A hallmark of the Colby experience is the opportunity for students and faculty to work together on challenging research projects integrated into teaching and learning, and to extend the impact of these projects by engaging with national and community partners. Below are a few Colby partnerships that are taking scholarship to new levels and a listing of departments and programs that are at the core of this work.
Cyber Infrastructure Grant Award
Through their cyber-infrastructure program, the National Science Foundation will be investing in a campus pilot project to achieve higher levels of performance, reliability, and predictability for science applications and distributed research projects. This Colby-led project includes partnerships with the University of Maine Orono (UMO) and Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine.
What does this mean for Colby and for Maine?
The immediate impact will be a major upgrade to Colby’s network infrastructure and high-performance computing in support of the investments Colby is making in computational biology, computational science, and computing across the curriculum. Colby’s campus will now have a connection to the Maine Research Network, which connects it to high-performance computing facilities at the University of Maine and the research expertise and data resources at the Jackson Lab. The broader impact will be the reduction of barriers to effective collaborations in research and education by connecting multiple institutions with high-speed networks and enhancing the productivity of scientific research in Maine.
Network infrastructure is critical to enabling education and research in fast-moving fields. Teachers and students in classrooms, labs, and offices will be able to work with complex data associated with genomics or computational modeling together, in real time. This pilot project will impact undergraduate programs in computational biology and genomics as well as research by current and new faculty in biology, chemistry, computer science, and statistics. The project will also directly impact faculty undertaking computational modeling and analysis in chemistry and physics and astronomy, and it includes initiatives to integrate computation into lab projects across the Natural Science division.
Secondary impact includes numerous courses that will benefit from a faster internal connection from labs and access to Colby’s central computing facilities as well as a dedicated network pipe from Colby to UMaine’s high-performance (HPC) facility. In addition, Colby undergrads will be better prepared to enter graduate programs and a workforce that is increasingly making use of computational methods in all facets of research and development. With this award, our students will have access to and a better understanding of how to make use of high-performance computational resources.
Energy Research for Commercialization
With recent funding from the National Science Foundation, Reuben Hudson and Jeff Katz from the Colby Chemistry Department have designed new materials that show promise for hydrogen fuel-cell applications. Over competing materials, theirs have the potential for increased fuel cell durability, performance, and efficiency. With the hope of one day putting this technology in the hands of commercial partners, Hudson and Katz received further funding from the Maine Technology Institute, an organization dedicated to supporting Maine-based innovations. In order to explore additional applications for these materials and to increase student involvement in the project, the NSF has provided supplemental funding to support a spring break research trip for Hudson and a student to travel to the lab of their collaborator, Yasuhiro Uozumi, in Japan.
A major research grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health, is the third to fund the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE). The grant funds supported Colby faculty research, summer research fellowships for students, short courses and Jan Plan research, conference expenses, and scientific equipment. The grant also supported a multifaceted collaboration between Colby and the Mount Desert Island Laboratory (MDIBL) and 13 Maine institutions.
Colby researchers are exploring the boundaries of bioinformatics with scientists at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, using biological data to develop algorithms and relations among various biological systems. Computational methods will be essential for translating a new understanding of how biological systems function.
The humanities will play an even larger role in Colby’s expanding cross-campus and multi-disciplinary approach to the study of the environment. A grant award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has launched an environmental humanities initiative building on current and existing strengths, particularly with the College’s Environmental Studies Program, and establishing an innovative new research and teaching focus at Colby. This new focus will bring artistic, cultural, ethical, historical, and literary perspectives to environmental topics and will enhance opportunities for faculty collaboration across disciplines and departments, linking courses and scholarship while supporting new curricular connections across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.
The Digital Maine Project at Colby uses traditional liberal arts approaches to historical, ethical, material, and visual analysis to explore key developments in the recent history of Maine, trends that reflect larger changes in American culture from the 1960s to today.
Pioneering academic programs and a historical commitment to green values made Colby a leader in environmental initiatives—many of which were spearheaded by students and faculty in the Environmental Studies Program. The entire 714-acre Colby campus is a State Wildlife Management Area. Colby’s Perkins Arboretum is a 128-acre wildlife refuge used as an outdoor laboratory and also has cross-country running and ski trails.
The Colby-Marston Preserve is a 34-acre classic kettle-hole sphagnum bog and is a National Park Service Registered National Natural Landmark.
Since its first grants in 1989, the Clare Boothe Luce Program (CBL) has become the single most significant source of private support for women in science, mathematics, and engineering. Clare Boothe Luce, the widow of Henry R. Luce, was a playwright, journalist, U.S. ambassador to Italy, and the first woman elected to Congress from Connecticut. In her bequest establishing this program, she sought “to encourage women to enter, study, graduate, and teach” in science, mathematics, and engineering. Thus far, the program has supported more than 1900 women.
The Changing Oceans program comprises 14 weeks of intense research. Focused on ocean science within a changing global climate, the program covers topics such as microbial oceanography, marine biogeochemistry, the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle, molecular approaches to biological oceanography, and pelagic ecology. Implications for public policy are explored within each topic.
Linked listing of departments and programs at Colby.