One of the largest private grants ever received by Fitchburg State University will allow faculty and students to collaborate on intensive research projects focusing on issues of personal fitness and the health of the Nashua River over the next three years.
The University was awarded a three-year, $240,000 grant from the Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee for the collaborative research efforts. It is the third-largest private grant the University has ever received.
“This generous grant from the Balfour Foundation will increase student interest in pursuing research careers and strengthen our campus research culture through hands-on field and laboratory work, personal and professional development, and collaboration between students, their peers, and faculty,” Fitchburg State University President Richard S. Lapidus said. “We are grateful for the demonstration of support for this important scholarly experience.”
The first project will bring together faculty and students from the Business Administration, Earth and Geographic Science, Communications Media and Exercise and Sports Science departments to explore the relationship between health and physical activity. Students from those departments will look at issues of access and physical activity habits, and how those intersect with the healthcare economics for local businesses. Faculty members Renee Scapparone (Business Administration), Jane Huang (Earth and Geographic Science), Viera Lorencova (Communications Media) and Danielle Wigmore (Exercise and Sports Science) will lead the project.
The second project, bringing together the Biology and Chemistry and Earth and Geographic Science departments, will look at the health and community impact of the Nashua River. Historical data and current perceptions will be compiled and compared to conditions, along with a look at water quality. Faculty members Daniel Welsh (Biology and Chemistry), Elizabeth Gordon (Earth and Geographic Science), Aisling O’Connor (Biology and Chemistry) and Jane Huang (Earth and Geographic Science) will lead the project.
The Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation, established in 1973, supports a variety of educational organizations. Its funding is generally focused on organizations or programs that provide support for underserved or under-represented populations to prepare for, access, and succeed in higher education, including two-year and four-year institutions.
Fitchburg State sought the grant to provide a high-impact interdisciplinary eight-week research experience that will lead to increases in retention, graduate school attendance, and career preparedness for 15 to 20 students each summer. This project will produce data that is vital to the pursuit of future research grants, further enhancing our research culture and providing additional opportunities for students and faculty to conduct research that will have broader impacts for the community as well.