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New Proposals Awarded Through SBSRI Small Grant Program

New Proposals Awarded Through SBSRI Small Grant Program

New Proposals Awarded Through SBSRI Small Grant Program

From “Children in the Wild” to microbes in the gut, the six projects recently awarded funding from the Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Initiative’s Small Grant Program address a complex range of research questions – and showcase the breadth of social and behavioral sciences expertise at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Small Grants Program gives researchers a foundation­­­ to explore new areas that show promise for external funding. A panel of fifteen faculty members from the SBSRI Advisory Committee and the Campus Research Board evaluated a competitive pool of proposals for impact in six areas, including innovation, interdisciplinary nature, articulated activity plan, contribution to social and behavioral sciences research, and paths to external funding. Selected proposals include:

Assessing the Impact of Neighborhood Food Environment on Diet and Health Among Physically and Psychosocially Vulnerable Children and Adults
PI: Ruopeng An, Kinesiology and Community Health

A Nuanced Model for Recognizing Levels of Conflict in Decision Making Using Natural Language Processing
PIs: Suma Bhat, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Marshall Scott Poole, Communication

Microbiome-Gut-Brain-Axis in Mothers and their Preschool Children: Attachment, Nutrition, and Implications for Socioemotional and Cognitive Outcomes: A Pilot Study
PI: Kelly Bost, Human Development and Family Studies

Establishing an Illinois Twin Project
PI: Daniel A. Briley, Psychology

Children in The Wild: Engineering Tools to Capture Child Development in Real-World Contexts
PI: Nancy McElwain, Human Development and Family Studies

An Interdisciplinary Analytical Framework to Understand Socioeconomic and Cultural Contexts for Delivery of Safe Water, Sanitation, and Resource Management in Refugee Settlements and Host Communities in Uganda
PI: Assata Zerai, Sociology

During the 2017-18 academic year, these research teams will develop pilot studies and then use the data they collect as a basis for developing external funding proposals. Throughout the process, SBSRI staff will provide advice, identify external funding opportunities, and assist with ongoing proposal development efforts to maximize the potential for successful external funding.

“These SBSRI funds are wonderful,” said Kelly Bost, the PI on one of the selected projects. “Without them, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to explore what’s happening between the gut and brain or involve our undergraduate students into the research process.”

The SBSRI was launched in the summer of 2016 to support researchers in the social and behavioral sciences at Illinois. At the time, such researchers didn’t have dedicated facilitators to foster ideas or to leverage expertise.

“We needed a place to better represent the social sciences,” said Brent Roberts, professor of psychology and chair of the initiative. “By offering enhanced infrastructure, administrative services, and small grant funding, we have a place to support that work.”

As a research incubator, SBSRI staff work to create community, building interdisciplinary teams and fostering pilot studies to support external funding proposals. “If you think of the various research institutes on campus, they have a level of integration and focus that allows them to be more proactive in fostering collaborations,” said Roberts. “The social and behavioral sciences didn’t have that type of support system, so we decided to do something similar.”

“The SBSRI is one way we are building institutional capacity to enhance research in related disciplines,” said Peter Schiffer, Vice Chancellor for Research at Illinois. “We want to be deliberate about creating new connections and opportunities for researchers across campus.”   

“Ultimately,” said Roberts, “we want to see people in the social sciences across campus, people with different perspectives, doing more integrative and creative work, and then have that work be successful in terms of external funding. SBSRI’s Small Grant Program is an initial step toward that goal.”

For more information about the SBSRI Small Grant Program, contact Brent Roberts.