A number of grants awarded to faculty at Valparaiso University will be used to conduct innovative research, enhance educational opportunities for students, and advance knowledge in varied academic disciplines.

The Creative Work and Research Committee recently awarded five grants through the University Research Professorships Program and the Wheat Ridge Ministries-O.P. Kretzmann Memorial Fund.

Rick DeMaris, professor of theology, and Jonathan Schoer, assistant professor of chemistry, were each awarded University Research Professorships. These Professorships are awarded a one-semester sabbatical and a $4,000 stipend. DeMaris’s grant will be used for an alternative study of the Gospel of Mark that focuses on how a written text may have been received in an oral culture and how it may have been used in a dramatic ritual or performance. Schoer’s grant will support his study of water quality and ways to improve water quality in China at Zhejiang University and at Zhejiang Agricultural and Forestry University. The grant will also help in further development of local research on water quality in Northwest Indiana.

Grants for $10,000 each were awarded to Kevin Jantzi, assistant professor of chemistry, Daniel Maxin, assistant professor of math and computer sciences, and Matt Ringenberg, associate professor of social work. The grants were awarded through the Wheat Ridge Ministries-O.P. Kretzmann Memorial Fund.

Jantzi’s grant will be used to conduct research in a rural Nicaragua community, where open-flame cooking is practiced. This work will aid in the development of a method to identify and quantify contaminants present in the air, confirm the source, determine if the air contaminants are responsible for respiratory problems, and implement improvements to home ventilation and cooking methods.

The grant awarded to Maxin will support his research to develop and analyze two-sex population models that address important demographic and epidemiological issues both in human and nonhuman populations. Maxin’s research focuses on mathematical modeling of biological processes with an emphasis on population dynamics and epidemiology of sexual transmitted diseases.

Ringenberg will use the grant for The Engaged Families = School Success (EFSS) longitudinal study based on the Hoover-Dempsey model. It will examine the ways in which family health (physical, emotional and spiritual) affects student health and academic success. The study will also look into the relationship between family involvement at home and at school and students’ academic success.

For more information on the Creative Work and Research Committee, visit www.valpo.edu/cwrc.

The Committee to Enhance Learning and Teaching (CELT) recently awarded 16 grants to Valparaiso University applicants, totaling $10,000.

Grants for $1,000 were awarded to three faculty members, with other awards ranging from $300 to $950. Shahin Nudehi, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received one of the three larger grants to redesign and automate the mobile photovoltaic demonstrator that was donated by NIPSCO in the summer of 2011. It will be used in three College of Engineering labs. A group of six students have agreed to work on the project as their senior design project.

Elizabeth Wuerffel, adjunct assistant professor of art, Aimee Tomasek, assistant professor of art, and Jeff Will, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, received a combined grant to fund a collaborative project between the College of Engineering and Department of Art to design and produce a high-altitude aerial photography device traveling one mile up and with a GPS tracking system. The grant also carries with it matching funds from the College of Engineering and additional support from the Art Department, providing for the purchase of two digital cameras, one remote capture device, tracking systems and hardware for the aerial photography device.

Melissa Desjarlais, assistant professor of mathematics and computer science, Eric Johnson, professor of electrical and computer engineering, Jonathan Schoer, assistant professor of chemistry, and Paul Tougaw, associate professor of education, also received a $1,000 grant to host a three-day faculty development workshop on problem-solving during the summer of 2012. The program will focus on how to teach problem solving across the curriculum with an emphasis in the areas of science, mathematics and engineering.

For more information on the Committee to Enhance Learning and Teaching visit, valpo.edu/celt.