2018 Funded Proposals
ORED was able to fund 19 proposals for FY2019.
Seed Grants promote research and creative activities that will increase competitiveness for external funding, and/or which will result in publications, patents or exhibitions/performances, with emphasis placed on support for early career faculty. The proposals that ranked highest were those that seemed most likely to support a PI’s field and career development, and to result in increased research and scholarly activity productivity. These were also characterized by clearly expressed goals, methods, and significance, and overall good grantsmanship.
Cells communicate in a molecular language. During inflammation, cells use this language to call for help. This process is critical to fighting infection, but when it is dysregulated, it can contribute to arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Biologists and biochemists have made progress in reading these communications. The molecules involved are known (such as interleukins and prostaglandins). However, there is no way to visualize these chemicals with modern imaging techniques (like an MRI) because they are too small and mobile. Observing how these signals are exchanged would help biologists understand how these chemicals mediate healthy behavior (e.g., fighting infection) and unhealthy behavior (e.g., failure to of the immune system to detect cancer). The ability to visualize inflammatory signals in real time would allow for better understanding of a new class of immune modulating cancer therapies and anti-aging drugs. We propose to build microscopic sensors that respond to an important chemical messenger, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), by emitting light we can observe with a fluorescence microscope or in vivo imager. This PGE2 sensor will be a proof of concept for a new class of light-up biosensors. This early proof of concept work will set the stage for the Allen lab to pursue additional projects and funding in collaboration with biomedical scientists investigating these important processes.
Intellectual disagreements are common. Philosophers approach the subject of disagreement with a helpful idealization that disagreeing agents are peers, i.e., that they share evidence, reasoning capacities, etc. It is an open question whether conclusions from idealized cases generalize to real-world cases of disagreement. For example, in an idealized case it may be reasonable for agents to hold steadfast to their views, but the complexities of a real-world case (that is otherwise similar to the idealized case) make it unlikely that agents are peers in the semi-technical sense just described, and consequently the real-world case may suggest that some compromise should be sought. This proposal will use semi-structured workshops to assess how well theories of disagreement apply to concrete issues. In addition, the workshops will create and strengthen existing relationships with Idaho communities, such as the Spokane River Forum, the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute, and Emsi.
Wildland Firefighters (WLFFs) are tactical athletes whose unique nutrition and fitness demands are critical for job performance, and ultimately survival. The majority of WLFFs are in the Western United States (CA, WA, OR, ID, MT) which comprises a unique environment where wildfires are prevalent. WLFF’s occupational requirements are arduous and strenuous, which makes their nutritional status a critical component of their job performance1. The rigorous occupational demands of wildland firefighting cause physiological and nutrient fluctuations between in-season (May-October) and off-season. These fluctuations are due to the disparity between physical fitness demands required in-season versus the off-season. Identifying these fluctuations longitudinally is necessary in order to better understand WLFFs nutrition status and performance capabilities. In a job that demands physical fitness requirements, it is critical to achieve adequate levels of nutrition to recover properly between bouts of activity, maintain lean muscle mass, and sustain duration of physical activity. Decreases in lean muscle mass, which may be due to inadequate nutrition, can adversely influence overall health, fitness, and job performance, placing WLFFs at high risk for a variety of job related injuries. The proposed research will aid in the ability to understand WLFFs nutrition status in-season and off-season by examining changes in body composition and performance parameters. It is critically important to identify possible changes in dietary patterns in conjunction with body composition and performance in WLFFs to assess if these components affect job performance, and impact occupational health and safety.
