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Contact: Tom McLaughlin
E-mail: tmclaugh@kean.edu

National Science Foundation Awards $291,000 Grant to Department of Biological Sciences

UNION, NJ - The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $291,000 Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant to the Department of Biological Sciences. Dr. Eric Boehm, an assistant professor of microbiology at Kean, serves as the Principle Investigator (PI) of the grant, entitled Instrumentation for the establishment of a Molecular Ecology and Biosystematics Laboratory (MEBL) within the Department of Biology, Kean University.

Boehm will work on the grant with Kean undergraduate students majoring in biology, to conduct research using state-of-the-art scientific methodologies, in order to understand the evolution and phylogeny of the fungi.

Co-PIs are departmental colleagues Dr. Sylvio Codella, Dr. Brian Teasdale and Dr. Daniela Shebitz. Dr. Jeff Fasick, Dr. Farshad Tamari and Dr. Matt Mongeli serves as co-participants.

The research program, including student involvement and associated publications, is available on-line at www.eboehm.com/. Major equipment funded by the NSF MRI includes a DNA sequencer and genetic analyzer, a walk-in plant growth chamber, a spectrophotometer, real-time PCR detection system, and associated instrumentation.

The research and research training of students to be conducted in the new MEBL will focus on the use of DNA sequence information to address a wide range of questions related to the molecular ecology and biosystematics of plant-associated microfungi, marine macroalgae, melanthiaceous angiosperms and hymenopteran insects in urban ecosystems.

The MEBL will train future life scientists seeking to enter industry, academia or secondary education at Kean University. Additionally, the laboratory will support cross-disciplinary collaborative research between the Biology, Chemistry and Computer Sciences departments. It will also serve as a foundation for the development of a new set of curricula specifically focused on the acquisition and analysis of DNA sequence information. Additionally, the MEBL will support the undergraduate Honor’s Thesis Research Program and enable the Department of Biological Sciences to develop plans for a Master of Science degree program.

Founded in 1855, Kean University has become one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, boasting a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. While Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers, it is also a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment, offering more than 50 undergraduate degrees and more than 45 options leading to a master’s degree, doctorate, professional diploma and/or state certification(s). Five undergraduate colleges and the Nathan Weiss Graduate College now serve more than 14,000 students.