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Press Release 96-073

Faculty Early Career Development Grants Drive Both Research and Education

November 21, 1996

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) honored 346 outstanding faculty nationwide in fiscal 1996 with Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grants. NSF invested $40 million in these new grants in 1996, and the awardees were selected from nearly 1,865 applicants.

NSF established the awards to help scientists and engineers develop simultaneously their contributions to research and education early in their careers. CAREER funds are awarded by the federal agency to junior-level faculty at colleges and universities. These awards are for 4-5 years and range from $200,000 to $500,000 each.

"At the best universities in the U.S., research and education go hand-in-hand," said NSF Acting Deputy Director Joseph Bordogna. "Because of this unique integration, the U.S. educational system is envied worldwide. NSF wants to keep it that way."

The CAREER program encompasses all areas of NSF-supported research and education in science and engineering. Here are examples of the broad range of CAREER grants awarded in 1996:

  • Ramesh S. Bhatt, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky, seeks to understand what information infants extract from their environments and how this affects behavior. Research includes a study of the development of basic mechanisms that permit infants to perceive and remember objects. He plans to create audio-visual teaching materials and lab manuals to enhance research methods and psychology courses, and develop activities to involve minority high school and college students in research projects.

  • Linda J. Broadbelt, a chemical engineer at Northwestern University, will explore ways to efficiently and ecologically recover valuable by-products of waste resulting from the industrial production and consumer disposal of plastics. She plans to use the results of her experiments and theoretical studies to develop a data base of general rules that can be used to produce model catalytic reactions for resource recovery. She also is creating an educational plan involving computers and chemistry to link her research with teaching undergraduate chemical engineering students.

  • Richard O. Chapman, a computer engineer at Auburn University, will conduct research on system verification methods used in high-level synthesis of computer chips. This is a complex, critical research area that helps the U.S. uphold its world leadership in the design of Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) computer technology. In the near future, VLSI chips will contain several hundred million transistors with the ability to function as supercomputers. Chapman will develop related classroom curricula and courses.

  • Tasso J. Kaper, a mathematician at Boston University, studies how air bubbles respond to acoustic waves, such as ultrasound used in medical procedures. As the micron-sized bubbles absorb energy from these waves, they rapidly expand and violently collapse, substantially damaging cells. Kaper will apply dynamical systems theory to determine the causes of the problem. He also will collaborate with a private firm to analyze models in particle accelerators. He plans to incorporate his findings at all teaching levels, including a complete revision of an advanced undergraduate course in applied mathematics and a new graduate course in bubble dynamics.

  • Jian-xing Ma, a biologist at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), will integrate his research on the molecular mechanisms of vision with educational activities that bring molecular biology techniques into high school classrooms. As the vision of all vertebrates (including humans) occurs in dim light through rod cells, Ma seeks to determine which part of proteins in rod cells are critical for controlling rod function and color sensitivity. The studies will be integrated into the MUSC Summer Institute for training precollege teachers.

  • Urin Wilensky, a mathematician, computer scientist and educator at Tufts University, will explore how his theory of Connected Mathematics may be used to put advanced mathematics within the reach of younger students--allowing fourth graders to understand concepts once taught only at the college level, and college students to learn what once was reserved for advanced researchers. He is developing computer software for students to use to study diverse but related real-life phenomena, such as the growth of a snowflake crystal, the ecology of a coral reef or the dynamics of the Dow Jones. The approach also should help teachers gain valuable insights into students' thinking processes about complex systems.


Media Contacts
George Chartier, NSF, (703) 292-8070,

Program Contacts
Margaret Cavanaugh, NSF, (703) 292-8500,

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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