Council of Independent Colleges funds a project exploring Augsburg’s historic and future saga

Augsburg University has received a two-year grant from the Council of Independent Colleges’ NetVUE program. In the wake of the sesquicentennial celebration last year, the grant will fund an exploration of Augsburg’s historic saga: the faith, academic, and moral commitments that have shaped the identity of the university. Augsburg’s focus will be on whether and how that saga adequately informs and reflects the university’s aspiration to be an anti-racist, inclusive teaching and learning community. The project will engage twelve members of the community—students, faculty, and staff—in a community of learning and practice that will include conversations, workshops, and public presentations that allow for a wider consideration of the unfolding future saga. The group will write essays that will be combined into a published volume that will be required reading on campus as part of Augsburg’s abiding conversations about its role as a university in the 21st century.

NetVUE has invested $40,000 in the program, which will begin February 2021 and run through January 2023.

National Science Foundation Grants $5 Million to Assist High-Achieving STEM Students

(Minneapolis) – A $5 million award from the National Science Foundation will support the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Augsburg University will receive $3,075,000 of the total award.

The collaborative project will provide scholarships as well as internships and research experiences for nearly 200 students over a five-year period starting this academic year at Augsburg, Century College, Minneapolis College, and Normandale Community College. These institutions will work together to provide seamless pathways for transfer from two-year to four-year STEM programs.

“This award offers students a powerful combination of a scholarship coupled with experience to prepare them for the workforce or further graduate study,” said Paul Pribbenow, Augsburg’s president. “As a member of the Governor’s Workforce Development Board, I know there is strong demand for students with these majors. STEM transfer students enrich our campus and bring talent and wisdom that our country needs.”

Scholarships of $7,500 to $10,000 will be awarded to students pursuing majors in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, food science, mathematics, and physics. These students will be connected to internships and research experiences through partner organizations SciTech, UpTurnships, and MnDRIVE, as well as through Augsburg’s undergraduate research programs.

This is the third phase of a program initiated by Augsburg and funded by the NSF. “Getting the NSF scholarship for my education was an amazing opportunity,” said Radhika Tandon, who will graduate from Augsburg this year with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and is currently a site reliability engineer intern at Thomson Reuters. “Because of the program, I was able to attend various conferences and make connections with many interesting people in my field.”

The overall project will be led by Augsburg principal investigator Rebekah Dupont working in collaboration with principal investigators Jessica Bell and Joann Pfeiffer of Century College, Renu Kumar of Minneapolis College, and Angela Foudray of Normandale Community College. The Augsburg team includes co-principal investigators Alex Ajayi, Ryan Haaland, Amy Larson, and Michael Wentzel. Faculty from all four institutions will work together to create structural supports through mentoring, advising, and improved transfer pathways.

In addition to assisting students who are pursuing STEM-related majors, the project includes an education research component led by Keisha Varma, associate professor of educational psychology in the College of Education and Human Development  and associate vice provost in the Office for Equity and Diversity at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. The goal of the research is to increase the academic success of students through effective mentoring.

“I see great potential to understand how mentorship can improve the outcomes of low-income, high-achieving students and create positive STEM identities,” she said. “Through shared understanding across institutions, we may be able to increase capacity among all of our faculty to be effective mentors.”

Project evaluation will be led by Xueli Wang, professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, who brings expertise in longitudinal, mixed methods research that addresses inequities in access to transfer, particularly in STEM fields. The collaborating institutions will partner with the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) for professional development as well as access to a platform for mentor/mentee assessment across multiple sites.

This third phase of the program is funded by the NSF’s S-STEM program under award number 2030638. Grants in the prior phases (award numbers 1565060 and 1154096) funded scholarships for 111 STEM students, 100% of whom graduated and went on to pursue careers or are continuing their education in STEM fields.

Media Contact: Gita Sitaramiah, Director of Public Relations and Internal Communications
Office: 612.330.1476

Riverside Innovation Hub’s Work With Congregations to Expand With $1 Million Grant

(Minneapolis) – Augsburg University has received a  $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help expand the Augsburg College Sealwork of the Riverside Innovation Hub within the university’s Christensen Center for Vocation (CCV).

The program is funded through the Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of the national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other, and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world.

Lilly Endowment is making nearly $93 million in grants through the initiative. The grants will support organizations such as the Christensen Center for Vocation as they work directly with congregations and help them gain clarity about their values and missions, explore and understand better the communities in which they serve, and draw upon their theological traditions as they adapt ministries to meet changing needs.

