College receives $458,178 grant

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grant, Lauren Ho, National Institutes of Health, News - By Lauren Ho on Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 05:14

Whittier College received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with a planned budget of $458,178.

The grant and proposal process is still continuing, as NIH may change the budget or the plan, as the grant may be modified over the years. “It has been two years in the making so far,”
Associate Director of Foundation and Government Relations Juliette Cagigas said. “It has been a long process that consisted of teamwork, preparation and an intense writing period.” This is Whittier College’s first grant award from NIH.

According to the College’s project summary, the grant will be used to “support faculty in their research efforts and increase faculty research activity at Whittier, build research capacity in the biomedical and biobehavioral fields and increase research opportunities for underrepresented students.”

Associate Professor of Education and Child Development Anne Sebanc will act as the principal investigator for the plans implemented with the grant money. She believes that a main component of the grant is hiring a grant manager. “The grant manager helps faculty when they get grants as well as assists a lot of current faculty who have grants from organizations and the federal government,” Sebanc said. “Their task would be to identify grants and assist faculty in writing proposals. There is a lot of coordination and infrastructure needed to fulfill what a grant is about.”

The need for a grant manager has been brought up several times over the period of a few years. “As I have heard from faculty, this is a long-standing need,” Sebanc said. “There are gaps in our system, so receiving a grant is like a double-edged sword because you receive funding but there is no support or details of what you need to do.”

The emphasis on biomedical and biobehavioral research stems from the grant being given by NIH. “NIH wants the outcome of getting our grants to be in their fields,” Sebanc said. “As the National Institutes of Health, they are searching for people who have a strong interest in health research but because the grant is very broadly defined there is almost something for everyone.”

There are several benefits that students and faculty may receive due to the grant award.
According to Cagigas, benefits include students having more opportunities to do undergraduate research, information and research gathered by faculty are passed on to students and the increase in grants will bring publicity to the college and improve its reputation.

President Sharon Herzberger agrees with these benefits. “A key way that the grant would help is that students could take on projects for their senior thesis,” Herzberger said. “It also helps faculty keep up with their professional discipline. It keeps them engaged in new research findings which improve their teaching.”

First-year Anne Goodman believes that the grant will be a great asset to students. “If the grant provided students with the opportunities to study under faculty in undergraduate research, it could give them a head start in graduate school or in the field because they would have experience and be better prepared,” Goodman said.

Sophomore Garrin Taga views the grant as helpful to all members of the College. “I think it is a good idea because most professors in the science departments do research and they have their student workers help with the research,” Taga said. “It is a good experience for student as well as professors. Also, the grant is a good opportunity for Whittier College and helps the College’s name even more.”