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Release: March 31, 2000

UI's Grassian, Carmichael receive NSF award for undergraduate research

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Vicki Grassian, associate professor in the department of chemistry in the UI College of Liberal Arts and the department of chemical and biochemical engineering in the UI College of Engineering, and Gregory Carmichael, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering in the UI College of Engineering, have received a $183,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) award to provide enhanced research opportunities for undergraduate students. Out of fifty grant proposals submitted, the UI award was one of ten new awards funded through the NSF Engineering Centers Division.

The program, which will be hosted by the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER), will provide research positions for 12 students during summer 2000 and again during the summers of 2001 and 2002. Grassian, the principal investigator on the grant, and Carmichael, a co-principal investigator, say that the program is focused on environmental systems and will offer research positions for students interested in interdisciplinary research. Projects will be available for students majoring in chemistry, geology, geography, chemical engineering, and environmental engineering.

Carmichael says that global change and environmental protection are critical issues facing society today and it is important to involve science and engineering students in UI environmental systems work.

Grassian says that without this award, students would not have the opportunity to participate in these interdisciplinary research projects. The award allows students to work directly with faculty for an eight-week time period.

Grassian is an expert in the field of environmental catalysis and heterogeneous atmospheric chemistry. Her work has focused on investigations of chemical reactions on oxide particle surfaces and their role in environmental remediation and the chemical balance of the atmosphere.

Carmichael is an internationally recognized researcher, in part, for his studies on the environmental impacts of Asian development. His studies have shown that sulfur dioxide and other pollutants formed by burning coal affect not only urban environments in Asia, but also the United States because pollution is transported across the Pacific Ocean.

Environmental science at the University of Iowa includes 41 courses related directly to the subject and 14 different centers with a significant environmental emphasis. Much of the multidisciplinary research related to environmental science is coordinated through CGRER.

Carmichael serves as co-director of CGRER, which fosters interdisciplinary research and training in the field of environmental change and is concerned with both the scientific and human dimensions of global change. CGRER currently consists of 65 faculty, 75 graduate students, 15 postdoctoral and visiting scientists from 17 departments -- ranging from economics and law to physics and astronomy -- and six colleges at the UI and Iowa State University.

Interested students can learn more about the program by viewing the web site at or by contacting CGRER Administrative Assistant Jane Frank at 319-335-3333 or at