Main Content

You are here


Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Initiative

Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Initiative

Illinois is home to some of the foremost social and behavioral sciences experts in the world, but because they are dispersed across the university (in at least 45 different departments), no single college or unit represents their interests. The OVCR has launched a new initiative to explore how to facilitate large-scale, interdisciplinary research projects that leverage our social and behavioral sciences expertise and support the next generation of researchers in the field.

2018 Small Grant Awardees

Harnessing Artificial Intelligence to Document Uses of Lethal Force by Law Enforcement in Nearly Real Time: Toward the First Comprehensive National Database of Police Shootings

Scott Althaus, Cline Center for Advanced Social Research
Andrea Miller, Psychology
Jennifer Robbennolt, Law and Psychology

No authoritative national database of police-involved shootings in the United States currently exists. Despite a sustained amount of societal attention to the racial dimensions of police-involved shootings, we simply do not know whether the fragmentary records of such encounters, often taking the form of video from dash cams or cell phones, indicate that there is a systemic problem with the racial dimensions of lethal force incidents involving law enforcement, what the sources and implications of that problem might be, or how it might be remedied.

We propose to fund a proof-of-concept study to establish the feasibility of a comprehensive, media-derived database of police uses of lethal force in the United States that can be updated in nearly real time. The end result will be a demonstrated capability to use one or more machine learning algorithms to detect and properly classify news stories about police-involved shootings in the United States with high degrees of precision and recall.

Exploring an Optimal Patient-centered e-Intervention of Dual Health Behaviors among Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors

Anna Arthur, Food Science and Human Nutrition
Chung-Yi Chiu, Kinesiology and Community Health
Maria Grosse-Perdekamp, Carle Cancer Center, Carle Foundation Hospital

Evidence suggests that adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet and increasing physical activity, after breast cancer diagnosis can reduce fatigue and improve physical functioning, quality of life, and disease-free survival. Developing theoretically based healthy lifestyle interventions that can be incorporated into the standard of care for breast cancer patients and survivors (BCPS) is vitally important for promoting their health and longevity.

Efforts to promote healthy lifestyles are likely to be most effective if they address the needs and interests of the target group. Multiple behavior interventions may have greater impact on health outcomes compared to single-behavior interventions, especially given that multiple unhealthy behaviors often co-occur. Importantly, use of information and communication technology (ICT) (e.g., web, text messaging, social media, mobile apps) may empower BCPS to self-manage and regulate their healthy lifestyle.

As such, we propose a study with the following objectives: (1) To clarify the preferences and needs of BCPS when being provided with an ICT-based intervention of physical activity and diet, and (2) to know when and what kind of formats of ICT-based intervention of physical activity and diet will be appreciated and used by BCPS at different phases of the cancer continuum (e.g., under active treatment, post-treatment/survivorship phase).

We anticipate being able to significantly contribute to the field of breast cancer research and clinical care by contributing useful guideline recommendations for ICT-based interventions in BCPS at different treatment phases and designing a BCPS-centered, phase-specific, and ICT-based intervention of dual health behavior.

Life History and Hormones: Mechanisms Linking Childhood Experiences to Women’s Health

Kathryn Clancy, Anthropology
Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo, Kinesiology and Community Health
Laura Shackelford, Anthropology

We seek to expand our work on the embodiment of early and current stressors on women’s health by developing two related areas of research in this study. Our prior work has focused on the ways in which energetic and inflammatory stressors affect reproductive health.

The first new area of research will provide a needed perspective on psychosocial stressors by adding expertise on early trauma, pain, and postpartum depression. This will help us understand how early trauma affects reproductive and inflammatory biomarkers.

The second new area of research will provide a needed perspective on bone health. This will enable us to understand how energetic and psychosocial stressors affect bone biomarkers and density.

Extending our work to both psychosocial stressors and bone health is consistent with our lab’s mission of promoting inclusion in science by maintaining a feminist biology lens on research questions that have gone unasked, and these facets of women’s health are especially understudied.

Examining the Impact of Parental Leave Decisions on Parents’ Career and Family Outcomes: A Cross-Cultural Study

Karen Kramer, Human Development and Family Studies
Eunmi Mun, Sociology
Teresa Cardador, Labor and Employment Relations

Parental leave policies are seen as having a positive impact on parents’ and children’s well-being, as well as women’s attachment to the labor force. However, scholars have raised concerns about negative outcomes of leave policies, arguing that employees who take parental leave suffer career setbacks.

