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Richmond Grant and Fellowships News

Richmond’s faculty, staff, and students are making a tremendous impact every day in research, innovation, and community engagement. Check back often for updates on grant-funded projects happening across campus and around the world.

Fall 2023/Winter 2024

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  • Dr. Chris Bischof awarded NEH Fellowship

    Dr. Chris Bischof, Associate Professor of History, has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to continue work on his book manuscript entitled Easy Fixes: Race Capitalism, and Social Engineering Schemes in the British West Indies, 1823-1865. Bischof will receive $60,000 to support his work over 12 months beginning in Summer 2024.

    Many Britons believed that ending slavery in their West Indian colonies starting in 1834 would usher in a new era of profitable, yet humane imperialism with the help of a few cheap, short-lived social engineering schemes.  Easy Fixes argues that this belief both reflected and fueled one of the central fantasies of nineteenth-century British liberalism and Western modernity more generally: that free-market capitalism and humanitarianism were not only compatible, but complementary. This book examines the enduring consequences of that imperial fantasy for the for the emergence of modern forms of capitalism, humanitarianism, and racism.

    This will be Bischof’s second book, following Teaching Britain: Elementary Teachers and the State of the Everyday, 1846-1906, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2019.

  • Dr. Kristine Grayson receives USDA award for invasive insect control research

    This fall, Dr. Kristine Grayson, Associate Professor of Biology, added an additional project to her work on invasive insect control with a $162,438 grant from the USDA Invasive Pest Insect program. 

    Working in partnership with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program, Dr. Grayson will manage projects on the genetic diagnostics of invasive insects and their biocontrol agents such as the spongy moth, spotted lanternfly, and Japanese beetle. The data collected in this project will enable APHIS and other stakeholders to better identify pest insects and strategize more effective prevention and control methods.

    Read University Communications’ media release about this award.

  • Dr. Yucong Jiang receives NEH funding for AI-assisted music research

    Dr. Yucong Jiang, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, has received $74,973 from the National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Advancement program to develop automated music annotation software that will assist music scholars, archivists, and musicians in studying and better understanding recorded music performances.

    Called the Performances Precision Annotator (PPA), the tool will integrate advanced artificial intelligence technologies into a user-friendly format that requires no programming skills to use. PPA will offer a replacement for traditional music analysis and editing software, which typically requires time-consuming manual annotation and doesn’t incorporate musical score information.

    When complete, the prototype will be offered online as an open-source tool for public use. Ultimately, Dr. Jiang anticipates that the PPA will help scholars and other users analyze music with greater efficiency and accuracy, examine larger sets of performances, and discover patterns between performance and theory. The tool may also present a paradigm shift for musicians and instructors who can use it to review past rehearsals or performances more closely.

  • Dr. Aslan Lotfi receives the 2023 VFIC H. Hiter Harris III Rising Star Award

    Dr. Aslan Lotfi, Assistant Professor of Analytics and Operations, has been named a 2023 H. Hiter Harris III Rising Star by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges. Dr. Lotfi will receive a $2,500 award for future research or professional development.

    In his three years at UR, Dr. Lotfi has already achieved some of the Robins School of Business’s top faculty honors, including the 2022 Outstanding Research Publication Award, the 2023 Scholarly Activity Award, and the Robert H. Nicholson Outstanding Advising Award.

     “Aslan is the consummate teacher-scholar,” said Dean of the Robins School of Business Mickey Quiñones. “He is enthusiastic about his subject matter — and that enthusiasm rubs off on students. He is also a world-class scholar.”

    In describing his teaching philosophy, Dr. Lotfi shared his belief in the transformative impact of ensuring all students feel seen, respected, challenged, and supported. “I concentrate on offering students as much time and support as possible while treating them with dignity and respect, hoping that I convey the message that there are people who genuinely care about them,” said Lotfi. Ultimately, he hopes students “will be inspired to invest further in self-improvement and care for others, making the world a better place.”

    Read University Communications’ media release about this award.


  • Dr. Carol Parish receives NSF funding to expand program for young chemists

    In partnership with colleagues at Furman University and Mount Holyoke College, Dr. Carol Parish, Floyd D. and Elisabeth S. Gottwald Professor of Chemistry and Associate Provost for Academic Integration, has been awarded a $300,000 National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation grant to expand computing resources and student training capacity for MERCURY, the Molecular Education and Research Consortium in Undergraduate computational chemistry. Dr. George C. Shields (Furman) is the principal investigator for the grant, and Dr. Maria A. Gomez (Mt. Holyoke) and Dr. Parish are co-principal investigators. Drs. Gomez, Parish, and Shields founded MERCURY together in 2001.

