PULLMAN – In many ways, it’s the perfect model. Faculty with research and teaching appointments working with faculty with research and Extension appointments to translate the theoretical into real-world application for the benefit of the people of Washington.
A new $400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health brings together economists and psychologists, researchers and Extension educators in an effort to determine just how cost effective community-based, substance abuse prevention programs are in the real world. Robert Rosenman, professor and associate director of the WSU School of Economic Sciences, and Laura Griner Hill, associate professor and extension specialist in the WSU Department of Human Development specializing in prevention science, are co-principal investigators for the grant. Professor Ron Mittelhammer, SES director, and Bidisha Mandal, an extension economist specializing in health issues will also contribute to the research project.
The NIH grant is one part of a broader collaboration that includes Extension educators and faculty Louise Parker, Drew Betz, Renee Overath, Chris Koehler, Jennifer Crawford, Dinana Castro and WSU Vancouver faculty member Marcelo Diversi, assistant professor of human development.
“This is what we mean when we talk about translational research,” said Hill.
The collaboration began three years ago during a graduate school competition for new state-funded graduate research projects. The funding was only available to Extension educators if researchers from an academic department were involved. WSU Extension partnered with SES, hiring Mandal as a new Extension economist in SES in part to help with the project.
The team members have had to adjust their preconceived notions about each other’s disciplines.
“Laura came in with a traditional, non-economist view of what economists do,” Rosenman said.
“As did Robby with his views of psychologists,” Hill hastened to add.
Both agree they’ve already learned much from their partnership and anticipate learning even more while working on the NIH project. And, they said, working across disciplinary lines and staying anchored in real-world issues through Extension should enhance their results.
“Taking this broader, interdisciplinary approach is very important to coming up with the right answers,” Rosenman said.