UM Professor Gets $742,000 Grant to Bring Mass Spectrometry to Seeley-Swan High School
University of Montana computer science assistant professor Robert Smith recently scored a huge grant from the National Science Foundation. The $742,000 CAREER Grant is the most prestigious foundation grant for junior faculty, and according to Smith that money will all be spent in Montana.
"A significant portion of the grant will be for the nuts and bolts of getting that research going, specifically in mass spectrometry data processing," Smith said. "Another portion of that grant will be to facilitate an intervention at Seely-Swan High School where we hope to get a sizeable number of students interested in research, higher education and computation."
Students won't be able to actually run a mass spectrometer, but they will be using computation to analyze mass spectrometry data for statistics and a variety of other classes, something even most college students don’t get to do. Smith says Seeley-Swan High School was picked for a number of reasons.
"A lot of these interventions tend to happen in the city center, so I thought it would be nice to do something in a more rural area, in a smaller school," Smith said. "It's a lot easier to get everyone together, as far as teachers and administration go, and agreeing on what we're going to do there aren't a lot of students coming from Seeley to the UM and the overall percentage of students that transfer from high school to college is quite low."
The grant will last for five years and the first of the mass spectrometry classes should begin this fall.