The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Connecting Theory to Practice through Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Grant Information
Categories Education
Location United States
Cycle Year 2014
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Reed Institute, d.b.a. Reed College
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Diane B. gumz
Phone 503/777-7560
3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
Additional Information
Used for This grant will enable us to continue our efforts to ensure that Reed students from all disciplines have the financial resources they need to pursue significant research projects during the academic year or summer. The number of projects will be determined by the variety and quality of proposals submitted. Allowable expenses include wages and benefits for summer research, supplies, software, travel to attend a conference to present a paper, and travel to conduct interviews or to do research in the field.
Benefits Our approach to undergraduate student research continues to be informed by the work of David Lopatto, professor of psychology at Grinnell College. His decades of research on the benefits of undergraduate research experiences have found that students who participate in undergraduate research are 1) better able to think independently and develop their own ideas and 2) more intrinsically motivated to learn, and 3) become more active learners. Consequently, we believe that participation in undergraduate research across the disciplines is an essential component of a Reed education.
Proposal Description Reed College’s emphasis on research dates back to its founding days; the catalog for 1911-12 states that in order to graduate all students must complete a seminar in the major subject, and complete a thesis in conjunction with it. Today, Reed requires a year-long thesis research project in students’ chosen discipline guided by a faculty advisor, which continues to be a rare requirement among colleges and universities. The process of working on the thesis in this intense sustained way, and the development of research and writing skills throughout the curriculum, yields projects similar to which a graduate student would aspire. This focus on research also creates demand for research funds, as students face the need to travel, use archives, conduct field research, and occasionally use equipment at other institutions to complete their project.

In 2014, we spent $49,716 on 41 student research grants during our spring and fall funding rounds. The Dougherty Foundation supported $11,000 of these awards. The funded proposals represented a diverse set of departments, with students from sixteen different majors receiving support, including anthropology, art and art history, biology, biochemistry molecular biology, chemistry, dance/sociology, economics, French literature and language, history, linguistics, political science, mathematics, psychology, physics, Russian and sociology. Four students used the money to present their research at conferences, while one other attended a conference to learn more about his or her field of interest. A deeper look at some of the projects provides additional insight into the creative and intellectual work in which these students are engaged.

History major Audrey Augenbraum ‘14 received support to study obstacles to cooperation in combating maritime piracy in Indonesian waters since 1945. She used her grant to travel
to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) archives, and learn more about their coverage of the evolution of the piracy problem in Indonesian waters and what stakeholders were saying about it that was not available elsewhere. Using the materials in the archives, she was able to construct a comprehensive review of every piracy-related policy that was either implemented or simply proposed for Indonesian waters since the 1970s, and a twenty-page table of these policies for her thesis, a resource that did not exist before. The project was crucial to her development as an independent researcher. As she noted, “It was incredibly rewarding to be able to marshal and categorize information to formulate my thesis, without relying too heavily on the work of scholars that preceded me.”

Anthropology major Sam Law ‘14 used his grant to travel to Guatemala over winter break and spend several weeks in communities affected by mining, which is the focus of his thesis project. He met and interviewed prominent anti-mining activists and gathered archival material, mainly in the form of acts and minutes from the meetings of indigenous authorities. Without the materials gathered during this trip, he noted that his thesis would be far less insightful. In his thesis, he included two long ethnographic vignettes recounting events he observed while in the field, incorporated numerous interviews, and analyzed documents found through archival research that, to his knowledge, represent the only such analysis involving the mine. Sam similarly felt that this experience was crucial to his anthropological training. Without it, he would have written a library thesis without any ethnographic component and graduated Reed with a degree in anthropology despite having never done any ethnographic fieldwork. He concluded that this was one of the most rewarding educational experiences he had had at Reed.

Talya Levitz ‘14, a biochemistry molecular biology major, used her grant to conduct research on Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in the United States. Due to the transition from tick to human that occurs at least once and often multiple times throughout the lifetime of B. burgdorferi, the bacterium must be able to adapt to different temperatures and chemical environments, including the presence of oxidative stressors. Oxidative stressors are highly-reactive oxygen-containing species that can be produced by the mammalian immune system in order to kill invading bacteria. In the transition from ticks to mammals, B. burgdorferi must mount a defense against these species. One protein thought to help is BosR, the Borrelia oxidative stress response protein. Levitz’s thesis is focused on determining the as-yet unknown biochemical and structural characteristics of BosR. To do this research, she needed access to mass spectrometry instruments at Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU). In addition to helping with her specific research, being able to complete parts of my thesis at OHSU was valuable in expanding her Reed education as a whole. The researchers at OHSU talked to her about the mass spectrometer functions and taught her how to load and program the instruments as well as analyze her data independently. She was also able to get an idea of similar projects occurring at OHSU, which expanded her knowledge regarding the applicability of mass spectrometry to a wide variety of projects.

Research Support Update:

The Dougherty Foundation’s grants of $27,000 in 2012 and $11,000 in 2013 helped us respond to heightened interest in research support created by a current use grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation during the Centennial Campaign. As part of our long-term strategy for meeting this need, we need to increase endowed funds for student research. We continue to make progress toward this goal, and received a generous gift of $200,000 from alumnus Mark Petrinovic in 2014 to support student research in chemistry. Other gifts of endowment for student research during or since the Centennial Campaign include:
1) Stafford Fund for Biology Student Research;
2) Eddings Opportunity Grants for English;
3) Environmental Studies Support Fund;
4) Mintz Fund for Economics;
5) Esther Wender Fund for Psychology.
Altogether these funds will support about 25 students per year. We also have some existing funds established in Reed’s first campaign, for summer collaborative research with faculty members humanities majors and political science and economics majors. But we only award about two to four such grants per year, and again, the materials budget for these projects does not include travel to a conference to present research outcomes.

Another challenge is that the funds described above are restricted to specific departments. We have many other departments that continue to have high need at this time, including anthropology, art and art history, chemistry, Chinese literature and language, classics, history, linguistics, mathematics, music, philosophy, physics, psychology, religion, Russian literature and language, sociology, Spanish literature and language, and theatre. About half of our students major in these fields, so it is important to ensure that we meet their needs as well. We continue to work on requests to individuals for endowed funds to meet the needs of all of our students. In sum, a renewed grant will help us continue to address this funding gap.

At this time, we request that the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation renew its support for student research at Reed with a grant of $25,000. This will enable Reed to provide more research opportunities to its students, in all disciplines, during the academic year or summer. The undergraduate research committee will continue to administer this program and award the funds.