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S3 Funds 12 New Projects for 2016-2017

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Science and Society at State (S3) has awarded funding to twelve new research projects for 2016-2017. Research topics range from lactating mothers in the workplace to wearable activity trackers to computation science in high school classrooms.

S3 was created in 2014 by a small group of faculty to promote interdisciplinary research, grants, and education. The advisory board consists of scholars from all parts of the university, from the College of Music to the College Veterinary Medicine. Since 2014, S3 has awarded 34 grants to promote interdisciplinary scholarship on campus with the goal of supporting new collaborations seeking external grant opportunities.

Dr. Georgina M. Montgomery, S3's director, described S3's recent work: "In just three years, S3 has been incredibly successful in supporting interdisciplinary scholars at MSU by providing grants to support the development of new projects with the goal of generating competitive external grant applications and increased visibility for MSU as a site for innovative and interdisciplinary research."

S3's mission to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration is strongly reflected in the grants awarded, as each project includes at least one MSU STEM faculty member or health professional and at least one MSU science studies faculty member.

The twelve projects funded by S3 for 2016-2017 are:

Societal Perception about On-Road Wireless Charging for Electric Vehicles: Considering Mobility and Environmental Impacts

The main purpose of this study is to understand perceptions about wireless road charging, explore its equity and fairness, as well as the increased mobility and environmental benefits of the technology. The team will study human perceptions and values related to existing and emerging EV technology, the impact of installing wireless charging on the users' route choice, travel pattern, and advancement in network mobility and estimate the environmental impact of installing on-road wireless charging versus distributed charging stations

Team Members: Mehrnaz Ghamami (College of Enginnering), Annick Anctil (College of Engineering) and Sharlissa Moore (James Madison College and the College of Engineering)

The Importance of Being There: Exploring the Effects of Communicating via Telepresence Robot on Older Adults' Well-being

The overall purpose of this project is to test the feasibility of using telepresence robots with older adults and their social ties. Older adults face a higher likelihood of social isolation, which lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, suicidal ideations, and early mortality. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can help mitigate the negative outcomes of isolation by connecting older adults to meaningful social network support.

Team Members: Shelia Cotten (College of Communication Arts & Sciences), Joyce Chai (College of Engineering), Jessica Francis (College of Communication Arts & Sciences) and Sayed Ali Hussain (College of Communication Arts & Sciences)

Tribal Environmental Governance and Environmental Science

While science and technology studies scholars have studied the contributions of indigenous people to critiques of western science, indigenous peoples themselves have had both little voice in expressing these views and little success at integrating indigenous knowledge systems into mainstream western scientific paradigms. Consequently, this project aims to explore indigenous approaches to science and technology based on the work that tribal governments already do regarding environmental protection and climate change planning.

Team Members: Kyle Whyte (College of Arts and Letters/College of Agriculture and Natural Resources) and Julie Libarkin (College of Natural Science)

Integrating Equitable Computational Science into High School Science Courses

Historically, computational science and science classes in K- 12 education are taught in separate contexts. However, this team will develop a research practice partnership (RPP) with a local school district (East Lansing Public Schools) to integrate computational science into science courses offered at the high school. Such integration faces difficulty given that certain groups—particularly those differentiated along racial, class, and gendered lines—remain precluded from participating in computational science practices.

Team Members: David Stroupe (College of Education), Danny (College of Natural Sciences) and Niral Shah (College of Education)

Health Disparities in Alzheimer's Disease: A Community-Based Participatory Research Approach

The goal of this research project is to close the gap between researchers and underserved groups by utilizing a community-based participatory research approach that results in increased inclusiveness and knowledge-based empowerment. To achieve this goal, the team will engage leaders of the Latino community, and healthcare/research institutions, within the Grand Rapids area in identifying factors that contribute to action plans that increase healthcare access and healthcare equality.

Team Members: Irving E. Vega (College of Human Medicine), Ruben Martinez (College of Social Sciences), Scott Counts (College of Human Medicine), Daniel Velez (College of Social Sciences) and Cassandra Wygant (College of Human Medicine)

Vital Signs: Bridging & Democratizing Physics

The IOLab is an inexpensive device that has 11 built-in sensors that can measure such phenomena as body movement, sound, and temperature. The Lyman Briggs studio physics course checks out an IOLab to each student, allowing students to collect data not only outside the classroom, but from their own bodies. This project aims to develop robust add-on devices that allow the IOLab to record electrocardiograms (ECG) and conduct pulmonary function tests (lung capacity and flow rate). Students can then critically examine the ethical, social, biological, and technical dimensions of measuring the human body while collecting and analyzing data that bridges the disciplines of physics and biology.

Team Members: Abhilash Nair (College of Natural Science), Vashti Sawtelle (Lyman Briggs College & College of Natural Science) and Isaac Record (Lyman Briggs College)

Measuring the Impact of Scientific Uncertainty on International Environmental Regimes

Uncertainty about the state of the world plagues decision-making at all levels, but is particularly pernicious in global environmental governance. This research assesses conditions under which different types and levels of scientific uncertainty affect international environmental policy implementation, when uncertainty inhibits or catalyzes implementation, and when it is more likely an excuse for inaction. The team will examine how uncertainty impacts both negotiation and post-agreement regime actions and assess how rules, norms, communication mechanisms, social dynamics, and political interests affect scientific uncertainty and condition international regimes' responses.

