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June 27, 2000


LA CROSSE, Wis.—Viterbo College was recently awarded a $58,105 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to assist the college in purchasing and upgrading equipment to introduce modern Fourier transform nuclear magnetic resonance (FT-NMR) concepts and technology into the chemistry curriculum.

The grant, from the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education, pays for the half the cost of the projects it funds and the institutions pay for the other half. Viterbo was one of 300 colleges and universities nationwide to receive a grant of this kind. There were more than 1,000 applicants.

"The feedback I got from the program administrator was that it is an excellent proposal and they wanted to fully fund it," said Mike Collins, who worked on the grant proposal with fellow Viterbo chemistry professor Ron Amel and Grants Development Director Natalie McGarry.
In fact, one grant reviewer stated, "This proposal has the potential for a large impact at Viterbo."

Because FT-NMR is used to study and analyze the chemical structure of atoms, such as carbon, hydrogen, and phosphorous, the new, upgraded equipment, to be installed this July, will allow Viterbo students in chemistry, dietetics, and nursing to:

  • Increase their understanding of chemical structure and broaden their use of instruments;
  • Analyze a variety of compounds;
  • Analyze chemical structure in seconds—a process that had taken 5-15 minutes;
  • And use state-of-the-art equipment for classroom and research projects.

The proposal also allows for the software to be installed on 10 additional computers at Viterbo—making access easier for students.

But perhaps the most innovative component to the program is a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse in the resulting data collection. Students at the two schools will compare data with the lower field magnet from Viterbo and the higher field magnet from UWL. The data will posted to a web site accessible to individuals and schools with Nuts, a low-coast FT-NMR data processing software package, by August 2001.

"Our approach of combining what we do here with the data files from a higher field magnet and making it accessible globally, I think that’s unique," said Collins. "It is potentially useful to many people and organizations, particularly those without a state-of-the-art FT-NMR."

The National Science Foundation, located in Arlington, Va., is an independent agency of the U.S. government that promotes engineering and science through programs that invest more than $3.3 billion annually in almost 20,000 education and research projects. The NSF’s mission is to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense.

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