2010 Internal Seed Grant Recipients

PreK-12 Education Innovation Grant Category

 

Principal Investigator (PI): Vicki Oleson
Department:
Mathematics
Co-PIs:
Edward Rathmell, Kim Miller
Project Title:
Making Sense of Mathematics and Teaching: Preparing to Propose

Abstract: The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) is currently engaged in providing mathematics professional development (PD) to elementary teachers in southwest Iowa through a Title IIB – Math and Science Partnership Program grant, funded by No Child Left Behind, and administered by the Iowa Board of Regents and the Iowa Department of Education. This PD involves 48 teachers from 11 school districts. Three additional school districts are providing similar whole-building PD outside of the Title IIB grant. Fall of 2010 southwest Iowa Area Education Agency (AEA) administrators recognized the potential for requests from other school districts for similar PD. Administrators asked UNI for a plan to meet potential requests. Preliminary meetings between UNI and administrators highlighted the need to develop an entirely online PD delivery model for rural districts. Seed grant funding will support development and submission of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Discovery research K-12 (DR-K12) proposal to expand current PD efforts. Seed grant funding will result in DR-K12 proposal to be submitted January 2012 with the goal of designing, developing, and testing an innovative model for teacher PD. The DR-K12 proposal will expand PD efforts two ways: (1) extend the geographical area to include the entire western half of Iowa; (2) develop and test an entirely online delivery model. Seed grant goals are to 1) build a team to prepare and submit a NSF DR-K12 proposal to expand Title IIB PD, and 2) analyze data collected through pilot work and the Title IIB grant.

 


Large Grant Category

 

Principal Investigator (PI):  John DeGroote
Department:
Geography
Co-PI:
Disa Cornish
Project Title:
Investigating Spatial Relationships between Adult Obesity and the Built and Natural Environment

Abstract: The proportion of obese and overweight people has grown greatly nationally in recent decades and Iowa has a higher than average prevalence. A pilot research project will be carried out to develop novel spatial databases and geospatial analytical techniques to facilitate the examination of relationships between the built and natural environment and population level and energy-related behaviors (i.e. dietary intake and energy expenditure) and outcomes (e.g. measures of obesity and overweight). Population level data on physical activity, food insecurity, and health (overweight or obese, diabetes), from mechanisms such as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), will be attained in Iowa. Spatial databases on environmental conditions such as food availability, recreational access, neighborhood characteristics, and socio-economic conditions will be developed from a range of sources. Spatial network, neighborhood, and other processing functionality will be used to derive relevant measures of environmental variables. These will then be included in spatial multi-criteria evaluation models whose results will be utilized for investigating associations between the environmental conditions and the behavioral and health outcome data. This research will build on existing research by building more spatially realistic and comprehensive models of environment conditions. The project will help solidify an interdisciplinary relationship between the research team from geography (GeoTREE Center), social science (CSBR), statistics, and public health (IDPH and HPELS). The result from this project will form a strong foundation for the team to successfully pursue funding under the National Institutes of Health proposal entitled “Geographic and Contextual Influences on Energy Balance-Related Health Behaviors (R21)”.

 

Principal Investigator (PI): Helen Harton
Department:
Psychology
Co-PIs:
Nicholas Schwab, Jerry Collum
Project Title:
Dynamic Social Impact and the Emergence of Health Norms Within a Social Network

Abstract: Decades of work within social epidemiology, sociology, and psychology strongly assert that our health is intertwined with our social environment; hence much of what makes us both healthy and ill cannot be fully understood without addressing how and why our social ties affect our physical and psychological well-being. Clustering within social networks of such health behaviors as smoking and alcohol consumption suggests that dynamic social processes uniquely contribute to individual health outcomes over time; however, a number of questions remain concerning social networks and health. The research proposed here suggests that dynamic social impact theory can provide theoretical and empirical insight into questions surrounding social networks and health. For this project, we propose to conduct a longitudinal study of social networks and health in college students. We will survey students living in four residence halls on campus concerning their health behaviors (e.g., exercise, alcohol use), well-being (e.g., depression), and social networks (e.g., how often they meet with friends) across the fall and spring semesters. Our hypotheses are that over time participants: I) will become more similar in their health behaviors and outcomes to those with whom they interact most frequently, 2) will interact more often with those who live closer to them, and 3) will be more or less influential due to particular personality traits. These processes will lead to spatial clustering of health behaviors over time. This study itself should lead to publishable results as well as provide pilot data to strengthen a future NIH application for external funding.

