Today@Sam Article

Four SHSU Research Teams Awarded First BRIDGE Program Grants

July 20, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Atkins

The first recipients of the Sam Houston State University Building Research, Innovation, Discovery and Growing Engagement (BRIDGE) Program have been announced. Of the 27 full submissions received, the internal review committee selected four projects to fund, supported by faculty members from five SHSU colleges. They are:

  • Effectiveness of a Community-Based Intervention of Acceptance and Commitment: Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes Management in a Rural and Underserved Community

Principal investigator (PI): Ryan Marek (Primary Care and Clinical Medicine); Team: Michael Griffin (Molecular and Cellular Biology), Owen Kelly (Molecular and Cellular Biology), Oluwaseun Olaiya (Primary Care and Clinical Medicine), Chelsea Ratcliff (Psychology and Philosophy)

  • Establishment of the Biomedical Research, Innovation, Training and Employment (BRITE) SHSU consortium 

PIs: Mardelle Atkins (Biological Sciences), Donovan Haines (Chemistry), Sharmin Hasan (Biological Sciences); Team: Diego Alvarez (Physiology and Pharmacology), Meagan Hinze (Chemistry), Khalid M. Khan (Public Health), Aaron Lynne (Biological Sciences), Jailenne Quiñones (Clinical Anatomy), David Thompson (Chemistry), Stephen White (Psychology and Philosophy)

  • Machine-Learning Algorithm to Optimize the Carbon Sequestration and Noise Attenuation of Roadside Vegetation in Texas

PI: Momen Mousa (Engineering Technology), Team: John Pascarella (Biological Sciences)

  • Urban Agribusiness Ventures to Connect and Engage our Hispanic Community

PI: Shyam Nair (Agricultural Sciences), Team: Alma Contreras-Vanegas (Teaching and Learning), Mark Hainline (Agricultural Sciences), Kaitlin Hopkins (Agricultural Sciences), ABM Rezbaul Islam (Computer Science), Art Wolfskill (Agricultural Sciences)

“We have faculty members conducting innovative and impactful research here at SHSU,” Michael T. Stephenson, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, said. “This program was incredibly competitive and I’m proud to see work being done at SHSU that will contribute to the industry and societal needs of our region and state for years to come.”

The cross-disciplinary projects contribute and advance knowledge through impactful areas like preparing for demands on food, energy and/or water systems, developing research in life, health and biomedical sciences, addressing concerns of cybersecurity and resiliency and preparing for increased demand of educational services and mental health care.

Marek and his team, like many of the other research groups vying for BRIDGE funding, saw this grant opportunity as a “means to bridge our disciplines, colleges and community.”

“We know a multidisciplinary approach to treating Type 2 diabetes works – however, many of these programs require multiple visits, long drives to larger metropolitan cities, or may not accept insurance. This leaves many with the inability to access that care or maintain it long-term,” Marek said. “Our goal is to consolidate some of this multidisciplinary care into a one-day intervention to increase education in Type 2 diabetes while also piloting whether other monitoring and intervention methods will aid in improving Type 2 diabetes outcomes.”

Closer to campus, the proposed BRITE program, with PIs Atkins, Haines and Hasan, aims to help the recruitment, retention and career development of SHSU students interested in biomedical research while also training faculty mentors to focus on increasing student access to research experiences, empowering them to have specific goals in the biomedical market and improving the mentorship of students most at risk of leaving the field.

“Finding ways to improve the success of those historically underrepresented in these careers is very important and their diverse perspectives are needed to solve the important problems facing our society,” the researchers said.

The research team, led by PI Mousa, hopes to create a tool that will help optimize the carbon capture of roadside vegetation in Texas.

“This research will develop a tool for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to estimate the carbon sequestration and noise attenuation of roadside vegetation in Texas,” Mousa said. “This will contribute to the overall reduction of Texas’ contributions to greenhouse gases. This will also help TxDOT generate a saleable carbon offset for its carbon sequestration projects, increasing its revenue by about $7 million.” 

Lastly, the Nair-led project sets out to engage the community and advance the understanding of community-based production and marketing of fresh produce. The diverse team proposes to establish an urban agriculture pilot project to provide high school students and community groups the resources and knowledge they need to produce vegetables sustainably and efficiently through hydroponics. In addition, researchers will help them create a sustainable revenue stream through training in digital marketing techniques and the development of a smartphone marketing app. 

“We will use the data and experiences gained from this proof-of-concept project to submit a federal proposal, which will integrate research, education, and community engagement,” Nair said.

In alignment with SHSU’s strategic plan, the BRIDGE program is part of the Provost Innovation Fund (PIF) and was created to turn existing and emerging research themes into sustainable programs that elevate the reputation of SHSU and establish the university as a major contributor to new knowledge and technology for Texas. This project was made possible by funding received from PIF and the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs (ORSP).

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