The proposed multi-country research study expands this proposition and comprehensively examines how parental leave decisions affect a host of work outcomes, including wage growth and “opting out” from one’s career, as well as family outcomes, such as marital satisfaction, divorce, family well-being, and decisions about having more children. We propose to test the impact of parental leave utilization on individuals and families, differentiating the theoretical mechanisms and empirical outcomes for fathers and mothers.

This research will make important theoretical and policy-relevant contributions to the understanding of work and family benefits and penalties associated with the use of parental leave policies.

Oral Language Development in School-age Dual Language Learners

Silvina Montrul, Linguistics, Spanish, and Portuguese
Pamela Hadley, Speech and Hearing Sciences
Jessica Montag, Psychology
Kiel Christianson, Educational Psychology

Despite their linguistic, cognitive, and social potential, many dual language learners and English learners struggle to meet the requirements of academic success in comparison to their English-speaking peers. How can we best promote literacy and academic achievement in one or two languages in dual language learners?

Strong oral language skills are foundational for the development of literacy. Surprisingly, we know nothing about the oral language development of bilingual children across the full school-age period (ages 6-18), and this is a barrier to enhancing their academic achievement. The present study seeks to fill this gap by documenting the oral language development of both heritage languages speakers of Spanish and native speakers of English in dual language programs in Champaign-Urbana.

We will investigate how oral language development is related to both literacy development and academic achievement. Our schools lack sensitive and rigorous linguistic measures they can use to identify the factors contributing to specific patterns of language and literacy development. We will develop novel linguistic measures in Spanish and English to document the development of the students’ two languages from ages 6 to 18.

Behavioral Decision Research - To Go

Michel Regenwetter, Psychology
Hari Sundaram, Computer Science and Advertising
Daniel R. Cavagnaro, Information Systems and Decision Sciences, Cal State Fullerton

This project proposes to augment the standard “dine-in” setting of behavioral decision experiments in the laboratory with “to-go” features that allow people to participate in experiments via their cell phone. We aim to develop a system for behavioral economics experiments that will provide unprecedented quantitative rigor and diagnostic power for testing theories of decision making.

Over the past decade, the Regenwetter laboratory has developed path-breaking quantitative methods for behavioral decision research. A typical current-day study considers hundreds of predictions from dozens of theories, using many different data sets, and computes millions of statistical analyses on the supercomputer.

Despite the huge scope of such projects, there remain important bottlenecks in that every participant’s data are based on the same stimulus set, and everyone gives large numbers of responses within a short time in the laboratory. Ultimately, data collection could be made far more efficient by adapting the design in real time, as data are collected. Our vision of the future web-mobile platform for behavioral decision research is to reduce computational waste associated with one-size-fits-all stimuli.

Association for Psychological Science

Read an Association for Psychological Science article about the SBSRI, "Building Better Science Means Breaking Down Barriers."

SBSRI Survey

Click here to see the results of the SBSRI survey given to social and behavioral sciences faculty.

2017 Small Grant Awardees

Assessing the Impact of Neighborhood Food Environment on Diet and Health among Physically and Psychosocially Vulnerable Children and Adults

Ruopeng An, PhD, MPP, Kinesiology and Community Health
Craig Gundersen, PhD, Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Zaheeda Darvesh, Extension

Over the past decade, the media, politicians, practitioners, and researchers paid increasing attention to the role neighborhood food environment played in people’s nutrient intake, diet quality, and waistline. Several population-level policy interventions have been implemented, such as the zoning regulation that limits establishment of new fast-food restaurants in Southern Los Angeles, and a multimillion-dollar public and private investment to build new supermarkets nationwide. The rationale of these policies has been based on the “food desert hypothesis”—proximity to fast-food outlets and convenience/corner stores results in lower diet quality and overeating, whereas proximity to large supermarkets has a protective effect due to its provision of various healthy food options such as fresh produce. To date, scientific evidence linking neighborhood food environment to individuals’ dietary behavior and body weight status at best remains mixed and inconclusive.

Among many factors that may lead to the null findings on the impact of neighborhood food environment, differential susceptibility to and dependency upon the food environment across population subgroups is particularly intriguing and policy-relevant. Physically and psychosocially vulnerable individuals could be influenced disproportionately by the immediate food environment surrounding their residence, primarily due to lack of access to transportation, mobility impairment, and/or intellectual disability that restrain their grocery shopping behavior.

