UP Intramural Grant Recipients

Congratulations University Provost Intramural Grant Recipients!

Below is a list of UP Intramural Awards with abstracts funded over the past five years.

Examining the Effects of Artificial Light at Night on the Roosting Behavior of a Highly Threatened Migratory Birds

Principal Investigator: Elise Morton, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Becton College

Principal Investigator(s): Harald Parzer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Becton College; and Avimanyou Vatsa, Assistant Professor, School of Computer Sciences and Engineering

Abstract:  Current estimates suggest that the Chimney swift population has declined by 72% since 1966 [26]. While the reasons for this are not completely understood, it’s been suggested that the number of available sites (i.e., chimneys and similar structures) are not the main cause of this dramatic reduction in population sizes [27].  However, the introduction of artificial light at night (hereafter, ALAN) effectively masks natural daily and seasonal changes in light either by direct illumination from a light source and/or sky glow (diffuse luminance of the sky caused by the reflection off of molecules in the atmosphere).  We hypothesize that ALAN will significantly affect the roosting behavior of Chimney swifts. Specifically, we predict that higher levels of ALAN will cause delayed entry and earlier exit into/from roosting sites, thus making them more prone to night predator attacks, as well as spending time foraging during limited food availability.


The Prevalence of Paraphilic Interests and Disorders in the General Population

Principal Investigator: Georgia Winters, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Psychology and Counseling

Abstract:  The main aims of the proposed study are to identify the prevalence rates of: I ) paraphilic interests and behaviors and 2) paraphilic disorders in the general population. The study will utilize an online survey that assesses sexual desires and experiences, as well as the impact these have on the person’s functioning (i.e., causing distress or impairment; resulting in risk or actual harm to others). This study will gather much-needed prevalence rates for all of the paraphilic interests and disorders, and the only study to compare the frequencies of paraphilic interests versus a diagnosable disorder. The information will aide researchers and clinicians to better identify the base rates at which these occur, which is vital given that deviant sexual interests is one of the strongest predictors of sexual offending (Baur et al., 2016). These results are necessary to better identify, prevent, assess, and treat abnormal sexual preferences and related offending behaviors.


Life After Exoneration: In Their Own Words

Principal Investigator: Jordan Nowotny, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Social Sciences and History

Principal Investigator(s): Amy Shlosberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Social Sciences and History, Becton College; and Elizabeth Panuccio, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Becton College

Abstract: To date, there have been 367 DNA exonerations and over 2,500 exonerations when including non-DNA cases. Little attention has been paid to the post-release circumstances of individuals after exoneration. It is unclear what obstacles exonerees face after their release and how these obstacles can affect a successful transition outside the prison. Our research will examine the post-release offending behavior and struggles faced by wrongfully convicted individuals. The study we propose here is crucial not only to strengthen research in this area, but to bring more awareness to this special population. We plan to use existing contacts at The Center on Wrongful Convictions, The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, and The Innocence Project to locate exonerees. We will conduct in-depth semi-structured interviews with up to 50 exonerees and follow them forward into their lives as they navigate the challenges of their release. Our findings will have important implications for the service needs of the wrongfully convicted, which we will share in policy journals and at national conferences to inform policy and program efforts.


An Examination of Attendees at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival and Festival Impacts on Tourism and Local Communities

Principal Investigator: Jarrett Bachman, Ph.D., Associate Professor, International School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, Vancouver

Abstract: By combining the film festival literature from event and tourism management scholars with the literature from queer film festival scholars in arts and humanities, the proposed study will use social exchange theory as the foundation of the research (Lee et al., 2017) to examine attendees at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF). Using a socio-psychological model, the research will seek to explain attendee participation and determine the subjective well-being, cultural/educational, and community impacts that the festival has on the Vancouver-area. As such, the broad purpose of this pilot research project is to conduct an exploratory study of the VQFF in 2019 to examine the demographic and psychographic characteristics of attendees as well as the community and tourism impacts that the festival has on the Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada area.


Bioinspired Design of Asymmetric Bimetallic Complexes for C-H Bond Activations of Petroleum Hydrocarbons

Principal Investigator: Justin Bogart, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Becton College

Abstract: The purpose of this project is to design complexes through systematic structure-function studies that are kinetically competent towards performing difficult C–H bond functionalizations and that improve on the efficiency and economic costs of currently employed catalysts. The development of these complexes will be achieved through a bioinspired approach where the structural features of a well-known class of enzymes known as the soluble methane monoxygenases (sMMO) will be modeled. These enzymes are capable of catalyzing the hydroxylation of chemically inert methane directly into methanol at an asymmetric diiron active site. Emphasis will therefore be on developing bimetallic complexes that have an asymmetric ligand environment and the exploration of their redox chemistries.


Drug Repurposing: A Novel Approach to Identify Effective and Safe HIV Therapies

Principal Investigator: Kathleen Frey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Pharmacy

Abstract: Designing novel anti-HIV drugs can be time consuming and expensive. While the development of highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) for treatment of HIV has been successful, safety and drug resistance issues can render certain therapies ineffective [1-4]. Thus, drug resistance compels a demand for newer HIV drugs. Computational and experimental approaches can be used for “drug-repurposing” or efficiently identify FDA-approved drugs of other indications for HIV [5-7]. This can be a novel strategy for identifying new HIV therapies with improved safety profiles. The goal of this proposal is to use computational drug repurposing (as proof of concept) to discover new therapies targeting HIV reverse transcriptase (RT). Specifically, this approach will be used to investigate the NNRTI binding site of HIV RT. A library of FDA-approved compounds will be explored computationally using virtual docking and scoring methods. This approach will use computational prediction and experimental

validation to identify FDA-approved drugs that may have potential affinity for target HIV RT. The below specific aims are needed to explore this hypothesis.


