Champlin Foundations award $405,682 to URI

Media Contact: Todd McLeish 874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. — December 12, 2002 — The Champlin Foundations has awarded four grants totaling $405,682 to the University of Rhode Island to upgrade or create new science laboratories in the nursing, ocean engineering, exercise science, and oceanography departments.

“The generosity of the Champlin Foundations toward URI spans three decades, and thousands of students, faculty and staff across many disciplines at the University have benefited,” said Paul Witham, URI’s associate vice president for development. “This year’s grants are representative of the many technological initiatives at the University that may not have been possible without the Foundations’ support. We are truly grateful.”

Grants funded this year are:

Simulated Critical Care Units: On any given night, the average television viewer can watch medical dramas that feature the latest equipment used in neonatal, pediatric, neurologic, surgical and cardiac intensive care units. Now students who’ve been inspired to become nurses and work with such high-tech equipment will have the opportunity at URI’s College of Nursing.

Through a $105,000 Champlin grant, the college will fully outfit a new adult and neonatal intensive care lab. The nursing skills labs are integral parts of the curriculum of the college, which has approximately 400 students. The grant will allow the college to update these labs, originally designed in the 1970s when the college’s home, White Hall, was built.

The laboratory will be designed to provide simulated patient critical-care scenarios, providing students the opportunity to practice in a life-like environment, according to Assistant Professors Marylee Evans and Mary Louise Palm. Having such an experience helps reduce student anxiety and focuses them on the patient rather than on other distracters, such as the high-tech equipment. Critical care/intensive care simulation laboratories are becoming available in nursing/medical schools throughout the country, and graduates of such programs have demonstrated a more proficient level of practice and confidence, they said.

Floating Ocean Engineering Lab: Several ocean engineering courses are held almost entirely on the CT-1, the department’s research vessel, but much of the measurement equipment on the vessel is outdated. A $100,000 Champlin grant will allow for the purchase of a side-scan sonar with sub-bottom profiler so students can conduct high resolution mapping of the seabed and its underlying geology. An advanced water quality monitoring system will also be purchased to measure water pressure, salinity, temperature, pH, turbidity and dissolved oxygen.

Undergraduate enrollment in URI’s ocean engineering program jumped 30 percent in the two years after its students won the National Autonomous Underwater Vehicle competition in 2000. Department chairman Stephan Grilli said the floating lab will “build our capacity to meet the needs of an increasing number of students.”

Faculty members in engineering, oceanography, geosciences, and anthropology have also expressed interest in using the equipment for their research.

Clinical Exercise Science Lab: The $98,898 grant for a new exercise science laboratory couldn’t have come at a better time, as increasing scientific evidence points to lack of physical activity as a major risk factor for such conditions as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, lower back pain, and some forms of cancer. Estimates of the number of lives lost each year due to inactivity range from 200,000 to 300,000.

“This grant will allow us to provide clinical experiences with state-of-the-art equipment,” said Deborah Riebe, associate professor of exercise science. “By improving experiential instruction, students will have the opportunity to develop clinical skills to improve their ability to work with healthy individuals as well as those with chronic diseases.”

The grant will allow the department to purchase a dual chamber plethysmograph used to measure body density and body composition; a metabolic

stress testing system to measure cardiorespiratory function and oxygen consumption; lactate analyzers that provide immediate feedback of blood lactate; and resistance training equipment to measure muscle function and better understand functional anatomy and the biomechanics of performing exercise. In addition to student use, the equipment will be widely used in outreach activities that serve a broad spectrum of the Rhode Island population, such as promoting exercise in older adults, providing weight management clinics, and in the assessment of local athletes.

Fluid Flow Instrumentation: Students face a tremendous challenge when it comes to understanding even the simplest fluid flows, and yet a basic understanding of fluid dynamics is essential to a broad range of academic disciplines. URI Graduate School of Oceanography students will now be able to visualize fluid flow through the acquisition of a Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) system.

Used in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics lab, the $101,640 PIV system uses laser sheet lighting and computer image analysis to capture turbulent fluid motion. This leads to images and movies of fluid motion impossible to identify by sight but of great value in teaching the fundamentals of fluid flow. Included in the system is a laser, digital camera, and software for processing the imagery. The equipment will be used to study waves, the flow of water, and the flow of magma.

“This system will greatly advance not only the students’ intuitive appreciation for a fluid’s behavior, but also empower the student with new tools of analysis that will lead to a deeper insight than otherwise would be possible,” said Peter Cornillon, professor of oceanography. “The state-of-the-art PIV system will introduce students and researchers to a tool of extraordinary power.”