Investigating the role of neighborhood food environment on physically/psychosocially vulnerable individuals could inform the design and implementation of targeted policy interventions that address their specific nutritional needs. The short-term goal of the study is to examine the influence of neighborhood food environment on physically and psychosocially vulnerable individuals, and compare the estimated impact to that of the general population and their less-vulnerable counterparts. The long-term goal is to design, implement, and assess interventions that adequately address the nutritional needs of these highly susceptible population subgroups.

A Nuanced Model for Recognizing Levels of Conflict in Decision Making Using Natural Language Processing

Suma Bhat, PhD, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Marshall Scott Poole, PhD, Communication

The ability to leverage massive amounts of written language using natural language processing (NLP) techniques enables us to make sense of the world around us in unprecedented ways. Coding and content analysis of texts, like transcripts of group decision making interaction and newspaper articles, are some of the most important analysis methods available to the behavioral and social sciences. These techniques have been used to: study errors in decision making deliberations that lead to disastrous wars, diagnose mental illness, study political agendas available through the media, and understand the causes behind airplane and train accidents, among other things.

However, manual coding and content analysis are highly resource-intensive, often requiring hundreds of hours of work for relatively small datasets. Additionally, although computational methods have been applied to content analysis for many years, they generally involve the analysis of word counts and n-grams (sets of n words that co-occur) to find patterns. Applications based on word counts from a pre-defined dictionary can tell us a good deal about discourse, but they leave out much of the nuance required to make finer judgments about the function and meaning of communicative acts. This requires a higher level of sophistication in the language patterns than current machine applications are able to provide.

We propose to develop a prototypical framework for automatically coding levels of conflict in transcribed interactions using NLP approaches so that aspects such as the flow of ideas, conversational dynamics, and group balance in small groups can be studied in ways that have better agreement with manual analyses.

Microbiome-Gut-Brain-Axis in Mothers and their Preschool Children: Attachment, Nutrition, and Implications for Socioemotional and Cognitive Outcomes: A Pilot Study

Kelly Bost, PhD, Human Development and Family Studies
Florin Dolcos, PhD, Psychology
Sanda Dolcos, PhD, Psychology
Sharon Donovan, PhD, RD, Food Sciences and Human Nutrition
Barbara Fiese, PhD, Human Development and Family Studies
Wendy Heller, PhD, Psychology
Salma Musaad, MD, PhD, Human Development and Family Studies

The role of the gut microbiota in regulating psychosocial, neurocognitive, and metabolic processes is widely accepted, and growing evidence suggests bi-directional communication between gut microbiota and the brain. Specific mechanisms involved in this communication have only begun to be elucidated and include the vagus nerve, immune system, and microbial neurometabolite production. The impact of the microbiota-gut-brain-axis (MGBA) on stress-related physiology, in particular, is gaining interest because dysregulated stress responses and related cognitions are implicated in a wide range of mental and physical health outcomes. Pivotal work with animals has demonstrated 1) the critical role of gut microbiota in early programming of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and in modulating social stress reactivity and behaviors; 2) that psychosocial stress across the lifespan can alter microbiota composition; and 3) that changes in microbial composition can affect stress reactivity and depression.

Evidence of this bi-directionality in humans is scarce, but preclinical data support associations between microbial composition, emotion regulation and neurocognitive function in adults. Studies examining links between emotion, cognition, and gut microbiota in human samples are needed for developing mechanistic models of the MGBA. Importantly, a comprehensive understanding of these associations in relation to the strong impact of diet on gut microbiota and emotion, as well as interpersonal factors that have robust effects on emotional, attentional, and behavioral response patterns, is crucial.

In this pilot project, data from the Strong Kids 2 Program will be leveraged to examine the gut microbiota of mothers and their 24-month old children, and how microbial composition is related to psychosocial and executive function assessments. Neural correlates of microbial diversity and community structure in mothers will be explored. The long-term goal is to explicate multi-level influences on developing and changing microbial composition and diversity, and consequences of the MGBA for socioemotional, neurocognitive, and health outcomes in children and adults.