Retaking America’s Historical Pulse: A National Survey 20 Years Later

Principal Investigator: Peter Burkholder, Ph.D., Professor, Social Sciences and History Department, Becton College

Abstract:  The project proposed is to re-run a modified form of Roy Rosenzweig & David Thelen’s national survey, the results of which were published as The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life (Columbia Univ. Press, 1998). In that study, R&T took the pulse of America’s interest and involvement in history. Among other things, the researchers learned that the general public is fascinated with the past, but mostly only on its own personal terms.  The aim of the proposed phone-based, national survey is to ascertain how perceptions have changed since R&T’s original study. This is all the more important, since the general public now receives information about the past in ways that were only nascent (e.g., websites, 24-hour news channels) or simply did not exist (e.g., social media) in the 1990s. Approaches to teaching the past have likewise changed considerably in the interim, moving from a predominant “coverage” methodology to a growing school of “historical thinking.” Such developments and changes may have had an impact on the American public’s perceptions of the past, but no one has attempted to measure them in over two decades. If the problems alluded to in the preceding paragraph are to be addressed, then hard data are needed.


Development of 3D Printed Nanofilms for Long Lasting Analgesia

Principal Investigator: Hyunah Cho, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy

Abstract:  The ultimate goal of our research project is to develop an analgesic eluting bio-absorbable nanofilm that releases an non-opioid  drug providing long-lasting analgesia for maximum pain relief after major surgery while minimizing systemic side effect toxicity.  As a result, we anticipated that the frequency of postoperative opioid use can be significantly reduced.  In the proposed study, for the first step toward this goal, an analgesic eluting bio-absorbable nanofilm will be carefully designed and fabricated using a customizable 3D printing technique.  Its basic physiochemical properties and the blood toxicity will be determined, and based on the results, the construct will be modified accordingly.

Post-Secondary Education and Post-Incarceration: What Matters to Student Success

Principal Investigator: Amy Shlosberg, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Criminology, Social Sciences and History Department, Becton College

Abstract:  The positive relationship between education and post-release success is well established. However, there is a lack of focus on post-secondary education, specifically, after incarceration, and the mechanisms that produce student success among this population. The proposed research will examine student success among a group of formerly incarcerated college students. No one theoretical perspective is comprehensive enough to account for all the factors that influence student success in post-secondary education. However, a review of the literature reveals several principles of student success that are well supported by higher education scholarship, and firmly grounded in research and theory.  Two key questions that have not been addressed are whether prison education spawns a greater interest in pursuing continuing education once the inmate is released, and what exactly student success means to those reentering society. In order to answer these questions, a series of semi-structured interviews will be conducted with formerly incarcerated individuals enrolled in post-secondary education settings.


Biological and Behavioral Markers of Treatment Response for Adolescent Depression

Principal Investigator: Eleanor McGlinchey, Ph.D. School of Psychology, University College

Abstract: The goal of this research is to begin to delineate behavioral (sleep) and biological (inflammation) markers affecting treatment efficacy for adolescent depression. This is also the first study to examine whether an evidence-based psychotherapy for adolescent sleep disturbance is an effective and efficient treatment for adolescent depression. This research is aligned with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Experimental Therapeutics strategy and Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDoC), examining the Arousal and Regulatory Systems (A&RS) domain. A multi-method approach will be used to investigate whether sleep (circadian rhythm stability, sleep continuity, quality) is linked to markers of systemic inflammation (e.g., elevated cortisol and low melatonin [6-SM]), and whether inflammation predicts treatment response.


FORESIGHT: A Multiscale Evidence-Based Approach to Predict Student Performance and Improve Retention in STEM Programs

Principal Investigator: Alevoor (Ravi) Rao, Ph.D., School of Computer Sciences and Engineering, University College

Abstract: A problem of national significance is the proper recruitment, training, and retention of STEM students. We propose an approach that integrates fine-grained data collected from student coursework throughout their studies at a university. Predictive models will be built using machine-learning algorithms and real-time metrics of student performance in courses as well as job placements and career paths followed. A novelty of this approach is to provide continuous personalized feedback to students so they stay engaged with their own growth and development. The visualization of future success is a key component, hence the name FORESIGHT.


Flexural Strengthening of Unbonded RC Beams with the Advanced Carbon Fiber Polymer (CFRP) Composites

Principal Investigator: Fares Jnaid, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Gildart Haase School of Computer Sciences and Engineering, University College

Abstract: This research program aims at examining the effects of loss of bond between reinforcing steel and surrounding concrete on the flexural behavior of reinforced concrete beams. In addition, this study will provide a rehabilitation scheme that restores the strength of deteriorated concrete and avoids the bond mode of failure.

Corrosion is the primary limit state in steel RC beams in severe environments. Corrosion of steel bars causes a decrease in steel bar section, loss of bond, and delamination of concrete cover. Very limited models have been developed for estimating the residual flexural strength of corroded RC beams. These models do not differentiate between the decrease in flexural strength due to loss of steel section, or due to loss of bond between the steel bars and the surrounding concrete.  This study will focus on strengthening of unbonded reinforced concrete beams, damaged by partial corrosion of the steel reinforcing bars or frequent overloads. The advanced carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites will be utilized to increase the flexural load carrying capacity of the beam, and changing the ultimate mode of failure from a bond to a ductile flexural failure. The results of this investigation will result in an improved strengthening design of corroded beams as well as corroded bridge girders.