Grants Funded for the 2017 - 2018 Academic Year

The following projects were selected for funding by the annual Women's Board Grants Committee in April 2017. 17 grants for a total of $600,000 were awarded across the University of Chicago thanks to your generous support.

Faculty Research and Support

Animal Resources Center - Gnotobiotic Research Animal Facilty
Gnotobiotic Research Animal Facility Equipment Innovation & Capacity Enhancements

This proposal will fund a pilot and feasibility study to investigate the use of a novel high throughput rodent housing technology to expand the capacity of the Gnotobiotic Research Animal Facility (GRAF) within the Basic Science Division of The University Of Chicago.  Funds include partial salary support for a University of Chicago Post-Baccalaureate student and research assistant.  Hypothesis driven study design will generate findings which will be published.  Requested funds include support for presentation of results at a National Laboratory Animal Science meeting as well as first author publication.  The GRAF is a highly prized research resource which transcends departmental and divisional boundaries. The unit supports, but is not limited to, studies bridging Microbiome research conducted by investigators associated with the Institute for Translational Medicine, The Microbiome Center, The Argonne National Laboratory, and innovative research of interest to the Polsky center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Amount Awarded: $18,742

Center for Health and the Social Sciences (CHeSS)
Sustaining and Evaluating the TEACH Research Program 

TEACH (Training Early Achievers for Careers in Health) Research aims to inspire and train diverse, high-achieving, underrepresented, teens from Chicago public high schools to both pursue and promote medical research careers in their communities.  Since seed funding was received from the Women’s Board in 2005 followed by two larger multi-year NIH grants, 169 Chicago public school students have completed the program.  Data shows TEACH Research students have two times the intent to enter a scientific research career one year post-program.  Interestingly, to raise the visibility of research in their communities, our students also design and lead media campaigns promoting research careers to their peers via “STRIVES (Spreading Teen Research Inspired Videos to Engage Schoolmates).  Because their NIH grant ends in Summer 2017,  Women’s Board bridge funding was sought to complete our long-term evaluation and sustain our engagement of local youth to promote the value of medical research to their communities.

Amount Awarded: $40,000

Building an Image Slicer to Reveal the Invisible Cosmos

Image slicers are a transformational technology for astronomy.  They offer simultaneous imaging and spectroscopic capabilities for exploring the Cosmos.  By breaking a 2D image into small pieces and by analyzing the spectra of individual pieces, an image slicer captures detailed information across the entire image.  A new infrared spectrograph is being built for the Magellan Telescopes, and its current design can accommodate an image slicer.  Building an image slicer for a spectrograph already underway presents a unique opportunity for Chicago Astronomers to contribute to Magellan instrumentation at a relatively low cost.  The University of Chicago has already made major commitments to both Magellan and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT).  Support from the Women’s Board will expand Magellan’s capabilities, help the University maintain an active role in astronomical instrumentation in the GMT era, and provide a rare opportunity for a graduate student to develop modern instruments from the ground up.

Amount Awarded: $60,714

Tackling Gang Violence in the Digital Age: Using Social Media to Analyze, Predict, and Prevent Shootings in Chicago

The 2017-2018 Women’s Board Grants Committee awarded the Department of Sociology $49,894 in order to fund an automated computer program that will explain and predict gun violence in Chicago. Professor Forrest Stuart spent eighteen months embedded with one of Chicago’s most well-known and violent gangs, whereby he developed intimate knowledge of how social media is used in the commission of violence. Based on that data, he built an automated computer program that collects and archives gang-affiliated Twitter content. With The Women’s Board support, Professor Stuart will extend the sample, scope, and sophistication of the analysis, with the ultimate goal of creating a predictive tool that could alert officers and issue warnings to community schools and organizations before violence even occurs. 

Amount Awarded: $49,894

Probing "Inner Space": Sub-cellular Nanotechnology for Early Disease Detection

The 2017-2018 Women’s Board Grants Committee awarded the Department of Chemistry $70,000 to further their research of early disease detection. Professor Yamuna Krishnan’s laboratory has invented breakthrough imaging technology that can measure the levels of key chemicals within cellular organelles, which can help inform how healthy or diseased a cell is. By identifying altered chemical signatures within cells, diseases can be identified well before symptoms manifest in the whole body. With the support of The Women’s Board Grants Fund, Professor Krishnan and her lab will expand their technology to image and measure calcium within organelles directly derived from human blood. This would offer other researchers at the university a powerful tool for fundamental research into biolmedical problems resulting from dysregulated calcium, such as osteoporosis or gestational diabetes, and will lead to early-stage diagnosis for these conditions.

