This award from the Division of Chemistry (CHE) supports the renewal of a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site at James Madison University (JMU) for the summers of 2008-2010. Funding for a Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) component has also been awarded which will incorporate one high school teacher, who is either Deaf or teaches Deaf students, and two high school students into the program each summer. The RET component is supported by the Office of Multidisciplinary Activities (OMA) within the Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) Directorate. This REU/RET site will be managed by Daniel Downey and Gina MacDonald both from the Department of Chemistry at JMU. This REU site will bring twelve undergraduate students to campus for a ten-week period each summer to conduct research in chemistry. Eight students will be supported by NSF and two will be supported with institutional funds. The research opportunities available to the students span a wide range of chemical areas including organic, inorganic, biochemistry, organometallic syntheses with compound characterization, environmental analytical chemistry, nuclear chemistry, and physical chemistry. Two outside faculty mentors will also join the site each summer. These mentors will be provided with their own laboratory space while they are at JMU and will have the opportunity to either pursue their own research projects or work in conjunction with a faculty member at JMU. Recruitment for this site targets smaller mid-Atlantic regional schools and will specifically recruit Deaf and hard of hearing students as an integral part of the summer program through outreach to the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind (VSDB), the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD), Rochester Institute of Technology, and Gallaudet University. To extend opportunities for the Deaf, two student sign-voice interpreters will assist communication between the hearing/Deaf students/faculty and research novel fingerspelled words containing unfamiliar grapheme combinations and phonetic clusters.

Project Report

Intellectual Merit: An NSF REU site for undergraduate research in chemistry that targeted students from the mid-Atlantic region and those who are deaf/hard-of-hearing was established for three years at James Madison University (JMU). Each summer, the site offered ten undergraduate chemistry researchers opportunities to work under the close supervision of a faculty mentor. Research topics covered a variety of sub-disciplines including analytical, biochemistry, synthesis, natural products, spectroscopy, etc. Students were selected from other regional colleges and universities as well as JMU. Although most faculty mentors were JMU professors, up to two outside faculty mentors joined the site each summer. This site also targeted women and other historically under-represented groups in recruitment. Special efforts were made to recruit deaf and hard of hearing students as an integral part of the summer program. To extend opportunities for the deaf, two student sign-voice interpreters assisted communication between the hearing/deaf students/faculty and researched finger spelled words containing unfamiliar grapheme combinations and phonetic clusters. These student interpreters were mentored by a faculty member from the communication sciences and disorders field who used the opportunity to research improved communication tools and methods in science, as well as administer day-to-day communication activities. With the infrastructure for providing science opportunities to the deaf in place, the site also included two high school teachers and two students each summer, who were either deaf or teach deaf students. The inclusion of a high school teacher each summer was requested to address the severe lack of trained science teachers for the deaf. The inclusion of deaf high school student participants increased the number of students with hearing disabilities in the sciences and added to diversity the scientific workforce. As in past summers, hearing and deaf participants worked together in close proximity. The university (JMU) provided a substantial match for this grant including the housing of participants, additional faculty mentor positions, additional student positions and professional interpreters as needed. The site supported 23 funded positions each summer. End products included publications of research in peer-reviewed journals, conference presentations, CDs, DVDs and other publications of sign interpretation that should aid instruction of students learning American Sign Language (ASL) as applied in science labs and coursework. Broader Impacts: The broader impacts of this proposal were primarily in the area of the improving the skills, knowledge base and dedication of chemistry student participants with the expectation that significant retention gains were attained. The inclusion of both hearing and deaf/hard of hearing students resulted in better understanding of each group’s needs relative to the other and contribute to removing barriers in science education for the latter. The inclusion of student and faculty teams from smaller four-year schools in the region extended research opportunities for those with limited resources at their home institutions.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Chemistry (CHE)
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Program Officer
Charles D. Pibel
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James Madison University
United States
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