Establishing an Illinois Twin Project

Daniel A. Briley, PhD, Psychology
Kristen L. Bub, PhD, Educational Psychology
John P. Caughlin, PhD, Communication
Joseph R. Cohen, PhD, Psychology
Jaime Derringer, PhD, Psychology
R. Chris Fraley, PhD, Psychology
Benjamin L. Hankin, PhD, Psychology
Aleksander J. Ksiazkiewicz, PhD, Political Science
Ruby Mendenhall, PhD, Sociology
Christopher M. Napolitano, PhD, Educational Psychology
Eva Pomerantz, PhD, Psychology
Kelly M. Tu, PhD, Human Development and Family Studies
Yilan Xu, PhD, Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Unraveling the interplay between genetic influences and environmental contexts remains a central impediment to progress in the behavioral sciences. Individuals have different liabilities for illness partially due to genetic processes, partially due to past life experiences or health behaviors, and partially due to the interplay of these features of development. Twin and family studies offer a powerful tool to unravel the interconnected influences of genes and environments to address important questions that are often confounded in non-genetically informative designs.

The primary objective of this research is to establish an Illinois Twin Project. We intend to form a developmental cohort for future interdisciplinary work across psychology, political science, economics, sociology, and communication.

The long-term goal of this work is to establish a cohort of interested families which will be followed over time to track pathways of healthy child development. Twin and family methodology offers improved inferential power for many research questions. In addition, the current project would take seriously the family aspect of twin and family studies. Parents provide crucial social inputs for children, and a genetically informative design allows for parsing the bi-directional influence between parents and children. Beyond parents, children are situated within neighborhoods, schools, and regions. A key goal of the project will be understanding the effect of inequality in terms of economics and opportunity.

Children in The Wild: Engineering Tools to Capture Child Development in Real-World Contexts

Nancy McElwain, PhD, Human Development and Family Studies
Harley Johnson, PhD, Mechanical Science and Engineering
Eva Pomerantz, PhD, Psychology
Kristen Bub, PhD, Educational Psychology
Laura Hahn, PhD, Speech and Hearing Sciences
Jennifer Bernhard, PhD, Engineering

During early development, dynamic transactions between children and their environment are posited to shape brain structure and function, physical and mental health, and cognitive and academic functioning. Early experiences with caregivers often set children on trajectories of psychological adjustment or maladjustment that can be difficult to alter.

Our understanding of the processes by which the dynamic transactions between children and their environment guide development is limited by some methodological challenges. Development is: 1) fueled by a child’s repeated, real-time interactions with caregivers over time, but observational assessments of child-caregiver interactions can be brief and have static study designs; 2) characterized by continuous transactions at multiple levels of analysis, but typical methods and approaches assess constructs in isolation from one other, with limited capability to capture dynamic patterns that emerge across levels of analysis; and 3) intertwined with the real-world contexts in which it occurs, but developmental studies are often carried out in controlled laboratory settings or in naturalistic contexts where assessments are brief and researchers are present.

Our overarching aim is to develop remote, unobtrusive methods to simultaneously capture physiological and behavioral streams of data on a large scale among young children and their caregivers in everyday, natural environments. To this end, our specific aims include designing a child-appropriate, unobtrusive apparatus that embeds sensors and devices to collect and synchronize multiple streams of physiological and behavioral data.

Our project will afford methodological innovations that will have the potential to transform the types of questions that can be advanced about dynamic processes underlying development. Ecologically valid and noninvasive assessments will contribute to the identification of individual differences that set children on varying trajectories of psychological adjustment or maladjustment. In the long term, such assessments could serve as mechanisms of preventive screening and/or intervention for children at risk.

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

Assata Zerai, PhD, Sociology
Teresia Olemako, PhD, Geography & Geographic Information Science (GGIS)
Rebecca Morrow, Ph.D. Student, Sociology
Jeremy Guest, PhD, Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE)

Global humanitarian crises have resulted in the forcible displacement of 65.3 million people, including 21.3 million refugees. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) seeks to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees by encouraging host countries to create conditions conducive to the peaceful resolution of disputes and protection of human rights. To achieve this, UNHCR relies on cooperation from States, but many host States have severe resource limitations and are the least developed countries in the world. In Uganda, host to the 8th largest number of refugees, these resource challenges are extensive, yet it is considered one of the world’s most favorable refugee environments.

Uganda currently hosts a disproportionately high number of women and children, and holistic solutions are required to meet the needs of these vulnerable populations. One area of profound importance concerns water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) needs that are not being met in refugee settlements. Not only are women and girls the predominant providers of water in households, but a lack of adequate WASH has direct effects on childhood morbidity and child nutrition. Providing WASH technologies to residents in a refugee settlement requires a better understanding of the lived experiences of women and children as they navigate micro-aggressions from the resident population and structural inequality that may demote their needs within already distressed social, political, and economic systems.

