Rollins Faculty and Staff Earn Esteemed Awards and Grants

December 13, 2022

By Office of Marketing

Photo by Scott Cook.

From climate-change research to diversity in STEM education, Rollins faculty and staff have earned more than 30 awards and grants for the 2021 and 2022 calendar years.

During the 2021 and 2022 calendar years, Rollins faculty and staff have earned a multitude of prestigious awards and grants. In fact, the College has seen a near doubling of awards just this past year—everywhere from the National Science Foundation to National Endowment for the Humanities—signifying the innovative research and creative contributions at Rollins that are earning accolades on the global stage. From sciences to the arts, explore some of the groundbreaking, mission-centric work happening at Rollins.

Modeling the Opioid Epidemic

  • Zeynep Teymuroglu, Professor of Mathematics
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)/Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM) Mini-Grant

This funding supports student-faculty research at both Rollins and the University of Richmond focused on opioid use and disease spread that can help inform policy decisions around the country. The goal of the project is to transform the knowledge gained from mathematical models into interventions, such as overdose prevention centers, which could reduce fatal overdoses, lower disease transmission rates, and reduce litter from usage.

Kasandra Riley works with a student in a chemistry lab.Kasandra Riley works with a student in a chemistry lab.
Chemistry professor Kasandra Riley works with Brandon McNichol ’19 on a research project through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program.Photo by Scott Cook.

Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) Learning Community Grant & Inclusive Excellence in STEM Grant

  • Kasandra Riley, Associate Professor of Chemistry; Ellane Park, Associate Professor of Chemistry; Brian Mosby, Assistant Professor of Chemistry; Sabrice Guerrier, Associate Professor of Biology; Jay Pieczynski, Associate Professor of Biology; Brendaliz Santiago-Narvaez, Assistant Professor of Biology; Anne Murdaugh, Associate Professor of Physics; Dan Myers, Associate Professor of Computer Science
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)

In spring 2021, grant program director Kasandra Riley and a team of Rollins STEM faculty received an Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) Learning Community Grant from HHMI before recently earning a six-year Inclusive Excellence in STEM award that will support the College in its efforts to foster inclusivity and belonging for those who have been historically underrepresented in the sciences. The initial award allowed the team to identify barriers and begin building capacity for developing inclusive, equitable, and anti-racist approaches to STEM education and to become part of a community of similar institutions working together to implement these ideas and strategies across the country. Rollins is one of 104 schools selected for the Excellence in STEM grant, which centers on creating achievement-oriented projects to build a stronger STEM community at Rollins and instill in all students a sense of belonging.

The Influence of Mangrove Invasion and Rising Temperatures on Belowground Processes in Coastal Ecosystems

  • Pamela Brannock, Assistant Professor of Biology
  • National Science Foundation Research Opportunity Award (ROA) with Villanova University

Thanks to this award, biology professor Pamela Brannock and biochemistry/molecular biology major Zoe Pearson ’22 are expanding their meiofaunal research by exploring areas such as climate- and vegetation-change impacts on microscopic organisms within mangrove salt marshes along Florida’s northeast coast. The project also allowed Brannock to forge collaborations with members of the Warming Ecosystem Temperatures in a Florida Ecotone Experience Transition (WETFEET) project and other coastal systems researchers from several institutions around the country.

Anthropology professor Shan-Estelle Brown.Anthropology professor Shan-Estelle Brown.
Anthropology professor Shan-Estelle Brown.Photo by Scott Cook.

Removing Obstacles to HIV Prevention for Black Women in Orange County, Florida

  • Shan-Estelle Brown, Associate Professor of Anthropology
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

As a recipient of the national Interdisciplinary Research Leaders fellowship, anthropology professor Shan-Estelle Brown—in conjunction with colleagues at the University of Central Florida and local nonprofit Let’s Beehive!—is working to study the experiences of Black women with regard to HIV prevention and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Funding is supporting a two-year research project that will explore how local health stakeholders can ensure that HIV prevention activities align with and are responsive to the sexual health and HIV prevention needs of Black women in our local community.