Human-induced landscape transformation profoundly alters the surface energy balance with subsequent environmental impacts. Such changes are particularly notable in areas that have undergone urbanization due to the replacement of moist and pervious natural landscapes with dry and impervious surfaces resulting in the well-known urban heat island (UHI) effect. Most prior work describing land cover impacts on a city’s skin temperature has been based on cross-sectional studies. However, very few studies have focused on the evolution of the UHI effect over time. In this study, we will couple remotely sensed data sets, local spatial indicators, and spatial econometric models to examine the spatiotemporal trend in the surface temperatures in relation to the urbanization pattern over the Boise-Meridian region from 1995 to 2015. The rapidly growing Boise metropolitan area has experienced dramatic warming over the past 20 years and by far no known study has examined this warming trend. This study will provide the first investigation of the evolving UHI pattern and associate it with the land cover dynamics in this fast-growing metropolitan region. Results from this research will provide targeted guidelines for sustainable future planning and resource management. This project is anticipated to result in at least one journal article and provide preliminary results for a grant proposal to be submitted to NSF or NASA.
I seek support for the composition, performance, and professional recording of 1 in 10,000, a new work for wind ensemble and electronics that is based on the history and culture of the famous Idaho “star” garnet. I will conduct and record interviews with local people with a connection to the stone, including geological expert Mickey Gunter (Emeritus University Distinguished Professor, Geological Sciences, University of Idaho). I will blend the wonder of a rare stone, product of ages of heat and pressure; the uniqueness of the human voice; and the dynamics of modern electronics to produce an innovative piece tied to our community. The resulting composition will tell the story of the garnet through recorded text and live music. My colleague Professor Alan Gemberling will lead the University of Idaho Wind Ensemble in the premiere performance and professional recording sessions for 1 in 10,000. This proposal provides me a foundation for further work in electronic music by training at the SPLICE Institute, and building my electronic music studio. My project will not only add to the wind ensemble repertoire, but also involve undergraduate students directly in my research, while they rehearse, perform, and record my work. Most importantly, I seek to use music about locality as a new way to understand our connections to those around us and our unique place in the world.
Networks of biological oscillators are pervasive throughout living systems, including the brain, vasculature, and ecosystems. Pathologies can arise when these oscillators diverge from natural rhythms. We propose to use Physarum polycephalum, an organism that: forms complex topologies, exhibits oscillatory behavior, and can be controlled by light, as a model for studying the control of oscillatory phenomena. By applying methodologies from synchronization engineering, we will characterize the ability to actively control oscillatory modes in networks of P. polycephalum. This will provide key insights into how synchronization engineering can guide therapies and interventions that alter and normalize oscillatory behavior in complex biological networks.
Following the terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001 (9/11), law enforcement officials implemented a crackdown that resulted in the arrest, conviction, and incarceration of hundreds of radical extremists. Many of these individuals have been released and are now living in the community. Their presence offers a unique opportunity to examine the effectiveness of criminal justice interventions on the reoffending patterns of terrorists. Although the question of effectiveness has plagued policy makers for some time, it is not one that terrorism researchers, as of yet, have been able to answer. This is largely due to a lack of data. The project presented here aims to address this gap in research. Specifically, this proposal requests funding to support the creation of the Terrorism Recidivism Study (TRS) database, a database that documents release and recidivism information on offenders convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the United States following 9/11. The TRS is a pilot project; the goal is to collect and analyze data on a smaller sample and to publish results as preliminary findings. This will advance understanding about terrorist behaviors, inform criminal justice policy, and offer an opportunity for student/faculty collaboration. In addition, as a pilot project, the pilot TRS will be used to seek external funding opportunities which will allow for the continuing development of the database.
The Rio Grande Basin is a highly managed network of surface water delivery for agriculture, industry, municipalities, and environmental services in the southwest United States. Recent drought and growing regional demand for water have resulted in the total regional demand for water exceeding the supply of surface water in the basin, and increased reliance on groundwater and depletion of the water table. Reductions in overall water supply make efficient allocations of surface water across competing uses even more critical. Further, assessing the socio-economic implications of water allocation to uses is necessary in evaluating policy and management alternatives. Evaluating the benefits of allocating water to environmental services is a challenge, due to absence of well-defined market values for these goods and services. This work will assess the non market value of an environmental service, conservation of the Willow Flycatcher, in the Rio Grande Basin using an integrated economic-hydrological modeling framework. The analysis will quantify the value lost to agriculture and industrial production under realized environmental surface water flows. The values of foregone production represent an implied minimum societal value for provision of environmental services. This work will allow the PI to generate preliminary results, manuscripts, and the opportunity to train a graduate student; all of which will facilitate extramural funding opportunities and novel research on water use and management.
