Congratulations to UW Tacoma faculty members who were awarded Founders Endowment funds to support a planned need project between May 1, 2021-April 30, 2022. Founders Endowment funding is provided through the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. The application and review process was conducted by the Research Advisory Committee (RAC). On behalf of the RAC, we thank all those that applied for this funding and again congratulate those that were awarded funds this initial round.
Upon completing their research, each faculty member presented a summary of their research project on May 20, 2022. A recording of the presentations can be found here.
Sarah Alaei, Assistant Professor of Microbiology
Dr. Alaei was awarded FE funds to support a project that broadly focuses on understanding how environmental stress and cell-cell interactions modulate bacterial physiology. This work will serve to link an interdisciplinary project that she has become involved in through course-based research to ongoing efforts in her research lab.
Chieh (Sunny) Cheng, Assistant Professor
School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership
Dr. Cheng submitted a pilot project proposal to the UW Population Health Initiative (winter 2020) that aims to respond to the critical need for broad access to a support intervention by employing a participatory iterative user-centered design process to develop and refine “Psychosis iREACH”, an Internet and Artificial Intelligence (AI) delivered CBTp-informed intervention for social support persons caring for individuals diagnosed with psychosis. Founders Endowment funding will provide important supplementary funding to support two student research assistants who will work directly with Dr. Cheng to meet study objectives as presented in the PHI proposal.
Martine De Cock, Professor
School of Engineering and Technology
Machine learning (ML) systems are increasingly used to make decisions that influence people's lives, in a wide variety of applications, such as medical diagnosis and treatment, health insurance, criminal justice, surveillance, loan applications, college admission and hiring decisions, etc. The wide-spread use and growing impact of ML has raised many ethical questions regarding how ML systems function and consume data. To help answer those questions, in this project Dr. De Cock will focus on two important aspects of ethical ML, namely (1) privacy and (2) fairness.
Kelly Kim, Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry
SAM - SIAS
Chagas disease is a neglected tropical disease afflicting millions worldwide. Spread by contact with Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi) parasites in the feces of infected triatomine insects endemic to Latin America, Chagas disease exhibits two phases of infection. During the initial “acute phase,” host cells are rapidly infected and parasites proliferate within the bloodstream. The ensuing “chronic phase,” which typically lasts several decades, shows reduced parasite counts in the bloodstream, but the presence of infected cells in the gut and heart area causes gastrointestinal and cardiac issues over time. Left untreated, Chagas disease can prove fatal. Treatment options are currently limited to two approved drugs. Founders Endowment funds will support Dr. Kim’s overall efforts to address this issue by creating novel druglike molecules and studying their trypanocidal activity with the ultimate goal of developing alternative treatment options for Chagas disease.
Barbara Toews, Associate Professor
School of Social Work and Criminal Justice
Dr. Toews was awarded funds to support a mixed-method study that seeks to advance the creation of a synthesizing theory to guide the design of survivor-oriented spaces through the post-occupancy evaluation of Candace House (CH) in Winnipeg, Canada, the only site of its kind in North America that has been strategically designed to environmentally respond to survivor needs for respite, justice, and healing while they attend courthouse-based justice proceedings.
Jenny Xiao, Assistant Professor
SBHS - SIAS
Recently, Dr. Xiao and her colleague collaborator (Dr. Andrew Franks) developed a model to explain and predict intergroup attitudes and behaviors with sociopolitical significance and urgency during the current pandemic, such as stigmatization and distancing of marginalized groups, and levels of support for social safety net policies (e.g., universal healthcare, a livable minimum wage, eviction protection, enhanced unemployment benefits). Based on their proposed model, such outcomes can be explained by fundamental psychological mechanisms, including racial bias, moral outrage (an established psychological mechanism explaining support for social safety net programs; e.g., Wakslak, et al., 2007), and perceived realistic and symbolic threat (an established predictor of adherence to public health guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic; e.g., Kachanoff et al., 2020). Along with her collaborator, Dr. Xiao recently completed data collection and analysis for an initial study testing this proposed model to examine one of our outcomes of interest – individuals’ support for social safety net policies. Dr. Xiao intends to use FE funding to support planned follow up studies in this project, to examine outcomes related to stigmatization and distancing of marginalized groups.