Internal Grants Awarded for Research

Posted on July 17, 2019
Marketing and Communications

The Office of Research and Economic Development has awarded annual Research and Scholarly Development Grants, which provide seed funding for projects that will help build faculty research and scholarly careers.

The one-year, $25,000 awards are the largest awards given by the Office’s internal funding programs. Many of the recipients use the funding to pay graduate and undergraduate students to do work on the projects, providing these students with valuable, resumé-building, hands-on experience in the lab and in the field.

Previous awardees have gone on to earn nearly $20 million in external funding, with some faculty receiving multi-year, multi-million dollar awards from federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Defense. The 2019 recipients are some of the most interdisciplinary awardees to date, with several teams composed of faculty from three different colleges at the University. This is the sixth year of the program.

The recipients are:

  • Brian Dzwonkowski, assistant professor of marine sciences, who will work with coastal engineering professor Bret Webb to develop an instrument to measure turbulence in marine water from a moving platform. The turbulence mooring will help researchers understand how changes in the water column affect the layers of water in areas like coastal Alabama. Stratification can have significant impacts on ecosystem functions, including lower oxygen levels that can reduce ecosystem productivity.
  • Sharon Fruh, professor of nursing, who will lead an interdisciplinary team to study the factors contributing to poor health in nursing students, and facilitate the development of positive health-related behaviors. Emerging research suggests that practicing nurses frequently experience mental and physical health problems that seriously impact medical care, so working to improve nursing students’ health may make for healthier, happier nurses and superior patient care.
  • Ryon McDermott, assistant professor of counseling and instructional sciences, who will perform an interdisciplinary study to examine how risk and protective factors interact to predict college student success and persistence. The team will examine the associations between mental and physical health, help seeking behaviors, socio-cultural factors and positive psychology. The study data will help identify variables that can be targeted for future interventions.
  • Krista Mehari, assistant professor of psychology, who will lead an interdisciplinary collaboration that includes Spring Hill College, the Mobile Police Department and the Mobile County Public School System. The team will develop and evaluate a universal violence prevention program for ninth grade students. Despite the fact that about 84% of high schools require the implementation of violence prevention programs, there is limited research supporting effectiveness.
  • Larry Yet, associate professor of chemistry, who will collaborate with chemists and biochemists at the University of Southern Mississippi to work on a potential compound for use in HIV antiviral drugs. Although HIV is treatable with Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (a cocktail of several drug classes to target various steps in the virus’s lifecycle), the therapy has harsh side effects and is often not well-tolerated by patients. The goal of the study is to identify new compounds that may be useful in the medical management of HIV.

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