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Scholars Award: Insecurity: Disability, the Great Depression, and the New Deal State: Western Kentucky University

Audra Jennings

[email protected]

This project researches how the social and scientific framing of disabled citizens' bodies shaped New Dealers' efforts to relieve the suffering wrought by the Great Depression and effect long-term economic security. The New Deal propelled momentous state growth and transformed Americans' expectations of the federal government. This research aims to uncover how perceptions of ability, inability, and disability guided that growth. It analyzes ideas about disability and policy, while investigating and centering the actual experiences of disabled Americans who increasingly became the objects of policy meant to correct, contain, understand, and erase a central element of their identity. Disabled people often suffered extreme poverty during the Depression as economic constriction allowed employers to further narrow the physical qualifications for work, but physicians and social scientists presented conflicting ideas about how best to address disability. Most of the policy responses New Dealers developed made disabled people the objects of care and study, while disabled people themselves often sought opportunities for work. This focus on disability created new avenues for the federal government to provide medical care and for physicians, healthcare workers, and a broad range of scientists and social scientists to influence policy. <br/><br/>Many of the policies New Dealers developed to address disability, and the ideas that informed them, continue to shape the lives of disabled Americans. While refined and expanded over time, the fundamental systems New Dealers imagined, created, and implemented to deal with disability remain. Much of the inaccessibility of the U.S. economy and society – policies, unmet needs, and underlying ideas that contributed to disabled people's economic and social marginalization – also remains. These ideas and systems shape the inequality disabled Americans continue to experience: disabled Americans earn significantly less than their non-disabled peers and are more than twice as likely to live in poverty. Moreover, disabled Americans are significantly less likely to have completed high school or college than non-disabled adults. Today, at roughly 19 percent of the population, disabled Americans constitute the largest U.S. minority group, and the only minority group that anyone could potentially join at any point. This research seeks to understand how and why these systems were put in place, knowledge that will help in improving the existing systems or developing new ones that will facilitate better economic inclusion for people with disabilities. Drawing on extensive archival and government documents, this project aims to bring the disability history of the New Deal into the public sphere to inform and contextualize significant, contemporary debates and help to illuminate useful paths forward by making the path we have already traveled clear. The New Deal forged the modern U.S. state's relationship with its largest minority group. Only by engaging with the New Deal's ongoing legacies can the United States create policy that fulfills the New Deal promise of economic security.<br/><br/>This project is jointly funded by STS and the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

AwardsSchool AdministratorsThe Superintendents Journal

Multidimensional Spectromicroscopy of Molecular Magnetism: University of California-Irvine

Wilson Ho

[email protected]

Nontechnical Abstract: The exchange coupling is a fundamental property of the electron spins. The magnitude and sign of exchange coupling define the strength and direction of the interaction between spins, essential for the understanding of a variety of magnetic and spintronic phenomena. But so far the spatial dependence of exchange coupling has not been measured. This project uses homemade instruments and advanced calculations to probe in unprecedented details the exchange interactions among magnetic atoms and molecules. These activities provide fertile grounds for the training of researchers. Results from this research are transferred into the classroom for the teaching of quantum mechanics to undergraduate students in physics and engineering. In addition, the goal is to increase impact by transfer of selected results to the textbooks, similarly to previous results from the scanning tunneling microscope obtained by the investigators. Results may be applied in future magnetic technologies. Extensive commitments are made in the training of undergraduate students as summer interns and outreaching activities with the Hispanic middle school students in Southern California.<br/><br/>Technical Abstract: The Hamiltonian for a quantized spin system formed by interacting magnetic atoms and molecules adsorbed on a solid surface yields an energy spectrum (E) that depends on the exchange interaction J and the magnetic anisotropy (A). This project probes J and A between magnetic entities in four dimensions (E,x,y,z) with a homemade ultrahigh vacuum scanning tunneling microscope (STM) at 600 mK and up to 9 Tesla magnetic field. The study of the continuous interactions between two spin entities is achieved by attaching a magnetic molecule to the STM tip to sense different magnetic entities on the surface, from an isolated magnetic atom or molecule (such as metallocenes, porphyrins, and phthalocyanines) to nanoscale assemblies. The E-spectra at different tip locations, perpendicular and parallel to the surface, give the spatial dependence of J and A, and their visualization through spectromicroscopy. This project combines a joint experimental and theoretical effort to measure and understand the new information contained in the spin-spin coupling in four dimensions. The well-defined conditions of the probed systems enable rigorous comparison between experiment and theory to effectively understand spin-spin coupling at the most fundamental level. This effort has been impeded in the past due to unavailability of reliable, quantitative data.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

