Jefferson Trust Awards $800K for UVA Classroom Innovation, Data Science, More

The Rotunda from the Lawn

Jefferson Trust Awards $800K for UVA Classroom Innovation, Data Science, More

The Jefferson Trust, an initiative of the University of Virginia Alumni Association, will distribute more than $800,000 in seed money to 13 UVA initiatives in 2019, the largest focusing on innovation in education.

The trust will also add to its long-running support of UVA’s Data Science Institute, a venture that is itself a testament to The Jefferson Trust’s catalytic powers.

On the education front, this year’s grants include $141,000 for web-based observation tools to evaluate teacher classroom performance and $100,000 to support a multimedia research project known as the Religion Lab.

Three different projects support new approaches to teaching health science, including $100,000 for three-dimensional modeling of infectious diseases, $82,000 for design-thinking instruction for first-year medical students and $70,000 for interactive and psychometric approaches to teaching kinesiology.

Since the Alumni Association founded it in 2006, the Jefferson Trust has invested $7.8 million in 192 student and faculty projects, representing all 11 schools.

And it will play a role in the ramp-up to UVA’s 12th school, the forthcoming School of Data Science. This year’s grants include $50,000 for a community outreach initiative of the Data Science Institute.

The Jefferson Trust planted a first kernel for that venture in 2012 with $100,000 in grant money. A year later came the private philanthropy that helped UVA open a Data Science Institute. The institute will transform into a full-fledged school as early as next fall, pending approvals, with a projected $200 million in philanthropy and University funding. When it does, it will represent the 2,000-fold fruition of The Jefferson Trust’s original investment.

“It’s actually what we do,” Jefferson Trust Executive Director Wayne Cozart said. “We are seed funding for the University of Virginia.”

The full list of 2019 Jefferson Trust grants follows.

• Rotunda Planetarium: $30,000

The Rotunda Planetarium reconstructs Thomas Jefferson's inaugural vision for the Rotunda Library’s Dome Room. The Rotunda Planetarium will run from November 2019 until June 2020.

• Infectious Disease in 3-D: $99,945

The proposed “Infectious Disease in 3D” program aims to build virtual reality and augmented reality content for teaching complex biological information in UVA classrooms. The end product will directly benefit students in UVA classrooms by enhancing their motivation and retention of material.

• Religion, Race, and Democracy: An Undergraduate Multimedia Research Project: $100,000

The Religion Lab will offer to undergraduate student research collaborators regular training and mentorship; funding and technology; and a website to publish the research. They will also benefit from the expertise and guidance of Religion Lab faculty and staff.

• Cadaver-Specific Virtual Dissection Table: $70,491

An initiative to provide state-of-the-art interactive and psychometric learning to kinesiology students for the enhancement of knowledge in anatomy and patient care, leading to the development of unparalleled clinical skills. 

• Developing Tools to Transform Student Experiences: $141,173

To develop and use web-based observation tools to not only shed light on how UVA faculty teach in their classrooms, but also to use the data from the tools to work with instructors and the broader University to improve teaching at UVA.

• UVA Medical Design Program: Phase II: $81,500

The UVA Medical Design Program provides first-year medical students with hands-on instruction in the application of design thinking to address health care challenges.

• Student Veteran’s Support Initiative: $60,000

The Veteran’s Support Initiative is seeking support to set up a structure to better meet the needs of student veterans.

• Data for the Social Good: $50,000

With support from the Jefferson Trust, faculty, staff, students and alumni of the Data Science Institute will develop a set of tools to match community non-profits needing data analysis help with students and service-learning classes who can provide it.

• Concussion and Headaches: $25,837

This project proposes to study administration of magnesium and riboflavin (two common supplements) as agents to reduce the length of time a student \ might experience headache following concussion. 

• Flux Poetry Series: $21,800

The project proposal is a three-semester-long poetry series that will invite award-winning and influential poets to host workshops, performances, consultations and more, bolstering the art community at UVA.

• Madayin Aboriginal Art Catalog: $56,000

UVA’s Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection will produce a fully illustrated scholarly catalog to accompany the touring exhibition “Madayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Bark Painting from Yirrkala, Australia.”

• Reshaping Public and Archival Space: $32,260

The project is the first attempt to capture testimonies videographically about the black nursing experience, to be made available to a large audience. The project aims to enhance visibility of black nurses in archives and public spaces via written documents, photographs, videos and exhibitions.

• Minority Youth Development Program: $31,573

This program aims to increase the number of underrepresented minorities, especially African-Americans, pursuing careers in architecture.

Media Contact

Richard Gard

UVA Alumni Association