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Faculty and Staff Grants From May 2024

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University of Denver

Congratulations to the University of Denver faculty and staff members who received grants and awards in May 2024 for the following projects.

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CAREER: The Genes and Gene Networks Underlying Fertilization Barriers in a Hybrid Zone

  • Erica Larson, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics 
  • Grant from the National Science Foundation
  • Abstract: Some of the most intricate intergenomic interactions occur after mating. Post-mating coevolutionary dynamics can play out differently in isolated populations, leading to post-mating prezygotic (PMPZ) barriers. The rapid divergence of post-mating traits and genes suggests that PMPZ barriers may play a central role in speciation. This project will investigate the evolution of PMPZ barriers and will evaluate the effects of selection on recombinant gene regulatory networks using natural variation in a hybrid zone.

Targeting Human-Gut Pathobionts Using Native Siderophores

  • Allegra Aron, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Grant from the Boettcher Foundation
  • Abstract: The microbial community in the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract plays a critical role in potentiating disease, with altered microbiota composition observed in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), obesity, autism and even cancer, compared to healthy microbiomes. The long-term objective of this proposal will be to use the knowledge of how pathobionts use siderophores to acquire iron to develop siderophore-antibiotic conjugates that are effective in vivo. Successful completion of this proposal will identify novel strategies to specifically perturb pathobionts of the human GI microbiota, which can be leveraged to target microbiome-related diseases that currently lack effective treatments. This is a novel approach to personalized medicine.

First@DU Graduate Student

  • Angie VanDijk, Student Affairs & Inclusive Excellence 
  • Grant from the Allison and Robert Price Family Foundation
  • Abstract: First@DU seeks to promote equitable outcomes for first generation students at DU. Parental/family support plays a pivotal role in student success. DU would like funding to establish a graduate student assistant role that will focus on programming and communication with First@DU families.

Co-Designing [LT]2 Math Activities With Families

  • Daniela Alvarez-Vargas, Morgridge College of Education
  • Grant from the National Academy of Education
  • Abstract: The Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories [LT]2 website is an open-access tool developed for caregivers and educators to support children’s math learning. This project aims to understand how families engage with the website and capture their design conjectures about how to better align the activities to their daily routines, as well as collaboratively design activities, resources and other forms of supports with families to build a tool that is by them and for them.

A Low-Cost, Networkable Fluorescence Spectrometer for Automatic Identification of Pollen and Other Coarse Mode Aerosols Found in Urban Environments

  • Alex Huffman, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Grant from CloudSci LLC (subaward U.S. Department of Energy)
  • Abstract: This project will utilize a sensor system which leverages a previously developed and DU-patented method for measuring the fluorescence spectra of individual aerosols. It will be used to characterize particles using their fluorescence “fingerprint” and aid in identification and classification of pollen and pollen fragments, as well as the health and climate impacts of pollen when coupled with other pollutants.

Linking Racial Disparities in School Discipline to Black Youth Suicidality

  • Kamilah Legette, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Grant from University of Maryland (subaward National Institutes of Health)
  • Abstract: The scope of work conducted by Co-PI Legette at the University of Denver will include consulting with PI Dunbar and Co-PI Sheftall to provide expertise on the scientific direction of the research and the implications of racialized discipline on Black youth outcomes. Additionally, Legette will be coding and analyzing quantitative data, preparing academic papers for conference presentations and reports, and preparing and submitting study findings to peer-reviewed journals.

Theory of Change Development for Select WIGs

  • Kristin Klopfenstein and Courtney Everson, Colorado Lab
  • Grant from the State of Colorado
  • Abstract: The Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab (Colorado Lab) shall provide support to the Governor’s Office of Operations and a selection of three state agencies for the purpose of operational excellence in the State of Colorado. During this performance period, the Colorado Lab would be charged with providing coaching and consultation support around Wildly Important Goal (WIG) Theory of Change development.

Reducing Online Victimization Among Youth With Child Welfare Involvement

TGYS Fostering Healthy Futures Evaluation

  • Heather Taussig, Graduate School of Social Work
  • Grant from Kempe Children's Foundation (subaward the Colorado Department of Human Services)
  • Abstract: This project will evaluate the Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) TGYS contract to the Kempe Foundation.

Training and Guidance for OSPB/Department Staff on HB24-1428

  • Kristin Klopfenstein and Courtney Everson, Colorado Lab
  • Grant from the State of Colorado
  • Abstract: The Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) is providing funding to the University of Denver’s Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab to develop training materials and deliver training to OSPB staff and appropriate department staff regarding the use of evidence in the budget process. Training will include a live webinar session that will be recorded and available to staff.

Health Policy Research Scholars Dissertation

  • Shana McClain, Graduate School of Social Work
  • Grant from Health Policy Research Scholars (a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
  • Abstract: Shana McClain has been awarded the Health Policy Research Scholars Dissertation Award. The goal of the award is to support dissertation research activities.

Fostering Opportunities RCT Follow-Up

  • Elysia Versen, Colorado Lab
  • Grant from the Colorado Department of Human Services
  • Abstract: Fostering Opportunities is a student engagement intervention that was developed in Jefferson County (Jeffco) Public Schools with the goal of improving educational outcomes for youth in foster care. This scope of work examines child welfare outcomes potentially impacted by the program.

(Dis)Honorable Discharge

  • Kaitlyn Sims, Josef Korbel School of International Studies
  • Grant from the Institute for Human Studies
  • Abstract: IHS Funding to support publication of this academic article in an open-access venue, Health Affairs Scholar. The manuscript has been paid for and published, and the grant will reimburse expenses to the Scrivner Institute and PI Sims' professional development funds.

English 4U Weekly Conversation Hour

  • Ethel Swartley, ARC-CAHSS
  • Grant from the Denver Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs
  • Abstract: Building on the volunteer program initiated by students in 2022-2023, this project will offer a series of weekly ESL conversation hours on the DU campus during the university’s spring (April‒June) and fall (September‒November) terms. DU students and/or community volunteers will host table conversations each week with adult English learners from the Denver refugee and immigrant community.

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