The project’s specific objectives are to: (1) understand the socioeconomic and cultural context, (2) conduct feminist qualitative analysis of lived experiences of women refugees, including experiences of marginalization due to ethnocentrism, (3) identify stakeholders in a Ugandan refugee settlement and host community, (4) develop bottom-up solutions and a plan for engagement to increase inclusiveness, and (5) intentionally partner with female scholars in Uganda to establish a framework to develop affordable, deployable WASH solutions, and enable meaningful integration among engineering, business, and the social and natural sciences.

Funding Opportunities in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

NIH Funding (Standard Deadlines)

Methodology and Measurement in the Behavioral and Social Sciences

The NIH seeks applications aimed at improving and developing methodology in the behavioral and social sciences through innovations in research design, measurement, data collection and data analysis techniques.

Full announcements for the R01 here.

Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) of Genomic Research

The NIH seeks applications that propose to study the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genome research. Areas of research interest include genomic research, genomic health care, broader societal issues, and legal, regulatory, and public policy issues.

Full announcements for the R01 here.

Improving Quality of Care and Quality of Life for Persons with Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias at the End of Life

The NIH invites applications that address clinical and translational gaps in the study of end-of-life care needs of people with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias (ADRD) and their families.

Full announcement for the R01 here and R03 here.

Addressing Health Disparities in NIDDK Diseases

The NIH invites research projects to improve understanding of the causes of high priority diseases in the United States and reducing/eliminating health disparities.

Full announcement for the R01 here.

Improving Individual and Family Outcomes through Continuity and Coordination of Care in Hospice

The NIH seeks to stimulate research that focuses on reducing negative individual and family outcomes related to unwanted transitions at the end of life and optimizing the individual and family outcomes related to high quality coordination of care of care of individuals who are enrolled in hospice.

Full announcement for the R01 here and the R21 here.

Addressing Health Disparities through Effective Interventions among Immigrant Populations

The NIH seeks to to support innovative research to develop and implement effective interventions to address health disparities among U.S. immigrant populations.

Full announcement for the R01 here and the R21 here.

Strengthening the HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Care Continuum through Behavioral, Social, and Implementation Science

The NIH encourages behavioral, social, and implementation science research designed to (a) identify gaps in the HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) care continuum and associated determinants; (b) develop and test interventions to strengthen PrEP delivery, use, and outcomes; and (c) reduce racial/ethnic and age-related disparities in PrEP uptake and use.

Full announcement for the R01 here and R21 here.

Targeted Basic Behavioral and Social Science and Intervention Development for HIV Prevention and Care

The NIH encourages novel, high impact behavioral and social science research that will contribute to empirically-based HIV risk-reduction and care-improvement approaches that could be used for prevention, improved clinical outcomes, and cure.

Full announcement for the R01 here and R21 here.

Chronic Condition Self-Management in Children and Adolescents

The NIH seeks to encourage research to improve self-management and quality of life in children and adolescents with chronic conditions. This FOA encourages research that takes into consideration various factors that influence self-management such as individual differences, biological and psychological factors, family/caregivers and sociocultural context, family-community dynamics, healthcare system factors, technological advances, and the role of the environment.

Full announcement for the R01 here and R21 here.

Formative and Pilot Intervention Research for Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS

This NIH announcement encourages formative research, intervention development, and pilot-testing of interventions. Primary scientific areas of focus include the feasibility, tolerability, acceptability and safety of novel or adapted interventions that target HIV prevention or treatment.

Full announcement for the R34 here.

Reducing Health Disparities Among Minority and Underserved Children

This initiative encourages research that targets the reduction of health disparities among children. Specific targeted areas of research include bio-behavioral studies that incorporate multiple factors that influence child health disparities such as biological, lifestyle factors, environmental, social, economic, institutional, and cultural and family influences; studies that target the specific health promotion needs of children with a known health condition and/or disability; and studies that test, evaluate, translate, and disseminate health promotion prevention and interventions conducted in traditional and non-traditional settings.

Announcement for R01 here and R21 here.

Healthy Habits: Timing for Developing Sustainable Healthy Behaviors in Children and Adolescents

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), issued by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), is to encourage applications that employ innovative research to identify mechanisms of influence and/or promote positive sustainable health behavior(s) in children and youth (birth to age 18). Positive health behaviors may include: developing healthy sleep patterns, developing effective self-regulation strategies, adaptive decision-making in risk situations, practicing proper dental hygiene, eating a balanced and nutritious diet, engaging in age-appropriate physical activity and/or participating in healthy relationships.