    NSF-MRI funding will allow for the purchase of an additional high-performance computer cluster to join existing MERCURY resources hosted at Clemson University. The grant will also add 13 more undergraduate-focused research groups to the MERCURY consortium, growing its numbers to 47 computational scientists at 41 institutions nationwide. MERCURY’s NSF-funded work will also encourage more students, especially women and students from traditionally underrepresented groups, to pursue studies in chemistry.

    On average, MERCURY investigators publish at a rate 3.4 times higher than is typical at undergraduate institutions. Approximately half of all students who work on MERCURY projects go on graduate study in STEM fields, and two-thirds of these are underrepresented in STEM.

    See University Communications’ media release about the award.

  • Dr. Bill Ross receives NSF funding to bring the VOTCAM conference to UR

    Dr. Bill Ross, Professor and Roger Francis and Mary Saunders Richardson Chair in Mathematics, has received a $30,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to host the annual Virginia Operator Theory and Complex Analysis Meeting (VOTCAM) at the University of Richmond in 2023-25. Dr. Ross is the founder of VOTCAM, which has been held at colleges and universities in Virginia for over 30 years.

    Attracting researchers from across the mid-Atlantic region, with several of the plenary speakers coming from Canada and Europe, VOTCAM is a forum where mathematicians, including students, convene to share ideas and build relationships. VOTCAM is known for being welcoming and accessible to a wide range of mathematicians from all backgrounds and in all stages of their careers. The NSF grant will fund coordination of the conference as well as lodging support for attendees to ensure the conference is accessible for all students and scholars.

    "Conferences like these are wonderful experiences for the mathematical community and foster productive collaborations," says Dr. Ross. "I have benefitted professionally from conferences like VOTCAM."

  • Dr. Agnieszka Szymanska receives publication funding for Egyptian art history manuscript

    Dr. Agnieszka Szymanska, Assistant Professor of Art History, has received funding from both the Archeological Institute of America and Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture to support the publication of her manuscript entitled Sacred Spectating in Late Antique Egypt: Monastic Painting as Spiritual Experience. Dr. Szymanska has a contract with Cambridge University Press and publication is forthcoming in 2024.

    Sacred Spectating in Late Antique Egypt explores the artistic and cultural vitality of late antique Egypt and traces the history of an ascetic practice that fostered visionary experiences of the supernatural along ancient pilgrimage roads linking Africa and the Mediterranean. The project aims to provide a new foundation for cross-cultural analyses of visual experiences of the divine.

    “I am very grateful for the support of the Archaeological Institute of America and Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture,” said Dr. Szymanska. “The combination of these two grants bolsters my book’s interdisciplinary scope, bridging classical archaeology and Byzantine art history. This funding will offset the high cost of color images that are vital in an art history publication.”

  • Dr. Lauren Tilton and Senior Mia Lazar receive Virginia Humanities funding to support "Digital Documerica"

    Dr. Lauren Tilton, E Claiborne Robins Professor of Liberal Arts and Digital Humanities, and senior Mia Lazar have received $5,000 from Virginia Humanities for their project, Digital Documerica: Picturing the Environment in 1970’s America.  With this funding, the Distant Viewing Lab in collaboration with Richmond-based Field Studio will produce two 5-7-minute video vignettes to help bring Documerica, a little-known effort by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970s to photograph the state of the environment and Americans’ relationship to it, to the broader public. 

    With nearly 22,000 photographs documenting the need for and implementation of environmental laws in all 50 states, the collection offers a powerful lens into the nation’s effort to become more environmentally aware. Digital Documerica aims to create meaningful conversation around these photographs by showing the state of the nation’s environment in the 1970s, discussing how photographs shaped environmental policy, and connecting the images to environmental issues today. The documentary vignettes will feature Documerica photographers discussing their photographs and rephotographing in the same places today.

    Other University of Richmond faculty and staff contributing to the project are Dr. Taylor Arnold, Associate Professor of Data Science; Nate Ayers, Visualization and Web Designer for the Digital Scholarship Lab; and Annie Evans, Director of Education and Outreach for New American History.

  • McDowell Institute receives $500,000 from the Endeavour Legacy Foundation

    The Gary L. McDowell Institute has received a $500,000 grant award from the Endeavour Legacy Foundation to build upon its distinctive programming for students and faculty.

    Housed within the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the McDowell Institute’s events are grounded in classical texts and invite students to apply those texts to contemporary issues in order to cultivate the kind of rigorous inquiry and analysis expected of tomorrow’s leaders. The Institute is designed to empower students and faculty to embrace diverse viewpoints and answer the most important ethical, political, and legal questions of our time. Its core programming includes guest speakers, seminars, and conferences that are open to the UR community.

