Science & Research, University News

Faculty receive one-year research grants

By
Senior Staff Writer

Fifteen faculty members and four faculty research groups were honored Wednesday afternoon as the recipients of the Seed Fund and the Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Award. The University-sponsored awards, distributed by the Office of the Vice President for Research, were presented in a ceremony at the Faculty Club.

Clyde Briant, vice president for research, and Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 opened the ceremony by underscoring the importance of research at Brown and providing a brief history of the two awards.

“We are the entity in our modern society that is charged with discovery,” Schlissel said. “We are supposed to serve the community, the nation and the world by discovering stuff that’s important.”

Since the University began distributing the Seed Fund in 2003, the fund has supported multidisciplinary, multi-partner faculty research projects through awards of up to $100,000, Briant said. The funding lasts one year, at which point the recipients must submit a report of their findings, according to the website of the office of the vice president for research.

The four groups who will receive funding from the Seed Fund this year plan to study environmental and climate evolution in Indonesia, the correlation between cardiovascular disease and traffic pollution, the neurology of chronic pain and the factors influencing parents’ decisions to seek health care for their children in developing countries.

In deciding the award recipients, a faculty committee reviews the merit of each project, the likelihood the research will be able to receive funding from other sources, the research’s potential impact and the probability the researchers will complete their proposed work in one year, according to the vice president’s website.

The Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Award reviews similar criteria in determining the fund’s recipients, who can each receive up to $15,000. Briant said the University works to support younger or newer faculty members through this award. The Salomon award was financed from 1995 to 1999 by Richard Salomon, former chancellor of the University, and the University has since continued to fund the award, according to its website. In total, the University has awarded 132 Salomon awards, Briant said.  

“I think these Salomon and Seed awards are fantastic in terms of providing us with the resources that are necessary to get our projects off the ground,” Schlissel said.  

This year’s beneficiaries of the Salomon award included Savvas Koushiappas, assistant professor of physics, and Rachel Franklin, assistant professor of population studies.

Koushiappas’s research will focus on determining the origin of gamma-rays, diffuse light that appears to have no source.

“We have new ideas, which are not yet established in the field, and, before going to the funding agencies for money, you need to have shown that these ideas are actually worthwhile pursuing,” he said. “This funding, which comes from Brown, which is extremely useful, allows us to do this preliminary work that will set the stage for what’s going to come afterwards.”

Franklin, who plans to study population decline in the United States and in Germany, said she was very pleased to receive the funding award. “It’s going to allow me to get my project going and do a little bit of travel to make sure it is what I want to do my research on,” she said.