AwardsSchool AdministratorsThe Superintendents Journal

Novel Pathways to CS Research Careers: Broadening Target Populations and Scaling Outreach Programs: Computing Research Association

Sandhya Dwarkadas

[email protected]

The Computing Research Association (CRA, on behalf of its Subcommittee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W), proposes a project to increase and sustain participation in computer science (CS) research by encouraging members of the underrepresented groups in computing (URGs) to earn advanced degrees in computing and engineering in order to pursue research careers in academia, industry or national laboratories. The project builds on CRA-W's previous successes by reshaping and expanding existing programs, both those done on its own and those done in partnerships with others. <br/><br/>The proposed work will expand CRA-W's work in three ways:<br/><br/>1. Broader Diversity and Improved Scaffolding for Intersectionality. Many CRA-W programs have already broadened beyond their original focus on women to include minorities and persons with disabilities. With this proposal, CRA-W commits to broadening its program portfolio further to partner with orgranizations focused on support for underpresented minorities and persons with disabilities, and to include other diversity demographics such as veterans and LGBTQ people. To support these more diverse constituencies, CRA-W will adapt its mentoring programs to directly address intersectionality concerns.<br/><br/>2. Support for Multiple and Unique Pathways into a Research Career. In recent years, the notion of career pathway has become insufficient for describing the many rich and unique pathways by which computing professionals navigate their careers. With this effort, CRA-W plans to adapt its mentoring programs to support entry and re-entry to CS from other disciplines and to support moves between industry development or start-ups and graduate school or academia.<br/><br/>3. Implementation at Scale. A fundamental challenge in improving diversity lies in finding enough human and technical infrastructure to support the efforts at scale, in terms of both program operation and in terms rigorous program evaluation. CRA-W will work to bring its expertise in mentoring to scale, identifying features that are critical to success so that its most successful programs can be adopted throughout the computing research community.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

AwardsFuture of Learning iHubInventXRMovement Thinking

Integrating Biotechnology and Applied Engineering to Meet Emerging Advanced Technological Workforce Needs

Sponsor: Johnston Community College
Leslie Isenhour [email protected] (Principal Investigator)


The rapidly expanding biomanufacturing industries in eastern North Carolina have a growing need for skilled technicians. For example, over the next eight years, Novo Nordisk plans to invest in a $1.8 billion production facility and to hire 800 employees, approximately 500 of whom will be maintenance and process technicians. In addition, Grifols plans to invest $375 million in production facility upgrades and plans to hire approximately 500 technicians. This project will help meet these workforce needs by blending concepts and skills of applied engineering and biotechnology into two existing Associate of Applied Science programs. To this end, four new courses will be developed in close partnership with two biomanufacturing companies. These courses will integrate applied engineering topics into the Bioprocess Technology AAS program and biotechnology topics into the Applied Engineering AAS program. In addition, both AAS programs will be enhanced by the addition of certification in the industry-standard DeltaV distributed control system software. At project conclusion, it is expected that the first cohort of approximately 15 students will have completed the biotechnology/applied engineering programs, completed internships, and be ready for work as biomanufacturing technicians. Approximately 75% of all of North Carolina’s biomanufacturing is located with one hour of the central Johnston Community College campus, making the College an ideal location for this project. Thus, this project has the potential to directly contribute to the national need for a highly-trained advanced technical workforce.

