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News Archives - 2000

Augsburg College Physics Department awarded two grants for on-going research projects

Nov. 13, 2000

Mark Engebretson, chair of the Augsburg College Physics Department, announced the award of two three-year grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which will support in the continuation of two of the four research projects currently being conducted at Augsburg College, each of which supports student research involvement.

The first grant, a three-year, $276,000 grant from the Magnetospheric Physics branch of NSF's Division of Atmospheric Science, supports continued operation of the Magnetometer Array for Cusp and Cleft Studies in Arctic Canada, which began in 1991. This grant also includes funds to continue Augsburg's cooperation with scientists from the Institute for the Physics of the Earth in Moscow. At least two Russian scientists plan to visit Augsburg for an extended period next fall and winter.

The second, a three-year, $412,892 grant from NSF's Office of Polar Programs, supports continued operation of magnetometers at two sites in Antarctica and two sites in magnetically "conjugate" regions in Eastern Canada and Greenland. This is a long-standing project, for which Engebretson has been a co-investigator for more than 20 years.

Beginning this year, he will be the principal investigator. As part of this project, he, along with Roger Arnoldy, professor at the University of New Hampshire and co-investigator, will travel to Greenland next summer to upgrade their instruments. Engebretson and assistant scientist Jennifer Posch, also of Augsburg, are planning to travel to Antarctica in January 2002 to make changes in their systems made necessary by the ongoing renovation of South Pole stations.

"These grants continue opportunities to enrich our physics program with front line research," Engebretson said. "Our students can see what cutting edge research is all about, and get a head start in developing the skills they will need for their professional careers."

Physics research at Augsburg has two purposes, Engebretson explained. It generates new scientific knowledge, (the Augsburg group has generated or contributed to more than 100 papers) and it helps educate undergraduates who are interested in pursuing careers in science or engineering, and who may go on to the graduate level.

Engebretson began a space research program when he first came to Augsburg College 24 years ago. The first federal money came in 1978 and Augsburg's physics program has received funding for one or more space-related research projects from NASA or NSF every year since then.

"Typically research grants run two to three years, and you need to demonstrate their value to be renewed," Engebretson said. "The fact that we've had steady funding for so many years is gratifying."