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Reed College biology professor David Dalton receives National Science Foundation grant for his research into soybean root nodules

The three-year grant of $426,881 will support multiple research opportunities for both Reed College students and Portland area high school students.

PORTLAND, OR (November 10, 2005) - David Dalton, professor of biology at Reed College, has received a three-year grant of $426,881 from the National Science Foundation for his research project, “Characterization of Glutathione S-transferase from Nitrogen-fixing Root Nodules.” Dalton’s grant was one of five grants for plant biology made during the Spring 2005 funding cycle.

Dalton’s research will advance understanding of biological nitrogen fixation in legume root nodules. The objectives of this project are to define the role that the enzyme glutathione S-transferase (GST) plays in nitrogen-fixing legume nodules by using molecular (real-time PCR) probes to determine which forms of the GST gene family are expressed in nodules. The function of GSTs will then be examined in genetically engineered plants in which critical genes have been silenced.

The project will provide research experience for 16 to 20 Reed students working on their senior thesis or summer projects. “The project provides a valuable preparation for undergraduate students, most of whom are destined for graduate studies in plant biology,” Dalton notes. “The bulk of the research will be conducted by undergraduates engaged in senior thesis or summer projects.”

Although the project will run past the graduation dates of some students, Dalton will encourage those involved to stay on as research technicians and mentors in the months following their graduation. Over the past 15 years, Dalton has worked closely with 47 summer research fellows and 66 senior thesis research students.

Through a collaboration with the Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE) Program run by Portland State University, Dalton will include one high school student per summer as a member of his research laboratory team. ASE helps students make informed educational and career decisions. This grant will provide these high school students with valuable experience in a college laboratory.

The National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) promotes and advances scientific progress in the United States by competitively awarding grants and cooperative agreements for research and education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

The NSF funds grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations, and other research organizations throughout the United States. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

NSF receives approximately 40,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships.

The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support National Research Centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels and Antarctic research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, US participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.