The project will pursue three goals: 1) develop and implement a new curriculum that integrates biomanufacturing and applied engineering; 2) develop a multi-skilled talent pipeline from college to industry; and 3) provide hands-on education in a simulated drug manufacturing environment at the College’s Workforce Development Center. With support from two local biomanufacturing companies, this facility will be enhanced with additional automated machinery and an updated design to create learning environment that simulates drug production using DeltaV industry software to control equipment, similar to that of a modern biomanufacturing facility. Students on the Applied Engineering track will learn to troubleshoot and repair production equipment in these facilities, and students on the Bioprocessing Technology track will learn to manufacture life science products by monitoring conditions such as pH, temperature, and drug concentration during production. By practicing in this environment, students will gain better skills in mechanical and biological techniques. The project coordinator will provide students with career coaching, engage in outreach to high school students, and work with industries to develop internship opportunities that will ensure employment upon program completion. By blending applied engineering and biomanufacturing, this project could provide a transferable model to better prepare students for skilled technical positions in modern biomanufacturing. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation’s economy.

AwardsInventXRLearn Tech

Enhancing Educational Virtual Reality with Headset-based Eye Tracking

Sponsor: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Christoph Borst [email protected] (Principal Investigator)
Arun Kulshreshth (Co-Principal Investigator)
Award Number: 1815976


Virtual reality (VR) can bring lab or field-trip-like experiences to students who are unable to visit physical sites because of location, budget, or schedule. Potential advantages of these experiences over traditional teaching tools include increased student engagement and motivation, more direct viewing of size and spatial relationships of modeled objects, and stronger memories of the content. Emerging consumer VR devices are starting to provide sufficient quality and affordability for home and school use, and this will eventually make educational VR experiences broadly available. Future consumer VR headsets are expected to include increased sensing, such as eye tracking cameras to determine where users are looking and strain gauges to detect facial expressions. The sensor data can be analyzed for insight into users’ attention and emotional affect. The project will investigate how such insight into student attention can be used to improve educational VR through the design of personalized educational environments that respond to individual students’ attention. The project will also develop techniques for using sensor data to give teachers enhanced real-time insight into student activities and behavior patterns to help them provide better teacher-guided VR experiences. This will involve development of new approaches for educational VR technology and experiments that generate fundamental knowledge and guidelines for applying such approaches. In addition to the potential long-term benefit of improving education, the project will provide a number of more immediate, direct educational benefits. The team will incorporate the work into courses and undergraduate research experiences on human-computer interaction and VR, as well as outreach activities and summer programs aimed at high school students across Louisiana.

The team will design and assess methods including the following: 1) educational content that responds to student eye gaze for more responsive and engaging presentation; 2) visual effects or indicators, based on detected eye behaviors, to encourage student attention to particular content in a VR environment; and 3) visualizations of student eye gaze that use both raw and processed gaze data to help teachers understand and guide students. To understand the tradeoffs between approaches and to develop guidelines for wider development and use of these techniques, effects will be studied in terms of behavior, subjective experience, and learning. The most promising methods will be applied to a case study of a networked VR interface that allows teachers to monitor and guide students through an immersive educational VR environment. To do this, the team will build on their existing educational VR framework that has previously been deployed at regional high schools and to thousands of students at outreach events. The project is expected to improve the effectiveness of such VR systems and of teachers’ ability to supervise and assist students. Resulting methods and principles will provide a foundation for headset-based eye tracking in educational VR and in other related applications such as simulation-based training and accessibility.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

AwardsNSFThe Research University

NeuroTech – Bringing Technology to Neuroscience

Sponsor: Stanford University
Award Number: 1828993
Eduardo Chichilnisky [email protected] (Principal Investigator)
James McClelland (Co-Principal Investigator)
Jin Hyung Lee (Co-Principal Investigator)
Surya Ganguli (Co-Principal Investigator)


Deciphering how the brain works could have untold impacts on medicine, technology, commerce, and our understanding of ourselves. For example, advances in neurotechnology could lead to brain-machine interfaces to overcome sensory impairments and loss of movement due to neurodegenerative disease. Many of the most important advances in neuroscience have required interaction with technical fields such as physics, electrical and chemical engineering, bioengineering, statistics, and computer science, and this will increasingly be the case as the field advances. However, the path for top students from these disciplines to enter the field of neuroscience has always been challenging because they lack the appropriate background and awareness of key questions and technological limitations in the field. This National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) award to Stanford University will accelerate fundamental developments in neuroscience by attracting promising young talent from these technical disciplines to neuroscience and training them to be leaders in the field. The program will allow students to apply technological developments in diverse fields to the most important problems in neuroscience today and train a new generation of neuroscientists who will bring these technologies to fruition in academia, medicine, and the private sector. The project anticipates training thirty (30) PhD students, including twelve (12) funded trainees, from physics, electrical and chemical engineering, bioengineering, materials science, computer science, and other technical fields.

