Research at UW Tacoma

Main page content

Recent Research Awards

Congratulations to the following sponsored research award recipients at UW Tacoma.

(Awards received September 1-December 31, 2019)

Cheryl Greengrove, SIAS/Sciences and Mathematics
MERHAB 19: Application of a quantitative molecular method to characterize abundance and distribution of Alexandrium Cysts for NOAA’s HAB Forecasting
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

NOAA is developing Alexandrium bloom forecast products through the HAB (harmful algal bloom) Operational Forecasting System to mitigate human health risks and economic effects of shellfish closures during seasonal blooms of Alexandrium catenella in U.S. Atlantic northeast and Pacific northwest states. Forecasting efforts hinge on determination of wintertime abundance of Alexandrium resting cysts in the sediment at bloom locations.  This project will evaluate a new quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay for A. catenella cysts using sediment samples from the Gulf of Maine, Puget Sound and Alaska.

Tessa Francis, Center for Urban Waters
Residential Shoreline Loan Program Feasibility Study
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

This grant will conduct a feasibility study for the development of a self-sustaining Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) program to provide homeowners with low-interest loans for shoreline management projects. The RLF program would address the construction funding need faced by residential property owners when seeking to reduce shoreline impacts on their property through actions such as armor removal, soft-shore stabilization, and/or sea level rise risk reduction.

Jim Gawel, SIAS/Sciences and Mathematics
Biofilm Pilot 2019 - Wapato Lake
City of Tacoma

Funding was awarded to conduct a pilot study to test the design and effectiveness of a freshwater algae turf scrubber (ATS). Algae Turf Scrubbers are extremely effective in permanently removing harmful nutrients from water sources. This project will determine the rate and amount of nutrient removal from Wapato Lake water samples using a small-scale ATS.

Ed Kolodziej, Center for Urban Waters
Water Treatment Performance of Engineered Hyporheic Zones in Urban Creeks
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU)

A previous pilot study funded by SPU tested two floodplain reconnection projects on Thornton Creek, and measured project effectiveness with respect to detaining and treating storm water runoff entering the creek. One of the unique design elements of both projects was an engineered streambed featuring a constructed hyporheic zone. The hyporheic zone is the area of mixing of surface and ground waters within the streambed, which circulates, cools and cleans the surface water entering the streambed. The preliminary monitoring results indicate that a substantial fraction of the surface water is directed into, and travels through, the streambed, resulting in the removal of hundreds of organic storm water pollutants through a single hyporheic design element (a.k.a. a plunge pool structure) during both summer base flows, and medium-sized autumn storm flows. The results exceeded expectations and were published in a peer-reviewed journal (Peter et al., Water Research 2019). SPU provided additional funds to continue the partnership and joint contribution to this research work. 

Ariana Ochoa Camacho, SIAS/Social and Historical Studies
Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship
Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation


With support from the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship, Dr. Ochoa Camacho intends to advance two articles based on elements of her previous research provisionally titled "Los Panfletos: Imprints from the Neoliberalization of Violence on the Colombian Cultural Archive of Unbelonging" and "Maria is not Full of Grace: The heteronormative imperative of U.S. and Colombian media narratives" which deal with cultural texts and ideas of belonging.

Andy James, Center for Urban Waters
Gathering, Compilation and Processing of PCB data for use in Salish Sea Model - Toxics Module Development and Application
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)

PNNL (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) is leading a U.S. EPA funded project titled “Fate and Transport of Toxic Contaminants in Puget Sound – Development of a Toxics Module for the Salish Sea Model Using Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)”. The overall objective of this project is to enhance the capabilities of the existing Salish Sea Model (SSM) to assist the agencies responsible for management of water quality and aquatic life in Puget Sound with respect to PCB contamination in the water column, sediments, and the pelagic and benthic food webs. When completed SSM-Toxics is expected to assist agencies design effective management actions to reduce the exposure of biota to toxics such as PCBs. University of Washington (UW) will be leading the PCB data compilation and preparation tasks for the project through a subcontract from PNNL.

Joel Baker, Center for Urban Waters
Puget Sound Action Agenda-Puget Sound Institute Renewal
Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Led by the Puget Sound Institute, an experienced, strategic and expert coalition will guide, use, review, and revise scientific processes and information to support the development and adaptation of Action Agenda Vital Sign Implementation Strategies (IS). The coalition will collaborate with Strategic Initiative teams, the Partnership’s science panel, the science community, and other partners to characterize the state of knowledge about Vital Signs and their management; identify and address needs for research, monitoring, and modeling, including contributions from social sciences; design the science based adaptation of ISs; and synthesize science findings to improve the development of ISs and to communicate key messages from and about ISs. This award will (1) develop regional consensus that Implementation Strategies are credible depictions of the paths to recovery and protection and (2) increase confidence that plans for recovery and protection will deliver expected results. 

Belinda Louie, School of Education
Teaching English Language Learners - Professional Development (TELL-PD)
US Department of Education

Project goals for TELL-PD aim at supporting educators to improve academic performance for ELs: 1) pre-service teachers complete WA certification with EL endorsement license; 2) principals and in-service teachers complete hybrid professional development modules to improve EL instruction; 3) in-service teachers take online endorsement program; and 4) Parents, families, and community will expand and enhance their skills, strategies, and knowledge to communicate and to collaborate to support ELs’ learning.

