2017 Interdisciplinary Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Three teams of University of Oregon researchers have received the 2017 Interdisciplinary Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Generously supported by the University of Oregon Foundation, these vital awards provide $25,000 in seed funding to conduct preparatory work on projects, paving the way for additional external funding.

The program prioritizes projects that investigate the interrelationships between human activity and the environment. The recipients of  2017 awards are:

  • Michelle Jacob (Education Studies) –  The award will establish an Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) Research Partnership at the University of Oregon, building on the interdisciplinary research partnerships that already exist within the university and with Northwest Tribal Nations. The team includes co-PIs Virgina Beavert (Northwest Indian Language Institute), Kirby Brown, (English), Robert Elliot (Northwest Indian Language Institute) and Nathan Georgitis (UO Libraries). The partnership will work to engage Northwest Tribal leaders to create a database of existing knowledge and identify strenths, research gaps, and future projects along with developing a research training program for students  in ITEK research.
  • Ryan Light (Sociology) – Ryan Light will lead a team of researhers  interested in using social media data to quickly and effectively identify public health concerns that are the results of  environmental contamination. The team includes co-PIs Reza Rejaie, (Computer and Information Science), Clare Evans, (Sociology) and Raoul Lievanos (Sociology). The goal of this project is to develop a toolkit for computational environmental health science to track health events using big data. The award will create a pilot project to test the methodology and validate analytic tools with three historical case studies.
  • Marsha Weisiger (History) – The award will fund a two-year research and public engagement program on the topic of Oregon’s public lands carried out by the UO Center for Environmental Futures. The team includes co-PIs Stephanie LeMenager (English and Environmental Studies), Sarah Wald, (Environmental Studies & English. Project outcomes include a co-authored book and an interactive website which will reflect perspectives on the role of public lands in climate change mitigation, the complex relationship of public lands on Native sovereignty, the vitality of our rural ranching and logging communities, issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the public lands, and the role of public lands in  democratic culture.

“These dynamic scholars are committed to innovative projects that will have human impacts,” said Jim Shephard, chair of the University of Oregon Foundation Board. “The University of Oregon Foundation is proud to support their outstanding work through this award program.”

I hope you will join me in congratulating this year’s awardees and thanking the University of Oregon Foundation for their generous support.


David Conover