This traineeship program consists of a novel integrated curriculum of coursework, internship and training experiences, and outreach to achieve its goals. The program will emphasize training for acquiring and analyzing vast data sets, enabling an understanding of nervous system circuitry at a scale that was unimaginable just a few years ago, and connecting the novel data to Stanford’s strength in theory, inference from large data sets, and computational modeling. The program will introduce a rigorous multi-year curriculum for trainees, building on their home-discipline training and allowing them to collaborate with each other and with the members of the Neurosciences PhD program. Training will leverage the highly successful Stanford ADVANCE program that supports new PhD students with a special summer program prior to the start of graduate training, and build on it with several approaches customized to this program. The program will be specifically designed to optimize trainee preparation for a career in academia or in a technology industry setting, utilizing internship placements with both startups and established corporations.

The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new potentially transformative models for STEM graduate education training. The program is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary research areas through comprehensive traineeship models that are innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Please report errors in award information by writing to: [email protected]

AwardsMovement ThinkingNUST Innovation HubThe Research University

Developing a Precision Agriculture Workforce Ladder through Secondary, College, and Incumbent Worker Education that Integrates Emerging Technologies and Farm Data

Sponsor: Northeast Community College
Brandon Keller [email protected] (Principal Investigator)
Michael Lechner (Former Principal Investigator)
Christopher Burbach (Co-Principal Investigator)
Chance Lambrecht (Co-Principal Investigator)
Michael Lechner (Former Co-Principal Investigator)
Jeffrey Siegfried (Former Co-Principal Investigator)


With an emphasis on two-year colleges, the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program focuses on the education of technicians for the high-technology fields that drive our nation’s economy. According to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, technicians are needed to fulfill growing demand in fields that require precision agriculture such as agriculture and food science, environmental science and protection, farm equipment mechanics and service, and land surveying and mapping. Jobs in precision agriculture require a unique combination of technical and agricultural expertise that is not widely available for secondary and college students. The gap between evolving industry need and existing training means that even incumbent workers must seek additional training or education in precision agriculture technologies and practices to acquire jobs and succeed in them. By offering a ladder of enhanced educational experiences to secondary students, two-year college students, and incumbent industry workers, Northeast Community College in Nebraska will educate a wide variety of agriculture workers in line with industry needs as it provides a robust education and training program to support the vital agricultural industry of Nebraska and the United States. A focus of the project is on increasing the number of women and individuals of Hispanic origin in precision agriculture, which will strengthen and diversify an emerging U.S. industry. The deliverables and best practices developed through the project will be disseminated in coordination with ATE Central, at websites reaching agriculture education communities, through regional agriculture and cultural events, and through agriculture education journals and conferences.

Due to the highly technical nature of precision agriculture jobs, the agriculture curriculum is often outdated and does not fully prepare students for available positions. Enhancing precision agriculture curriculum for two-year colleges and connecting this curriculum with secondary schools and incumbent worker education will dramatically improve the preparedness of technicians in a number of agricultural sectors. Faculty at Northeast Community College in Nebraska, collaborating with Erudite Ingenuity and consulting with local agriculture industry, will utilize the college’s existing precision agriculture curriculum as the foundation for a more technology-enabled, data-driven, and experiential Associates of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree program. Integration of emerging technologies and longitudinal farm data throughout the precision agriculture A.A.S. program will provide important opportunities for college students to engage in real-world farm scenarios, the processes of gathering and analyzing farm data, and deciding on informed action plans. In addition, after modularizing three core courses of the precision agriculture A.A.S. program, investigators will flexibly adapt the course modules for use in the secondary Intro Ag course and in Northeast’s early college precision agriculture course(s) to encourage students to complete high school and seek college-level education. The course modules will also be the foundation of a series of credit-eligible workshops and hybrid courses for incumbent agriculture workers to support their productivity. Local secondary teachers will collaborate with the project team to co-develop and pilot a precision agriculture unit that could be used in the Introduction Ag course offered by all Nebraska agriculture education schools. Local industry representatives will provide input on program and curriculum design as members of Northeast’s Precision Agriculture Program advisory committee. The project will support a full-time Precision Agriculture Training Associate that will contribute to the proposed educational activities and will facilitate relationships between Northeast Community College and the high schools and incumbent workforce in its service area. A formative and summative evaluation process will be employed to continuously enhance the project activities and provide opportunities for researching and evaluating the success of the project and deliverables.