 

Principal Investigator (PI):  Mary Losch
Department:
Center for Social and Behavioral Research
Co-PIs:
Natoshia Askelson, Anne Bonsall-Hoekstra
Project Title:
A Pilot Study of Pregnancy Ambivalence and Development of a Reproductive Life Planning Model

Abstract: Unintended pregnancy continues to be a significant public health challenge in the US with approximately half of pregnancies unintended. The notion that ambivalence is important to understanding and measuring contraception use and unintended pregnancy has been posited by several authors; our own research as well as other studies have found that ambivalence is a significant negative predictor of consistent contraceptive use. Therefore, to better understand its role in contraception, we propose to investigate this concept more fully by examining the antecedents and factors associated with inconsistent contraceptive use and ambivalence. Two research aims include 1) identifying the extent to which outcome expectancies, knowledge, norms, and risk perceptions are present and shape low-income women’s feelings of ambivalence toward pregnancy and inconsistent contraceptive use, and 2) learning what basic ideas and reactions low-income women have about reproductive life planning. In-depth interviews with low-income women will be completed at two family planning clinics. The data from this pilot project will be valuable for securing future federal funding in the area of unintended pregnancy prevention generally and specifically in the emerging area of the role of ambivalence in contraceptive behavior.

 

Principal Investigator (PI): Jihwa Noh
Department:
Mathematics
Co-PIs:
Kathy Shafer, Marcia Weinhold, Ok-Ki Kang, Oh-Nam Kwon
Project Title:
Characteristics of mathematics teacher education program that promote the development of mathematical knowledge needed for teaching at the secondary level

Abstract: This is the project we intend to apply for external funding to complete. The seed funding will be used to develop data collection instruments and conduct a pilot study for this project. The intended project is an international comparative study that uses a more empirical approach to study characteristics of mathematics teacher education program and specific learning opportunities during coursework that help prospective teachers develop the mathematical knowledge needed for teaching (MKT) at the secondary level. Approximately 360 prospective teachers from 6 universities (3 US and 3 Korea) will participate in the pilot study. To represent different phases of teacher preparation, the participating teachers from each country will be selected in 3 cohorts: cohort lat the entry and cohort 2·at the exit level of their teacher education program, and cohort 3 entering their mathematics methods course. Data collection will include 1) a mathematics survey to find areas of strengths and weaknesses in their MKT and growth over time, 2) interviewing mathematics methods instructors about the general philosophy of the course as well as specific learning opportunities such as assignment and school experiences that may have contributed to developing MKT, and 3) a survey of the participating universities regarding programs, standards and expectations in the curriculum of the mathematics teacher education program.

 

Principal Investigator (PI): Francesca Soans
Department:
Communication Studies
Co-PI:
Robert Neymeyer
Project Title:
Waterloo: A History of Place, Episode 3: The Black Triangle

Abstract: Waterloo: A History of Place (working title) is a multi-part series of video documentaries that offer a unique perspective on Waterloo's diverse histories. Focusing on different public spaces, ranging from department stores to cemeteries, the series explores the memories of Waterloo's many communities, thus tracing a history of Waterloo from the Meskwaki settlements to the present time. The goal of the series is to engage diverse communities in the act of understanding and interpreting history and to offer an exploration of the intersections between history, memory, and identities. We are applying to the Seed Grant to support the post-production of a two half-hour video documentaries on the Black's Department Store and Sons of Jacob Synagogue and the development and production of a third episode on the "Black Triangle." These will serve as work samples for funding applications to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Independent Television Service.

 

Principal Investigator (PI): Theresa Spradling
Department:
Biology
Co-PI:
John Demastes
Project Title:
Host-Parasite Cospeciation: The Process Behind the Pattern

