The following faculty members received funding awards in fall 2015 through the College’s Faculty Research Award Program (FRAP), which supports the research activities of all regular full- and part-time tenured and tenure-track Amherst College faculty members. Since 2000, FRAP has been endowed by the H. Axel Schupf ’57 Fund for Intellectual Life.
SMALL GRANT AWARDS
Small grants are for $6,000 or less.
Professor John-Paul Baird
Department of Psychology/Neuroscience
Title: Training in Optogenetics
With this grant, Professor John-Paul Baird will travel to work with his former post-doc mentor to receive training in the latest techniques involving optogenetic neuroscience methods. His former mentor and collaborator has developed a method to express visual receptors in hindbrain receptors in rats in order to selectively stimulate neurons on the basis of the type of neurotransmitter they express. These new techniques can be effectively applied to Professor Baird’s research program to aid in the discovery of neural circuits that control food intake.
Professor Amelie Hastie
Department of English/Film and Media Studies
Title: Collaborations in Film and Media Studies: Film and Writing Textbook and Special Journal Issue on Ida Lupino
Professor Eric Sawyer
Department of Music
Title: Workshop Performance of The Scarlet Professor, Part 2
Professor Eric Sawyer will use the grant support for a public workshop performance of the concluding five scenes of The Scarlet Professor, the new opera for which he is the composer and Harley Erdman is the librettist. The first half of the opera was given a workshop performance in June 2015, with generous support from FRAP and the Amherst Art Series Fund. The Scarlet Professor is based on the true story of Newton Arvin, a nationally renowned literary critic and English professor at Smith College, who was arrested in 1960 for possessing “beefcake” pornography. This opera examines this moment through the character of Arvin, the subject of Barry Werth’s compelling and widely acclaimed biography. The erstwhile setting is Northampton Massachusetts State Hospital, where Arvin retreats from the world as public scandal envelops his name. The true milieu of the opera, however, is the inner landscape of Arvin’s mind, where flashbacks from his past, glimpses of his trial, and episodes from The Scarlet Letter collapse, collide, and explode.
LARGE GRANT AWARDS
Large grants are for more than $6,000 and up to $30,000.
Professor Dominic Poccia
Department of Biology
Title: Phospholipid Structure and Organelle Shape
Professor Dominic Poccia will use the grant support to test the hypothesis that phospholipid shape contributes to the maintenance of organelle shape in living cells. Following introduction or depletion of lipids of varying conical shapes and biochemical pathways into live oocytes, he will correlate transitions between highly curved tubules and flat sheets of the endoplasmic reticulum, an organelle central to a multitude of cellular functions, under conditions where protein content is held constant. If successful, these experiments will demonstrate that current hypotheses of the roles of proteins in shape maintenance are insufficient.
Professor Ilan Stavans
Department of Spanish
Title: Four Books: Don Quixote, I Love My Selfie, “Why I Teach,” and “The Power Triology”
With this funding, Professor Ilan Stavans will complete four books: a graphic-novel adaptation of Don Quixote of La Mancha, with Venezuelan cartoonist Roberto Weil; a book and exhibit on the "selfie" as a cultural phenomenon and on the work of performance artist Adál; a book called “Why I Teach,” about education as a besieged progression today and why it is important to reassess the impact of teaching; and a three-book graphic-novel called “The Power Trilogy,” illustrated by Mexican-American cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz.