Jefferson Trust Funds 22 Innovative Projects Involving Faculty, Students

April 09, 2014

Projects exploring the early life of the University of Virginia, the art and robotic science of dance, design-driven manufacturing studios and a close examination of “the Father of Our Country” are among those to be funded by grants from the U.Va. Alumni Association’s Jefferson Trust.

Established in 2004, the Jefferson Trust is an unrestricted endowment that distributes grants annually through a University-wide program. The trust supports a variety of initiatives that enhance teaching, scholarship and research; programs that allow faculty and students to work closely together while engaging in hands-on learning; and programs that allow the University community to reach out to other communities – locally, nationally and globally.

A public presentation of this year’s 22 grants will take place Friday at 4:30 p.m. on the south steps of the Rotunda as part of the Founder’s Day ceremonies.

Among the trust investments this year is an $81,000 grant for a digital history project focusing on the University from 1819 to 1870. Under the direction of Maurie McInnis, vice provost for academic affairs, and Kirt Von Daacke, an associate professor of history and assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, the project will create a database and interpretive materials detailing life at the University. The end result will be a new education and research tool for the 21st century, built by students working with faculty members, the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Students will be trained in archival research, documentary editing and using digital technologies to analyze historical resources.

Another project concentrates on George Washington. The project, “George Washington, Day-By-Day, 22 Feb. 1732-14 Dec. 1799,” directed by Edward G. Lengel, editor-in-chief of the Papers of George Washington, and William M. Ferraro, associate editor of the papers, will be an online reference tool allowing scholars, students and the general public to find information on the daily movements, activities and thoughts of Washington. The $23,750 grant will fund undergraduates writing entries for each day and developing the online environment to access and manipulate the data.

“In the eight years that the Jefferson Trust has been in existence, it has begun to develop a significant place in the life of the institution,” said Wayne Cozart, executive director of the Jefferson Trust. “A venture fund for new initiatives at the University of Virginia, the trust has been able to create two new majors, initiate the Data Science Institute and the first-year advising seminars, or COLA, program in the College of Arts & Sciences. It has restored Jefferson’s drawings of the Lawn and supported the arts through a variety of grants. Each school has received support from the trust, as have six student groups.”

This year, the grants committee, chaired by Daniel S. Adler, a 1988 graduate of U.Va.’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, sifted through 64 applications for projects.

Jefferson Trust grants are announced each year on or around the University’s Founder’s Day observance. The rest of the 2013-14 grant recipients, who received a total of $685,750, are:

• HeArt of Medicine Project (John Owen, coordinator of continuing medical education in the School of Medicine and graduate student Chelsea Becker), $5,100. The program was piloted with 40 nursing and medical students in the fall of 2013. There will be three workshops, instructed by local chaplains, doctors, curators and nurses, focused on exploring end-of-life issues through artistic avenues. The workshops will be followed by a Jeffersonian dinner to allow participants to reflect and provide feedback. The funding will support the program during the next three years and elements may be integrated into nursing and medical education programs.

• National Debt project (Mary Margaret Frank, associate professor at the Darden School of Business), $23,400. The course generates a video series aimed at educating young adults about the national debt. Currently supported by the Darden School’s Institute for Business in Society, the Jefferson Trust funding will enhance its offerings. In cross-disciplinary teams, students working with faculty speakers will produce a video module to be included in an online educational series.

• OpenGrounds Virtual Network (Lindsey Hepler, program manager of OpenGrounds, and William Sherman, founding director of OpenGrounds and a professor in the School of Architecture), $30,500. Through an OpenGrounds Challenge, students will propose ideas for Web and mobile interfaces for the OpenGrounds Virtual Network. Students and an adviser will develop a platform based on the winning ideas, providing unique, hands-on research and learning experience for students interested in sound design, computer science and communication. Trust funding will support the student dimension, by providing seed funding for interns to record, edit and post OpenGrounds events to the network; an OpenGrounds Challenge to develop the webpage and mobile applications through which content will be accessible; and a summer project for students to work with an adviser to build the winning idea.

• Health Policy Advocates (Alex Hickman and Sarah Podwika, graduate students in the School of Medicine), $5,000. A pilot program to develop awareness of health policy, beginning in the first two years of a U.Va. medical education, consisting of  six discussions in the fall semester, with 50 first- and second-year medical students in a debate of selected health policy issues covering a variety of topics.

 • Quantitative Arts at U.Va.: Electronic Identity & Embodied Technology Atelier, (Amy LaViers, an assistant professor in the Department of Systems and Information Engineering, and Kim Brooks Mata, a lecturer in the Department of Drama),  $22,296. The grant creates a course connecting two existing programs – the Dance Program and the Robotics, Automation, and Dance Lab – which share common goals. Partnering the two can benefit robotics research and the arts presence on Grounds, as well as the involved students. The course, cross-listed in Engineering and the College, will have no prerequisites, be open to all students and encourage cross-discipline collaboration within a lab setting.

• The Health Outreach and Practical Education Project (Pranay Sinha, a medical graduate student, and undergraduate student Claire Constance), $5,460. The grant allows the Vmed Wellness Initiative, which conducts diabetes screening and education in Charlottesville, to expand to other Central Virginia counties. The goal will be to conducting at least two diabetes and hypertension screening events annually in nearby counties such as Louisa, Buckingham and Orange.