Longitudinal Text Messaging Educational Campaign to Increase PrEP Prescription Among Medical Providers in Orange County, Florida

  • Shan-Estelle Brown, Associate Professor of Anthropology
  • National Institute of Health/Yale University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS

Brown has also earned special supplemental funding from the National Institute of Health that supports the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States (EHE) initiative. The research project supports the development and assessment of a continuing education module using text messages sent to Orange County medical providers who can prescribe pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention. Orange County is one of 57 priority areas in the U.S. that account for more than half of new HIV diagnoses. The goals of the project are to increase provider-patient communication about PrEP and increase the number of prescriptions written in the county.

Bringing CRISPR-Cas9 Technologies to the Undergraduate Classroom: An Undergraduate Instructors Network

  • Jay Pieczynski, Associate Professor of Biology
  • National Science Foundation Research Coordination Networks in Undergraduate Biology Education with University of Houston

The four-year CRISPR in the Classroom Network grant seeks to expand the current undergraduate laboratory curriculum to include CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology by providing a flexible, easily adapted curriculum and mentoring to instructors. As a member of the network, biology professor Jay Pieczynski is working with a team of biology educators at both two- and four-year institutions to develop and implement laboratory activities centered on experiential-based work with CRISPR-Cas9. Additionally, they’re creating an online repository of modules across multiple model systems through the NSF-Supported Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis (QUBES) Hub.

Biology professor Bobby Fokidis and his students examine turtles from Lake Virginia.Biology professor Bobby Fokidis and his students examine turtles from Lake Virginia.
Biology professor Bobby Fokidis and his students examine turtles from Lake Virginia.Photo by Scott Cook.

EAGER: RUI: Elucidating the Role of Exosomes in the Regulation of Steroidogenesis

  • Bobby Fokidis, Associate Professor of Biology
  • National Science Foundation

This two-year grant will explore one potential role of exosomes: as communication links between endocrine glands and other tissues or organs that can only synthesize hormones under certain circumstances. Using newly developed methods, this project will determine whether exosomes originating from endocrine cells carry the necessary biochemical information to initiate local steroid hormone production in non-endocrine organs. These kinds of location shifts in hormone production are observed in many biological processes, including prostate cancer, menopause, immune cell development, and non-breeding aggression in animals. This research may provide a unifying mechanism for these diverse processes while also serving as the foundation for the interdisciplinary training of undergraduate students, including those from traditionally underrepresented groups.

Assessment of Ecology, Threats, and Status of Understudied Caribbean Sliders Using Biochemical Panels and Environmental DNA

  • Bobby Fokidis, Associate Professor of Biology
  • Chelonian Research Foundation Turtle Conservation Fund Grant

With the goal of developing a conservation approach, this collaborative study will investigate the status, ecology, physiology, and genetics of two native freshwater turtle species in the Caribbean that are facing threats from exotic predators and invasive species. Funding will expand current research efforts on these species and initiate further monitoring by incorporating research into an undergraduate field course.

Examining the Relocation of the Batwa Indigenous people from the Forests and Its Influence on Their Indigenous Education, Customs, and Cultures

  • Sharon Carnahan, Professor of Psychology; Executive Director, Hume House Child Development & Student Research Center
  • Spencer Foundation Small Grants Program

Through this collaborative grant with Kabale University, psychology professor Sharon Carnahan will study the pedagogies of the Batwa indigenous peoples of Uganda and how they have been affected by their displacement and integration into dominant cultures.

Physics professor Thom Moore and his students use lasers to study musical acoustics in Rollins’ anechoic chamber.Physics professor Thom Moore and his students use lasers to study musical acoustics in Rollins’ anechoic chamber.
Physics professor Thom Moore and his students use lasers to study musical acoustics in Rollins’ anechoic chamber.Photo by Scott Cook.

Undergraduate Research in Musical Acoustics

  • Thom Moore, Professor of Physics; Whitney Coyle, Associate Professor of Physics
  • National Science Foundation

This award marks the fifth NSF Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) grant since 2007 for physics professor Thom Moore. The three-year grant will support Moore’s continued research with physics professor Whitney Coyle and a team of undergraduate students in the area of musical acoustics, specifically focusing on understanding the basic physics and acoustical impact of cylindrical and rectangular pipes in flue organ pipes and recorders. Additionally, the team is developing a computer simulation with the experimental results so that the effects of changing the physical parameters of the pipe can be investigated theoretically.

