations to receive funding for some of the latest technology, materials, and other research and teaching tools.

The following grants have been awarded this year:

Patient Care and Bioterrorism Simulators: The College of Nursing was awarded $110,000 for technology to provide undergraduate and graduate students with life-like simulations to better prepare for real-world encounters. The grant will allow for the purchase of a number of devices including infant and child simulators, intravenous (IV) insertion arms, and a maternal and neonatal birthing device.

“Simulated learning experiences are necessary to help students to transition into the clinical environment,” said Mary Louise Palm, the grant’s principal investigator, and assistant professor of nursing. “ New graduates are now expected to perform skills that were not required just a few years ago, and these require more lab practice.” For example, students can practice starting IV lines in simulation arms before attempting them on patients, and they can practice maternity care skills with the birthing device before they start their maternity clinical.

Materials to simulate the effects of toxic agents from a nuclear, biological, or chemical terrorist attack or from a natural disaster will also be funded through the grant. These will include components for drills to simulate scenarios with patients who have been exposed to such agents. In addition to serving the needs of URI students, these simulations will also provide opportunities for nurses and other health care professionals in the community to increase their emergency care skills.

Grant recipients are: Mary Louise Palm of Kingston, and Assistant Clinical Professor Marylee Evans of Carolina, both from the College of Nursing.

Tsunami and Earthquake Monitoring Device: Thanks to a $97,000 grant, URI students and scientists will be able to develop and construct three devices to monitor underwater earthquakes and provide tsunami warning. The Pressure Recording Inverted Echo Sounders with real-time, two-way communication capabilities will be placed off the coast of Washington and Oregon, where geological and historical records suggest a high probability of strong quakes.

“The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caused a large-scale humanitarian crisis and left a profound impact on the global economy,” said Yang Shen, the grant’s principal investigator and associate professor at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography.

“Scientists expect another giant wave to strike sometime in the future, but the questions remain where, when, and most importantly, how to provide early warning. This will help provide information needed for such a warning.”

URI students will be involved at all stages of the device design, construction, testing, and deployment. Once deployed, data from the devices will aid scientists in earthquake and tsunami hazard mitigation.

Grant recipients are: Yang Shen of East Greenwich, and Randolph Watts of Kingston, both of the Graduate School of Oceanography, and Stephan Grilli of Narragansett, and Kate Moran of North Kingstown, both from the Department of Ocean Engineering.

Digital Planetarium Projector: The URI physics department will use a $110,000 Champlin Foundations grant to help purchase a state-of-the-art digital projector for the URI Planetarium. This instrument will replace the current 60- year old projection system. Each year, about 250-300 students enroll in the astronomy course that uses the planetarium to supplement material.

“This projector will allow for better instruction and more compelling educational programs for the community,” said Professor Jan Northby, the principal investigator for the grant, and the chair of the physics department. “Through the years, we’ve produced shows for schools, senior centers, and civic groups, and this new projection system will enhance our presentations.”

Because the new Evans and Sutherland/ Digistar 3 SP2 system can project anything rendered on a computer screen, the planetarium is no longer limited to its typical functions. The machine can show celestial surfaces in detail and in real time, such as the rings of Saturn and live images from NASA. There are also programs in other disciplines designed to run on the Digistar system that illustrate medical, biological, and other scientific topics. The projection device is one part of a long-term goal of expansion and enhancement for the planetarium.

Grant recipient is: Department of Physics Chairman Jan Northby of Kingston.