Montclair State faculty, leading educational programs and research in multiple disciplines across the University attracted a record-breaking $22.4 million in external grant funding for fiscal year 2020, shattering the FY 2019 record of $17.9 million.
Researchers in fields as diverse as biochemistry, educational leadership, environmental science, social work, modern languages and psychology are investigating everything from STEM education for Hispanic students and their families to school security climate, neurotransmitter functionality, K-12 education inclusion for children with disabilities, enzyme inhibitors for memory loss – and so much more.
Funders include a growing and varied list of federal, state, local and private sponsors including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Education and National Institute of Justice.
Ted Russo, director of Research and Sponsored Programs, reports the dollar amount is also nearly double what the University attracted just eight years ago, in FY 2012. Grants have seen steady growth each year during the last decade, and the University is off to a strong start for FY 2021 with $6 million in new funding announced in just the first few months.
Vice Provost for Research Scott Herness points out that the record breaking year “coming after our R2 status, really solidifies our standing as a public research institution.”
“These grants show that our University is headed in exactly the right direction, increasing its research endeavors and our funding portfolio,” says Herness. “It’s great for our faculty – and for our students, who are getting lots of opportunities to participate in research.”
Included in the FY 2020 funding:
- An $8 million, five-and-a-half-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish the New Jersey Inclusive Education Technical Assistance (NJIETA) overseen by Gerard Costa, director, Montclair State University’s Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health, who received the grant along with the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education for a project to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities into Pre-K through 12th grade general-education classrooms in New Jersey public schools.
- A four-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, led by PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies Director Amy Tuininga, to better engage Hispanic STEM students with hands-on, experiential learning opportunities – and extend these learning opportunities to their families and corporate and community partners. With Sociology Department Chair Yasemin Besen-Cassino, College of Science and Mathematics Dean Lora Billings, and Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Nina Goodey as co-principal investigators. In addition, Assistant Vice President for Hispanic Serving Initiatives Katia Paz Goldfarb will participate as senior personnel.
- A three-year, $600,000 grant from the NSF, led by Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Nina Goodey, to explore the effectiveness of teaming up STEM and non-STEM majors in project-based summer internships hosted by companies and organizations. The interdisciplinary leadership team includes Amy Tuininga and Elizabeth Emery, professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, as co-principal investigators.
- A five-year, $500,280 grant from the prestigious NSF CAREER program for Assistant Chemistry Professor Glen O’Neil and his team to develop tools that will produce chemical images of neurotransmitters around living neurons with high resolution in order to better understand neurotransmission at the subcellular level. He also received a three-year, $100,000 award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement’s Cottrell Scholar Award that recognizes early career scholars who excel in both teaching and research.
- A two-year, $567,191 grant from the National Institutes of Justice to investigate and identify effective types of school security climates and examine student growth within these climates. This project, led by Assistant Social Work and Child Advocacy Professor Matthew Cuellar and Assistant Psychology Professor Samantha Coyle, attempts to meet two goals: 1) Identify effective types of school security climates; and 2) Determine how the school security climate affects individual students.
- A one-year, $200,783 grant from National Multiple Sclerosis Society to Assistant Psychology Professor Joshua Sandry, director of the Cognition and Neurocognitive Disorders Research lab, to clarify how the interrelationship between working memory and the medial temporal lobe, specifically the hippocampus, is altered in MS patients with long-term memory impairment.
- A three-year, $130,743 grant from the National Science Foundation to Psychology Professor Jason Dickinson to develop the first set of recommendations for conducting investigative interviews with fresh complaint witnesses. Using an ethical experimental approach involving children and their parents, investigators will examine strategies for maximizing parents’ ability to report on a conversation with their children related to various levels of inappropriate behavior.
- A one-year, $30,000 grant funded by the Louisville Institute to Assistant Religion Professor Mark Clatterbuck to document and explore the dynamic interreligious encounter taking place today between Native Traditionalism and Christianity on the Crow Reservation in southeast Montana.
- A $50,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation for Assistant Educational Leadership Professor Rachel Garver to examine how the School Resource Officer’s role is negotiated between school administrators and police officers at the district and school levels.
In the first few months of FY 2021, the University has received approximately $6 million in new funding, including:
- A four-year, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation that contributes to the national need for diverse, well-educated scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technicians by supporting the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students with demonstrated financial need at Montclair State University, a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a majority minority institution. Over its five-year duration, this project will fund scholarships to 37 full time and part time students who are pursuing master’s degrees in chemistry.
- A three-year, $300,079 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Instrumentation Program for the acquisition of a High-Performance GPU [graphics processing units] Cluster for Research and Education. The instrument serves to both attract the interest of, and provide training in, leading-edge computing to a diverse group of students in order to inspire and prepare them to be part of the future STEM workforce.
- A five-year $3.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor David Rotella and team to evaluate the hypothesis that inhibiting an enzyme related to memory loss might improve performance in animal models of memory without mechanism-based adverse events.
Story by Staff Writer Mary Barr Mann