A major grant will enable LHU science faculty to purchase a state-of-the-art attachment for its scanning electron microscope, pictured above. LHU professors named in the NSF grant pause in a discussion of microscope images. Far left are Brent May and Amy Kutay. On the right, seated, are Marian Tzolov and Jacqueline Whitling. On the right, standing, are Loretta Dickson, Barrie Overton, Anura Goonewardene and Indrajith Senevirathne.
LOCK HAVEN, PA. - Science students at Lock Haven University will soon be using the latest equipment in electron microscopy, thanks to a $90,500 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award is for Major Research Instrumentation and will enhance teaching and learning in all science disciplines at the university.Lock Haven University is a member of the Pennsylvania State
System of Higher Education (PASSHE), the largest provider of higher education in
the commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 250 degree and certificate
programs in more than 120 areas of study. Nearly 405,000 system alumni live and
work in Pennsylvania.
The NSF grant makes it possible for LHU to acquire state-of-the-art equipment to identify the elemental composition of compounds in all of the sciences. The new equipment will be attached to the university’s scanning electron microscope.
A scanning electron microscope gives clear images of objects more than thousand times smaller than the thickness of a human hair. It focuses a beam of electrons on a specimen creating several secondary emissions, which can be further analyzed to get either a clear topographical image of a surface or a precise map of the elemental composition of that surface. All this depends on the available detection system. The new equipment will allow users to perform both studies on exactly the same microscopic spot on a specimen. Scientists at LHU hope to analyze new materials synthesized in their laboratories and natural specimens (biological objects, rocks) much more precisely and accurately and all this at a very small scale.
Lead Principal Investigator (PI) for the project is Dr. Marian B. Tzolov, assistant professor of physics. Tzolov explained that for better understanding the world around us all scientists need to look at much smaller details than before. “The new equipment is expected to yield qualitatively new information which in some cases may change our current models and theories.”
The grant proposal to the NSF stressed the application of the project across science disciplines.
Co-Principal Investigators (Co-PIs) are Dr. Anura U. Goonewardene, professor of physics and chair of the Department of Geology and Physics; Dr. Brent D. May, associate professor of chemistry; Dr. Barrie E. Overton, assistant professor of biology; and Dr. Loretta D. Dickson, assistant professor of geology.
Dr. David White, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, congratulated the grant recipients. “The NSF grant is certainly a feather in your cap,” he said. “I am especially happy to see that it was a cross-disciplinary effort.”
Tzolov pointed out that this equipment is projected to be involved in the undergraduate education and it will give valuable hands-on experience to our undergraduates from all sciences disciplines. The new equipment will facilitate the success of other projects, including the Nanoscience Scholars project which received the university’s first NSF grant in September 2008. “We will better engage our students by exposing them to advanced research equipment,” said Tzolov.
Both the Nanoscience Scholars project and the new grant for Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) support the university’s ongoing efforts to attract more students in the sciences. In its review of the MRI proposal, the NSF noted that analytical instrumentation will enhance undergraduate nanoscience education. In addition, state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation will help improve local environmental policies.
Other strengths cited by the review panel are the cross-disciplinary nature of the proposal and the participation of students. Tzolov commented, “With this grant for the acquisition of analytical instrumentation, LHU solidifies its position among those schools offering top-quality science education.”
In a message of congratulations to the grantees, Tzolov pointed out that, although the grant limited the number of Co-PIs who could be listed, three other colleagues “contributed equally to the formulation of the project.” These colleagues, named in the grant as Senior Personnel, are Dr. Jacqueline M. Whitling, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Department of Chemistry; Dr. Amy L. Kutay, associate professor of biology; and Dr. Indrajith C. Senevirathne, assistant professor of physics.
Tzolov also commented on the contributions of Don Woodhouse, grant acquisitions coordinator for the university. “His suggestions during the proposal formulation and especially his final editing of the narrative were substantial for the success of our proposal. This award is a success for him, too,” said Tzolov.
Dr. Deborah Erickson, provost and vice president for academic affairs, observed, “NSF grants are difficult to obtain. The success of this team evidences commitment and dedication to their field and to scholarly activity. We are proud to have these types of scholars at Lock Haven University.”