The Christensen Center plays an integral role in stewarding the university’s commitment to, and exploration of vocation, the unique way God calls and equips us—as individuals and as communities—to work towards a better world for and with our neighbors. The Thriving Congregations Initiative grant will enable Augsburg’s CCV to expand and solidify the future of this work with congregations. We will walk with our partners through two consecutive two-year learning communities consisting of leadership teams from twelve congregations. Our hope is to develop an ecumenical network of twenty-four congregations over five years who are becoming more deeply engaged in the proclamation of Christ’s good news in transformative ways in their neighborhoods.

“The Christensen Center for Vocation is creating an innovative model for how a university of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can be a learning partner with local congregations and ministry leaders for the sake of the world,” said Paul Pribbenow, Augsburg’s president. “These partnerships will create exciting learning opportunities for our students, staff, and faculty, who wrestle with what it means to live faithfully in the church and in the world in the midst of the various challenges our communities are facing: COVID-19, growing economic inequality, climate change, and the prevalence of racist systems.”

Augsburg University is one of 92 organizations taking part in the initiative. They represent and serve churches in a broad spectrum of Christian traditions, including Anabaptist, Baptist, Episcopal, evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Mennonite, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Reformed, Restoration, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox, as well as congregations that describe themselves as non-denominational. Several organizations serve congregations in Black, Hispanic and Asian-American traditions.

“In the midst of a rapidly changing world, Christian congregations are grappling with how they can best carry forward their ministries,” said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “These grants will help congregations assess their ministries and draw on practices in their theological traditions to address new challenges and better nurture the spiritual vitality of the people they serve.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Thriving Congregations Initiative in 2019 as part of its commitment to support efforts that enhance the vitality of Christian congregations.

Media Contact: Gita Sitaramiah, Director of Public Relations and Internal Communications. 651-353-0061-cell

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis and home state, Indiana. The principal aim of the Endowment’s grantmaking in religion is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen their pastoral and lay leadership.

Dr. John Zobitz awarded NSF grant to study mathematical models of soil carbon cycling

Dr. John ZobitzDr. John Zobitz, Professor of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, has received a new three-year research grant from the National Science Foundation, Division of Environmental Biology, to study mathematical models of soil carbon cycling. Dr. Zobitz will collaborate with Dr. Naupaka Zimmerman in the Biology Department at the University of San Francisco.

Together they will lead undergraduates to measure and mathematically model rates of change of soil carbon dioxide in response to environmental and climatic effects (soil microbes, weather, and other physical processes). They will also validate data collected by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON, www.neonscience.org) and other databases in the scientific community. Additionally, they will lead a faculty training cohort in a suite of training and professional development to address the diverse identities of undergraduate students and researchers. The title of the project is “Collaborative Research: Development and Validation of a Continuous Soil Respiration Product at Core Terrestrial NEON Sites.” Dr. Zobitz’s grant award totals $100,427. The grant number for this award is NSF 2017829.

A short video linked here describes the importance of NEON for ecology researchers, and the public.

Dr. Vivian Feng receives grant to continue analytical chemistry research

Dr. Vivian Feng, Associate Professor of Chemistry, has received a new research grant that will allow her to conduct another five years of research in analytical chemistry. She will assess the molecular-level interactions between bacterial species, such as Shewanella oneidensis and Bacillus subtilis, and engineered nanoparticles.

Dr. Feng will lead undergraduate researchers to collect and analyze the resulting measurements. This work is a key component of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology (CSN), which recently received a five-year renewal to continue its research, education, and public engagement activities, at a sum of $4M per year. Among the ten other collaborating universities within the center, Augsburg is the only primarily undergraduate institution. Dr. Feng’s grant award totals $400,000.

Read more about the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology here:  https://susnano.wisc.edu/ (This is supported by the National Science Foundation under award number CHE-2001611.)

Augsburg Awarded $237,851 to Collaborate with Partner Disciplines on Calculus Curriculum

Augsburg College has been awarded $237,851 over 5 years as part of a $2.6 million National Science Foundation grant to fund the project Collaborative Research: A National Consortium for Synergistic Undergraduate Mathematics via Multi-institutional Interdisciplinary Teaching Partnerships (SUMMIT-P) led by Dr. Susan Ganter at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  Eleven colleges and universities, including Augsburg, will form a consortium to renew the lower division undergraduate mathematics curriculum based on research about the needs of partner disciplines. The project studies the role of interdisciplinary and inter-institutional faculty learning communities in building collaborations for meaningful curricular change. At each institution, mathematics and partner discipline faculty will collaborate to understand recommendations from the (prior) Curriculum Foundations (CF) project, determine how these recommendations can be used to effectively improve the content of affected courses, introduce modifications in pilot sections, work with a central evaluation team to measure the effectiveness of new approaches especially as pertains to students from underrepresented groups, offer workshops and support for instructors using these new curricula (locally, regionally, and nationally), and scale-up these new offerings within the consortium and through dissemination to additional campuses.

