Advancements in technology
(Excerpt from March 2011 Marquette Matters)
Federal stimulus funding has enabled Marquette researchers to purchase nearly $1.5 million (between four grants) in new equipment in the past 18 months.
“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a real boon to academic research,” said Kathy Durben, director of project planning and development in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. “There just haven’t been a lot of sources for equipment funding available nationally. Marquette faculty did a wonderful job of preparing applications quickly to benefit from the funding.”
Two of the four grants were from the National Science Foundation and were awarded to faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences — a $601,079 award for an X-ray diffractometer and a $286,777 award for a confocal microscope.
Dr. Martin St. Maurice, assistant professor of biological sciences, is the principal investigator on the grant for the X-ray diffractometer, which is used to see the atomic structures of molecules. “The instrument focuses a powerful X-ray beam on a small crystal and captures the X-ray reflections after they pass through the crystal,” said St. Maurice. “The result is a three-dimensional map of a molecule’s complete electron density. The map can be detailed enough to allow us to see exactly where every single atom is positioned in a complex chemical molecule.” Knowing the detailed molecular structures of biological molecules is critical in understanding how they function, according to St. Maurice. Understanding the structure and function is a major step toward understanding the underlying mechanisms of disease.
“Acquisitions such as these benefit the university by building the infrastructure for state-of-the-art student training and faculty and student research,” said Dr. Jeanne Hossenlopp, vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School. “They are also important in recruiting students and faculty to Marquette by providing opportunities for engaged learning and facilities needed for cutting-edge research.”