Grants Funded for the 2019 - 2020 Academic Year

The following projects were selected for funding by the annual Women's Board Grants Committee in April 2019. 17 grants for a total of $750,000 were awarded across the University of Chicago thanks to your generous support.


Faculty Research and Support

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
PrEPared daughter, happy mother! Exploring the relationship and cultural factors between mothers and daughters in the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) in the prevention of HIV among Latina Girls

Latinas are disproportionately burdened by HIV infection in the United States. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an effective prevention strategy that has the potential to reduce HIV incidence among HIV -vulnerable populations. However, despite PrEP’s demonstrated effectiveness, women remain under-represented in HIV prevention efforts and data regarding cultural influences on awareness and implementation of PrEP among Latinas remains very limited. This proposed research aims to: 1) expand existing PrEP research by engaging HIV-vulnerable Latinas and their mothers; and 2) explore role of the mother and cultural influences that affect PrEP education and uptake among this community. We hope to engage Latinas in the development of an intervention strategy that builds on mother-daughter relationships in order to address the HIV-related health inequities among this population residing in the South Side of Chicago.

Amount Awarded: $43,275.00


BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Using combined magnetic resonance methods to predict uterine fibroid growth

Uterine fibroids (UF) are non-cancerous tumors of the uterus. They affect ~80% of women in the United States and significantly impact the quality of life and reproductive health of affected women. UF symptoms can range from no symptoms to heavy bleeding, severe anemia, pain, infertility and pregnancy complications. There is currently no way to predict UF behavior. This leads to unnecessary interventions with associated healthcare costs and avoidable patient risks as well as delayed interventions resulting in life altering-symptoms and reproductive compromise. The goal of this study is to predict UF growth using magnetic resonance methods that have proved successful for similar tumors of the breast and prostate. This knowledge will lead to a tailored approach to UF treatment and empower women in our community to make informed decisions regarding the need for and timing of interventions that may significantly impact their lives and reproductive health.

Amount Awarded: $59,253.00


BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION
Department of Radiology
Optimizing fluoroscopic imaging of neonates and infants with inkjet-printed phatoms

Fluoroscopy is the primary imaging tool for diagnosing malformations of the gastrointestinal and urinary systems. Under-table fluoroscopy imaging is only now transitioning from image intensifier to flat-panel detector technology. Flat-panel detectors exhibit higher electronic noise. At the low radiation doses used to create individual frames of a fluoroscopy “movie”, electronic noise becomes dominant. Noise suppression algorithms have successfully resolved this problem when imaging adults. However, these techniques are not successful in the youngest pediatric patients due to their low inherent anatomic contrast. To spur the development of imaging technique and processing algorithms specifically adapted to less than two year old patients, this project proposes the creation of size-specific phantoms that faithfully represent neonate and infant anatomies, and to use simulated diagnostic tasks to evaluate image quality of these systems. To date, such phantoms do not exist, making it difficult to assess and optimize pediatric fluoroscopic imaging. 

Amount Awarded: $66,660.00


PHYSICAL SCIENCES DIVISION
Department of Chemistry
Non-addictive Opioids: Busting the Bottleneck

One in ten people prescribed opioids for chronic pain end up with an opioid-use disorder. These disorders have created a public health crisis on a scale so massive that it now affects life expectancy in the US. The connection between pain relief and opioid-use disorders begins at the opioid receptor, a protein. Drugs that target this receptor dull the perception of pain - or nociception - but also create dependence. Thus, the problem lies in the target - not the drug - and the solution lies in drugging proteins that will not lead to dependency. To develop non-addictive pain medication, we need an animal model of chronic pain using which we can economically screen for compounds that can counter pain non-addictively. Nematodes are small worms that are ideal for drug discovery. This project proposes to develop a nematode model of chronic pain to screen for small molecules for non-addictive pain intervention.  

Amount Awarded: $100,000.00


SOCIAL SCIENCES DIVISION
Department of Comparative Human Development
Advancing the Trauma Responsive Educational Practices Project (TREP Project)

The Trauma Responsive Educational Practices Project (TREP Project) works to translate the brain and behavior research on children coping with trauma for the realities of school and classroom management. The TREP Project has developed the Educator’s Core Curriculum on Trauma, which builds the capacity of educators and administrators to understand how chronic stress affects development and how it manifests in classroom behavior, as well as strengthening their skills to implement evidence-based interventions and pedagogical practices shown to improve the educational outcomes of children coping with toxic levels of traumatic stress. The project has obtained funding to engage in two iterative cycles of intervention implementation, testing, and revision during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years. This is intensive work with a limited number of schools. Women’s Board funding will be used to invest in developing dissemination resources, identify opportunities to engage in dissemination activities, and build relationships with dissemination partners.

