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Strategic Plan Research Investments

Dear university community,

In September 2018, we announced our plans to invest in research and creative works over the next five years to support and address grand challenges, foster collaboration systemwide and provide instrumentation to enhance faculty research. Despite financial challenges that paused the next round of Tier 1 (multi-user instrumentation and infrastructure) and Tier 2 (center-level or high-priority research) funding, we are pleased to share the selections for Tier 3 funding: strategic investments specifically set aside to support work in the areas of arts, humanities and social and behavioral sciences. The strategic investments for Tier 3 total more than $630,000. That includes more than $512,000 contributed in research awards from the UM System and a match of approximately $118,000 coming from the four UM universities.

This funding will help new faculty initiate their innovative creative work and research programs; provide seed money for preliminary creative work and research leading to external funding from federal agencies, foundations and donors; support faculty beginning a new direction of their creative work and research; and deliver resources for excellent scholarship in fields for which external support may be limited.

In response to the formal proposal process for the Research and Creative Works Strategic Investment Tier 3, 74 applications were received. Each proposal was reviewed by an external reviewer (in a manner similar to the UM Research Board process) and an internal review committee composed of faculty from each university. The teams worked diligently to fund as many projects as possible. The 23 projects listed below have received the highest ranks and were approved for funding.

We look forward to seeing the outcomes of these strategic investments that will achieve excellence in research and creative works.


Mun Y. Choi, UM System President and MU Chancellor
C. Mauli Agrawal, UMKC Chancellor
Mohammad Dehghani, Missouri S&T Chancellor
Kristin Sobolik, UMSL Chancellor


Funded research projects (alphabetical order):
Measurement Error and Bias in Estimating Legal Status PI: Claire Altman, MU
Understand characteristics of foreign-born populations by legal status and examine how this affects integration outcomes. The project uses survey data from the U.S. Census and federal administrative records.

Promoting Equity and Inclusion with Peer Mentoring
PI:Lindsay Athamanah, UMSL
CO-PIs: April J. Regester, UMSL; Jonathan A. Lidgus, UMSL; Jennifer L. Bumble, UMSL
Implement a peer mentoring program for undergraduate students and students in postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The project seeks to understand how student involvement in the program may influence careers, advocacy skills and collaborations with individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities in the future.

Revealing the Tattoos of Ancient Egypt
PI: Anne Austin, UMSL
Study tattooing in past cultures like mummies from ancient Egypt’s more than 3,000-year history. The project aims to reveal the practice of tattooing in ancient Egypt.

Dynamics of Native Language Change in L2 Learners
PI:Mona Botezatu, MU
Explore language processing dynamics in adults during the early stages of learning a second language. The goal of the project is to determine how the timing of the shift away from monolingual processing patterns relates to individual differences in second-language proficiency levels, cognitive resources and language pairings.

Improving Minority Health by Inducing Empathy
PI:Bettina Casad, UMSL
Study empathy and neural synchrony as mechanisms of the relationship between interracial interaction and physical and mental health. The study looks to identify empathy and neural synchrony as effective methods to improve intergroup relations and decrease racial health disparities.

Health Care Transition Planning for Youth with Autism
PI: Nancy Cheak-Zamora, MU
Develop and validate a caregiver-reported human-robot interaction measure based on young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and caregiver input to ensure adequate health care transition services. The conclusion of this study will result in a usable electronic tool that can be immediately implemented in the health care system.

Confluences II: Religion and Health in Missouri
PI: Signe Cohen, MU
Co-PIs: April C.E. Langley, MU; Rabia A. Gregory, MU
Collate, analyze and publish data about how different religions influence access to health care in Missouri. Two teams of researchers will trace connections between religious affiliation, epidemiology and attitudes toward medical professionals in order to identify obstacles to adequate health care and recommend solutions.

Raise the Green Roof: An Elementary Water Cycle Unit
PI: Laura Cole, MU
CO-PIs: Joel G. Burken, Missouri S&T; Beth Kania Gosche, Missouri S&T; Laura Zangori, MU
Combine expertise in elementary science education and sustainable design to develop, pilot and evaluate a water literacy unit for fourth-grade science classrooms. The unit will help students build connections between the water cycle and green roof technologies.

