Fresno State records dramatic increase in research activity

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Fresno State records dramatic increase in research activity

Amount of Contracts and Grants Awarded for Research Campus Wide Hits Record Level; $26 Million Represents a 50 Percent Increase in One Year.

Fresno, Oct. 3 — Research activity is booming at California State University, Fresno where faculty are attracting a growing amount of support for studies ranging from how to use new technologies to improve the skills of K-12 teachers to groundbreaking experiments in cell genetics.

The range and diversity of funded projects makes the Fresno State’s University Grants and Research Office an extremely busy place. The office set a record for attracting grants last year, reaching $26 million, an increase of more than 50 percent in one year and 100 percent over two years.

According to Thomas McClanahan, associate vice president for grants and research at Fresno State, the variety, quantity and quality of the university’s grant projects demonstrate Fresno State’s role as the Central Valley’s major regional university. The university’s strong traditional academic programs, rapidly developing technological and science capabilities and its efforts to serve more diverse students are attracting growing grant support, he said.

McClanahan attributes the growth to several factors. “First of all, our fine faculty deserves much of the credit. They are the backbone of any successful research program,” he said

“Fresno State’s President Dr. John Welty and Provost Michael Ortiz also recognize the close relationship between quality teaching and the research and outreach made possible by grant funds. They strongly encourage new and innovative projects that advance our mission,” McClanahan said.

McClanahan is enthusiastic about all the new opportunities provided by increasing grant support, but he acknowledges that the grants program is experiencing “growing pains.”

“With each new initiative and success, we face escalating challenges,” he said. “Faculty require time to conduct research and to incorporate that research into their curriculum, and we have to make every effort to provide students with real research experience to complement their classroom studies.”

McClanahan said there is a great need on campus for new laboratory space, new equipment, library expansion and improvement, and additional support staff to manage complex research projects.

University President John D. Welty said the university is expanding its research capabilities so that students and faculty can benefit from new knowledge and increased opportunities for learning.

“Although we want to take full advantage of the state resources provided through the regular budget process, those funds are very limited,” Welty said. “Consequently, we have been looking more and more to grant funding to expand our horizons. Our grant support, combined with the generous support of private donors to the university, provides the margin of excellence for Fresno State.”

Fresno State’s success in attracting grants is having a positive impact in local schools. For example, at Bullard High School next year, Fresno State professors will be lecturing, helping students design websites and interacting via the Internet with their counterparts in Mexico, Argentina, or Spain. All of these activities will be part of Crossing Academic Borders, a National Endowment for the Humanities funded project.

Revolving around three themes –The Hispanic World, The Immigrant Experience, and Steinbeck’s America–the project will bridge scholastic, cultural, and national borders to develop K-12 faculty skills and to stimulate student research capabilities using new technologies

Basic research is also being accelerated at Fresno State through a series of governmental and corporate grants. As the result of one major national grant, Fresno State’s College of Science and Mathematics is undertaking new research on the genetics of cell death in plants or diseases in pepper crops.

Professors Alejandro Calderon-Urrea and Jim Prince’s research is made possible by a multimillion-dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health. More than 20 other faculty from chemistry, viticulture, animal science and plant science are also involved in funded research through a $2.3 million state grant called the Agricultural Research Initiative.

Other Major Grants This Year

(Note: key contacts and phone numbers provided)

Campus-Wide Projects

ENLACE (contact: Dr. Thomas McClanahan/278-0840, Dr. Vida Samiian/278-7069)

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded Fresno State one of only 18 $100,000 planning grants to develop ENLACE, ENgaging LAtino Communities for Education. Under the direction of Dr. Thomas McClanahan, Associate Vice President for Grants and Research, Fresno State is establishing partnerships with rural schools and community organizations to design and implement a national model for increasing the number of Hispanic students who complete college. The University was selected from a national field of 122 universities and colleges. Eight to 10 of these finalists will receive $2 million implementation grants. Components will include early outreach to Hispanic students, parent action groups, academic enrichment in language and mathematics, teacher development, and pilot international Internet partnerships with high schools in Argentina, Mexico, and Spain.

GEAR UP

The Division of Student Affairs was awarded a five-year Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP) to conduct intensive and long-term enrichment training to middle school students. GEAR UP focuses on assisting students at McCabe Junior High School in Mendota. It provides a wide range of support services including after school tutoring and summer programs for these students through middle school and high school. The program focuses on preparing students for college as they graduate from high school. The program assists the same students for a five-year period to document the effectiveness of various support programs for students and their parents. This five-year grant totals $1,858,546. It will serve as a model for successful, long-term strategies to assist all schools, especially rural ones, in meeting the college preparation requirements of its students. Ms. Alejandra Juarez (278-2271) directs this GEAR-UP program.

College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology

Agricultural Research Initiative

The California Agriculture Technology Institute (CATI) at Fresno State oversees 37 new research projects funded at $2.3 million by a $5 million state initiative and matching funding from industry partners. This Agricultural Research Initiative (ARI) is designed to bring California’s private industry into partnership with scientific institutions. Fresno State faculty and staff conducting these projects are from across the disciplines including biology, chemistry, food science, viticulture, animal science, plant science and Center for Irrigation Technology. (278-2361)

Intersegmental Coordinated Outreach Program in Agriculture

The College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (CAST) received funding from the USDA for the Intersegmental Coordinated Outreach Program. Dean Dan Bartell (278-2061) recruited Ag Leadership colleague Lonna Torrico from the Fresno Unified School District to assist Dr. Dennis Nef, project director, with efforts to recruit minority students for CAST. During the academic year, Torrico, accompanied by other Ag faculty and staff, visited over 400 high school students, engaging them in exciting hands-on science and technology lessons related to agriculture. Several students were recruited for the ICOP Summer Bridge program. During the weeklong residential program, 15 newly enrolled freshmen Hispanic students attended seminars and workshops and met with Ag faculty and staff who advised them on CAST programs and ag-related careers.

