Three Catholic University faculty members were awarded a cumulative total of more than $1 million in grants during the 2008 spring semester. The grants will fund research in such diverse areas as nano-scale vibrations in machine components, consequences of solar eruptions, and caregiving and spirituality.
John Judge, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received a five-year grant totaling $409,287 from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program. The money will fund his detection and study of very small differences between micro- and nano-scale devices that are supposedly identical, and how the differences affect the way the larger mechanical system that houses those devices vibrates. Systems such as sensors for detecting biological and chemical agents depend on vibration propagating freely across the system. However, small variations among seemingly identical pieces of the system can disrupt the way energy disperses and can prevent the system from operating as intended. Judge is the third member of CUA’s engineering school in the past two years to receive this NSF early-career grant, which is considered one of the foundation’s most prestigious awards.
Leon Ofman, associate professor
of physics, has been awarded a six-year $600,000 grant from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory to study phenomena involved in solar eruptions. The grant will support the Solar-B mission to explore the magnetic fields of the sun, which the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched in 2006 in collaboration with NASA, the European Space Agency and the United Kingdom’s Science and Technology Facilities Council. Ofman will analyze mission data that he expects to yield insights about the causes of solar eruptions, which can cause magnetic storms on Earth that affect satellites and satellite communications.
Michael Sheridan, visiting scholar and director of research in the Center for Spirituality within CUA’s National Catholic School of Social Service, received a two-year $200,000 grant from Duke University’s Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health. Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the grant will support her research to determine the relationship between the spirituality of African-Americans who care for their elderly family members and those caregivers’ physical and mental health. According to her research, increasing numbers of family members are the mainstay of eldercare and these individuals are themselves often placed at risk for health problems. She has found this is particularly true for African-Americans, who provide care for family members while having multiple stress factors in their lives, including higher percentages caring for children and coping with unemployment compared
to caregivers from other racial groups. Sheridan’s study will investigate the effects of religious involvement on the caregivers’ health and transmit study findings for application in the fields of physical and mental health, social services and congregational care.
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