Professors Receive Grant from the National Science Foundation

SALEM, Va. - Dr. Jack Steehler and Dr. Benjamin Huddle, professors of chemistry at Roanoke College, were recently awarded a three-year grant of nearly $100,000 from the National Science Foundation. Their project, titled "Real-Life Inquiry-Based GC/MS Experiments for General Education Chemistry Courses," aims at developing new curricular materials that will bring important real-life applications into the laboratory experiences of both first-year science majors and non-majors.

The project, funded by a grant of $99,648, will focus on two topical areas, forensic chemistry and environmental chemistry, and will include the addition of guided inquiry laboratory experiments using Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS). GC/MS is a powerful method of analysis used by chemists and is familiar to the public for its use in detecting drug use by athletes. New experiments will be developed for the environmental chemistry and forensic chemistry courses for non-majors, along with a variety of experiments for science majors, including real-life applications and service learning projects, such as those focused on monitoring pesticides in soil. The project also will include an outreach component, consisting of a series of workshops for area high school teachers. Workshops will provide hands-on experience as well as emphasize inquiry-based experimentation.

Rather than traditional survey courses that compose many general education curricula, Roanoke's forthcoming "Intellectual Inquiry" curriculum will provide inquiry-based courses and seminars across campus. The new curriculum development project in chemistry reflects the central role of inquiry in the College's curriculum.

Roanoke College, an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a classic, undergraduate setting. Roanoke prepares students for their futures through its commitment to providing a true classic college experience. Roanoke is one of just 276 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast."

For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.

Released: September 18, 2008
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