Amount Awarded: $60,000.00


The Arts and Cultural Institutions

COURT THEATRE + ORIENTAL INSTITUTE
Court Theatre's An Illiad at Oriental Institute

In a bow to two milestones—the 100th Anniversary of Oriental Institute and Charles Newell’s 25th year as Artistic Director at Court Theatre—one of Court’s greatest successes receives a site-specific reimagining. Timothy Edward Kane reprises his award-winning performance in a new production of An Iliad. Amidst actual historical relics of kingly power in the Oriental’s galleries, this one-man adaptation of Homer’s Iliad returns the epic poem to the voice of the lone poet as he recounts a story of loss and human folly that echoes across three millennia of war and bloodshed. This revival of An Iliad looks relentlessly forward, breathing new aesthetic excitement into a cultural touchstone. Funding for this project will allow two cultural institutions of the UChicago community to collaborate on artistic and community engagement efforts, and provide students with opportunities to experience one of Court’s greatest productions reprised in the halls of the Oriental Institute.

Amount Awarded: $60,000.00


Quality of Student Life

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Pritzker School of Medicine
Socioeconomic Diversification of Medicine - Initiative to Support Medical Students from Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Backgrounds

Although national efforts have advocated for increasing the visibility and support for under-represented minorities in medical education, socioeconomic status (SES) has been not been adequately accounted for in these initiatives.  Within the privileged environment of medical academia, the intellectual, emotional, and financial demands are especially difficult for medical students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Efforts for community-based and preventative efforts for medical students. The objective of the initiative is to promote socioeconomic diversification and long-term wellbeing of physicians through the provision of social and financial support for Pritzker medical students from financially disadvantaged, low-SES backgrounds. Our efforts would establish novel precedence for socioeconomic equity within medical education and support the development of low-SES medical students into leaders who effectively mentor future physicians and expertly care for patients in a world that is increasingly interconnected, complex, and diverse.

Amount Awarded: $41,050.00


BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION
AWM, GRIT, GWiCS, SWE, + WiBS
2020 University of Chicago Women in STEM Symposium

The UChicago Women in STEM Symposium is a two-day conference with an emphasis on addressing systemic sociological issues faced by women in STEM. The schedule includes plenary speakers, workshops on areas of interest to women in STEM, a poster session, and networking opportunities. The goals of this conference are to build a community in the Chicagoland area to support long-lasting collaborations and/or mentorships among female mathematicians, engineers, and scientists. It will also provide an opportunity for students to present research in a supportive, non-threatening environment, as well as  introduce women to role models in STEM, and to educate local mathematicians, engineers, and scientists on addressing challenges especially relevant to women in STEM.

Amount Awarded: $19,166.00


STUDENT NATIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION MINORITY ASSOCIATION OF PREMEDICAL STUDENTS - UNIVERISTY OF CHICAGO CHAPTER
Student National Medical Association Annual Medical Education Conference

The Student National Medical Association Minority Association of Premedical Students (SNMA-MAPS) is a registered student organization at the University of Chicago committed to supporting premedical students of color on their path to medicine. Each year the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) hosts a national conference, called the Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC), inviting members from both the premedical and medical school chapters across the country. Each year the conference hosts hundreds of doctors, medical students and premedical students of color for a weekend of networking and professional workshops centered on increasing diversity in the field of medicine. AMEC is an incredible opportunity for our premedical students of color to interact with medical students, meet medical school admissions officers and attend a series of professional development workshops to prepare for the medical school admissions process. 

Amount Awarded: $35,620.00


Community Outreach

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION
Department of Ecology and Evolution
Genome Hackers Summer Camp for Young Women in STEM

This Genome Hackers is not your average science summer day camp! It’s a by-girls-for-girls STEM skills-building workshop designed to welcome 18 underserved young women from Chicago public high schools to benefit from the expert, small group instruction of UofC women. Genome Hackers is completely organized and run by female PhD candidates in the Biological Sciences Division who know that diverse perspectives working together is the key to innovation and cutting-edge science. 

Amount Awarded: $12,500.00


BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION
Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology
STAMPP-HTN-Systematic Treatment and Management of  Postpartum Hypertension

Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are a leading cause of maternal mortality and morbidity. Although managed appropriately at the hospital during pregnancy, these women are at continued increased risk of complications after delivery. In addition, the rates of postpartum follow-up are traditionally low especially among African American women. Dr. Rana, who is the chief of high-risk obstetrics, NIH-funded scientist and world expert in preeclampsia, is proposing to use Home Blood Pressure Telemonitoring (HBPT), a combination of home blood pressure monitoring coupled with transmission of data to the care provider. No previous trials have examined care delivery systems that incorporate HBPT among postpartum women. With the requested funding, a diverse patient care group including physicians, nurses and pharmacist want to engage in community outreach to improve blood pressure control among postpartum women, which will improve their overall long-term health and reduce their risk of future hypertension, heart disease and stroke.