The Dynamics of the Asian Community in the 21st Century: An Interdisciplinary Study on the Past, Present, and Future of Asia

  • Wenxian Zhang, Professor and Head of Archives and Special Collections at Olin Library
  • Eurasia Foundation

Rollins is one of a handful of academic institutions to receive grant funding from the Tokyo-based Eurasia Foundation, whose mission is to further the understanding of culture related to the Eurasian continent. Funding for 2022-23 supports the continuation of a lecture series and public forum for Rollins students to gain a broad understanding of Asian dynamics and to promote awareness and general interests in the Asian community.

STEM Mentoring Program

  • Marisa Fuse, Lecturer in Chemistry, Health Professions Advisor
  • Associated Colleges of the South (ACS)

In summer 2021, chemistry lecturer Marisa Fuse and collaborators at Hendrix College and Furman University were awarded a grant to allow students and faculty at each institution to form a core coalition to celebrate and empower diversity in the scientific disciplines through shared successes. The project, which is based on the Increasing Retention and Inclusion in STEM (IRIS) peer-mentoring program successfully implemented at Hendrix, recognizes that first-generation college students, women, socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals, people of color, and LGBTQ+ students are often underrepresented and can face additional challenges when pursuing opportunities in STEM fields. As the project leader for Rollins, Fuse has used the new mentoring program to help build a sense of community and belonging among our health professions students.

Anthropology professor Zack Gilmore and his students perform an excavation at nearby Shell Island.Anthropology professor Zack Gilmore and his students perform an excavation at nearby Shell Island.
Anthropology professor Zack Gilmore and his students perform an excavation at nearby Shell Island.Photo by Scott Cook.

At the Trowel’s Edge: Reimagining Inclusivity and Diversity Within Our Archaeological Futures

  • Zack Gilmore, Associate Professor of Archaeology
  • Associated Colleges of the South

This grant project brought together archaeology faculty from eight ACS campuses to redesign introductory archaeology courses. The team’s work emphasized equitable inclusive pedagogies, center expertise, and perspectives from diverse stakeholders and marginalized communities. By redesigning content and pedagogy, the team worked to clarify the relevance of their field in relation to contemporary questions of justice and equity.

Tagore’s Cosmopolitanism: Educating for Global Citizenship

  • Margaret McLaren, George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Chair and Professor of Philosophy
  • U.S. Fulbright Scholar: Fulbright-Nehru Professional and Academic Excellence Award (India)

Philosophy professor Margaret McLaren’s Fulbright-Nehru project explored Indian thinker Rabindranath Tagore’s contributions to global citizenship through his ideas on relational cosmopolitanism. While abroad, McLaren studied the ways in which these ideas, which promote global unity while respecting differences, can help us face the myriad challenges of the 21st century. McLaren is integrating her experience into her upper-level course on cosmopolitanism and fostering dialogue between her students and those at Visva-Bharati University regarding issues of global poverty, cultural appropriation, and the kinds of questions that cross borders.

Dreams and Demons: The Good Life and the Good Place

  • Margaret McLaren, Professor of Philosophy
  • The Council of Independent Colleges 2021 New Currents in Teaching Philosophy Institute/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Aimed at enhancing the teaching and study of philosophy at Rollins, this course-development grant was awarded in conjunction with McLaren’s participation in the CIC’s 2021 New Currents in Teaching Philosophy Institute. It’s focused on attracting new philosophy majors and incorporating trained peer discussion leaders to help create a philosophical community among our students.

Cross-Institutional Mentoring Networks for Faculty of Color at ACS Institutions

  • Rochelle Elva, Assistant Professor of Computer Science
  • Associated Colleges of the South

This project aims to create an innovative and collaborative model of mentorship that can be adapted broadly at ACS institutions, explicitly connecting faculty of color within and across institutions to create a strong support network. The project will also provide professional development and networking activities that provide career-related advice and support for faculty of color at Rollins.