Impact of Building Design Attributes on Occupant Behavior in Response to Active Shooter Incidents in Offices and Schools

Sponsor: University of Southern California
Burcin Becerik-Gerber [email protected] (Principal Investigator)
David Pynadath (Co-Principal Investigator)
Gale Lucas (Co-Principal Investigator)
Erroll Southers (Co-Principal Investigator)
Award Number: 1826443


This project studies how various factors such as building design, size and demographics of the crowd, and individual differences like one’s familiarity with the building impact responses to active shooter incidents. Fundamental questions addressed by the project include: 1) How do building attributes designed to enhance security affect human behavior during active shooter incidents? 2) How do individual factors moderate occupant responses? and 3) How does the setting of the incident or familiarity with building affect occupants’ situational awareness and occupant behavior? The project explores these objectives by conducting human subject experiments using Immersive Virtual Environments (IVEs). This scientific research contribution thus supports NSF’s mission to promote the progress of science and to advance our national welfare. In this case, the benefits will be insights to improve preparedness and response to active shooter events, which will save lives and reduce panic, anger and confusion during these events. The project supports education and promotes diversity through outreach activities aimed at recruiting and retaining under-represented students in research.

The project models the built environment in virtual reality, simulating the behavior of both the adversaries and the crowd. By exposing participants to an active shooter incident using IVE, the researchers can measure their responses in realistic ways that are not possible outside the laboratory environment. Task 1 uses IVEs and agent-based simulations to create representative virtual built environments and realistic active shooter scenarios. There are three critical elements in the development of the IVEs: building attributes that enhance security, setting (school vs. office building), and virtual actors (crowd/adversary). Task 2 examines how various factors (building design attributes, individual factors, participant role, crowd setting, and familiarity with building layout) affect responses to active shooter incidents. Simulation scenarios will include security enhanced buildings versus standard buildings, and school versus office versions. The project outcomes can inform safer building designs and operations and train occupants and security personnel on how to respond to human-enabled catastrophic events, thus saving lives.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.


SPICE (Supporting Pacific Indigenous Computing Excellence) Data Science Program for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders

Sponsor: University of Texas at Austin
Kelly Gaither [email protected] (Principal Investigator)
Rosalia Gomez (Co-Principal Investigator)
Award Number: 1744526


The University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Advanced Computing Center, Chaminade University of Honolulu (CUH), and the Georgia Institute of Technology will lead this NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot (DDLP) to establish a model for data science preparation of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) students at the high school and undergraduate levels. The project is premised on the promise of NHPI communities gaining access to, and the ability to work with, large data sets to tackle emerging problems in the Pacific. Such agency over “big data” sets that are relevant to Pacific issues, and contemporary skills in data science, analytics and visualization have the potential to be transformative for community improvement efforts. The effort has the potential to advance knowledge, instructional pedagogy and practices to improve NHPI high school and undergraduate students performance in and attraction to STEM education and careers.

The project team will work to: 1) Increase interest and proficiency in data science and visualization among NHPI high school and undergraduate students through a summer immersion experience that bridges computation and culture; 2) Build data science capacity at an NHPI serving undergraduate institution (CUH) through creation of a certificate program; and 3) Develop and expand partnerships with other organizations with related goals working with NHPI populations. The month-long summer training for 20 NHPI college students, and five NHPI high school students, takes place at CUH and focuses on data science, visualization, and virtual reality, including working on problem sets that require data science approaches and incorporate geographically, socially- and culturally-relevant research themes.

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