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Investigator Spotlights

Dartmouth researchers were awarded $23.2 million during August, including $9.6 million in new and competing awards. Click here to view the complete list of awards, as reported by the Office of Sponsored Projects. Here, Vox spotlights three investigators and their work:

Kathryn Cottingham, associate professor of biological sciences

National Science Foundation
“Collaborative Research: Opening Pandora’s Box with a Biotic Key: Can Cyanobacterial Blooms in Nutrient-Poor Lakes Accelerate Eutrophication?"

cottinghamKathryn Cottingham (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Unwelcome blooms: “We’re trying to understand how a nuisance cyanobacterium—Gloeotrichia echinulata—affects the health of certain lakes. Its unsightly, potentially toxic blooms can have enormous economic impacts as well,” says Cottingham.

Ongoing study: “The first large G. echinulata blooms in Lake Sunapee, N.H. were observed in 2004,” she notes. “This grant is the culmination of five summers of pilot research in Lake Sunapee, started by Cayelan Carey ’06 as part of her senior honors thesis.”

Teamwork: “Our research is done in partnership with the Lake Sunapee Protective Association and a host of citizen-scientist volunteers,” says Cottingham. Co-PIs are Kathie Weathers (Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies) and Holly Ewing (Bates). Sam Fey of Dartmouth and Carey, now a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell, are graduate students on the project.

Peter Winkler, professor of mathematics and of computer science, the Albert Bradley Third Century Professor in the Sciences

National Science Foundation
“Combinatorial Methods for Random Structures in the Plane”

winklerPeter Winkler (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Counting: “The grant aims to study mathematical models of physical processes on a flat surface, ” says Winkler. “We use combinatorial methods—roughly speaking, sophisticated means of counting and manipulating discrete objects—to better understand the three models this project addresses.”

Model math: Winkler works at the interface of physics, mathematics, and the theory of computing. This study takes on three models—branched polymers, hard-core gases, and coordinate percolation—which speak to physical processes “ranging from gelling of polymers to spreading of forest fires,” he notes.

Teamwork: Winkler’s collaborators include Rick Kenyon of Brown University, Graham Brightwell of the London School of Economics, and Dartmouth mathematics graduate student Amir Barghi.

Jill Mikucki, visiting assistant professor of earth sciences and environmental studies

National Science Foundation
“Collaborative Research: GeomicroBiology of Antarctic Subglacial Environments (GBASE) Beneath the Whillans Ice Streams"

Jill MikuckiJill Mikucki (Photo courtesy of Jill Mikucki)

On Ice: “The GBASE project is part of a larger integrated study of marine ice sheet stability and subglacial habitats for life in west Antarctica,” explains Mikucki. “I’ll be extending my research on icy microbial habitats.” The collective study is the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling: the WISSARD project.

Fresh Fields: “This is an unprecedented opportunity to obtain samples from the subglacial environment, one of the least sampled environments on earth,” she says. “I am glad to be involved and hope to include Dartmouth undergraduates in my research.”

Teamwork: The project is deeply collaborative, Mikucki notes. “There are 13 PIs and nine institutions involved in WISSARD. At Dartmouth, I am excited about the access to an intellectual community of polar scientists across disciplines, particularly the faculty of the Polar Environmental Change IGERT group, and the Institute of Arctic Studies.”

Last Updated: 1/7/10