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CAHNRS teams take on Grand Challenges, Student Success

Posted by | May 25, 2016

Researchers in the Department of Human Development, Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership and the Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program have earned seed money for their projects building student success and meeting global challenges.

CAHNRS seed grant recipients, from left, Mary Kay Patton, Elizabeth Soliday, Anand Jayakaran and Sara Waters.
CAHNRS seed grant recipients, from left, Mary Kay Patton, Elizabeth Soliday, Anand Jayakaran and Sara Waters.

On May 19, the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences received two WSU Grand Challenge Research Grants and one Student Success Seed Grant, out of 10 WSU projects selected.

Sponsored by the WSU Office of the Provost and the Office of Research, the seed grant competition generated 150 letters of intent and 41 full proposals. A total of $350,000 will be disbursed to fund Grand Challenges research projects, and $125,000 will go to fund Student Success projects.

Student Success Seed Grants enable faculty to develop projects to improve student retention and progress toward graduation. Grand Challenges Research Grants will jump-start projects focused on WSU’s Grand Challenges: Sustaining health; Sustainable resources; Opportunity and equity; Smart systems; and national security.

Student Success: Enhancing retention
Mary Kay Patton, assistant director of the Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership (CTLL), and Elizabeth Soliday, associate professor in the Department of Human Development at WSU Vancouver, are joint principal investigators on “Extending an evidence-based retention-enhancing Human Development course across WSU campuses.”

HD205 is a communication and life skills course that increases self-management, interpersonal communication, and leadership skills, which students can apply beyond the classroom and into their personal and professional lives. Data from 2,329 students in three successive Pullman cohorts shows that those who took the course had an 8 percent higher retention rate. To help promote student success, the grant extends this course to Vancouver and Tri-Cities campuses.

Co-investigators include Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Vancouver, June Canty; Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Tri-Cities, Kate McAteer; Laura Hill, chair of the Department of Human Development at Pullman; CAHNRS Acting Dean Kim Kidwell; Jane Lanigan, associate professor, Human Development, Vancouver; Anna Whitehall, clinical assistant professor, CTLL; Denise Yost, clinical assistant professor, CTLL; Robby Cooper, clinical assistant professor, CTLL.

Grand Challenges: Development, health and disease
Sara Waters, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development, is the lead principal investigator for “Developmental origins of health and disease: Identifying potential mechanisms for intergenerational transmission of risk and resilience.”

Waters’ project studies 100 pregnant women and their infants over the third trimester of pregnancy and first year of life, looking at maternal prenatal stress, physical health, and nutrition will be examined as predictors of infant physiological and behavioral stress responses. Results will enhance our basic understanding of intergenerational health risk, and help find ways to lower it.

Her co-investigators are Chris Connelly, assistant professor of kinesiology, College of Education; Maria Gartstein, professor of psychology, College of Arts and Sciences; Michelle Maguire, associate professor, School of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences; and Lucia Peixoto, associate professor in the College of Medicine.

Green stormwater infrastructure, such as this rain garden, is the focus of one of CAHNRS' Grand Challenge grants.
Green stormwater infrastructure, such as this rain garden, is the focus of one of CAHNRS’ Grand Challenge grants.

Grand Challenges: Green stormwater infrastructure
Anand Jayakaran, associate professor with the Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Unit, is lead principal investigator on “Optimizing GSI efficacy by integrating hydrologic, cultural, and socioeconomic elements in a watershed spanning the urban-agriculture continuum.”

The project looks at ways to optimize implementation of green stormwater infrastructure, while considering hydrology, economy, community perception, and socioeconomic vulnerability. The test watershed is a part of the Puyallup River valley that has experienced rapid land use change, and a growing population, much of which is socioeconomically vulnerable.

Jayakaran is joined by Joan Wu, professor, Biological Systems Engineering; Michael Brady, assistant professor, School of Economic Sciences; Michael Sánchez, assistant professor, School of Design and Construction; Jolie Kaytes, associate professor, School of Design and Construction; Danna Moore, senior research fellow, Social and Economic Sciences Research Center; Stephanie Hampton, professor, School of the Environment, Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach; John Stark, professor of entomology, director of the Washington Stormwater Center; and John Harrison, associate professor, School of the Environment.

Read more about the seed grants here.