Amount Awarded: $70,000

Transforming Emergency Care of Older Adults Who Fall

The 2017-2018 Women’s Board Grants Committee awarded the sections of Emergency Medicine and Geriatrics in the UChicago Medical Center $51,050 to go towards improving the quality of care and treatment of older adults who have fallen and require emergency care. At the University of Chicago, 63% of these patients suffer repeat falls, ED revisits, hospitalizations, and even death. Thanks to UChicago Medicine’s development of the South Side’s only Level 1 adult trauma center (scheduled to open in 2018), the Sections of Emergency Medicine and Geriatrics will together develop, execute, and review the emergency department’s management of elders who fall, in order to improve quality and patient safety. By further building the ED/geriatrics team, developing performance metrics with feedback and reporting, and ensuring patient understanding and optimal care transitions, this grant will serve the South Side of Chicago’s population of vulnerable and frail older adults, stronger older adults as they age, their families, and their caregivers.

Amount Awarded: $51,050

The Arts and Cultural Institutions

Sustaining Doc Films: A University of Chicago Cultural Institution

The 2017-2018 Women’s Board Grants Committee awarded Doc Films $15,000 in order to conduct comprehensive repairs to their sound and projection equipment. The oldest student-run film society in the country, Doc Films holds roughly 450 screenings each year, engaging over 50,000 audience members. Run by over 125 volunteers of students and local community members, they consistently partner with other organizations so that their programming reaches broad audiences. By providing this funding, Doc Films will be revitalized for years to come, and the enhanced technical capabilities will bring them up to date with local competitors, and will allow for more discussion-oriented events.

Amount Awarded: $15,000

The Originalist at Court Theatre

The 2017-2018 Women’s Board Grants Committee awarded The Court Theatre $5,000 to support their production of John Strand’s The Originalist. Named for originalism, the doctrine which states that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the intentions of the Founding Fathers, The Originalist explores discourse and argumentation through dramatized conversations of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and a liberal law clerk. To accompany the production, Court plans to develop an interdisciplinary collaboration with the University of Chicago Law School and the Institute of Politics to engage audiences around the complex debates and themes embedded in the drama of the play.

Amount Awarded: $5,000

The UChicago Women's Board Post-MFA Residency Fellowship Program

The 2017-2018 Women’s Board Grants Committee awarded the Department of Visual Arts $27,000 to create the UChicago Women’s Board Post-MFA Residency Fellowship Program, through a partnership with Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residencies, one of the most elite programs in the United States. These residencies have enormous impact for recently graduated MFA students, giving them time to continue developing their work as artists, while also providing opportunities for professional development and networking. Moreover, this partnership with Ox-Bow fills a major gap in the Department of Visual Arts’ profile by allowing them to promote a significant post-graduate opportunity.

Amount Awarded: $27,000

Design Apprenticeship Program

University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life (APL) is seeking support from the Women’s Board to fund the Design Apprenticeship Program (DAP), a design-based mentorship and skills-building initiative that encourages teens and young adults to invest in the improvement of the physical and social conditions of their community. By developing skills in design, carpentry, and landscaping, DAP participants aid in the positive transformation of their neighborhood, including Washington Park, Woodlawn, and the Garfield Boulevard corridor. DAP is offered through a tiered, progressive structure to create a pathway of opportunity, to build a pipeline of talent, and to sustain the voices that will drive and support decision making in arts and culture creation locally and nationally. DAP highlights the University’s commitment to enrich its cultural interactions with the city and local artists, explore the role of arts in an urban research university, and to make a meaningful investment in local communities.

Amount Awarded: $5,000

Student Life

Culinary Medicine Training: Health Meet Food for Medical Students and the Community

As a continuation of the culinary medicine extra-curricular activity offered to U of C medical students in May 2015, this program will consist of an eight-week-long course to take place during the summer of 2017. During the week, 8 to 10 medical students will complete all nine of the Tulane University Culinary Medicine modules to prepare them to run hands-on nutrition workshops for various groups in the community ranging from elementary-school-aged children at the Montessori School in Englewood, adolescents at Blackstone Bikes and diabetic patients who receive care at the U of C Medical Center. We were fortunate to have received our original seed funding from this board and wish to expand medical student training and our community classes. The interest and support for the original concept has given us further opportunity to expand. 