Abstract: Pocket gophers and the lice that parasitize them have a long history of tandem evolution; we have studied the large scale, macroevolutionary patterns of this system extensively. In our future work, we will collaborate with Jessica Light of Texas A&M University to study the fine scale, microevolutionary patterns that precede speciation by studying louse and gopher population genetics in three different situations: 1) where different chromosomal forms of the gopher, Thomomys talpoides, come together in a region with low population density at South Fork, Colorado; 2) where different chromosomal forms of the same species come together in very high density at Gothic, Colorado; and 3) where two different species of gophers (Geomys breviceps and G. attwateri) come together in Texas (JEL and her students are responsible for this third portion of the study). We aim to secure NSF funding for this research, and will submit a joint proposal requesting approximately $380,000 in July 2012. In order to receive funding, we need two forms of preliminary data. First, we need to know the geographic location of each zone of contact; this goal was already accomplished for the Colorado sites thanks to a UNI summer fellowship (TAS, 2010). Second, we need evidence that we can analyze variable regions of the gopher and louse genomes. Herein, we request funding to allow the development of markers for genetic analysis of the Colorado species, thereby providing the second form of preliminary data necessary for NSF funding of an exhaustive analysis of host-parasite population genetics.

 

Principal Investigator (PI): Carl Thurman
Department:
Biology
Co-PIs:
Peter Berendzen, Melanie Hopkins
Project Title:
Impact of an Oil Spill on Diversity in Keystone Coastal Species from the Gulf of Mexico

Abstract: The Deepwater Horizon Oil spill of April-July 2010 is the largest to ever occur in the Gulf of Mexico. As of November 2011, the spill oiled about 500 miles of coasts killing many shallow-water marine organisms. Further, the deep oceanic effects of the spill in either time or space are far from clear. Recovery of the region to its original biodiversity may take many years. In terms of organism and genetic diversity, recovery occurs only when the environment has returned to its normal ecological functions. This implies that the post-spill habitat is as biologically diversity as pre-spill. At the moment, there is no clear method to assess recovery of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Due to previous work by the project personnel, we are able to make substantial contributions to understanding the process of rehabilitation and recovery using ecological, morphological and genetic information from seven species of fiddler crabs from the northern Gulf. Since the crabs are key biological engineers maintaining the health, diversity and environmental equilibrium of coastal salt marches and mangroves, we will use pre- and post-spill measures of species, morphological and genetic diversity to monitor recovery of the coastal environs. Already we have completed the pre-spill crab ecological inventory and morphological analysis of all species. However, genetic analysis is complete for only three species. Funds are needed to make the initial post-spill collection of crabs along the Gulf coast within one year of the catastrophe. The grant will permit us to complete the pre-spill genetic analysis of all remaining species as well as continued genetic and morphological analysis of post-spill crab populations. Besides increasing the accuracy and precision of our genetic and morphological analysis and enhancing our future proposals to NSF, EPA, and NOAA, we also need to develop a “microsatellite” technique for analysis of genetic variability. This will allow us to assess inter- and intra- population changes in each species using new genetic markers. In addition, we will be able to assess recruitment sources and monitor habitat recovery more effectively.

 


Small Grant Category

 

Principal Investigator (PI):  Jennifer Cooley
Department:
Modern Languages
Project Title:
Service Translation Pilot for Language Communications Hub

Abstract: I propose to translate the signage for all exhibits at the Phelps Youth Pavilion at the Waterloo Center for the Arts to create a fully bilingual (Spanish/English) space for area families. The Arts Center is one of many community businesses and service providers that could benefit from fast, reliable translation services. We will also translate web-based and promotional materials that pertain to the Youth Pavilion and will create Spanish voice-overs for interactive displays. The translation work will be performed collaboratively with a two-student team and my guidance. Students will be of diverse backgrounds and their complimentary talents will allow them to mentor one another to perform the best translation with regard to vocabulary, tone, syntax and cultural considerations. This pilot program will allow me to establish links to the community and a platform from which to perform future services, will allow me to create a hands-on, practical training situation for students, will create a meaningful vehicle for community engagement and finally, will allow me to pilot interactive teaching methods that support peer mentoring. I will gather student and client reactions to this project and use my findings to write informed grants for support at the community level. Ideally, my findings will help fund a larger endeavor. I will prepare an application for a federal FIPSE Grant for July, 2011 for the creation of a Language Communications Hub and Translation clinic at UNI. This grant supports innovative post-secondary teaching models that speak to diverse populations, so the project will serve as an excellent first step. During the spring, 2011 semester I have been charged by my department with the duty of seeking grants to create an entity that will meld the educational strengths of the Departments of English and Modern Languages as they combine, so I will start here.

