News Details

January 11, 2016

Wesleyan Professors Receive Over $50,000 from WV EPSCoR

The Division of Science and Research of West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission announced that West Virginia Wesleyan College science faculty received over $50,000 for the 2016 Instrumentation and Innovation awards from West Virginia Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (WV EPSCoR).

For the instrumentation awards, Dr. Tracey DeLaney, assistant professor of physics, was awarded $8,500 to build two small radio telescopes.  One telescope will be a single-dish design using an 8-ft mesh dish.  This telescope will operate at 1420 MHz, which is ideal for observing neutral hydrogen gas in our Milky Way Galaxy.  The other telescope will be an interferometer that combines the signals from two small (2-foot) dishes.  The interferometer will operate at 12 GHz, which is ideal for observing the Sun. 

“Each of these telescopes provides opportunities for Engineering and Physics students to learn about the electronics involved, the mechanics of the mounting and control system, the optics, light and interference, and the physics of the astronomical objects being observed,” said Dr. DeLaney.

Sara Souther, assistant professor of biology, received $20,000 to help increase retention in the sciences through early student engagement in biological research.

“The grant will be used to purchase two state-of-the-art growth chambers, which are instruments used to manipulate temperature, light, and humidity when growing and studying plants,” explained Dr. Souther. “Research experiences early-on in college make it much more likely that students will successfully pursue careers in the sciences. With these new growth chambers, all sophomore biology majors at Wesleyan will be able to perform authentic research in plant science when they take the course, Experimental Biology, as sophomores. I hope that these chambers will provide students with fantastic research opportunities that prepare them for their future careers.”

Joanna Webb, assistant professor of chemistry, was awarded $45,000 for the acquisition of an Anasazi 90-MHz Permanent Magnet FT-NMR Spectrometer for Enhancing Educational Opportunities from the innovation grant.

“NMR spectroscopy is a technique that chemists use every day,” shared Dr. Webb. “Students at Wesleyan are given a theoretical understanding of NMR spectroscopy but do not get hands-on experience because we do not have an instrument.  As an example of how important it is, the American Chemical Society will not approve your chemistry program if you do not have an NMR spectrometer.  With the purchase of this instrument, we plan to offer a special topics course on NMR spectroscopy.

“This instrument is also going to change how we are able to teach many of our classes because students will actually be able to characterize the molecules they make,” continued Dr. Webb.  “It is also going to change the pace at which we do research; we will no longer have to send samples to West Virginia University and wait at least a week to receive results. Most importantly, it is going to allow our students to be better prepared for a graduate education. The 90-MHz NMR spectrometer we are purchasing is $152,400 from Anasazi Instruments.  The $45,000 Innovation Grant will be used for the instrument’s purchase. In the spirit of the Innovation Grant, the purchase of this modern instrumentation will better prepare students to continue their careers in the chemistry field.


The Division of Science and Research provides strategic leadership for infrastructure advancement and development of competitive research opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. The office directs the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) in West Virginia, coordinates scientific research grants to academic institutions from federal and state agencies, and conducts outreach activities to broaden the public’s understanding of science and technology. For more information, visit

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