Developing an ACS Mid-Career Advancement Pathways Program

  • Nancy Chick, Director, Endeavor Foundation Center for Faculty Development
  • Associated Colleges of the South

This Mid-Career Advancement Pathways Program (MAPP) was designed by a team of ACS colleagues in response to a widespread, well-documented “mid-career malaise” and low satisfaction among associate professors. This holistic support program was piloted for 38 mid-career faculty from 14 ACS institutions in spring 2022 with the intent of helping these faculty thrive by developing meaningful goals, plans, and relationships. Program evaluation results reveal that MAPP improved agency, vitality, sense of belonging, and community among participants.

Digital archivist and records manager Rachel Walton works with a student in the Rollins College Archives.Digital archivist and records manager Rachel Walton works with a student in the Rollins College Archives.
Digital archivist and records manager Rachel Walton works with a student in the Rollins College Archives.Photo by Scott Cook.

Prioritizing Digital Preservation Education in the South: A Proposal to Host the First-Ever POWRR (Preserving Digital Objects with Restricted Resources) Workshop in the Southeast

  • Rachel Walton, Associate Professor, Digital Archivist & Records Manager
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

This past spring, the NEH funding allowed Rollins to host a two-day workshop on digital preservation for 24 participants from throughout Florida and the southeastern region of the U.S. The event provided new training in digital preservation activities for archivists and worked to expand the community of digital preservation practitioners within the region.

Pathways to Diversity: Sharing our Collections

  • Rachel Walton, Associate Professor, Digital Archivist & Records Manager
  • Associated Colleges of the South

This extensive five-year project devoted to uncovering and telling the story of desegregation on four ACS campuses involved the creation of a shared digital archival collection. The goal of the collection is to improve institutional understanding of diversity on each campus and to help our current students confront and comprehend issues of diversity and inclusion in the context of society, their campus, and their classroom.

Participatory History and Archiving

  • Rachel Walton, Associate Professor, Digital Archivist and Records Manager; Shan-Estelle Brown, Associate Professor of Anthropology; Hannah Ewing, Assistant Professor of History
  • Associated Colleges of the South (ACS)

This collaborative project assembled a team of instructors, archivists, and community-based learning experts from five ACS institutions to produce local public history projects that directly addressed historic racial inequities by pursuing community-based participatory research and archiving (CBPRA) practices. The project resulted in an inter-campus network of courses that allowed students to study and implement the theories and techniques of CBPRA and helped foster student-led public history exhibits or virtual archives in partnership with representatives of local communities of color.

Rollins College Suicide Prevention Program

  • Connie Briscoe, Director, Wellness Center
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services/SAMHSA Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) Campus Suicide Prevention Program

Aimed at developing a comprehensive, collaborative, well-coordinated, and evidence-based approach to suicide prevention, this three-year project led by Wellness Center staff will work to increase partnerships with external agencies and providers and add a community referral infrastructure. The grant will also work to enhance training, increase access to mental health and substance misuse screening tools, build infrastructure to support first-year and transfer students, establish a Collegiate Recovery Program, and increase peer-to-peer prevention and wellness opportunities.

Biology professor Sabrice Guerrier and Brandon Garcia ’23 conduct research on cell-to-cell fusion through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program. Biology professor Sabrice Guerrier and Brandon Garcia ’23 conduct research on cell-to-cell fusion through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program.
Biology professor Sabrice Guerrier and Brandon Garcia ’23 conduct research on cell-to-cell fusion through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program. Photo by Scott Cook.

Snapshot: ACS Diversity Friday Forums

  • Sabrice Guerrier, Associate Professor of Biology
  • Associated Colleges of the South

Led by Millsaps College, this project supported a series of virtual workshops for BIPOC students and accomplished BIPOC alumni at ACS institutions. Goals for the project included higher visibility of prominent ACS BIPOC alumni in line with student career goals and the presentation of multiple high-achieving career options to BIPOC students as they considered different fields of study.

Rollins College Upward Bound Program (2022-27)

  • Jessica Maner, Program Director
  • U.S. Department of Education TRIO Programs

First launched on campus in 1980, the Rollins College Upward Bound Program has recently received renewal funding for five years to continue to serve high school students who have demonstrated academic need and are first-generation, low-income, or have disabilities. The goal of the project is to serve and empower these students by providing opportunities for academic instruction, career development, and preparation to successfully complete high school and pursue higher education.