College of Arts and Humanities (contact Dr. Thomas McClanahan/278-0840)

“Crossing Academic Borders”

The College of Arts and Humanities was awarded a highly competitive grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to work with Bullard High School teachers on Crossing Academic Borders: The Humanities and New Technologies. Dr. Vida Samiian and Dr. Thomas McClanahan are co-directing the project, which will revolve around three themes: “The Immigrant Experience,” “John Steinbeck’s America,” and “The Hispanic World.” Components include implementation of a new humanities strand into Bullard’s curriculum, lectures by Fresno State humanities scholars, content and technology workshops for teachers and international school partnerships.

Craig School of Business

Technology Opportunities Program (contact Amy Chubb/278-6886)

The Craig School’s University Business Center was awarded $480,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) to create Venture City Online. Based on highly successful programs administered by the UBC, the project has three web-based components: to encourage entrepreneurship among high school seniors, to provide online entrepreneurial training for adults and to create a virtual incubator. The TOP grants round received 662 applications for $12.5 million.

International Business (contacts: Dr. Al Evans/278-3005, Dr. Don Leet/278-4045)

Fresno State was awarded three grants by the U. S. Department of State that reflect the university’s international emphasis. Professors Al Evans and Don Leet provided instruction and hands on experience to two groups –non-profit organization leaders from Russia and business leaders from Belarus. Dr. Barlow DerMugrdechian led a Fresno State faculty exchange with faculty and students from Yerevan State University in Armenia. Professor Bill Mallios also directed a faculty exchange with faculty and students from the International Institute of Labor and Social Relations in Belarus. These three grants, totaling almost a half million dollars and involving over a dozen faculty members, reflect the prestige Fresno State faculty have in the international community. They are also just three examples of a wide range of international efforts by Fresno State faculty to improve classroom teaching through their experiences of teaching and working with leaders and faculty from other countries throughout the world.

School of Education and Human Development

The School of Education and Human Development was awarded a three-year grant totaling $1,145,910 from the United States Department of Education to train future teachers to better use technology in the classroom. The grant will bring together clusters of university content area faculty and K-12 teachers to collaborate on restructuring key course in the content areas to infuse technology and strengthen students’ knowledge and skills in effectively implementing technology. Credential program cohorts will be developed to focus on leadership in technology and its incorporation into the classroom. The grant will also expand the Pre-Teacher Assessment Center by developing a new technology-focused teaching simulation. Professors Roy Bohlin (278-0245) and Robin Chicero (278-0362) direct this program titled Teaching And Leading for Educational Needs with Technology (TALENT).

College of Science and Mathematics

SCORE (contact: Dr. Shirley Kovacs/278-2389)

Fresno State faculty, under the leadership of Dr. Shirley Kovacs (Biology), will receive more than $5 million over the next four years from the National Institutes of Health to establish SCORE, the Support of Continuous Research Excellence Program. SCORE is designed to enhance faculty and student research. Initial support from NIH will provide funding for program administration and three faculty projects. Dr. Alejandro Calderon-Urrea (Biology) will conduct research on the molecular genetics of programmed cell death in plants. Biology faculty member Dr. James Prince will study phytophthora root and crown rot resistance, one of the most damaging fungal diseases affecting pepper. Math Professor Moses Cohen will focus on the development, testing, and implementation of algorithms for EEG analysis, the results of which will be combined with findings from cognitive testing, clinical exams, and imaging to develop a comprehensive tool for evaluation of new drugs and rehabilitation strategies in the treatment if Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.

Building New Bridges (contact: Dr. Fred Schreiber/278-2410)

Dr. Fred Schreiber, Biology chair, will lead a collaborative effort designed to bridge community college education to a baccalaureate degree from the university. “Bridges to the Baccalaureate Degree” will partner Fresno State with Reedley (Madera and Clovis Centers) and Merced Colleges to increase the number of minority transfer students entering Fresno State as science majors. The program will offer integrated advising, instructional and research elements to students interested in pursuing biomedical careers. The three-year program will receive approximately $485,000 through the Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) initiative of the National Institutes of Health.

College of Social Sciences

History/Social Science Content Standards (contact Jeri Echeverria/278-6639, Jacqueline Carr/278-5155 and Susan Harris/278-0356)

The State of California has awarded the College of Social Sciences $134,000 for a one-year grant to help K-12 teachers meet the new California History and Social Science content standards. Raising the Bar: Building Excellence for the New Millennium – Strategies for Meeting the Challenge of the New History/Social Science Content Standards will include a series of workshops for K-12 teachers. These workshops will help them to better understand these standards and learn skills and strategies for incorporating them into their curriculum. This is an interdisciplinary project that involves Professor Jeri Echeverria (newly appointed associate provost), Professor Jacqueline Carr in History, and Professor Susan Harris in Curriculum, Teaching, and Educational Technology.