Team Members: Mark Axelrod (Madison College and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources), James Bence (College of Agriculture and Natural Resources) and Michael Jones (College of Agriculture and Natural Resources)

A Parent Portal for Parents of Children with Type 1 Diabetes

The objective of this project is to develop a web portal for parents of children with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and to assess its impact on parents' diabetes knowledge, health literacy, social support, self-efficacy, quality of life, as well as usability and acceptability of the portal. Three focus group sessions, with a total of thirty parents of children (5-18 years old) with T1D, will help inform the design and suggest additional content. Once the portal is developed, the team will conduct an 8-week study to assess the impact of its use on the parents.

Team Members: Bree E. Holtz (College of Communication Arts and Sciences), Shelia Cotten (of the Trifecta Initiative, Acting Director of the Sparrow-MSU Center for Innovation and Research), Amy Nuttall (College of Social Science), Taiwoo Park (College of Communication Arts and Sciences), Denise Hershey (College of Nursing), Michael Wood (University of Michigan, Pediatric Endocrinology, CS Mott Children's Hospital), Julie Dunneback (Pediatric Subspecialty Clinic, Sparrow Health System) and MSU Extension Educators, Michigan State University

Coworker Stigma Towards Lactating Mothers in the Workplace

This project examines mechanisms underlying coworkers' stigma towards lactating mothers in the workplace and the impact of coworker disapproval on the duration of breastfeeding. While benefits and barriers to breastfeeding have been studied extensively, less is known about the role coworkers play in the continuation of breastfeeding after maternity leave.

Team Members: Mary Bresnahan (College of Communication Arts & Sciences), Steven Haider (College of Social Science), Joanne Goldbort (College of Nursing), Libby Bogdan-Lovis (College of Medicine, Assistant Director: Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences) and Jie Zhuang (College of Communication Arts & Sciences)

Future Design Studio

Future Design Studio (FDS) is a design fiction workshop that offers incoming students in the Lyman Briggs INQUIRE program an opportunity to gain experience in brainstorming, design thinking, and critical thinking. STEM students rarely have opportunities to envision how their work might have a real impact in the future, or to consider the close relationship between science, technology, and society. INQUIRE's aims include helping students build confidence to succeed in STEM fields and fostering a community of scholars. In addition to developing skills and building peer relationships, FDS also allows INQUIRE students to develop deeper connections with a variety of faculty in both HPS and STEM fields; building a network of faculty support for these students.

Team Members: Megan Halpern (Lyman Briggs College and College of Arts and Humanities), Samantha Cass (Lyman Briggs College), Isaac Record (Lyman Briggs College), Aubrey Wigner (SFIS, Arizona State University) and Sarah Hendrickson (College of Arts and Letters)

Supporting Innovation in Team Science through Online Collaborative Modeling

"Team Science" approaches to research have established a new norm for scientific practice and led to considerable advances in science and medicine in recent years. Barriers to team science include: managing diversity in groups; difficulties with "deep knowledge" integration; and problems permeating disciplinary boundaries. To address some of these known barriers, we propose to develop and test a new approach to facilitate team science through novel online collaborative modeling tools ( in the context of understanding the complex dynamics of Chronic Lower Back Pain (CLBP)..

Team Members: Steven Gray (College of Agriculture and Natural Resources), Jordan Burroughs (College of Agriculture and Natural Resources), Jacek Cholewicki (College of Osteopathic Medicine), John Popovich (College of Osteopathic Medicine) and Kara Hall (Director, Science of Team Science (SciTS), National Institute of Health (NIH) Behavioral Research Program, National Cancer Institute)

Staying Fit: Long-Term Wearable Technology Uses Among Older Adults

Consumer wearable activity trackers (WAT) are sensor-enabled devices used for monitoring health-related metrics that facilitate behavioral change and improve health. For older adults and especially those living with chronic health conditions, these wearable devices promote self-monitoring and goal setting, provide feedback, and even include online communities with social support. However, WAT have not lived up to their hype, with most people discontinuing use within six months of starting. Understanding why individuals continue to use WAT is critical for WAT to reach their full potential. This proposed study focuses on long-term users (individuals who have used a behavioral modification technology over 6 months). These best practices by long-term users can inform future design of technology-based behavior interventions.

Team Members: Wei Peng (College of Communication Arts and Sciences), Shelia Cotton (College of Communication Arts and Sciences), Anastasia Kononova (College of Communication Arts and Sciences), Mi Zhang (College of Engineering), Taiwoo Park (College of Communication Arts and Sciences), R.V. Rikard (College of Communication Arts and Sciences), Kendra Kamp (College of Nursing) and Marie Stuve (Sparrow/MSU Center for Innovation and Research)

For more information on S3 or any of the funded projects, visit the S3 website.