Today’s high power and high efficiency jet engines are possible because of the mechanical properties of turbine blades made from advanced nickel-based superalloys. A single-crystal microstructure is necessary for these blades to withstand the high operating forces and temperatures created by fuel combustion. The method of shaping turbine blades by casting followed by material removal also constrains the geometry of the blade, limiting performance of the engine. Currently, single-crystal structures are difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to manufacture, which limits their use to high-value markets. The PI proposes to develop a method to manufacture single crystal components by combining the concepts of additive manufacturing (AM) and directional solidification. To do this, components will be created layer by layer upon a seed crystal base using an AM system custom-built at the UI. The system is capable of heating feedstock material to the liquid phase then depositing it on the base at positions controlled by a computer. The work will be the first to attempt this approach and will prove feasibility and determine basic process control values required to achieve the desired material structure. Identifying a new method for fabricating single crystal components could reduce the cost enough to enable their use in many new markets. The work also has significant potential to generate intellectual property. Results from this work will be used to target funding opportunities from the National Science Foundation Manufacturing Machines and Equipment Program, Air Force Research Laboratory, and industrial stakeholders.
My research analyzes the use of evolutionary models for species delimitation. I show that recent accounts of scientific pluralism can make sense of debates in systematics by disambiguating empirical, methodological, and theoretical criticism of particular model-based and simulation studies. The analysis clarifies recent confusion about how practicing systematists approach the species problem(s). The account also provides rich territory for testing recent work on the appropriate role of values in science. My aims are (1) to help advance philosophy of systematics beyond the 70s-80s cladist wars, (2) to better focus scientific and philosophical criticism of particular evolutionary models, and (3) to apply philosophical, scientific, and public experiences to understand scientific objectivity and the moral responsibilities of scientists.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD; abuse and dependence) affects nearly 16 million U.S. adults, resulting in significant socioeconomic and psychological impacts. However, the mechanism by which consumption of alcohol at recreationally-experienced levels (1-2 standard units) alters neural circuit function to influence alcohol-induced behavioral changes is poorly understood. Identifying novel neurological actions of alcohol underlying the transition to alcohol abuse/dependence in pre-clinical rodent models is crucial to understand and eventually treat human AUD. Unlike almost all other brain regions, the neural activity and functional output of the cerebellum, a brain region involved in motor and non-motor functions, is exquisitely sensitive to recreationally-experienced concentrations of alcohol. We have also identified a novel direct functional connection between the cerebellum and the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a brain region mediating behavioral responses to rewarding stimuli (e.g. sex), including alcohol. This project will identify how recreationally-relevant levels of alcohol alter the functional activity of this novel cerebellar-VTA pathway to understand how alcohol actions in the cerebellum could contribute to alcohol-related reward signaling. In an alcohol-preferring rodent model (C57bl/6J mice), light sensitive proteins (opsins) will be selectively expressed in the subset of cerebellar neurons projecting to the VTA using a retrograde adeno-associated virus. Using this strategy to identify cerebellar-VTA neurons in vivo (based on light responsivity), changes in action potential firing behavior of these cerebellar-VTA neurons will be evaluated upon systemic administration of recreationally-relevant doses of alcohol/ethanol. This work will be a major step towards identifying how alcohol alters activity of novel neural circuits to influence alcohol reward.
Wind induced crop failure (plants blown over during windstorms) is a major agricultural problem, especially in wheat, barley and canola. The problem of wind induced crop failure (lodging) may be framed as a limitation in measurement capabilities: for breeders to develop stronger crop varieties, strength must be measured accurately. Unfortunately, previous measurement techniques are error-prone and unreliable. This proposal integrates engineering expertise with crop science to develop field-deploying, electro-mechanical devices to measure wheat stem strength. Once validated, these devices will be used in selective breeding studies to improve lodging susceptibility. These objectives are well aligned with the NSF, USDA and industry sponsors such as Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer.