Announcement for R01 here and R21 here.

NIH Funding (Other Deadlines)

Advanced Laboratories for Accelerating the Reach and Impact of Treatments for Youth and Adults with Mental Illness (ALACRITY) Research Centers (Deadline: Letter of intent due 30 days prior to the application due date; application due May 17, 2019; May 18, 2020)

Advanced Laboratories for Accelerating the Reach and Impact of Treatments for Youth and Adults with Mental Illness (ALACRITY) Research Centers will support the rapid development, testing, and refinement of novel and integrative approaches for (1) optimizing the effectiveness of therapeutic or preventive interventions for mental disorders within well-defined target populations; (2) organizing and delivering optimized mental health services within real world treatment settings; and (3) continuously improving the quality, impact, and durability of optimized interventions and service delivery within diverse care systems.

Full announcement for the P50 here.

Ancillary Studies to Identify Behavioral and/or Psychological Phenotypes Contributing to Obesity (Deadline: Letter of intent due 30 days prior to the application due date; application due February 28, 2019)

The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to encourage grant applications to support the addition of measures of psychological and/or behavioral constructs or weight-related variables (e.g.; BMI, body composition) to existing or new research studies in humans with the goal of elucidating behavioral or psychological phenotypes that explain individual variability in weight trajectory or response to obesity prevention or treatment interventions. The intent is to support the addition of new measurement in domains other than those covered in the parent grant as a means of elucidating the behavioral and psychological factors that may explain individual differences in weight status.

Full announcement for the R01 here.

Enhancing Science, Technology, EnginEering, and Math Educational Diversity (ESTEEMED) Research Education Experiences (R25) (Deadline: May 24, 2019)

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) invites applications for research education activities in the mission areas of the NIH. The over-arching goal of this National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) R25 program is to support educational activities that enhance the diversity of the biomedical, behavioral and clinical research workforce. To accomplish the stated over-arching goal, this FOA will support creative educational activities with a primary focus on Research Experiences and Mentoring Activities for underrepresented undergraduate freshmen and sophomores in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field, especially those fields which broadly impact bioengineering. The ESTEEMED program is intended to support underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. It will prepare these participants for an Advanced Honors Program, such as a MARC U-STAR (T34) program and institutional program with similar goals, in the junior and senior years and subsequently, to pursue a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. degree and a biomedical research career in academia or industry. This FOA will use the NIH R25 Education Projects award mechanism.

Full announcement here.

Predicting Behavioral Responses to Population-Level Cancer Control Strategies (R21 Clinical Trial Optional) (Deadline: Letter of intent due 30 days before due date: application due April 11, 2019)

The goal of this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is to facilitate research to identify individual influences on the effectiveness of population-level strategies that target cancer-related behaviors. We seek to encourage collaborations among scientists with expertise in health policy research and implementation, as well as investigators in scientific disciplines that have not traditionally conducted cancer or policy research, such as: psychological science (e.g., social, developmental); affective and cognitive neuroscience; judgment and decision-making; consumer behavior and marketing; organizational behavior; sociology, cultural anthropology; behavioral economics; linguistics; and political science.

Full announcement here.

Education and Health: New Frontiers

The goal of this funding opportunity announcement is to support research that will further elucidate the pathways involved in the relationship between education and health outcomes and in doing so to carefully identify the specific aspects and qualities of education that are responsible for this relationship and what the mediating factors are that affect the nature of the causal relationship.

Full announcements for the R01 here and R03 ;here and R21;here.

NSF Funding

CNH2: Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems (CNH2)
(Deadline: LOI Due December 17, 2018; September 17, 2019; September 17, Annually Thereafter; Application Due: February 14, 2019; November 15, 2019; November 15, Annually Thereafter)

The CNH2 Program supports research projects that advance basic scientific understanding of integrated socio-environmental systems and the complex interactions (dynamics, processes, and feedbacks) within and among the environmental (biological, physical and chemical) and human ("socio") (economic, social, political, or behavioral) components of such a system. The program seeks proposals that emphasize the truly integrated nature of a socio-environmental system versus two discrete systems (a natural one and a human one) that are coupled. CNH2 projects must explore a connected and integrated socio-environmental system that includes explicit analysis of the processes and dynamics between the environmental and human components of the system.