    The McDowell Institute is co-directed by Daniel Palazzolo, Professor of Political Science, and Terry L Price, Professor of Leadership Studies and Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL) and Coston Family Chair in Leadership and Ethics.

    "Given the current challenges in higher education, this grant could not come at a better time," says Price.  Palazzolo adds, "That’s why we’re so grateful to the Endeavor Legacy Foundation. Their generous gift will enable the McDowell Institute to develop new programs that support viewpoint diversity, free inquiry, and thoughtful deliberation."

  • Modlin Center for the Arts receives funding to support "Embarqued: Stories of Soil"

    This fall, Modlin Center for the Arts received funding from the New England Foundation for the Arts to support its presentation of Company SBB’s Embarqued: Stories of Soil. Inspired by the discovery of the African-American Heritage trail on Martha’s Vineyard, Embarqued is a dance-theater work centered around a transformative ship formed by cloth and bodies that motivates reflection on shared history, the journey of self and community, and our relationships with memorialization. The issues and themes of Embarqued resonate strongly with the history and cultural complexities of the University of Richmond campus and surrounding places and communities in Richmond.

    In addition to a performance in October, the University of Richmond hosted choreographer Stephanie Batten Bland and the ensemble members of Company SBB for a five-day residency. Bland and the ensemble members engaged the campus community and citizens of the greater Richmond area in conversations and workshops centered around the issues explored in Embarqued.

  • PLuS program receives REB Foundation funding to address PreK-12 teacher shortages

    The REB Foundation has awarded the University of Richmond’s Provisional License Support (PLuS) program $188,294 in continued resources to support their efforts to address critical teacher shortages in PreK-12 education. PLuS is a collaborative initiative of the School of Professional & Continuing Studies and the School of Arts and Sciences to address teacher shortages in under resourced schools through mentoring, coaching, and financial support for academic coursework.

    A unique collaboration between Dr. Laura Kuti, Assistant Chair, Graduate Education and Dr. Deborah Napoli, Director of Clinical Practice, PLuS helps to support those on a teaching path who have already received an undergraduate degree. PLuS recruits and trains coaches to support participants in their classroom instruction throughout the year. Advisors from UR interpret licensure requirements, help educators enroll in discounted courses, and offer financial support for licensure exams and fees.

    To date, PLuS has provided weekly support to 47 provisionally licensed teachers and in turn supported the learning of more than 1,300 students in Title I public schools across the Richmond region. At least 14 PLuS participants have completed the requirements for licensure and are currently employed by local school divisions. Participants have ranged in age from 24 to 67, with an average age of 38.

  • University of Richmond awarded funding from PNC Bank for Robins Speaker Series

    The University of Richmond has been awarded $20,000 from PNC Bank in support of the 2024 season of the Robins School of Business Speaker Series, including both C-Suite Conversations and the Executive Speaker Series. PNC Bank has contributed $100,000 in support to sustain the speaker series since 2018.

    Dr. Richard Coughlan, Associate Professor of Management, started C-Suite Conversations in 2011. Recent guests have included Jyot Singh of RTS Labs, Paige Wilson of Naborforce, and Richard Bynum of PNC Bank. The Executive Speaker Series hosts national and international business leaders to discuss trends in the business sector including life on Wall St, changes in digital media, and more.

    Each event is open to the campus and business communities and attendees have an opportunity to network before and after the presentations. The interviews are generally recorded and made available for later viewing on the Robins School website.

  • UR receives $25,000 to expand collegiate substance abuse recovery support

    The University of Richmond has received $24,925 from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services State Opioid Response grant from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to support campus-wide collegiate recovery programs.

    Spiders Support Recovery at UR seeks to provide peer-led supports and activities that will allow students in recovery from Substance Use Disorder and those who wish to learn more about a recovery lifestyle to thrive academically and socially on the UR campus and beyond.

    Under the leadership of Heather Sadowski, Director of Health Promotion, and Sarah King, Collegiate Recovery Specialist, grant-funded work will include expanding the number of hours the Recovery Support Specialist (RSS) will be available and fully integrating the RSS into the campus community, including:

    • 1 to 1 coaching with athletes, law school and UG campus
    • mutual aid group meetings
    • weekly recovery scholar seminars
    • thriving in college recovery ally training.

    "Over the past few years, we have developed and expanded supports for students in recovery and those seeking recovery-related resources for substance use, behavioral, or mental health challenges," said Heather Sadowski. "This has been a collective campus-wide approach, and we are very proud of our nurturing efforts for students seeking these supports to thrive and grow!"

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