The CF recommendations rest on two pillars: contextualizing problem solving and active learning, both of which align with Augsburg’s curriculum and commitment to student learning.  The Augsburg team, headed by Dr. Suzanne Dorée, will work with science and economics/business faculty to renew the 3-semester calculus sequence.  They will increase the relevance and frequency of applications in the courses; adapt and develop materials to make the quantitative labs the primary focus of the courses; and examine the ordering of topics to better mesh with the timing needed by the partner disciplines. The team will also support mathematics review when needed in introductory courses in the partner disciplines and the existing calculus workshop that has successfully supported students from underrepresented groups in STEM, and will bolster the transition from pre-calculus to calculus. The Augsburg team includes Dr. Jody Sorensen and Dr. Pavel Bělík, also from Mathematics & Statistics; Dr. Joan Kunz from Chemistry; and Dr. Stella Hofrenning from Economics.  Drs. Dorée and Hofrenning also serve on the national leadership team for the project where Dr. Hofrenning will lead multiple institutional collaborations with Business, Economics, and Social Science.

Editor’s Note: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1625142. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

 

$150,000 Bush Foundation Grant Builds Capacity to Support Diversity in Teaching

Augsburg College’s Department of Education was recently awarded a $150,000 grant from the Bush Foundation as part of their Teacher Effectiveness Initiative (TEI) to support diversity in teaching. Augsburg was one of five schools selected to receive this one time award. Dr. Peg (Margaret) Finders, Chair and Associate Professor of Education, will lead the project in partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), and St. Paul Public Schools.

The goal of the project is to build capacity to recruit and support students of color moving through multiple educational institutions towards a degree in teaching. The team will create a coordinated, sustainable infrastructure that will reduce attrition and recruit high quality teacher candidates. The new infrastructure will help the partner institutions foster smooth transitions into teaching, engage in proactive recruitment of teacher candidates of color from multiple entry points, and improve experiences for teacher candidates of color.

This project builds on strengths of the Education departments’ East African Student to Teacher program and Special Education program.

Psychology professor receives NSF award to research eyewitness identification errors

Dr. Nancy Steblay, Professor of Psychology, has been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation for the project, “Collaborative Research. RUI: Understanding and Predicting Eyewitness Identification Errors: Studies Using a Unique Set of Materials from Actual Lineups.” (NSF ID: SES -1420135). Total funding for the project is $397,600. The research will be conducted over the next three years in collaboration with Dr. Gary Wells at Iowa State University. Augsburg College will receive $134,219 in support of faculty-student research.

To better understand eyewitness identification errors, the research team will conduct a series of laboratory experiments using eyewitness data sets and lineup audio files from 855 real police investigations. Continue reading “Psychology professor receives NSF award to research eyewitness identification errors”

Dr. Engebretson awarded NSF funding for collaborative space physics research

The National Science Foundation recently awarded Dr. Mark Engebretson, Professor Emeritus of Physics, and his team $396,635 over three years to support the project, “Collaborative Research:  Studies of ULF Waves Associated with Solar Wind Coupling to the Magnetosphere and Ionosphere.” (NSF ID: PLR-1341493)

In collaboration with Dr. Marc Lessard at the University of New Hampshire, Dr. Engebretson will continue to operate and analyze data from four ground-based induction magnetometers located in Antarctica (including South Pole Station) and two in the Arctic. The stations in this project are key links in arrays of ground-based ionospheric and magnetospheric observatories in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. These observatories, together with both low-altitude and high-altitude NASA satellites, provide the data with which Engebretson, Lessard, and members of their team work to characterize and understand the physical processes occurring in Earth’s space environment.

The study of the Earth’s space environment has become increasingly important to our technologically–driven society.   Continue reading “Dr. Engebretson awarded NSF funding for collaborative space physics research”

Chemistry Professor to collaborate on Department of Energy Grant

Dr. David Hanson, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, is collaborating with Dr. Jeffrey Pierce at Colorado State University to develop computer models that will improve the representation of growth rates of newly formed atmospheric particulate matter. This research, “Collaborative Project: Contributions of Organic Compounds to the Growth of Freshly Nucleated Atmospheric Nanoparticles” is made possible by a $485,434 grant through the Department of Energy (Award # DE-SC0011780). Continue reading “Chemistry Professor to collaborate on Department of Energy Grant”