PIs are encouraged to develop proposals that push conceptual boundaries and build new theoretical framings of the understanding of socio-environmental systems. Additionally, we encourage the exploration of multi-scalar dynamics, processes and feedbacks between and within the socio-environmental system.

Full announcement here.

Perception, Action & Cognition
(Deadline: January 15, 2019 - February 1, 2019; January 15 - February 1, Annually Thereafter)

The PAC program funds theoretically motivated research on a wide-range of topic areas focused on typical human behavior. The aim is to enhance the fundamental understanding of perceptual, motor, and cognitive processes and their interactions. Central research topics for consideration by the program include (but are not limited to) vision, audition, haptics, attention, memory, reasoning, written and spoken language, motor control, categorization, and spatial cognition. Of particular interest are emerging areas, such as the interaction of sleep or emotion with cognitive or perceptual processes and the epigenetics of cognition. The program welcomes a wide range of perspectives, such as individual differences, symbolic computation, connectionism, ecological, genetics and epigenetics, nonlinear dynamics and complex systems, and a variety of methodologies including both experimental studies and modeling.

Full announcement here.

Science of Learning (SL)
(Deadline:January 16, 2019, Third Wednesday in January, Annually Thereafter; July 10, 2019, Second Wednesday in July, Annually Thereafter)

The Science of Learning program supports potentially transformative basic research to advance the science of learning. The goals of the SL Program are to develop basic theoretical insights and fundamental knowledge about learning principles, processes and constraints.

Full announcement here.

Developmental Sciences
(Deadline: January 15, 2019, January 15, Annually Thereafter; July 15, 2019, July 15, Annually Thereafter)

Developmental Sciences supports research that addresses developmental processes within the domains of cognitive, social, emotional, and motor development across the lifespan by working with any appropriate populations for the topics of interest including infants, children, adolescents, adults, and non-human animals. The program also supports research investigating factors that affect developmental change including family, peers, school, community, culture, media, physical, genetic, and epigenetic influences. Additional priorities include research that: incorporates multidisciplinary, multi-method, microgenetic, and longitudinal approaches; develops new methods, models, and theories for studying development; includes participants from a range of ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and cultures; and integrates different processes (e.g., memory, emotion, perception, cognition), levels of analysis (e.g., behavioral, social, neural), and time scales.

Full announcement here.

Social Psychology
(Deadline: January 15, 2019, January 15, Annually Thereafter; July 15, 2019, July 15, Annually Thereafter)

The Social Psychology Program at NSF supports basic research on human social behavior, including cultural differences and development over the life span. Among the many research topics supported are: attitude formation and change, social cognition, personality processes, interpersonal relations and group processes, the self, emotion, social comparison and social influence, and the psychophysiological and neurophysiological bases of social behavior.

Full announcement here.

Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers
(Deadline: August 14, 2019, Second Wednesday in August, Annually Thereafter)

ITEST is a research and development program that supports projects to promote PreK-12 student interests and capacities to participate in the STEM and information and communications technology (ICT) workforce of the future. The ITEST program supports research on the design, development, implementation, and selective spread of innovative strategies for engaging students in technology-rich experiences that: (1) increase student awareness of STEM occupations; (2) motivate students to pursue appropriate education pathways to STEM occupations; or (3) develop disciplinary-based knowledge and practices, or promote critical thinking, reasoning skills, or communication skills needed for entering STEM workforce sectors.

Full announcement here.

Research in the Formation of Engineers
(Deadline: August 24, 2018 - August 23, 2019)

The NSF Engineering (ENG) Directorate has launched a multi-year initiative, the Professional Formation of Engineers, to create and support an innovative and inclusive engineering profession for the 21st Century. Professional Formation of Engineers (PFE) refers to the formal and informal processes and value systems by which people become engineers. It also includes the ethical responsibility of practicing engineers to sustain and grow the profession in order to improve quality of life for all peoples. The engineering profession must be responsive to national priorities, grand challenges, and dynamic workforce needs; and it must be equally open and accessible to all.

Full announcement here.

Smart and Connected Health
(Deadline: December 11, 2018; Dec. 11, Annually thereafter)

The purpose of this interagency program solicitation is to support the development of technologies, analytics and models supporting next generation health and medical research through high-risk, high-reward advances in computer and information science, engineering and technology, behavior and cognition. Collaborations between academic, industry, and other organizations are strongly encouraged to establish better linkages between fundamental science, medicine and healthcare practice and technology development, deployment and use.

Full announcement here.

