UM System announces strategic investments to advance humanities, fine arts, social and behavioral sciences research initiatives at MU

Nov. 18, 2020
Contact: Stephanie Fleming,, (573) 882-8353

In line with its mission of innovation, the University of Missouri System announced a series of research and creative works investments in the areas of arts, humanities, and social and behavioral sciences. The strategic investments to MU recipients total $460,000, with more than $380,000 from the UM System and a match of approximately $76,000 coming from MU.

“As a land-grant university, research is at the very core of our mission,” UM System President and MU Chancellor Mun Choi said. “Despite the financial challenges presented by the pandemic this year, we’re proud to make these strategic investments in the kinds of projects that delve into the intellectual and cultural ideals that help us better engage in and improve our society.”

In response to the call for proposals in February, 74 applications were received from faculty at all four University of Missouri institutions. The applications were sent out for external review and deliberated on by an internal review committee made up of faculty from each university. This year, 16 innovative research projects at Mizzou will receive funding from both the UM System and MU.

The contribution is part of the Research and Creative Works Strategic Investment Program and supports the UM System’s vision to advance opportunities for success and enrich the well-being for state, national and global communities through teaching, research, innovation, engagement and inclusion.

The latest funded research proposals at MU are: 

  • Claire Altman, assistant professor of health sciences, is conducting social science research to understand characteristics of foreign-born populations by legal status and examine how this affects integration outcomes. The project uses survey data from the U.S. Census and federal administrative records.
  • Mona Botezatu, assistant professor of speech, language and hearing sciences, is leading a project to explore language processing dynamics in adults during the early stages of learning a second language. The goal is to determine how the timing of the shift away from monolingual processing patterns relates to individual differences in second-language proficiency levels, cognitive resources and language pairings.
  • Nancy Cheak-Zamora, associate professor of health sciences, is leading a project to develop and validate a caregiver-reported, human-robot interaction measure based on young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and caregiver input. Her goal is to ensure adequate health care transition services, and the conclusion of this study will result in a usable electronic tool that can be immediately implemented in the health care system.
  • Signe Cohen, associate professor of religious studies, is leading a project to collate, analyze and publish data about how different religions influence access to health care in Missouri. Two teams of researchers will trace connections between religious affiliation, epidemiology and attitudes toward medical professionals in order to identify obstacles to adequate health care and recommend solutions.
  • Laura Cole, assistant professor of architectural studies, is combining expertise in elementary science education and sustainable design to develop, pilot and evaluate a water literacy unit for fourth-grade science classrooms. The unit will help students build connections between the water cycle and green roof technologies.
  • Marina Folescu, associate professor of philosophy, is analyzing historical philosophy of language and mind to better understand the role of consciousness in establishing self-knowledge.
  • Hsun-Ta Hsu, assistant professor of social work, is working with a team of researchers to apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop efficient and fair housing prioritization tools for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The data collection tool will be able to inform health policy development and service delivery.
  • Stephen Karian, associate professor of English, is creating a new edition of Alexander Pope’s Miscellany Poems in one volume as part of the 24-volume Oxford Edition of the Writings of Alexander Pope being published by Oxford University Press. The Miscellany Poems volume will contain about 240 edited poems and discuss about 80 attributions, explaining the political, cultural and literary contexts of the poems.
  • Detelina Marinova, the Sam M. Walton Distinguished Professor of Marketing, is leading a project that will use advanced computational methods to develop novel measures of sales communication effectiveness based on naturalistic, unstructured and conversational speech.
  • Clark Peters, associate professor of social work, is leading a project to design a culturally responsive social media campaign with the goal to improve mental health stigma and help-seeking among Black youth. The project will use Youth Participatory Action Research to develop and implement a culturally enhanced campaign with middle and high school black students in Boone County.
  • Hua Qin, associate professor of applied social sciences, is leading a project to develop general guidelines for systematic reviews and meta-analyses in environmental social science research.
  • Alexandru Radulescu, associate professor of philosophy, is leading a project using analytic philosophy methods to understand context dependent expressions and intentionalism of language.
  • Travis Shaffer, assistant professor of visual studies, is working on a project to create an extensive catalog of risograph printer profiles, and design and publish a risograph printed artist’s book. The art project will combine aspects of color theory, print media, contemporary photography and art books to create new color models for risograph printing.
  • Michelle Segovia, assistant professor of agricultural and applied economics, is leading a project to target the obesity rate among children by proposing the implementation of a four-period field experiment in the Columbia Public School district to test the effectiveness of monetary incentives in increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables among elementary school students.
  • Nicholas Smith, assistant professor of speech, language and hearing sciences, is leading a project to examine mother-child dialogue in families who took part in the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Program.
  • Delinda Van Garderen, professor of special education, is leading a project to extend the K-12 professional development program Linking Science and Literacy for All Learners. The study will help advance support for diverse learners and students with disabilities.

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