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Grants to kick-start interdisciplinary research

Child poverty, international migration and the cultural impact of video games are among the topics of seven new programs in the humanities, arts and social sciences recently announced at UC Davis.

Vice Chancellor for Research Harris Lewin said the new clusters in the Interdisciplinary Frontiers in Humanties and Arts program will receive combined funding of $3.6 million over three years.

The aim is to stimulate new research and innovative ideas that can then compete for funding from external sources.

An external advisory committee of distinguished scholars recommended the seven projects (from among 30 submissions) as having the greatest potential for excellence in research and creative production, and impact on society.

Funding comes from indirect costs of grants awarded to UCD under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or “stimulus” funds.

The successful proposals:

* Vocational education and the economy: Ann Stevens, professor and chair of economics, and director of the Center for Poverty Studies, and Michal Kurlaender, associate professor in the School of Education, lead a team that will look at vocational programs in community colleges and how such training has affected the work force.

* Children and poverty: Marianne Page, professor of economics, leads this project, focusing on the recent economic downturn. Researchers from the departments of psychology, economics and human ecology will focus on understanding the full range of economic crises’ impacts on children.

* Migration and the economy: In “Managing Temporary Migrations: California, U.S. and the World,” a team led by economics professor Giovanni Peri will analyze how increased international mobility, specifically temporary migration, has affected economic development, social evolution and cultural exchange.

* Innovation in scholarly communication: Mario Biagioli, professor, Science and Technology Studies, and colleagues from library science, the College of Biological Sciences, law, English, computer science, creative writing and the Graduate School of Management will look at changes and challenges in the traditional system of scholarly publication and the changing meaning of “publication,” whether that be on the Internet or in a hardcover book.

* Gamification: This team will carry out a cultural analysis of video game technologies. The team also intends to produce and develop game technologies that can help expand access to the arts, science, health interventions and culture. The team comprises representatives from 11 disciplines, from geology and food science to cinema studies and anthropology. Colin Milburn, the team leader, is an associate professor of English.

* Health and resilience in immigrant communities:- Nolan Zane, professor of Asian American studies and psychology, leads this group of faculty from nursing, medicine, psychology, cultural studies and the arts in an exploration of underappreciated and undervalued sources of strength and resiliency in immigrant communities.

* Design in the public interest: What does democratic design look like? That’s the question to be addressed by a team of researchers led by Susan Verba, associate professor of design, and Sarah Perrault, assistant professor, University Writing Program. The team also includes faculty from the departments of anthropology, communication and computer Science, the School of Education, and the women and gender studies program.

IFHA and Research Initiatives in Science and Engineering comprise the Interdisciplinary Frontiers Program, an effort to establish new, globally competitive, interdisciplinary research programs at UCD, coordinated by the Office of Research. Lewin announced the RISE awards in November.

— UC Davis News Service

Special to The Enterprise

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