• Arctic Design Initiative (Matthew Jull, assistant professor in the School of Architecture, and Leena Cho, faculty member in the Department of Landscape Architecture), $28,000. The grant supports a first-of-its-kind-in-the-U.S. initiative to create a multidisciplinary Arctic research platform, combining design with research in science, social science and humanities aimed at developing strategies and proposals for the future of this northern territory. The program will include student research assistantships and an Arctic Design Symposium at U.Va. in spring 2015 featuring experts from around the globe.

Develop new patient imaging based on nuclear resonance fluorescence (Krishni Wijesooriya, associate professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology), $70,000. The grant will support the development of a tool for imaging and tumor-targeting during cancer radiation treatment. Using a new and unexplored medical imaging technique, it has potential to provide soft tissue and tissue-to-tumor contrast, improved tumor identification and targeting necessary in radiotherapy treatment.

• Seriatim: Journal of American Politics (undergraduates Russell Bogue and Ian Robertson), $10,000. The grant will fund “Seriatim: Journal of American Politics,” a student-run, online forum and semi-annual print journal on American politics and public policy. Encouraging an engaged citizenry, an open marketplace of ideas and the productive exchange of political speech, Seriatim will be the only student-run journal dedicated exclusively to American politics.

• Fabrication of a novel material synthesis equipment as an advanced undergraduate and graduate research topic and lab experiment (Utpal Chatterjee, assistant professor in the Department of Physics), $65,000. The grant will finance interdisciplinary research in solid-state physics and materials science, to find new phenomena and applications to develop transformative technology and offer quality research-oriented education to graduate and undergraduate students, fabricating state-of-the-art material synthesis and characterization equipment.

• Teachers in the Movement (Derrick Alridge, professor in the Curry School of Education), $30,000. The grant will create an oral history and Web-based repository on the roles of teachers in the American Civil Rights Movement, interviewing educators about their work. Participation will be open to U.Va. undergraduate and graduate students.

• Design-Driven Manufacturing Studios (Jeana Ripple, assistant professor in the School of Architecture), $14,000. “Design-Driven Manufacturing Studios” will allow undergraduate students to collaborate on innovative, realistic projects with local industry experts to understand technical aspects of building systems and materials, enhance comprehension of constructability and apply this knowledge to architectural solutions. The trust’s funding will allow undergraduates to engage in research providing them unique preparation for material innovation in their design careers.

• Experiential Entrepreneurship Education (undergraduates Uzair Minhas, Kyle Bye, Matthew Brown, Daniel Wilson and Nicholas Pandolfo), $23,035. Students from Enactus at U.Va., an entrepreneurship group, and the Virginia Venture Fund will collaborate to expand the reach of integrated, experiential entrepreneurship education.

• Global Research in Tandem (Brian Owensby, director of the Center for Global Inquiry & Innovation and a professor in the Corcoran Department of History, and Jeffrey Legro, vice provost for global affairs), $50,000. Grant funds will seed the GRIT program to incentivize faculty-undergraduate collaborations offering students global research experience and encouraging them to view their work in a global context.

• Arts Mentors Program (Bonnie Gordon, associate professor in the Department of Music, and Julie Caruccio, associate dean and director of student affairs community engagement in Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs), $22,800. The program pairs undergraduate mentors with disadvantaged youth to expose both groups to different styles of fine and performing arts. The U.Va. students will receive an intense arts curriculum along with ethnographic and cultural competency training. Trust funds will add science and technology to the program, making it an exercise in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

• Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research (Archie Holmes, associate provost and engineering professor), $50,000. The Undergraduate Student Opportunities for Academic Research program, or USOAR, targets students who have not previously participated in research and places them as research assistants with U.Va. faculty. The goal is to expand the program to 30 students in 2014-15 and 50 students in 2015-16. Almost 90 percent of trust funding will pay wages to students.

• Team-Based Guided Inquiry Laboratories for Introductory Chemistry Students (Charles Grisham, professor in the Department of Chemistry), $33,500. The funding will help transform introductory chemistry laboratory courses with a total annual enrollment of 1,430 students to a guided-inquiry approach, providing more experience in laboratory science and emphasizing team-based intellectual engagement, curiosity, inquiry, discovery, creativity and critical thinking. Four-person student teams will conceive, plan and execute experiments, present results and prepare scientific journal-style reports.

• Communicating Science to Public Audiences: A Workshop Series for STEM Students (Michelle Prysby, director of Science Education and Public Outreach in the Office of the Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences), $26,739. The program aims to provide science and engineering students with the skills to communicate science with nonscientist audiences. The funding will support workshops for graduate and undergraduate students conducting STEM research.

• The Symposium on the Tibetan Book (graduate student Natasha Mikles), $24,040, A two-day symposium will bring together bibliographic and Tibetan scholars to discuss the development, implementation and benefits of Tibetan Bibliography, a newly forming field.

• Virginia Cancer Health Disparities (Brandy Edwards, post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Surgery in the School of Medicine), $42,130. The Geo-Health Interdisciplinary Research Group is newly established with interests in health geography and understanding the geographic impacts on disease. Members from the schools of Medicine, Nursing and Architecture offer a variety of perspectives to a common goal: studying cancer incidence, control and care throughout Virginia. The funded project will involve undergraduate and graduate students and researchers from different disciplines to provide a more detailed understanding of the current state of cancer care and control in the commonwealth, and look at factors that contribute to disparities within it.

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University News Associate Office of University Communications