New CAS partnership awards fund projects with global impact

Photo Credit: Partnerships seed funding program image
Mon, 01/08/2018 - 09:22

Deborah Brown, Jeffrey Stevens, and Stacey Waite are the first recipients of a new partnership seed funding program in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The program encourages the formation of mutually beneficial collaborations between faculty and organizations outside the university in order to fuel innovation, address societal issues, and contribute to the public good.

“I was delighted and pleasantly surprised by the number of applications we received for this brand new award,” Matthew L. Jockers, Associate Dean for Research and Partnerships for the college and Susan J. Rosowski Associate Professor of English, said. “We knew that there were faculty in the college who were excited by the idea of forming external partnerships, but I was really delighted when I saw so many strong applications coming in from all areas of the college: from the humanities, the social sciences, and the sciences.”

Deb Brown

Brown, an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, is partnering with Adjuvance Technologies, an organization dedicated to empowering health through breakthroughs in the design and manufacturing of vaccine adjuvants—chemicals that modify the effect of other chemicals. The Brown Lab recently completed work with Adjuvance Technologies in pre-clinical studies of influenza vaccine efficacy in mice, and the award will allow continued pre-clinical testing and research.

“Our vaccine platform will provide higher levels of immune memory, with lower amounts of vaccine and adjuvant, thus limiting the cost of each vaccine dose as well as toxicity and adverse side effects,” Brown said. “Adjuvant will benefit from their product being tested in pre-clinical models for influenza, and our laboratory will benefit from the addition of their product to our platform.”

Jeff Stevens

Stevens, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, is partnering with Prairie Skies, Inc. Stevens is establishing a new research program on canine cognition and dog-human interaction. Working with the organization’s trainer, Dr. Jill Morstad, will help him develop a series of assessments to assist with dog and owner team trainings—important for the military and service dog trainers, as well as the general public.

“There is no perfect test for canine temperament,” Stevens said. “Diagnostics that can quickly and easily assess dog and owner characteristics to predict the likelihood of training success or identify personalized training techniques would prove valuable to dog trainers and owners. Dr. Morstad can screen dogs at the beginning of testing and develop alternative training techniques.”

Stacy Waite

Waite, an associate professor in the Department of English, is partnering with Nebraska Writers Collective. Waite will launch a new data-focused research project to study the impact of the community literacy programs for its long-term significance for students and teachers.

“My previous research focuses primarily on college classrooms, and this research collaboration with the NWC allows me to continue to develop the connections between university classrooms and other powerful sites for writing in local communities,” Waite said. “This funding also gives me access to data I could not otherwise gather on my own.”

“The three projects selected for this inaugural award cycle show great promise for effecting positive change, and we could not be happier about the intellectual diversity represented in their projects,” said Dean Joseph S. Francisco. “The recipients represent the breadth of the college and the partners they have identified are equally varied; including an industry startup, a small business, and a local non-profit.”

According to the program’s web page, the program fits firmly within the college’s commitment to teaching, research, and service. The college believes that a vibrant faculty engages in a wide portfolio of partnership activities not just those that promote economic growth and financial advantages but also those that promote the public good.

“This award encourages faculty to move their work and their thinking beyond the lab bench and beyond the academic journals, and to build bridges out into the community by partnering with companies and non-profits,” Jockers said.