Amount Awarded: $57,604.00


DEBATE IT FORWARD
Debate it Forward Scholarships

Debate it Forward (DIF) is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded by two University of Chicago undergraduates. DIF employs college students (mainly from the University of Chicago) to teach afterschool and school-day debate classes to schools that currently lack access. Primarily focusing children with special learning needs, children of low income, and young children, DIF cultivates the skills needed for healthy discourse. Demonstrated outcomes of DIF include a variety of social-emotional benefits, including analytical thinking skills, perspective taking & empathy, and research & communication skills. This grant from the Women’s Board will provide scholarships to at least 250 students.

Amount Awarded: $30,000.00


OFFICE OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
The Neighborhood Schools Project
Maroon Tutor Match

Maroon Tutor Match (MTM) is a UChicago student led tutoring service which builds upon the Neighborhood School Program’s model of providing tutors to local schools. Through MTM, UChicago students are matched with tutees and serve as individual tutors to community youth after school and on the weekends. Over the past three years, MTM has serviced over 1,000 distinct families across Chicagoland, with 78% of students coming from the South Side community areas adjacent to the University including Woodlawn, Washington Park, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, Douglas, South Shore, Grand Boulevard, and Greater Grand Crossing. MTM's new funding from the Women’s Board will increase its engagement and help meet the demand for its services from low-income students residing in the University’s adjacent nine neighborhoods by establishing a MTM South Side Community Scholarship Fund. In 2019-2020, MTM will also design and implement a robust tutor on-boarding and training module that will educate our tutors on best practices in tutoring and provide quarterly workshops for UChicago tutors, tutees, and parents.

Amount Awarded: $47,440.00


PHYSICAL SCIENCES DIVISION
UChicago STEM Education
South Side STEM Summer Camp

UChicago STEM Education's project will support tuition and programming for a two-week, full-day STEM-focused summer camp experience for approximately 50 rising 5th and 6th grade Chicago Public School students in July 2020. The camp will be free of charge for participating students, with a target population of low-income students from public schools in the communities surrounding the University who might not otherwise be able to afford this type of camp or have the opportunity to engage in high-quality STEM experiences during the summer.

Amount Awarded: $53,150.00


University of Chicago Science Olympiad
Science on the South Side: Creating an Elementary Science Olympiad Program with the Chicago Public Schools

This project's mission is to cultivate the natural curiosity of elementary-school-age students in underserved Chicago communities to help them achieve excellence in the sciences. It will create an Elementary Science Olympiad (ESO) program within the Chicago Public Schools that will foster after-school science enrichment through exciting, hands-on activities. ESO is a national K-5 program where students compete in academic “events.” This competitive framework makes learning science engaging and develops students’ interpersonal and collaborative skills as they compete in teams. Through this proposed 2-year plan, a undergraduate- and graduate-student-led team will establish an ESO program by adopting 5 schools and hosting annual showcase competitions. The project will design a 15-week curriculum in which lesson plans are devised for each “event” and provide all materials. At each school, the project team will identify and train a facilitator to lead each lesson. The program will culminate with a showcase competition held at the University of Chicago..

Amount Awarded: $14,616.00


UCHICAGO URBAN LABS
Poverty Lab
Keeping school engaging, supportive, and accessible for students experiencing homelessness

One in 20 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students experience homelessness, though in very different circumstances. Some students experience “literal” homelessness in shelters or on the street; the majority stay “doubled up” with friends or family; and others still face homelessness “unaccompanied” by parents or guardians. While the hardships associated with these situations vary, students experiencing homelessness are currently entitled to the same supports regardless of their situation. In close partnership with CPS, Dr. Shantá Robinson of SSA and the UChicago Poverty Lab are working to address this discrepancy. Drawing on the expertise of those with lived experience of homelessness – the students and parents themselves – they will highlight successful academic interventions, clarify gaps in service, and uncover new best practices. This research will lead to the design, implementation, and evaluation of supports specifically intended to help homeless students in Chicago stay engaged in school despite the considerable barriers they face.

Amount Awarded: $37,688.00


URBAN EDUCATION INSTITUTE
University of Chicago Charter School
Pearls with Power

Pearls with Power is a six week, signature program designed to give young women of the University of Chicago Charter School Woodlawn Campus (UCW) an opportunity to develop and enhance the skills they need to succeed in college, careers, and life. Developed and operated by the Women’s Board UEI Partners Committee, the program provides an opportunity to practice networking, presentation, and other professional skills, learn effective approaches to time-management, and build self-confidence. It also provides young women of UCW with an extended support community that they can tap into as they continue their journeys through high school, to college, and beyond. 

Amount Awarded: $11,978.00