The project will support development of Dr. Robertson as an internationally recognized researcher. In addition to ground-breaking research, Dr. Robertson will develop professional teaching competences by incorporating research findings into undergraduate engineering courses. This will enable Dr. Robertson to conduct biomechanical research while addressing practical challenges faced by working agronomists. At the completion of this project, wheat breeders will have new ways of measuring stem strength and Dr. Robertson will be prepared to embark on a successful research career centered on application of biomechanical expertise to modern agriculture.
I am seeking seed-grant funding to study the negotiation of their non-native English speaker identities by faculty in the disciplines of science and engineering at US universities. In this research, I pay attention to how the faculty negotiate their language expertise, how they deal with their perceived and real language-related challenges, and whether they conform to or challenge the ‘standard’ language norms in their teaching and professional communication. This topic carries a special significance in these two disciplines in the US context because they consist of a large number of students and faculty who use English as their second language.
With the help of a research assistant, I will interview 20 such faculty from various campuses at the University of Idaho, and conduct a qualitative analysis. This research will primarily help us advance knowledge on how language identities impact professions. By the end, I will be able to present my findings at a conference, produce an article manuscript, and deliver a professional development workshop. As a secondary outcome, the findings will provide insights to US universities to address the linguistic and cultural diversity in their institutions by designing appropriate professional development activities for international faculty.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, there is a critical shortage of agricultural educators across the nation. An estimated 22% of new hires in agricultural education in 2016 were alternatively-licensed or non-licensed teachers. Agricultural education is the most prominent formal method for educating the general public about the food and fiber industry. The USDA has several newly formed priority areas to fund programs related to the recruitment, retention, and professional development of agricultural educators given this critical shortage. The concept of grit is a newly emerging concept in psychology and education. Angela Duckworth recently explained grit in a TED talk; now viewed more than 13 million times. High levels of grit have been linked to teacher retention and resilience for several general teaching fields (i.e. math, English, science). Research on grit is limited on the role of grit in the field of agricultural education. This project will allow examination of grit as a factor in recruitment and retention of agricultural educators. Data will be collected from agricultural educators in three states through descriptive surveys and semi-structured interviews of agricultural educators at various career stages including preservice, beginning, mid-career, veteran, and former teachers. Project results have potential for far-reaching impacts, as retention of agricultural educators could have applications in other education areas. Expected outcomes are a presentation at a major conference (American Association for Agricultural Education), a peer-reviewed publication (Journal of Agricultural Education), and preliminary data to support development of two USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant proposals.
Many familiar domestic objects (dish detergent bottles, buttons, or squirt-guns, for example) are formally loaded with visual meanings and subtext even if not intentionally designed or immediately obvious. This research proposes the use of experimental photographic imagery overlaid with screen-printed visual information to encourage previously unseen readings from seemingly ordinary household items. The “photogram” represents the earliest type of photographic imagery and offers a luminous, silhouetted image revealing physical-material qualities of an object. Screen-printing (both text and image) directly onto these original pieces, will amplify and reintegrate questions concerning domesticity and “women’s work”, cleanliness, nostalgia, plastics, and consumerism. A seed grant would enable me to digitally document my existing and new photographic works which become the basis for the production of large-scale visually hybrid “print/photo” fine art pieces. The resulting works would celebrate normally overlooked aspects of domestic environment and also the challenge viewers to “see the familiar in a new light”.
Works from this research are scheduled for exhibition at the Museum of Clean in Pocatello, ID in October/November 2018. I have been selected for inclusion and will contribute work to the Artist Printmaker/Photographer Research Collection (AP/PRC) at Texas Tech University. I will also disseminate pieces from this research to multiple venues regionally, nationally, and internationally.
