World-changing research takes more than talent and time—it takes funding. This fall, two leading University of Cincinnati researchers can spend more time doing research and less time worrying about how to pay for it thanks to the Office of Research’s latest Bridge Funding Awards.
Both awards support distinguished female STEM faculty members from the College of Arts & Sciences who have spent years building impressive research portfolios with millions of dollars of federal funding. These two efforts stretch across institutions, disciplines and communities.
"These awards allow ambitious faculty to conduct life-changing research without interruption as they also pursue larger funding awards outside of the university," says Patrick Limbach, PhD, Ohio Eminent Scholar, Chemistry professor and UC Vice President for Research.
"Researchers work for years to solve important problems, and these internal Bridge Awards help keep their momentum going and let them know that UC supports them," says Philip Taylor, PhD, assistant vice president for research—strategic implementation.
Being a good neighbor adds up
You might say that Psychology Associate Professor Heidi Kloos, PhD, works on complicated math problems, but that would be less than the whole story. Her Bridge-Award-winning research focuses on finding more effective ways to help students of all ages learn math.
Put simply, she tests how a carefully designed combination of digital game-playing and in-person support can not only improve students’ math performance, it can inspire them to challenge themselves to take on additional math tasks. Blending neuropsychology with math and education theories allows Kloos' research offers a holistic approach to improving student learning outcomes.
"By narrowing down the type of math practice that is most effective, we seek to call attention to an often-ignored aspect of math learning: a kind of practice that students can carry out at their own level of competence in a positive and self-motivated context," Kloos writes in her application.
Kloos has spent many months building relationships with school administrators at Hughes High School, a Cincinnati Public School located across the street from the University of Cincinnati. After preliminary success at Hughes, though, she was faced with a funding gap between fall 2018 and winter 2019 as she waits for a decision on a grant from the National Science Foundation. She was also faced with a request from the school administrators, who needed help overseeing two math enrichment programs this fall.
With her Bridge Award, which totals approximately $8,500—which comes along with additional funds from the College of Arts & Sciences and the Department of Pscyhology—she’ll be able to continue to gather data for her ongoing research while continuing her collaboration with school partners at Hughes. She’ll deploy graduate students to work directly with Hughes students as they practice math lessons that, in turn, test math-learning theories and practices.
Building new generations of knowledge
With nearly $1 million in current research funding, including more than $800,00 from the National Science Foundation as the Principal Investigator in major research projects, Chemistry Professor Anna Gudmundsdottir, PhD, has a global reputation for supporting more than important research. She is also a champion of leadership development among graduate students, especially students from underrepresented groups. She regularly supports her advanced-level students as they present at conferences and submit research papers for publication, both of which help build their confidence and their resumes.
Her $15,000 Bridge Award allows her to continue to support a graduate student through the end of her lab work at UC this fall as well as fund an existing postdoctoral position as she pursues another major federal grant award.
With research focused on how light impacts different chemicals and materials, Gudmundsdottir's efforts have a wide range of real-world applications, from building smart medical devices to creating artificial muscles. In addition, she embeds educational outreach programs into her work that is designed to spark curiosity and increase engagement with local high-school and undergraduate students, particularly those from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM fields.