Proposals to expand collaborative research awarded first 4-VA grants

by Eric Gorton

2012 4-VA grants awarded
From Left: Dr. Jerry Benson, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Robert McKown, professor of integrated science and technology; Dr. Costel Constantin, assistant professor of physics and astronomy; Dr. Nathan T. Wright, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and Dr. Christine May, assistant professor of biology were joined by President Jonathan Alger at the awards ceremony in the new bioscience building.

Researchers from four JMU science and technology departments are the first recipients of 4-VA mini grants.

The grants, which range from $1,000-$5,000, could be awarded as often as once a quarter—subject to funding availability and qualified proposals—to support faculty efforts that contribute to 4-VA initiatives related to research and instruction. Potential outcomes include shared courses, redesigned courses or collaborative research projects.

The first recipients are:

  • Dr. Costel Constantin, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, who received $5,000 for a collaborative research proposal that will develop and increase the research capacity for research teams at JMU and U.Va. The collaboration is expected to enhance JMU's ability to motivate students to pursue advanced degrees in physics and engineering.  In addition, the grant will constitute seed money for external funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other available funding agencies.
  • Dr. Nathan T. Wright, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, who received $5,000 for an initial effort to foster collaboration between two protein structure labs at JMU and a bacterial pathogen lab at U.Va. The work generated from the grant will be used as preliminary data for a larger NIH-directed grant.
  • Dr. Christine May, assistant professor of biology, who received $5,000 to conduct a one-day mountain stream symposium to bring together scientists, agency representatives, policy makers and educators to provide a state-of-the-science update on mountain stream ecosystems in the central Appalachians and formalize a research partnership focused on Virginia trout streams. The symposium will serve as a catalyst for interest in the development of an interpretive science and research center and spark interest in new collaborators.
  • Dr. Robert McKown, professor of integrated science and technology, who received $3,900 to create a new collaboration with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech to investigate the feasibility of using a canine model animal system to study the physiology of ocular lacritin and potentially treat canine dry eye disorders. The safe and effective use of lacritin for treatment of dry eye in an animal model system would help advance development of this drug into human clinical trials.

The 4-VA consortium was organized in 2010 in an effort to meet the needs of the Commonwealth identified by the Governor’s Higher Education Commission and his Jobs Commission. The consortium consists of JMU, George Mason University, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.

JMU is the first of the consortium members to offer the mini grants, which are funded by the state. Faculty can apply for the grants any time. Awards will be made the last week of July, October, January and May.


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Published: Monday, November 19, 2012

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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