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Four Swarthmore Faculty Awarded NEH, NSF Grants

From left: Ted Fernald, Brian Goldstein, Jose-Luis Machado, and Tristan Smith

From left: Ted Fernald, Brian Goldstein, Jose-Luis Machado, and Tristan Smith

Four Swarthmore faculty members across the disciplines received prestigious grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and National Science Foundation (NSF).

Professor of Linguistics Ted Fernald has received a substantial research grant for documenting endangered languages. The grant will support the Navajo Language Academy (NLA/Diné Bizaad Naalkaah) and Fernald’s long-standing work of promoting the tradition of using the Navajo language in Navajo communities, and supporting Navajo speakers in getting more deeply involved in linguistics.

The project’s fieldwork includes recording native speakers, transcribing recordings, and building onto the NLA’s existing, extensive digital Diné grammar resources. Fernald’s $442,752 grant is part of a joint initiative between the NEH and the NSF. The initiative, American Tapestry: Weaving Together Past, Present, and Future, emphasizes the role of the humanities in tackling contemporary social challenges: strengthening democracy, advancing equity for all, and addressing the changing climate.

Associate Professor of Art History Brian Goldstein is the recipient of an NEH grant of $60,000 for his forthcoming book, The Life and Work of Architect J. Max Bond Jr. (1935–2009). Goldstein’s project involves extensive research and the writing of the book, which will document the legacy of J. Max Bond Jr., a prominent African American architect who made notable contributions to civil rights and modernism. This grant is from the NEH’s Public Scholars program, which funds projects leading to the creation and publication of well-researched nonfiction books in the humanities written for the broad public.

Associate Professor of Biology Jose-Luis Machado and team received a $66,198 research grant from the NSF. This collaborative research grant, from the NSF’s Biodiversity on a Changing Planet-Design program, was awarded for Machado’s project, Climate Change Alteration of Soil Functional Biodiversity of the Páramos, Colombia.

The project will investigate the microbial diversity of Páramos soils in Colombia and assess how climate change will impact the functions of these microorganisms. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the effects of climate change on Páramos ecosystems, the project will include collaborations with transdisciplinary experts. High school and undergraduate students will also be engaged in the project, working together to develop and deploy low-cost, long-term soil monitoring data loggers.

Associate Professor of Physics Tristan Smith was awarded a grant of $293,196 from the NSF to explore fundamental issues in cosmology, specifically the discrepancies in our understanding of the expansion rate of the universe and the clustering of matter. Smith’s project, Characterizing and Optimizing Extensions of Lambda Cold Dark Matter, will conduct new theoretical work to provide insights into the nature of the ‘Hubble tension’ and ‘sigma-8’ tension and offer new theoretical explanations to these inconsistencies.

The project will develop a method to determine the properties of models that successfully address the tensions, provide new insights into constraints using current and future cosmological data, and explore the effects of cosmological scalar fields on various phenomena. This funding will enable Smith to continue to involve Swarthmore students in cutting-edge research, connect them to colleagues around the world, and train them in effective science communication.

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