Research and Grants

picture of Brian Krohn

U.S. Dept. of Education—$925,000 for McNair Scholars through 2011 for low-income, first generation, or students of color interested in graduate school.

National Institute of Justice–$236,500 for two-and-a-half years to Nancy Steblay, psychology, for police lineup identification research with students, in collaboration with the Tucson Police Dept.

National Science Foundation–$1.4 million over five years to Mark Engebretson, physics, for continued study of Earth’s space environment in Arctic Canada. Also, NSF added $87,350 to a grant totaling $257,500 through August 2009 for collaborative research on studies of solar wind.

Hartford Foundation–$75,000 over three years to train social work students to work with older adults.

Kemper Foundation–$50,000 in 2008 to develop a summer undergraduate leadership seminar with internships.

Arlin Gyberg, Chemistry
Students: Brian Krohn
Introducing the Mcgyan process

In March 2008, at its second press conference this year, Augsburg announced the discovery of a new process to produce biodiesel that is much cleaner, more effective, and less costly than current methods. The Mcgyan process—named for its three inventors, Clayton MCNeff ‘91, Arlin GYberg, and Ben YAN—uses plant materials or waste oils and produces no by-products or pollutants.

The discovery began with summer research by chemistry major Brian Krohn ‘08, working with Gyberg and McNeff’s SarTec Corp. Since production using the McGyan process can significantly impact the global market, Augsburg and the scientific team received a great deal of press, both local and regional. Read more.

Nancy Steblay, Psychology
Identifying the bad guys—research in police lineups (April 2008)

If you’re guilty, Nancy Steblay wants you to get noticed. Last year the Augsburg psychology professor was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct research in eyewitness accuracy.

Steblay says her research reflects an interest she’s had in eyewitness accuracy for many years. “Lineups are most interesting to me because they involve procedures that the criminal justice system cannot adjust in order to reduce the likelihood of false evidence,” said Steblay. “My interest in lineups really strengthened as DNA post-conviction exonerations began to show up in the mid-90s. The most common cause of wrongful conviction in these cases is eyewitness error.”

Steblay has completed research on a number of topics in eyewitness accuracy including forensic hypnosis, eyewitness forensic memory fallibility, and areas of forensic psychology. She hopes her current integrated lab and field research will translate and that she finds “a way to reduce the risk of false identification of innocent suspects while increasing the likelihood that the guilty will be identified.” Read more.

Gary Egbert, Physics
Students: Ashley Gruhlke, Michael Schmit
Auggies test the skies above downtown (March 2008)

Earlier this month, two students in professor Gary Egbert’s general physics lab went to the top of one of the tallest buildings in downtown Minneapolis to conduct a laboratory experiment. Ashley Gruhlke and Michael Schmit measured the change in atmospheric pressure with altitude from the 15th to the 54th floor of the 225 South Sixth Building. The building’s engineer, Frido Verkman, accompanied them.

Gruhlke and Schmit first took pressure readings in the basement and on the roof of Mortenson Hall, but after seeing only a slight difference, they knew they needed to go higher. They contacted Minneapolis building managers and found Verkman willing to help.

Gruhlke said she never imagined being able to conduct an experiment while hanging over the edge of a building and looking 850’ down onto the downtown traffic. “I am excited to continue this research,” she said, “and see how we could really combine our classroom knowledge with our first-hand experience.”

Egbert added that the students’ experience taught them not only about atmospheric pressure, but also that people in the community are willing to engage with them in the learning process. “The exciting part of the trip was to actually be able to go to that height and make the measurement but also to just see the view, and Augsburg, from the roof location,” said Egbert.

The building, formerly the headquarters to U.S. Bancorp, is a distinguishing feature of the Minneapolis skyline — it has a round, lighted “crown” on top. Unofficially, 225 South Sixth is the second tallest building downtown, rumored to be just one foot shorter than the IDS Center.