Seed Grant Initiative Awards – 2016-17


Inge-Marie Eigsti (PI)
(Professor - Psychology)



Community Engagement in Deafness and Autism Research (CEDAR)

 PI: Inge-Marie Eigsti (Psychological Sciences)

Team Members:
Marie Coppola (Psychological Sciences/Linguistics)
Diane Lillo-Martin (Linguistics)
Matt Lerner (Psychology) & Mark Aronoff (Linguistics) from Stony Brook University

Including Deaf individuals as partners in research has advanced our understanding of sign language and Deaf culture; however, tensions remain between the Deaf community and researchers. Similar issues arise in the domain of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Are ASD and Deafness medical conditions in need of medical solutions (e.g., a cochlear implant, behavioral therapy), or cultural identities? This IBaCS Seed Grant will support a workshop aimed at promoting dialogue among stakeholders and researchers.

To date, we have successfully applied for additional support for our workshop from the Institute for Brain and Cognitive Sciences (IBACS). Together with the PDP funds, this will allow us to hold a 2-day workshop. We have booked the conference space at Branford House, Avery Point, to be held on March 12-13, 2018.  We are very excited to announce that we have secured an exciting speaker, Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes, to serve as Keynote/Headliner.  We are in the process of nominating Deaf and autistic community members to serve on the Steering Committee.  We plan to work with the UConn Bookstore to promote Silberman’s visit (Diane Lillo-Martin is in charge of this) and are working with UConn Communications to promote the event.  We are also beginning discussions with the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders for a special issue on the topic of CEDAR (focused on ASD, rather than Deafness). We would be delighted with further suggestions about how to make this a success, noting that the Branford House is only big enough for 50 attendees, and we intend to limit attendance to researchers and ‘stakeholders.’



Wendy Glenn(PI)
(Professor - Educational Curriculum & Instruction)



Exploring and Expanding Understandings of Islam Through Young Adult Literature

PI: Wendy Glenn

Team Members:

Ricki Ginsberg, UConn PhD graduate in Curriculum and Instruction

Danielle King, UConn PhD candidate in Curriculum and Instruction

Arianna Drossopoulos, Teacher at East Hartford High School and UConn graduate

Tala Adawiya, UConn undergraduate in English Education

Asfia Qutub, UConn undergraduate in English Education

Kate Capshaw, UConn Professor of English

Victoria Ford Smith, UConn Associate Professor of English

Project Title: Exploring and Expanding Understandings of Islam Through Young Adult Literature

This project engaged freshmen students at East Hartford High School in reading and conversation around young adult (YA) literature with Islam-related content and Muslim protagonists to help them build more complex understandings of a less familiar (and too often misrepresented) religion and culture. Students worked in small groups and as a class to read and discuss YA fiction, focusing specifically on content related to Islam and Muslim culture. At the end of the reading and discussion experience, students participated in an inquiry project that asked them to select a research question growing from their reading and classroom discussions, gather information, and design a product that shares their findings and educates their intended audience. These products were presented during a project celebration on the UConn campus on May 15, 2017 that included a panel featuring the authors of the YA novels read.




Robin Greeley (PI)
(Associate Professor – Art & Art History)



Aesthetics, Memorialization and Peace-Building in Transitional Justice Contexts


Michael Orwicz, Associate Professor, Department of Art & Art History



Glenn Mitoma (PI)
(Assistant Professor – Human Rights)



Evaluation of Deliberation in the Sheff Movement Design Challenge

This project seeks to explore the effectiveness of the Sheff Movement Design Challenge process in advancing public understanding of and engagement with the contentious issues involved in school integration in the Hartford region and the role of scholars and practitioners in supporting such a process.

Beginning in the summer of 2016, the Sheff Movement Coalition embarked on a process to promote meaningful public discourse and engagement in developing a community-informed plan to advance the goal of quality integrated education in the Hartford region over the next three to five years.  Important components of the process include a community-wide design challenge event held at the Hartford Public Library in October 2016 and an ongoing large-scale information gathering effort. The current phase involves continued deliberation on selecting and implementing critical initiatives that build on, respond to, or actualize the learning from the community engagement process.


Shayla Nunnally (PI)
(Associate Professor – Political Science & Africana Studies Institute)



The Black Class Reunion: Race, Education and Political Socialization in Black Public High Schools in the State of Virginia, 1870-1970




Jeremy Pressman (PI)
(Assistant Professor - Political Science)



Foreign Voices, Openness to Experience, and U.S. Public Opinion about International Affairs

PI: Jeremy Pressman


Dr. Matthew Leep, Social Sciences Department, Western Governors University

How does the national source of criticism affect views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? We ran two survey experiments using multiple versions of news stories about Israeli settlement construction and the conduct of the Israeli military toward Palestinians. The idea was to measure whether people’s opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were differentially affected by different foreign and domestic cues. We also considered the role of domestic partisanship and personality traits, including openness to new information.


Watson, Ryan (PI)
(Assistant Professor – Human Development and Family Studies)



Transgender erasure and exclusion: Next steps in the discourses at the nexus of gender identity, policy, and health

PI: Ryan Watson

Faculty webpage:

Project Title: Transgender erasure and exclusion: Next steps in the discourses at the nexus of gender identity, policy, and health

In contemporary discourse, we cannot go long without learning of new restrictions, proposed or passed, that limit the rights of gender minorities (i.e., transgender individuals). This project arranges a team of scholars and stakeholders to reduce and eliminate barriers that exist in relation to transgender rights. A major part of the project involves a special collection of empirical papers for the International Journal of Transgenderism aimed at reducing divisiveness in discourses related to transgender health — 14 papers from 7 countries are being considered. Another aspect of this project involves development of knowledge with community stakeholders via multiple partnerships to communicate the existing barriers that prohibit the understanding of issues related to gender minority health and well-being, at both UConn and in the larger community. This one-day meeting is scheduled to take place in the Fall of 2017. Both projects are made possible by the Public Discourse Project. 



Robert Wyss (PI)
(Professor, Journalism)



Discuss, Don’t Lecture: Developing Public Discourse Workshops and Assessing Their Effectiveness

Research Team:

Robert Capers, Herbarium Manager, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Margaret Rubega, Associate Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Jae-Eun Joo, Associate Professor-in-Residence, Educational Psychology





Yalof, David (PI)

David Yalof (PI)
(Professor, Department of Political Science)



In Search of a More Genuine Dialogue on the Nomination and Confirmation of Supreme Court Justices

PI:  David Yalof

Research and a proposed symposium in early spring 2018 assessing the current state of dialogue that surrounds the appointment of Supreme Court Justices.   A database of commentary on the process will be generated, and scholars from a variety of disciplines (law professors, social scientists, etc) will analyze how changes in the confirmation process during the past 30 years have reduced the confirmation process to a meaningless charade, devoid of substantive discussion about our constitutional landscape.