 

Principal Investigator (PI): Trudy Eden
Department:
History
Project Title:
The Introduction of the Soybean to the United States

Abstract: This application seeks funding for a pilot study on the history of the introduction of the soybean to the United States. The pilot study will be used to complete grant applications for four highly competitive grants offered by the National Science Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities for a collective maximum of $296,000. The soybean is one of the most important agricultural crops in Iowa as well as in the United States, yet scholars have paid little attention to its history. Although the first soybeans were planted in Georgia in 1765, it took almost 200 years for them to be accepted and promoted as a major botanical resource. Why this was the case and why it changed when it did are questions essential to a thorough understanding of the history of the soybean in the United States. The pilot study enabled by this grant will address these key issues and identify the sources needed to write a book on the topic. Funds are requested for travel to research sources at the National Agriculture Library and The National Archives and Research Administration, both in Washington, D.C., and at the Soyinfo Center in Lafayette, CA; for travel to consult with William Shurtleff at the Soyinfo Center; and to purchase microfilm and bibliographic materials outside the public domain.

 

Principal Investigator (PI): Kevin Finn
Department:
HPELS
Project Title:
Physical Activity and Nutritional Policy and Practices in NE Iowa Child Care Centers

Abstract: The prevalence of childhood obesity is evident even in young children. The number of "overweight" children aged 2-5 years (preschoolers) increased from 5% to 13.9% in just two decades. It is suspected that physical inactivity is associated with the early weight gain measured in preschool-aged children. Nutrition plays an equally important role in the prevention of excessive weight gain in preschool-aged children. The child care setting provides an ideal situation for educating young children and exposing them to an environment that supports healthy behavior. The purpose of this study is the evaluation of 30 child care centers in a three county (Blackhawk, Bremer, and Buchanan) region in Northeast Iowa using the Environmental Policy Assessment and Observation (EPAO) instrument. This 61 item instrument uses observation to score eating occasions and physical activity of child and staff behaviors as well as the environment and written policies of the center. Research staff trained in this instrument will visit centers who have volunteered for the study. The EPAO will provide a measure that can be used to rank the centers. The findings of the study will be used to establish need for intervention in this region and the lowest 1/3 of the centers will be targeted for intervention of the "Bring Healthy Active lifestyles (HAL) to Preschoolers" as suggested by UNI researchers in a U.S.D.A. Obesity Prevention Grant application. In addition, the findings from this study will be shared with county public health agencies and Iowa Department of Public Health to seek other support for intervention.

 

Principal Investigator (PI): Melvin Gonnerman
Department:
Center for Social and Behavioral Research
Co-PI:
Anne Bonsall-Hoekstra

Project Title: A Pilot Study of Pastors' Attitudes and Church Practices Related to Adoption

Abstract: This pilot project is designed to begin addressing a gap in the adoption literature of the role pastors and churches have as sources of information and financial assistance for people who are considering adopting children, either internationally or domestically. A community survey of pastors will be conducted to assess their attitudes towards adoption, their confidence in and experiences with counseling prospective adoptive parents, and their churches' policies and practices related to providing financial assistance to those in the process of adopting children. A sequential mixed-methods research design will be used consisting of a quantitative questionnaire and in-depth, semi-structured qualitative interviews. In step one, approximately 100 pastors of churches in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls community will be invited to complete a questionnaire. In step two, qualitative interviews will be conducted with 6 pastors representing various denominations and church sizes. Because of the dearth of scholarly information on this topic, the findings from this community study will make an incremental increase in the understanding of the influence pastors and churches have in supporting or discouraging people who are considering adopting children, The findings also have pragmatic value by identifying areas where social service or adoption agencies may be able to work with pastors to provide information, service referrals, and mutual assistance to prospective adoptive families within the community. Lastly, this pilot study will provide a useful basis for seeking funding for a larger-scale study with enhanced ability to generalize conclusions to pastors in churches in other parts of the country.

