MORGANTOWN , W.Va. West Virginia University research efforts received another boost through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) with nearly $628,000 in funding awarded through the National Science Foundation (NSF).


WVU officials were notified this week that NSF has chosen two additional projects from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Department of Physics to be funded under the ARRA .


In July, WVU announced that eight faculty members will share in more than $3 million in economic stimulus support over the next two years for a wide range of research activity.


Basic research is a building block in the creation of new knowledge, technology, and, ultimately, jobs,said Dr. Curt Peterson, vice president of Research and Economic Development .The National Science Foundation has chosen to invest in outstanding research being undertaken in our physics department, which is achieving a great reputation and continues to have an impact on long-range innovation.


The projects to be funded in the most recent announcement of ARRA awards are


$267,983 for aNew Census of Globular Cluster Pulsarsby Assistant Professor Duncan Lorimer; $360,000 forThe Theory of Magnetic Reconnection Onset: Three Dimensional and Diamagnetic Effects,by Assistant Professor Paul Cassak.


Lorimers work will center on analyzing dense stellar environments that serve as astrophysical laboratories in which scientists can probe stellar evolution and the dynamics of star systems. Much of the research will be built around work done at the NSF -funded Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia where scientists have discovered a majority of known radio pulsars that help researchers learn more about the clusters.


Lorimer predicts that the research will help West Virginia teach astronomy courses and astronomical research by developing new laboratory components for undergraduate students and an inquiry-based, learning tool for high school science teachers. The work will also raise the international research profile of WVU and help increase the number of students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


Cassaks work is seen as a critical topic in work under way to address sustainable energy and to understand more about space weather. The objective of the ARRA -funded project is to develop an understanding of magnetic reconnectiona fundamental physics process in which magnetic energy is converted into particle and flow energy like in solar flares or fusion devices.


The project will ultimately produce a range of outreach materials that will be used at WVU s Tomchin Planetarium and for use in presentations to the general public and school groups to help recruit more young people to the field of study.


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is an economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on February 17, 2009. All of the funds were awarded competitively, with proposals from WVU judged against those from research universities across the country.

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