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Two Shepherd faculty receive equipment grants totaling $40K

By Staff | Jan 4, 2013

Two Shepherd University professors have been awarded WV EPSCoR grants totaling nearly $40,000 for equipment to use in their classes as well as for research.

Dr. Jordan Mader, assistant professor of chemistry, will receive $20,000 for a thermal gravimetric analyzer used for stability determinations.

She said the analyzer measures weight loss in relation to temperature of the material being tested.

“You get a more realistic idea of how material will behave,” she said.

Mader said students in her organic chemistry classes will use the analyzer and thinks they will find it interesting.

“They’re going to be able to make their own compounds and then actually determine the stability,” she said. “They’ll actually be able to run their samples and see does our real-world stuff meet our theoretical possibilities?”

Dr. Ralph Wojtowicz, associate professor of mathematics, will receive $19,069 for a Hadoop cluster for teaching and researching phenomena associated with the analysis of massive data sets.

He said today’s research involves too much data for a desktop computer. The new equipment consists of two large computers with a lot of diskspace and several workstations.

“We can have students gain experience with the mechanics of how you work with data like that and then how to study the kinds of algorithms that we apply to this kind of data,” he said.

In addition to having students work with cutting-edge technology, other departments working with big data problems, like science and IT, will be able to use the equipment, he said.

“It’s one of my goals to have a lot of people using this, not just me and a small group of students.”

Dr. Bob Warburton, acting dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, said the new equipment is necessary for Mader and Wojtowicz to do their research and stay current in their fields and will provide wonderful opportunities for students.

“Being able to carry out research will allow those students to be exposed to methods and applications that are currently unavailable,” he said. “It’s this type of experiential learning that trains the next generation of scientists and, as such, fulfills the mission of Shepherd.”

Shepherd was the only institution to receive two grants.