This project originates in a pair of discoveries I made in 2015-16, when I uncovered not one, but two books published in secret by the poet Walt Whitman: Manly Health and Training (1858) and Life and Adventures of Jack Engle (1852). The recovery of these lost works raises the curtain on a dimly understood period of the poet’s life: the mid-1850s, when he was first creating his magnum opus, Leaves of Grass (1855), under the influence (we now know) of all sorts of previously unknown social and literary influences. To build off of these successes, my proposal requests support for the pursuit of two further lost Whitman novels: The Sleeptalker (ca. 1851) and Proud Antoinette (ca. 1858-9). There is abundant manuscript evidence suggesting that these books were indeed published, likely serialized in one of several newspapers held in the New York Public Library (New York, NY) or the American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, MA). Thus, I request Seed Grant funding to support a four-week research trip to visit both institutions in tandem. The recovery of either Whitman text would not only further rock the foundations of American literary studies, but also draw major international attention to the University of Idaho.
The project proposes a novel method for image-processing of aerial images of crop field collected with unmanned aerial systems. The objective of the project is to develop a methodology for automated assessment of crop health in images by employing deep neural networks. The specific aims of the project are: (1) collect field images by using a multispectral camera carried by an unmanned aerial system, and annotate the data; and (2) design a novel neural network architecture for segmentation of crop leaves in images, and subsequently, for discrimination of healthy and diseased plants. The significance of the application is in the potential to advance the area of automated crop disease detection. Early diagnosis of crop health symptoms can reduce the volume of chemical substances applied at later phases, and contribute to increased crop yield. The long-term goal of the research is to expand the proposed work and develop image-processing methods for the related problems for detection of weed, pests, and crop stress from high-resolution field images, and for biomass estimation from low-resolution field images. The expected outcome is a novel image-processing algorithm for crop heath detection. In addition, one journal publication and preliminary results for an NSF grant application are expected.
The University of Idaho Library’s Special Collections and Archives supports students, researchers, and the public by preserving and providing access to primary sources for use in coursework, scholarship, and general interest. As more historical records are created in the digital landscape, archives require new workflows and technical resources to preserve the recent past. Files created and maintained entirely digitally are called born digital collections. This project proposal seeks to examine the effectiveness of archival appraisal practices for born digital collections across different archives to build workflows and policies supporting the long‐term preservation of born digital collections at the University of Idaho. In this research project, the primary investigator will explore existing born digital appraisal practices by conducting surveys and semi‐structured interviews with observations at other institutions. Building on existing literature and interview data, the principal investigator will then develop and implement workflows and policies for born digital appraisal and preservation in Special Collections. This research project benefits the PI’s professional development by developing a research agenda that will result in both publications and presentations building off existing case studies on born digital appraisal and collecting. In addition, implementing born digital appraisal workflows and policies will provide student assistants with valuable digital preservation work experience, and benefits the university mission by making more unique Special Collections’ resources publicly available for research use.
Crop diversity has been promoted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a way to increase the resilience of agricultural systems. For instance, the USDA offers payments to farmers who plant cover crops (plants that provide cover on cropland between seasons for traditional cash crops). Yet little is known about (a) the extent to which farmers see cover crops as contributing to a resilient operation or region, and (b) the most effective policy options to promote cover crop adoption. This research will increase the practical and theoretical understanding of agricultural resilience as it relates to cover crop adoption in the Palouse Region of the U.S. Agriculture is a principle industry in the region, yet the Palouse is also prone to drought, which may increase under predicted climate changes. I will conduct qualitative social science research using focus groups and interviews with farmers in Whitman County, WA in order to answer the following questions: (1) How do farmers define a resilient farming system, at the individual farm level, and at the regional level? (2) To what extent, and in what ways, do cover crops contribute to farmers’ conception of their operation as resilient? (3) What factors contribute to farmers’ relative support for a variety of public interventions aimed at cover crop promotion? The proposed research will provide participant-generated perspectives and actionable recommendations for increasing resilience and cover crop implementation. Project results will contribute to a journal article, a Master’s thesis, a stakeholder report, and a grant proposal to the USDA.