Genius Preserve Action Plan Project 2023-26

  • Bruce Stephenson, Professor of Environmental Studies
  • Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation

This funding will allow environmental studies professor Bruce Stephenson to continue his extensive work with the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation focused on the ecological restoration of Genius Preserve, which not only supports our local environment but also hands-on learning experiences for Rollins students.

Rollins Museum of ArtRollins Museum of Art
Rollins Museum of Art.Photo by Scott Cook.

A More Inclusive Art Community: Exhibitions and Programs at the Rollins Museum of Art in 2022

  • Ena Heller, Director, Rollins Museum of Art
  • Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs

This grant supports the Rollins Museum of Art’s two long-term priorities: to showcase and contextualize art that helps us understand our world, the current moment, and how to best navigate it; and to emphasize the ability of art to bring people together, promote understanding and empathy, and provide a safe environment for difficult yet necessary dialogue.

General Program Support

  • Ena Heller, Director, Rollins Museum of Art
  • Florida Division of Arts & Culture

Continued funding supports the museum’s ability to offer yearlong opportunities for dialogue and engagement around socially conscious art, embodying the diversity and multiple perspectives of Central Florida residents, illustrated by local artists. Recent funding through the Florida Division of Arts & Culture has also helped the museum redefine the notion of access to art in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis through a blend of physical and virtual offerings that emphasized the role art plays in creating community and promoting empathy.

Athletics Mental Health Counselor

  • Pennie Parker, Associate Vice President of Athletics
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Strategic Alliance Matching Grant

This five-year grant awarded in 2022 will provide matching funding for a new athletics mental health counselor to serve our 500 student-athletes as they balance their coursework, co-curricular activities, and commitment to their sport.

The Provision of Technical Assistance to Orange County Nonprofit Organizations

  • Min Sun Kim, Director, Edyth Bush Institute
  • U.S. Department of Treasury American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) via Orange County Government

This four-year grant award represents a new partnership with Orange County Government to help strengthen the nonprofit sector in Orange County. Funding allows Rollins’ Edyth Bush Institute (EBI) to provide comprehensive support and training for up to 261 nonprofits over the next four years. This includes technical assistance workshops, assessments, coaching and consulting services, and custom programming to help these agencies build their organizational capacity. Using these successful tools and models, this new program will offer nonprofit organizations throughout Central Florida the opportunity to evaluate their current nonprofit business models so that the stressors of COVID-19 are strategically adopted for stronger and more agile organizations.

Childcare Stabilization Grant and Emergency Funding for Early Learning/Child Care Providers

  • Diane Terorde-Doyle, Director, Hume House Child Development & Student Research Center
  • Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act; American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) via Early Learning Coalition of Orange County and Florida Department of Education Division of Early Learning

This governmental funding has provided operational assistance for early learning providers affected by COVID-19. At Hume House, grant funds are supporting professional development, workforce investment stipends for staff, as well as new playground equipment.

Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship Operating Support

  • Peter McAlindon, Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Executive Director, Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship (CFAE)
  • Orange County Office of Economic, Trade & Tourism Development

With this funding, Rollins’ Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship can continue to develop and promote small businesses and entrepreneurs in Central Florida. The award supports CFAE initiatives such as ATHENA Powerlink, CEO Roundtables for Women Business Owners programs, and Crummer Entrepreneurial Growth Series programs. It has also allowed CFAE to elevate the awareness and impact of the Rollins Venture Plan Competition as the premier regional competition for entrepreneurs.

Generation Rx University Implementation and Research Project Mini Grants

  • Renee Treviranus, Assistant Director of Clinical Services, Wellness Center
  • Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation; Generation Rx; Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery

The purpose of these mini-grants is to educate students about safe medication practices and evaluate the impact of these educational programs on our campus.

Training Undergraduate Biologists through Urban Agriculture

  • Susan Rundell Singer, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost
  • National Science Foundation Research Coordination Networks in Undergraduate Biology Education with University of St. Thomas

This five-year project will develop a network that employs urban agriculture to connect biology education to community issues, thereby making science training more interesting and accessible for students from all backgrounds. The main proposed activities include creation of course modules around urban agriculture that help biology students learn every aspect of the scientific process—from formulating questions and designing projects to collecting data, analyzing results, and presenting findings.

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