Arts & Sciences, Communication

Marquette faculty and staff research grants from March 2023

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs has announced the following research grants awarded to university faculty and staff in March 2023.

Integration through Inquiry: Interdisciplinary Contributions to Liberal Education in the Core Curriculum

$74,503 – Arthur Vining Davis Foundation

  • Conor Kelly (PI), chair and associate professor of theology; Rev. Ryan Duns, S.J., assistant professor of theology; Dr. Lezlie Knox, chair and associate professor of history; Dr. Dinorah Cortes-Velez, professor of Spanish; Dr. Leah Flack, professor of English; and Dr. Grant Silva, associate professor of philosophy; in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Abstract: This project tackles the problem of the fragmentation in undergraduate education that prompts students to separate the liberal aims of their general education curricula from the professional aims of their major fields of study, threatening the value of both. This grant will support interdisciplinary teams led by liberal arts faculty which will craft guiding questions for the five existing thematic pathways in the Marquette Core Curriculum. The questions will then become the focal point for course design in each thematic pathway, allowing faculty in all colleges to construct classes that order disciplinary expertise to the broader task of inquiry that animates the liberal arts. By building this common orientation into the core curriculum, this project will give every undergraduate direct experience with the goals of a liberal arts education not only in their required liberal arts classes but also in more specialized courses in their major, underscoring the value of a liberal education for all students.

Shape Memory Alloy Actuators for Improving the Sensitivity of Gravitational Wave Interferometers

$10,000 – Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium

  • Jax Sanders, assistant professor of physics in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Abstract: This project will investigate the viability of shape-memory-alloy-based actuators for remote optical control. This process will incorporate a spring-biased shape-memory-alloy actuator into an optical mount and characterize its performance for reflective and refractive applications. This is of significant advantage because the majority of small optical actuators obstruct the backplane of the optic, making them unsuitable for use with lenses. Reflective optics mandate complete redesign of optical paths to incorporate additional folds, while refractive optics have the advantage of “drop-in” potential, as was previously investigated with the Syracuse University scissor mount and the University of Florida thermal lens.

Mass-radius profiles in giant stars

$10,000 – Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium

  • Michael Politano, associate professor of physics in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Abstract: All compact binaries have undergone at least one common envelope (CE) phase during their evolution, yet our understanding of the CE phase remains poor. Until it improves, confident predictions of the rate of formation of compact binaries will remain non-existent. The main thrust of this grant is to determine the location of flat mass-radius regimes for a grid of core masses and total masses in giant stars. Researchers will then incorporate this grid into population synthesis codes and compute model populations of planetary nebulae containing binary cores. Preliminary calculations using existing data have produced an orbital separation distribution that is in better agreement with observations.

Curricular Foundations for Vocational Exploration in an Interdisciplinary Context

$47,037 – Council of Independent Colleges

  • Conor Kelly (PI), chair and associate professor of theology, and Dr. Amelia Zurcher, associate professor of English, in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Sarah Feldner, dean of the Diederich College of Communication; Courtney Hanson, director of the Career Services Center; and Maggie Cinto, associate director of administration, curriculum, and evaluation with the Educational Opportunity Program.
  • Abstract: Consistent with the emphasis on discernment in the Jesuit tradition, vocational exploration is a central component of the undergraduate experience at Marquette University. Student engagement with the available curricular and co-curricular resources that support vocational exploration has been uneven, however, with many students delaying the examination of vocational questions until they prepare for graduation. To interrupt this tendency, this project that will establish a clear introduction to vocational exploration in the Foundations Tier of the Marquette Core Curriculum with a redesigned version of CORE 1929: Foundations in Methods of Inquiry. The newly redesigned class will better equip students to examine career choices in vocational terms and use the course’s emphasis on interdisciplinarity to highlight the importance of using multiple perspectives in vocational discernment.