Consciousness and Immunity to Error to Misidentification
PI:Marina Folescu, MU
Analyze historical philosophy of language and mind to better understand the role of consciousness in establishing self-knowledge.

Deep Learning for Analyzing Spanish American Notary Rec
PI: Viviana Grieco, UMKC
CO-PI: Praveen R. Rao, MU
Design and develop a software system that will enable scholars to expeditiously read and analyze 17th century Spanish American notary records and efficiently find other content.

Eye of the Hurricane: Art, Power and Climate Change
PI: Joseph Hartman, UMKC
Write a book that examines the Caribbean cultures that emerged after a series of destructive hurricanes in the early 20th century. The project aims to excavate a broader transatlantic history of catastrophe, capitalism and visual culture in the region, from 1492 to the present.

Addressing Homelessness: A Potential AI Application
PI: Hsun-Ta Hsu, MU
CO-PI: Jianlin Cheng, MU
Apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop efficient and fair housing prioritization tools for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The data collection tool will be able to inform health policy development and service delivery.

The Oxford Edition of Alexander Pope’s Miscellany Poems
PI:Stephen Karian, MU
Create a major new edition of Alexander Pope’s Miscellany Poems in one volume as part of the 24-volume Oxford Edition of the Writings of Alexander Pope being published by Oxford University Press. The Miscellany Poems volume will contain about 240 edited poems and discuss about 80 attributions, explaining the political, cultural and literary contexts of the poems.

Communicating to Engage: Modeling Voice Data<
PI: Detelina Marinova, MU
CO-PIs: Yi Shang, MU; Matthew J. Gordon, MU>
Use advanced computational methods to develop novel measures of sales communication effectiveness based on naturalistic, unstructured and conversational speech.

Look Around: Youth Participatory Action Research
PI: Clark Peters, MU
CO-PI: David Aguayo, MU
Design a culturally responsive social media campaign with the goal to improve mental health stigma and help-seeking among Black youth. The project will use Youth Participatory Action Research to develop and implement a culturally enhanced campaign with middle and high school Black students in Boone County.

African Empire in America: The Saint John Insurrection
PI: Justin Pope, Missouri S&T
Write a book that examines the first island-wide slave insurrection in the western hemisphere in Saint John, today part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The book argues the Saint John rebel’s revolutionary ideals emerged from the Gold Coast of Africa, rather than Europe, born from the aspirations of an enslaved people who dreamed of resurrecting their Akwamu Kingdom in the Americas.

Developing Guidelines for Meta-analyses in Environmental Social Science
PI: Hua Qin, MU
Develop general guidelines for systematic reviews and meta-analyses in environmental social science research.

Intentionalism and Token-Reflexivity
PI: Alexandru Radulescu, MU
Use analytic philosophy methods to understand context dependent expressions and intentionalism of language.

Color Shift: New Color Models for Risograph Printing
PI: Travis Shaffer, MU
Create an extensive catalog of risograph printer profiles and design and publish a risograph printed artist’s book. The art project will combine aspects of color theory, print media, contemporary photography and art books to create new color models for risograph printing.

Motivating Children’s Healthy Eating in School
PI: Michelle Segovia, MU
CO-PI: Shuoli Zhao, MU
Target the obesity rate among children by proposing the implementation of a four-period field experiment in the Columbia Public School district to test the effectiveness of monetary incentives in increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables among elementary school students.

Timing and Language in Dialogue
Nicholas Smith, MU
CO-PIs: Jean M. Ispa, MU; Elizabeth S. Kelley, MU
Examine mother-child dialogue in families who took part in the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Program.

Latino Asylum Seekers as Policy Research Partners
Adriano Udani, UMSL
Partner with asylum seekers to implement an innovative community-based participatory study to understand and address policies that affect them and build a collective strategy among stakeholders to address the policy demands of asylum seekers.

Linking Science and Mathematics Through Complex Texts
Delinda Van Garderen, MU
CO-PI: Jessica Rodrigues, MU
Extend the K-12 professional development program Linking Science and Literacy for All Learners. The study will help advance support for diverse learners and students with disabilities.

Reviewed 2020-11-18