The Research Development Office (RDO) within the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has selected 22 University of Iowa faculty members to receive funding from the Seeding Excellence Initiative fall 2022 award cycle .
“The Seeding Excellence Initiative is designed to nurture the University of Iowa’s research enterprise,” said RDO director Aaron Kline. “By supporting faculty work in crucial areas, we create ripple effects in community engagement, external funding applications, and faculty career progression.”
Funded in the first year of the Public-Private Partnership (P3), The Seeding Excellence Initiative aims to grow the campus research enterprise by providing competitive seed funding in strategic focus areas.
The RDO recently selected recipients for three focus areas: OVPR Interdisciplinary Scholars, OVPR Early Career Scholars, and OVPR Community Engaged Scholars (Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences). The 17 faculty members selected as OVPR Early Career Scholars will be featured in an article in February. Learn more about the Interdisciplinary Scholars and Community Engaged Scholars below.
OVPR Interdisciplinary Scholars
The first year of the OVPR Interdisciplinary Scholars program supports research projects at the intersection of climate change and health challenges. Three faculty were selected in the Fall 2022 award cycle:
Gregory Carmichael, Karl Kammermeyer Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, College of Engineering
“Living with smoke”
Carmichael and a team of seven additional faculty from the Carver College of Medicine and the colleges of Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Public Health will examine the impacts of smoke on respiratory infections in the Western and Midwestern United States. By combining unique datasets with new techniques and quantitative approaches, Carmichael and team will measure the human co-exposures to air pollutants associated with smoke, assess the respiratory health effects of wildfires, and characterize how smoke intensity and chemical composition vary with distance from a fire. In 2020, 25 million people across the US experienced dangerous levels of smoke due to an increase in wildfires, and the rise of climate-based fires is negating decades of improvements in air quality. The team aims to apply the findings of the study to the design of new mitigation strategies to reduce public health risks due to exposure to smoke.
Elizabeth Stone, professor, chemistry, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Jun Wang, professor, chemical and biochemical engineering; Peter Thorne, University Distinguished Chair and professor, environmental and occupational health, College of Public Health; Alejandro Comellas Freymond, clinical professor, internal medicine-pulmonary, critical care and occupational medicine, Carver College of Medicine; Thomas Peters, professor, occupational and environmental health, College of Public Health; Charles Stanier, professor, chemical and biochemical engineering, College of Engineering; Jacob Simmering, assistant professor, internal medicine - internal medicine-pulmonary, critical care and occupational medicine, Carver College of Medicine.
David Cwiertny, William D. Ashton Professor in Civil Engineering, College of Engineering & professor, chemistry, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
“Climate-driven health vulnerabilities of rural well users”
Cwiertny and an interdisciplinary team from the colleges of Engineering, Public Health, and Liberal Arts and Sciences will work to identify climate-induced public health risks faced by well users across the US and to characterize the well users most vulnerable to those threats. More than 43 million Americans, or about 15 percent of the US population, rely on unregulated private wells as their primary source of drinking water, making them uniquely vulnerable to extreme weather events. The pilot study will create a web-based platform to identify private wells in Iowa at risk to climate change, measure changes in well water quality resulting from events such as floods or droughts, and identify social factors contributing to this vulnerability.
Kelly Baker, associate professor, occupational and environmental health, College of Public Health; Ibrahim Demir, associate professor, civil and environmental engineering, College of Engineering; Eric Tate, associate professor, geographical and sustainability sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Marc Linderman, associate professor, geographical and sustainability sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
“Interactive Impacts of Farmers’ Mental Health Well-being and Climate Variability”
Linderman and a team of faculty from the Carver College of Medicine, the Tippie College of Business, and the colleges of Engineering, Liberal Art and Sciences, and Public Health will examine the effect of climate variability on farmers’ mental well-being in the face of uncertainty caused by climate events, ecosystem changes, and market volatility. As extreme climate events increase in Iowa, building resilience will require altering land management practices while recognizing the stress and anxiety that food producers face across the state. The study will collect precise soil and climate data via a statewide network of low-cost gas sensors, which it will use to improve regional weather modeling. These dynamics will be combined with survey data on farmers’ use and perception of more resilient management practices through deep learning to reduce decision making uncertainty for food producers.
Shaoping Xiao, associate professor, mechanical engineering, College of Engineering; Fatima Toor, associate professor, electrical and computer engineering; Jun Wang, professor, chemical and biochemical engineering, College of Engineering; Heather Reisinger, professor, internal medicine, Carver College of Medicine; Bowen Ruan, assistant professor, marketing, Tippie College of Business; Martha Carvour, assistant professor, internal medicine-infectious diseases, Carver College of Medicine; Brandi Janssen, clinical associate professor, occupational and environmental health, College of Public Health.
OVPR Community Engaged Scholars (Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences)
In collaboration with the Obermann Center, the RDO provides one-year awards of up to $5,000 to faculty pursuing collaborative, publicly engaged research projects in the arts, humanities, and social sciences that mutually benefit university scholarship and the engaged community. The winners for the Fall 2022 cycle are:
Loyce Arthur, associate professor, theatre arts, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
“Art and Money for the Public Good: Overcoming Barriers to Civic Engagement”
Working in Iowa City’s Pheasant Ridge neighborhood, Arthur, partnering with Travis Kraus, Associate Professor, School of Planning & Public Affairs and Director, Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities, and students in the Community Development through Creative Placemaking and Art! Action! Engage! For the Public Good courses will examine how innovative methods of public engagement can increase civic participation among historically underrepresented and low participation groups. The work will focus on artist-led creative processes and the mitigation of financial barriers to increase participation, and change attitudes, about civic engagement. Kraus and Arthur will provide a platform for study participants to voice neighborhood needs, opportunities, and governance and to participate in creative engagement actions led by a local artist. The effectiveness of these approaches will be measured through surveys and interviews of participants throughout the project.
Christine Shea, associate professor, Spanish and Portuguese, linguistics, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,
“Equity and Herencia: Designing and Implementing Heritage Spanish Speaker Classes in Iowa City High Schools”
Shea will collaborate with Jordan Garrett, a teacher in the Iowa City Community School District who is designing new courses for native Spanish speakers. These students, called Spanish heritage speakers, often must take courses with non-native, second language learners. Shea and Garrett will design and implement surveys of Spanish heritage speaking students, teachers, and district administrators prior to and following the implementation of the new courses. The surveys will address the question of how Spanish heritage speaker classes affect students’ linguistic identity and how they identify as Latinx/o/a in a predominantly White high school and state. Previous research on heritage speaker linguistics has focused on states where there is a large Latinx/o/a population. The school district hopes to implement the new courses in the 2024-25 academic year.