(Awards received between May 27-August 31, 2019) 

Andy James
, Center for Urban Waters
PSEMP 2019
Puget Sound Partnership/Environmental Protection Agency
Within the Puget Sound Partnership, the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP) exists to convene a collaborative network of subject matter experts from many monitoring organizations and different parts of the ecosystem to directly address management and science questions critical to recovery of the Puget Sound ecosystem.  This specific award is an ongoing collaboration that engages Dr. James’ expert research knowledge to identify, help coordinate, and make recommendations for monitoring programs related to the ecology, transport, fate, and effects of toxic contaminants in the Puget Sound ecosystem.   

Rachel Hershberg
, SIAS/Social, Behavioral and Human Sciences
Critical Reflection
Tufts University/Spencer Foundation

Critical consciousness is associated with positive outcomes for marginalized youth, particularly youth of color from low-income backgrounds (e.g., Diemer et al., 2016).  However, little research has focused on whether and how critical consciousness may manifest differently for individuals who have at least some privileged aspects of their identities (e.g., white men from low income backgrounds). Dr. Hershberg’s Intersectional Perspective on the Nature and Development of Critical Reflection among Adolescents and Young Adults project involves an in-depth investigation of critical consciousness from an intersectional and developmental perspective. Using a sequential exploratory mixed methods design (Creswell, 2013), it addresses three main research questions. First, how does critical reflection manifest for adolescents and young adults with intersecting group memberships, if at all? Second, are these manifestations of critical reflection related to adolescents’ and young adults’ engagement in critical actions? Third, what life experiences do these adolescents and young adults describe that may be associated with their critical reflection and critical action? How (if at all) are these experiences related to their intersectional identities?        

Rachel Hershberg, SIAS/Social, Behavioral and Human Sciences
Opening Up the Black Box:  Uncovering the Role of Adults in Youth Character Development
Montclair State University/S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

Dr. Hershberg’s proposed project is to define and validate adult practices that foster youth character development in Boy Scouts. By establishing SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused, and time specific) objectives to evaluate, scientifically validate, support improvement, and document significance of improvement, Dr. Hershberg hopes to provide clearly defined and evidenced adult practices that support youth character development for the Boy Scouts and other youth-serving organizations.  

Debasis Dawn
, School of Engineering and Technology
CHIP-BASED ADS-B for High Density, Low Altitude UAV
KalScott Engineering, Inc./National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Currently, there is a national initiative to integrate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) into the national airspace safely. ADS-B (surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it) is considered to be the primary protocol for enabling the safe integration of UAVs, since it is the accepted standard for air traffic control for manned aviation. However, ADS-B units which are currently available for manned aircraft are not suitable for hosting on small UAVs, due to their size, weight, power consumption and cost characteristics. Dr. Debasis’ Phase I effort will involve the design of the chip, and the fabrication and testing of key blocks of the design. In Phase II, a fully-integrated chip will be fabricated and tested, both in the lab and in flight. 

Ed Kolodziej
, Center for Urban Waters
Performance Evaluation of Engineered Hyporheic Zones in Urban Creeks
Washington State Department of Ecology

Scientific studies and biological indicators clearly show that urban stormwater is toxic and unhealthy for aquatic organisms. Recently, the Kingfisher Reach of Thornton Creek (Seattle) was restored by installing hyporheic design elements (HDEs) into the creek bed.   Dr. Kolodziej will build on preliminary work at Thornton Creek to understand how effective these systems are in improving water quality. This study directly addresses the Toxics in Fish Vital Sign (Regional Priority TIF2.1) by addressing stormwater treatment, especially for endpoints related to Coho pre-spawn mortality.

Ed Kolodziej, Center for Urban Waters
Development of Chemical Indicators to Detect, Track and Assess Pollutants
Washington State Department of Ecology

This project will improve water quality by identifying and quantifying a suite of chemical indicators representing legacy, novel and emerging chemical toxicants important to salmonid health and that impair water quality, especially in systems impacted by urban stormwater. Dr. Kolodziej and his team will survey the occurrence of chemical indicators in regional watersheds, particularly those in relation to watershed restoration efforts and evaluate treatment systems for identified chemical removal performance.

Yan Bai
, School of Engineering and Technology
Collaborative Research:  Colorado-Washington Security Scholars Program
National Science Foundation CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Program

University of Colorado Colorado Springs and UW Tacoma host strong cybersecurity degree programs and have close ties with the National Cybersecurity Center (NCC) and the local cyber/defense companies. This Colorado-Washington Security Scholars Program (CWSSP) will reinforce the cybersecurity programs at UCCS and UWT by providing scholarships to the CWSSP scholars and by implementing a team-highlighted curriculum and the student-driven conferences/workshops in the host institutions’ cybersecurity programs. Professor Yan Bai as a member of CWSSP will collaboratively work toward a model scholarship/education program and a framework for the other institutions constructing inter-institution education programs outside of the local partners. CWSSP will also involve the underrepresented students in the state of the art cybersecurity research and enable them to gain leadership/management experiences. 

Have you recently received an award not identified here? Let us know!

More Recent Awards

Office of Research Annual Report

Quarterly Office of Research Roundup

Recent Faculty Research Talks

Spring (May) 2019 Faculty-led Research with Undergraduates Lightning Talks


Spring 2019 CPES Presentations

In June 2019, seven UW Tacoma faculty presented their Collaborative Publicly Engaged Scholarship Fund projects.


Research news

Field Work

UW Tacoma Associate Professor Natalie Jolly
February 5, 2020
Associate Professor Natalie Jolly's research into Amish birth practices challenges traditional notions of gender.
Full Article »