Champlin Foundations boosts hands-on learning at URI with $530,000 in grants

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Funding for scientific diving equipment among five grants

KINGSTON, R.I. – January 31, 2013 – A state-of-the-art scientific diving research and training facility will be equipped at the University of Rhode Island thanks to a $120,000 grant from The Champlin Foundations.

The grant is one of five that Champlin awarded to the University last month totaling $530,000. Others will be used to equip an advanced biochemistry laboratory, a motion analysis laboratory, a behavior change intervention lab, and a teaching and design lab for the study of ocean engineering.

“These projects will allow our faculty to expand opportunities for our students and position the University as a leading institution dedicated to active and engaged student learning,” said Donald DeHayes, URI provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We are very grateful to The Champlin Foundations for their continued support and investment in our teaching programs, faculty and students.”

The diving facility will bolster the teaching of scientific scuba-diving classes, research diving courses and high-tech diving that will support teaching and research programs in oceanography, marine biology, biomedical technology, ocean engineering, underwater archaeology, maritime history and other disciplines.

“Students and researchers often use scientific diving as a means to access the underwater environment and collect scientific data,” said Anya Watson, URI’s dive safety officer. “Thanks to the generous support of The Champlin Foundations, our dive safety program is acquiring dive equipment, dive computers, breathing air compressors, underwater photographic equipment, and research equipment to support multiple undergraduate programs and university research.”

Watson said that the equipment will enable students in marine-related fields to have access to further learning opportunities and equipment for internships, study-abroad programs, and student research opportunities.

The four other grants from Champlin are:

Motion Analysis Laboratory to understand the biomechanics of human movement, $101,000. Funds will be used to purchase a fully instrumented treadmill for a new, state-of-the-art Motion Analysis Laboratory to be used by those studying kinesiology and physical therapy. This split-belt, force plate instrumented treadmill and the accompanying hardware and data collection software will provide students with an in-depth understanding of human movement not available in the current lab setting. As a result, students will be better equipped to accurately assess movement and identify impairments throughout their careers.

Advanced Biochemistry Laboratory for training the next generation of scientists in advanced biochemical techniques, $107,000. These grant monies will buy several pieces of sophisticated biochemical instrumentation to equip an Advanced Biochemistry Laboratory for students in URI’s new bachelor’s degree program in cell and molecular biology. The lab will allow students to experience many of the key steps in drug discovery and target validation through comprehensive hands-on exposure to modern approaches used to characterize proteins and to study and model drug-protein interactions.

Experiential Learning in the Area of Behavior Change, $89,000. Funds will be used to purchase and install a digital recording and video teleconferencing system in the Behavior Change Intervention Lab in the Chafee Social Science Center. This equipment will be used to record, store, and replay intervention, evaluation, and training sessions, and will also allow video teleconferencing, bringing remote participants into the training session. The new equipment will enhance experiential learning for the study of behavioral health and mental health interventions.

Ocean Engineering/Oceanography Teaching and Design Laboratory, $113,000. This grant will help to create a state-of-the-art teaching and design laboratory for ocean engineering and oceanography students on URI’s Narragansett Bay Campus. The new facility will enhance the teaching of ocean physics and technology by allowing, for the first time in either department, the seamless combination of hands-on experiential learning and traditional classroom teaching in the same space. The lab will serve as a classroom, an interactive demonstration laboratory, and a design workspace for independent student use during and after classroom hours.