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News Release 05-152

NSF Announces New Discovery Corps Fellows

Pilot project helps scientists give their research expertise broader impact

August 26, 2005

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has named a second round of fellows to its Discovery Corps: a pilot program that is exploring innovative ways for scientists to combine their research expertise with service to society as a whole.

The seven new fellows are Roald Hoffmann, Cornell University; Susan Jackels, Seattle University; Omowunmi Sadik, State University of New York at Binghamton; Laren Tolbert, Georgia Institute of Technology; Anne Bentley, Purdue University; Stephanie Gould, UCLA; and Rachel Morgan Theall, University of Arizona.

This new group will undertake projects that range from intensive chemistry workshops that draw young scientists from across the Middle East, to service-related research in Nicaragua, to the creation of new molecular machines for "green chemistry."

Each project will be based in the chemical sciences, says Katharine Covert, program officer for the Discovery Corps, since all the funding for the program, a total of $1,334,000 this year, is being provided by NSF's Division of Chemistry and Office of Multidisciplinary Activities. But, she says, "the program is left very open to allow applicants to design a project that reflects their own interests and skills."

Discovery Corps projects can also be tailored to meet the needs of the host organizations, says chemistry division director Arthur B. Ellis, who notes that the program requires each fellow to obtain support and oversight by affiliating with at least one host institution. "This provides the hosts with an opportunity to move in new directions," he says, " just as it gives the fellows an opportunity to broaden their horizons."

To help achieve the latter goal, he adds, the Discovery Corps program offers two types of awards. The 1-year senior fellowships are intended for mid-career scientists who have already accumulated substantial independent research experience, and who are looking to strike out in new directions. The 2-year postdoctoral fellowships are intended for recent Ph.D.s who are seeking alternatives to the traditional postdoctoral experience, in which they would work in the research group of a senior principal investigator. But in both cases, says Ellis, "the Discovery Corps fellowship program recognizes that expertise in scientific research can give value to our society in many ways."

NSF has already released a solicitation for the next round of applications to the Discovery Corps fellows; the application deadline is Dec. 2, 2005.




  • Workshops in Chemistry in the Middle East
    Roald Hoffmann, Cornell University,
    Roald Hoffmann will lead a series of three workshops on contemporary chemistry themes, with participants drawn from promising young scientists in the Middle East. The intensive workshops will provide an opportunity for the region's future scientific leaders to gain new technical skills, meet US scientists, and develop a peer network. Young scientists from the U.S. will be involved as facilitators and workshop assistants.
  • Service-research Activities with Nicaraguan Small-holder Coffee Producers
    Susan Jackels, Seattle University,
    Susan Jackels will undertake an international collaborative project to establish a laboratory for agricultural and environmental analysis at the University of Central America Managua. She and her collaborators will use this laboratory to conduct research with Nicaraguan coffee growers that can help to improve the quality and marketability of their coffee.

Project Web site:

  • Development of Marine and Seawater Pollution Database Across Continents
    Omowunmi Sadik, SUNY at Binghamton,
    Omowunmi Sadik will partner with Nigerian scientists to develop new methods for lower cost electrochemical analysis of marine pollutants in coastal Africa. The Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research and the University of Lagos will partner with the State University of New York at Binghamton to create a marine pollution database for metals, chlorinated organics, nitrates, phosphates and silicates. Students from the US and Nigeria will work together on the research project, providing a model of global engagement and training.
  • Professor in Residence at Clark Atlanta University
    Laren Tolbert, Georgia Institute of Technology,

    Laren Tolbert, Georgia Institute of Technology, will initiate a "Professor in Residence" program with minority-serving institutions in the Atlanta area. During his year at Clark Atlanta University, he will teach and mentor students and initiate collaborative research programs. This project will be carried out in association with an NSF Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team award, "NIRT: Electronic Devices from Nanopatterned Epitaxial Graphite."

Clark Atlanta contact: Michael D. Williams, Director, CAU Center of Excellence for Microelectronics and Photonics,

  • Bringing Authentic Science to the Undergraduate Lab Experience
    Anne Bentley, Purdue University,
    Anne Bentley is integrating research and undergraduate education with this Discovery Corps Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her research component will involve designing and fabricating bio-photoelectrochemical cells for solar hydrogen production. An undergraduate lab module exploring solar energy conversion will be incorporated in introductory chemistry labs. Bentley will partner with the Center for Authentic Science Practice in Education (CASPiE), an NSF-funded Undergraduate Research Center, to train graduate student teaching assistants in peer-led team learning and research-based laboratory methods.

CASPiE contact: Gabriella Weaver, CASPiE Director, Purdue University,

  • Greener Approaches to Chemistry Through Research and Education
    Stephanie Gould, UCLA,
    Stephanie Gould is integrating research and K-12 outreach with this Discovery Corps Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her research component involves synthesizing complex molecules that will be used in the development of a new class of molecular machines. These machines will respond collectively to mechanical, electrical, magnetic or optical stimuli. The study will also contribute to "green chemistry", or chemistry with reduced environmental impact. The science education and outreach components, in partnership with a NSF-funded GK-12 Program, will develop inquiry- and active-learning modules for high-school teachers and students. Gould will work with classroom teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

UCLA GK-12 contact: Arlene Russell,

  • Science in the City
    Rachel Morgan Theall, University of Arizona,
    Theall is developing a new collaboration between the University, Tucson public schools, and Flandrau Science Center. "Science in the City" will enable teachers and students at urban, minority-serving public high schools to create professional exhibits for the local science museum. Student teams from three to five high schools will each research, design and create an exhibit on some aspect of science in their communities. These exhibits will be judged and the winning exhibits will be displayed in the Flandrau Science Center. Students and teachers involved in the project will gain in-depth understanding of a particular science topic or issue, understand how science impacts their lives on a daily basis, learn how to present their topic in an informal public science education setting, and make a positive contribution to their community.

Flandrau Science Center Contact: Debra Coladner, Associate Director

Media Contacts
M. Mitchell Waldrop, NSF, (703) 292-7752, email:

Program Contacts
Katharine J. Covert, NSF, (703) 292-4950, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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