 

Principal Investigator (PI): Chad Heinzel
Department:
Earth Science
Co-PI:
Kenneth Denault
Project Title:
Iowa's Environmental Sustainability (Soils and Landscapes): An Investigation of Heavy Metal Contaminate Transport

Abstract: This project will focus on determining the geologic baseline/natural levels of heavy metal concentrations in a portion of eastern Iowa’s glacial sediments and soils. This variable natural occurrence of heavy metals (e.g. Cadmium) have the potential to impact the region’s agricultural base through soil to plant nutrient transfer cycles. The scientific significance of the proposed study is strong and rests on the fact that heavy metals in the food chain are a major concern to human health. Bioavailability studies within the human food chain are central to the mission of the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences and a growing field of medical geology. This seed grant will extend far beyond the P.I.’s currently funded EDMAP research efforts and provide the critical funds that are needed to obtain geochemical pilot data in order to compete for larger sources (e.g. NSF and NASA) of external funding. Dr. Heinzel has identified funding sources such as NASA and the NSF (Geosciences Division) because each agency is interested in supporting interdisciplinary research with ties to environmental sustainability.

 

Principal Investigator (PI): Elizabeth Lefler
Department:
Psychology
Project Title:
Needs Assessment of College Students with ADHD at UNI

Abstract: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood, and contrary to popular belief individuals do not "grow out of it." In fact, most children with ADHD become young adults with ADHD who continue to have impairment related to their symptoms, but have fewer and fewer resources available to them. At the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) many students with ADHD are unidentified, and because they do not receive needed services they fail to graduate at the same rate as other students. The Student Disability Services (SDS) staff is in agreement that this is problematic, as many students with disabilities do not use their services. Thus, the aim of the current study to determine the needs of college students with ADHD at UNI during their years of postsecondary education. Specifically, students with ADHD will complete questionnaires and will be interviewed to explore their needs, as well as the barriers they have faced in meeting those needs. They will be recruited through 5DS, fliers, word-of-mouth, and possibly other sources pending approval. These data will serve as a foundation for a larger NIH grant that the PI intends to submit in 2012 pertaining to an intervention for college students with ADHD, which is greatly needed in the field.

 

Principal Investigator (PI): David McClenahan
Department:
Biology
Project Title:
Blocking ATP interaction with P2X7 receptors on bovine lung cells

Abstract: Mannheimia haemolytica infection in calves is associated with extensive leakage of blood products into the air spaces of the lung. One possible mediator of this leakage is adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Experiments with bovine lung endothelial and epithelial cell monolayers demonstrate a significant increase in their permeability when exposed to ATP. This effect is likely mediated by the P2X7 receptor found on the cells, but the downstream mechanism of this permeability change is unknown. To study this further, we need to identify an agent (antagonist) to block the interaction between ATP and the P2X7 receptor. This antagonist must functionally block the bovine P2X7 receptor and also be specific for it. We are proposing a comparison of 4 different P2X7 receptor antagonists, two older antagonists, oATP and BGG with two newer antagonists, KN62 and A438079. Trans-well electrical resistance of endothelial and epithelial cell monolayers will be measured to determine if any of the antagonists have an effect on ATP induced permeability. In addition, intracellular Ca+2 levels will be monitored with flow cytometry to determine the specificity of the antagonist for the P2X7 receptor. These results will then be used as preliminary data in an USDA-AFRI grant proposing to study the P2X7 induced mechanism of permeability change in bovine lung cells.

 

Principal Investigator (PI): Patrick Pease
Department:
Geography
Project Title:
Feasibility Study of Using Fused Glass to Improve Calibration Standards for Quantitative Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy of Geologic Materials

Abstract: Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (L1BS) is a relatively new analytical process for determining elemental composition of virtually any material. The method has unique advantages over other analytical methods in that it is non-destructive, requires little or no sample preparation, and can analyze composition at pin-point locations as small as 0.1 mm. A significant disadvantage of L1BS, however, is that it requires external calibration standards with closely match matrices for quantitative analysis. Finding an appropriate matrix-matched standard for geologic material (crystalline mineral and rock) has proved to be a limiting factor in the wide-spread acceptance of L1BS for geologic and environmental studies. Presently geologic standards are typically derived from powdered rock material and pelletized with a hydraulic press; however, the pellet method provides only an approximate matrix match to natural crystalline material. This project will examine the feasibility of adapting a fused glass preparation method to create calibration standards for use in LIDS studies. Fusion is a process of dissolving powdered rock material into a molten flux at high temperature to create glass. Fusion is used as a preparation in other analytical methods but has not been used in L1BS applications. The hypothesis is that the glass matrix will better mimic natural crystalline minerals and yield improved calibration models for quantification of major elements over the traditional pellet preparation. Conformation of this novel method for developing matrix-matched calibration standards will help to improve and mainstream LIBS as an analytical tool for geologic studies and create new research opportunities.