URI receives more than $600,000 in grants from The Champlin Foundations

Awards fund technology and equipment purchases across several colleges

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KINGSTON, R.I. — December 12, 2016 — The Champlin Foundations, one of the oldest philanthropic organizations in Rhode Island, has awarded the University of Rhode Island five grants totaling $602,580. These funds support educational tools and technologies in communications, engineering, pharmacy and health sciences, significantly enhancing student engagement and bolstering a broad spectrum of programs at URI.

The charitable organization’s generosity toward URI spans more than 45 years, beginning in 1970 with a scholarship grant for the College of Pharmacy. Since 1986 the organization has awarded annual grants to URI totaling more than $13 million.

“The Champlin Foundations’ continued investments in the University have lasting value far beyond the individual grants,” said URI Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald H. DeHayes. “Countless students and programs at URI have benefited, and these recent grants will further the University’s interprofessional education goals, positioning our graduates for promising careers in a rapidly changing world.”

Katharine H. Flynn, executive director of the URI Foundation Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations, said, “The Champlin Foundations continue their meaningful support of URI, contributing to the success and stature of the University over four decades. This commitment to URI illustrates the significance of private support in fulfilling our educational mission. We are truly grateful for this partnership.”

Equipment and technology related projects funded by The Champlin Foundations this year are:

Cell Culture Technology: Shared Teaching, Research, and Outreach Equipment in STEM: A $154,000 grant to provide undergraduate students with hands-on experience in both the practical and theoretical aspects of growing, imaging and analyzing cells. Cell culture, or the growth of cells from an animal or plant in an artificial environment (laboratory), is integral to many industries, including engineering, biology, pharmacy and medicine, with applications in the evaluation of new drugs and therapeutics, development of biofuels, toxicology, tissue engineering and vaccine development and production. The equipment will be used in collaboration across three colleges at URI (Engineering, Pharmacy/Academic Health Collaborative and Arts and Sciences). The proposal was submitted by professors Samantha A. Meenach, chemical engineering/biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences; Daniel Roxbury, chemical engineering; Stephen Kennedy, electrical, computer and biomedical engineering/chemical engineering; Deyu Li, biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences; Vinka Oyanedel-Craver, civil and environmental engineering and Michael Antosh, physics.

Cutting-Edge Visual Equipment and Technology: A $132,693 grant to the Harrington School of Communication and Media for state-of-the-art, digital video and virtual reality equipment, including professional video cameras, 360º GoPro cameras and virtual reality headsets and monitors. This new technology will greatly enhance the resources that students now use and will make available cutting-edge digital equipment to students across the University to create, display, analyze and experiment with digital video, audio and imagery. This unique array of equipment will provide invaluable learning opportunities for hundreds of students per year. In addition, community members and schoolchildren will have the opportunity to be exposed to the equipment during URI-supported programs, such as the Rhode Island International Film Festival Kids’ Eye Camp. The proposal was submitted by Thomas Zorabedian, assistant dean, College of Arts and Sciences; Adam Roth, interim director of the Harrington School; Tony Balko, senior information technologist; Rebecca Romanow, director, film/media, Harrington School.

LENA Language Environment Analysis Lab Proposal: A $108,000 grant will fund the purchase of 80 LENA digital language-sampling processors and 10 analysis software licenses to establish a LENA Language Environment Analysis Lab at URI. College of Health Sciences/Academic Health Collaborative students will use the LENA to record and analyze the language production of children served by the URI Speech and Hearing Clinic as well as the language of children from birth through elementary school. LENA uses the technology found in hearing aids to allow URI students to digitally record up to 16 hours of audio and perform sophisticated analyses of each child’s language, distinguishing among adult and child speakers, turns in conversation and other elements. Currently, students must record, hand transcribe and analyze language data, semester-long to evaluate one recording. The URI Department of Communicative Disorders is the first in the nation to provide a program-wide initiative to train students to use this technology. The proposal was submitted by Michelle Flippin, assistant professor of communicative disorders, and Billie Connors, director of the Speech and Hearing Center.

 Enhancing Health Education: A $106,000 grant to fund the purchase of non-invasive portable equipment that students in the College of Health Sciences will use to measure body composition, bone density and metabolic markers. The Inbody 770 measures lean body mass and fat using bioelectrical impedance technology, which uses the relationship between electricity and water to estimate fat and lean mass of each body segment. The GE Achilles Quantitative Ultrasound assesses bone health and fracture risk by analyzing heel characteristics, and the Quintron Breath Gas Analyzer measures metabolic markers in exhaled air. The equipment can be used in community health screenings, allowing undergraduate and graduate students to apply what is learned in class. The technology offers new ways to measure body composition and health and communicate findings to patients. The proposal was submitted by College of Health Sciences/Academic Health Collaborative professors Kathleen J. Melanson, nutrition and food sciences; and Christie Ward-Ritacco, kinesiology.

Interfacial Tensiometer and a Drop Shape Analyzer for the Undergraduate Laboratories:

A $101,085 grant to purchase two state-of-the-art instruments to measure and analyze the surface or interfacial tension of liquids, surface energy of solids and the wettability of liquids on solid surfaces. These instruments will provide hands-on opportunities for students in the departments of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, as well as the College of Pharmacy/Academic Health Collaborative, where no such opportunity currently exists. This equipment will give students the experience needed to prepare for careers in food science, biopharmaceutical, materials and chemical industries. The proposal was submitted by professors Arijit Bose, chemical engineering; Samantha Meenach, chemical engineering/biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences; Joanne Compton, chemical engineering; Daniel Roxbury, chemical engineering; Stephen Kennedy, electrical, computer and biomedical engineering/chemical engineering.