Meet the recipients of the 2016 I 3 Awards

The Office of the Vice President for Research & Innovation has announced the recipients of the 2016 Incubating Interdisciplinary Initiatives (I 3) awards. The awards provide a year of funding for new interdisciplinary research projects in areas likely to generate external funding.

The 2016 awards went to four teams:

“Live Imaging of the Gut-Brain Axis: Examining the Intersection between Neurons and Inflammation”

Anne Powell, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology; Cris Niell, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology; Yashar Ahmadian, an assistant professor in the Departments of Biology & Math; and Judith Eisen, a professor in the Department of Biology, will apply novel tools from neuroscience to investigate the role of the enteric nervous system in chronic inflammation of the intestine and colon, such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

“Neuroimaging Approaches to Studying the Neurodevelopmental Effects of Malnutrition in Southeast Asia”

Jeffrey Measelle, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology; Dare Baldwin, a professor in the Department of Psychology; Geeta Eick, a laboratory manager and research scientist; Geraldine Richmond, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; and Josh Snodgrass, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, were awarded for their proposal to perform the first functional brain imaging study of malnourished infants in SE Asia in order to better understand the implications of malnutrition for brain development and sensory/cognitive functioning during infancy. Preparatory consultations with promising external funding sources (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NICHD, Ford Foundation) suggest that the pilot data collected with I 3 support would enable a series of high-probability proposals.

“Neural circuit mechanisms underlying speech processing”

Mike Wehr, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, and Kaori Idemaru, an associate professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, received an I 3 award for their interdisciplinary proposal to bring together a linguistics lab and a systems neuroscience lab to develop a mouse model of speech perception with the broad goal of understanding the neuronal circuitry underlying speech processing.

“Personalized Thermal Comfort in the Built Environment”

Chris Minson, a professor in the Department of Human Physiology; Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, an associate professor in the Department of Architecture Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory; Susan Sokolowski, an associate professor in the Product Design Program; Michel Kinsy, an assistant professor in the Department of Computing and Information Sciences, received the award for their proposal to utilize an innovative approach to design a unique advanced personal system to improve thermal comfort in work and home environments.

The Incubating Interdisciplinary Initiatives (I 3) award program emphasizes partnerships that emerge from shared research interests and are developed in light of external funding opportunities, UO’s institutional strengths, academic priorities, and institutional history. Recipients are eligible for up to $50,000 in funding to be used to position projects to compete successfully for extramural funds that will support long-range research programs.

Applications are reviewed by a panel of faculty reviewers, who make recommendations. Final determination of funding is made by the vice president for research & innovation.

In choosing the recipients, preference was given to projects with significant scientific or scholarly merit and strong potential for extramural funding as well as those representing a new direction for the lead faculty member or research team and those that promise to build or strengthen cross-disciplinary research partnerships.

In 2016, a UO team successfully parlayed its I 3 award into a $3.5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to gain a better understanding of the principles of quantum information sciences as they pertain to processes central to biology.

View full synopses of the I 3 research projects on the Research Development Services website.