CU Receives Grants to Aid Scientific Research

For Immediate Release: 
Mar 05 2009

CONTACT: Anita Moody, Director, Public Relations/Marketing



Athens, W.Va. –The biology and physical science departments at Concord received two instrumentation grants from the West Virginia EPSCoR program to purchase new equipment. Six of these grants were awarded to undergraduate colleges and universities state-wide.

The grant award to the physical science department totaled $20,000 and was written by Drs. Dana Alloway and Darrell Crick. The money from the grant aided in the acquisition of a new gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC-MS) instrument to replace an older model that dates back to the 1970s.

The instrument, installed in February, is designed to break down unknown samples into individual chemical components and compare the sample to the system’s built-in library so one can determine what is in the mixture. This instrument will be used mainly for research and a variety of chemistry classes, including those taken by pre-medical students.

“This is the newest and latest piece of equipment,” Dr. Darrell Crick, physical science department chair, said. “Students will learn how to handle modern instruments. When students get a job in this field; they will use this exact instrument.”

“We are happy to have this,” he said. “This is a major addition and is one of the major acquisitions we needed to make.”

The biology department, meanwhile, received a grant totaling approximately $18,500 to purchase an Electro Fisher for their aquatic biology class. This instrument, used by the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) to determine fish populations, introduces electricity into the water to stun fish so that researchers can estimate how many are in a stream.

“This is very common technology in wildlife biology,” Dr. Thomas Ford, assistant professor of biology, said. “Most agencies use it. If students get experience using it, they will have a better chance of getting a good job.”

In the past two years, Concord’s science programs won competitive grants totaling over $150,000 for research and to purchase new equipment. Dr. Joseph Allen, division chair of natural sciences, said these grants help the university to deliver the best possible science education to students. “These grants support our initiatives to increase equipment infrastructure in the sciences at Concord and provide important opportunities for undergraduate research,” Allen said.


PHOTO 1: Liz Harmon, a student at Concord, was tasked with conducting quality checks on GC-MS device. The device compares a sample to one of two available libraries that come with the system. Harman is a chemistry major from Bluefield; her anticipated graduation date is May, and she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Kentucky.

PHOTO 2: Ms. Harmon uses a syringe to drop a tiny sample into a small receiving area on the device. Prior to the acquisition of this device, Concord faculty or students would send samples to a major university for analysis. She noted that she and other students are fortunate to be able to use this device.

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Andrea Meador, a sophomore majoring in public relations wrote this news release. Her hometown is Ghent.