Methodology, Measurement, and Statistics
(Deadline: January 31, 2019; Last Thursday in January, Annually thereafter; August 30, 2019; Last Thursday in August, Annually thereafter)

The Methodology, Measurement, and Statistics (MMS) Program is an interdisciplinary program in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences that supports the development of innovative analytical and statistical methods and models for those sciences. MMS seeks proposals that are methodologically innovative, grounded in theory, and have potential utility for multiple fields within the social, behavioral, and economic sciences.

Full announcement here.

Science, Technology, and Society
(Deadline: February 4, 2019; February 2, Annually thereafter; August 3, 2019; August 3, Annually thereafter)

The Science, Technology, and Society (STS) program supports research that uses historical, philosophical, and social scientific methods to investigate the intellectual, material, and social facets of the scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical (STEM) disciplines. It encompasses a broad spectrum of STS topics including interdisciplinary studies of ethics, equity, governance, and policy issues that are closely related to STEM disciplines, including medical science.

Full announcement here.

Law & Social Sciences
(Deadline: January 29, 2019; January 15, Annually thereafter; August 1, 2019; August 1, Annually thereafter)

The Law & Social Sciences Program considers proposals that address social scientific studies of law and law-like systems of rules. The Program is inherently interdisciplinary and multi-methodological. Successful proposals describe research that advances scientific theory and understanding of the connections between human behavior and law, legal institutions, or legal processes.

Full announcement here.

Other Funding Opportunities

Russel Sage Foundation: Integrating Biology and Social Science Knowledge (BIOSS)
(Deadlines: Letter of Inquiry due May 23, 2019 for August 15, 2019 Invited Proposal)

The Russell Sage Foundation is an operating foundation dedicated to programs of social science research. The initiative, in collaboration with the JPB Foundation, will support innovative social science research on social and economic outcomes that improves our understanding of the interactive mechanisms by which environmental influences affect biological mechanisms, and vice versa. This includes research that: (1) estimates how the structured nature of the social environment and intra- and intergenerational social inequalities affect biological processes, (2) identifies which indicators of biological processes interact with the social environment to affect different life domains and how, and (3) yields new conceptual frameworks that holistically characterize the complex relationships among biological, psychological and environmental factors to predict a range of behavioral and social outcomes.

Full announcement here.

William T. Grant Foundation
(Deadlines: January 9, 2019)

In this program, we seek studies to build, test, and increase understanding of responses to inequality in youth outcomes.

Full announcement here.

Illinois Strengths in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

COSA Rankings
Illinois is #28 in federally supported R&D expenditures in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. 
See complete rankings here 

Past and Present Social Science Accomplishments
Illinois faculty have been at the forefront of work that has shaped modern society:

  • Shaped US policy on financial statements
  • Established the first doctoral program in accountancy
  • Taught the world how to design surveys (Seymour Sudman)
  • Revolutionized marketing research (Jagdish Sheth)
  • Codified the role of human innovation in the face of environmental problems (Julian Simon)
  • Revolutionized organ donation (Al Roth)
  • Shaped US retirement policy (Jeff Brown)
  • Defined the study of how wars escalate (Vasquez & Althaus)
  • Showed that the brain is plastic (Greenough)
  • Established the scientific study of subjective well-being (or “happiness”; Diener)
  • Defined the field of psychometrics (Cronbach, Tucker, Cattell, Osgood)
  • Pioneered the field of community psychology (Rappaport)
  • Discovered the major pillars of culture (Triandis)
  • Demonstrated that personality can change even in old age (Roberts)
  • Transformed conservation science with the economic analysis of land management (Ando)
  • Conducts seminal research on important social programs, such as food stamps (Gundersen)
  • Provide advice to organizations like the World Bank, OECD, Social Security Administration, and the President of the United States (a few of us)

Steering Committee Members

  • Brent Roberts, Psychology, Chair
  • Craig Gundersen, Agricultural & Consumer Economics
  • Hillary Klonoff-Cohen, Kinesiology & Community Health
  • Christopher Larrison, Social Work
  • Robert Lawless, Law
  • Jeffery Mondak, Political Science
  • Silvina Montrul, Linguistics
  • Andrew Orta, Anthropology
  • Eva Pomerantz, Psychology
  • Rebecca Sandefur, Sociology
  • Patrick Vargas, Advertising

Faculty Publications and Achievements

Subscribe to the SBSRI mailing list

Find social and behavioral science events on campus on our calendar