Westminster’s Great Salt Lake Institute Expands Research with Support from the W.M. Keck Foundation
BRINE initiative will explore understudied resources of Great Salt Lake
SALT LAKE CITY – The Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College announces a new undergraduate research initiative focused on exploring the science of Great Salt Lake’s extreme ecosystem. Building Research, Innovation and Novel Experimentation (BRINE) will expand on existing faculty/student research, support new lake projects and create a network of interdisciplinary scholars.
To achieve the goals of BRINE, the Great Salt Lake Institute (GSLI) recently received a generous $250,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation. The Foundation’s Undergraduate Education Program promotes distinctive learning and research experiences in science, engineering and liberal arts, making the financial gift a perfect match with Westminster’s use of experiential, collaborative and cross-disciplinary learning.
“The Keck Foundation funds only the most promising programs in higher education. We at GSLI are honored to be recognized as part of an elite group of institutions,” said Dr. Bonnie Baxter, director of GSLI. “Westminster has been a leading player in Great Salt Lake research, and many undergraduate students have had the opportunity to do graduate-level work. The Keck grant will more than triple the funds we have to support these projects.”
Despite its vast size and unique natural resources, Great Salt Lake remains largely unexplored, giving it enormous potential for novel undergraduate research projects. For example, GSLI faculty and students recently began studying high mercury content in the lake, comparing levels of mercury found in spiders from Great Salt Lake to spiders from Utah Lake. Other projects range from brine shrimp genetics to microbiology of these extremely salty waters.
With support from the W.M. Keck Foundation, GSLI's BRINE will draw on Westminster’s proximity to Great Salt Lake and new undergraduate research facilities to transform the landscape of undergraduate science education by adopting a theme-based, place-based research model that can be replicated at other institutions.
Media Contacts: Krista DeAngelis and Arikka Von (801) 832-2682
Jan. 17, 2012
About W. M. Keck Foundation:
Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical research, science and engineering and undergraduate education. The Foundation also maintains a Southern California Grant Program that provides support for the Los Angeles community, with a special emphasis on children and youth. For more information, please visit www. wmkeck.org.
The Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College:
The Great Salt Lake Institute (GSLI) is dedicated to supporting research, education, and stewardship of our unique Great Salt Lake. In achieving this mission, we foster interdisciplinary collaborations that engage students, teachers, scholars, artists, and the public.
Westminster is a nationally recognized, comprehensive liberal arts college. With a broad array of graduate and undergraduate programs, Westminster is distinguished by its unique environment for learning. Westminster prepares students for success through active and engaged learning, real world experiences, and its vibrant campus community. Westminster’s unique location, adjacent to the Rocky Mountains and to the dynamic city of Salt Lake, further enriches the college experience. For more information, visit www.westminstercollege.edu or follow WestminsterSLC on Twitter.