Amount Awarded: $40,800

Grace Hopper Celebration Scholarship Fund

ACM-W, UChicago’s women in computer science club, would like to establish a scholarship fund for 30 undergraduate and graduate women students at UChicago to attend the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC), October 4-6, 2017. GHC is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. ACM-W supports women in computer science on campus through various programming and events. Sponsoring women students to attend GHC would increase ACM-W’s impact. Attendees would gain new technical knowledge, build professional networks, and be inspired to continue to achieve in the field. These tangible skills and insights will positively impact the campus community through the shared experiences of attendees, helping to narrow the gender gap and increasing the influence of UChicago women in technology fields. 

Amount Awarded: $27,400

Rural Odyssey Scholars Internship Fund

The 2017-2018 Women’s Board Grants Committee awarded the Office of Career Advancement $40,000 to go towards funding substantive internships in rural areas. UChicago Career Advancement provides paid internships for first-year Odyssey Scholars to ensure that all students can access meaningful careers, regardless of financial status. The program has successfully helped two cohorts of students find substantive internships and take their first step toward a fulfilling career. However, finding internships has been highly challenging for the 10% of Odyssey Scholars who come from small towns and rural areas. Many of these students have family responsibilities that require them to find summer work in their hometowns, which significantly complicates their internship search, as paid internship opportunities are very limited or even completely unavailable in these areas. With support from the Women’s Board, Career Advancement will have the resources to help small-town Odyssey Scholars find and fund meaningful opportunities in their home communities.

Amount Awarded: $40,000

Midway Fund for Unpaid Student Internships

The 2017-2018 Women’s Board Grants Committee awarded The Harris School of Public Policy’s Career Development Office $25,000 in order to fund unpaid student internships in the public or non-profit sector. The majority of students at the Harris School will secure internships and jobs in the non-profit and public fields.  The internships they secure in these sectors not only have a profound effect on their career prospects, but also allow local, national, and international organizations to utilize dedicated policy practitioners at little costs to the organizations.  The fund also allows students to accept these jobs without worry about cost of living; without the funds they receive, students would often be forced to turn down potentially career-altering opportunities.  This Women’s Board grant will support many deserving candidates that seek to change Chicago and the world by “doing good”.

Amount Awarded: $25,000

Community Outreach

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 the traumatic stress of growing up in high crime neighborhoods for the needs of teachers managing the realities of school and classroom management. The TREP Project has developed the Educator’s Core Curriculum on Trauma, which enables teachers to understand how chronic stress affects development and how it manifests in classroom behavior, as well as evidence-based interventions and best practices for educating students coping with the toxic stress of growing up in high crime neighborhoods. Our goal for the 2017-2018 academic year is to create two CPS learning communities to develop comprehensive school change plans adapted for CPS schools. The first learning community will include five neighborhood schools located in high crime community areas across the city. The second will include all the neighborhood schools in one targeted high crime community area. 

Amount Awarded: $61,100

South Side STEM Summer Camp

UChicago STEM Education requested funds to support a two-week, full-day STEM-focused summer camp experience for 40-50 rising 4th through 6th grade students in Chicago in July 2018. The camp will be free of charge for participating students, with a target population of low-income students from local public schools 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. Participating students will be identified from local Chicago Public Schools with whom UChicago STEM Education has existing relationships and partnerships.

Amount Awarded: $33,300

Engineering For Everyone: Bringing High-Quality Engineering Education to the Woodlawn Children's Promise Community: Phase 2

The School of Social Service Administration and UChicago STEM Education requested a second year of funding for their project, which the Women’s Board funded in 2016-17. Phase 2 of EfE will expand the project’s reach to include between 750 and 900 Kindergarten­–5th grade students in Woodlawn who will receive high-quality engineering experiences as part of their school curriculum, in addition to up to 10 new teachers in Woodlawn elementary schools who will receive materials and intensive supports to use the innovative Engineering is Elementary curriculum, as well as continued supports for the 19 teachers who were trained this year. In addition to reaching more children and teachers, a second year of funding will strengthen the foundation that has been laid to build sufficient capacity within each school and WCPC as a whole to expand and sustain the initiative moving forward. 

Amount Awarded: $30,000