ADVANCE Team Announces Collaborative Research Seed Grant Recipients

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The ADVANCE program has announced that two research teams are recipients of ADVANCE’s first Collaborative Research Seed Grants. The competitive grants aim to foster the development of innovative and equitable collaborative research projects among faculty. 

Recognizing longstanding gender gaps in the academy, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funds universities to build institutional transformation programs in order to advance gender equity for faculty in science and engineering. Through the power of collaboration, ADVANCE cultivates faculty equity and inclusion—especially for women and minorities in science and engineering.

Two winning teams demonstrated innovative research and well thought-out and equitable collaborations. One team will be working on the project "Elucidating mechanoselective adhesion and antibiotic resistance for catheter-associated bacterial infections using genomics approaches.”

The principal investigators for this team are:

  • Lauren Andrews, Marvin and Eva Schlanger Faculty Fellow, assistant professor, department of chemical engineering
  • Jessica Schiffman, James M. Douglas Career Development Faculty Fellow, associate professor, department of chemical engineering

This project explores the genetic underpinnings of bacterial cell adhesion to catheter coatings to inform the development of infection-resistant catheters. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections are the most prevalent healthcare-associated infection in the United States, accounting for over 30% of acute hospital infections. This interdisciplinary team combines Schiffman’s expertise in materials science with Andrews’ in synthetic biology to study how the mechano-chemical properties of catheters impact cell adhesion and in the development of CRISPR-based genomic tools for uropathogenic E.coli and a novel library of tunable biomaterials. 

The second team will be exploring “Consumer and fisherman attitudes towards sustainable local seafood.” Principal investigators on this team are:

  • Alissa Nolden, assistant professor, department of food science
  • Jill Fitzsimmons, assistant research professor, department of resource economics
  • Amanda Kinchla, extension associate professor, department of food science
  • Katherine Kahl, extension assistant professor, sustainable fisheries and coastal resilience, department of environmental conservation

This project addresses the need for sustainable new markets for seafood from New England. Climate change challenges the socio-economic and environmental sustainability of New England's seafood industry. A warming Gulf of Maine compounds the complex puzzle of ecosystems, fish population dynamics and catch limits for specific fisheries. Cascading effects on fishermen, seafood processors, markets and restaurants provide a network of challenges that are difficult to disentangle. This proposal brings together a team with diverse expertise in ecology, climate change adaptation, economics, stakeholder engagement and product development. We aim to support the fishing industry by investigating consumers’ seafood choices, sustainable fishing practices, and seafood products that contain lesser-known yet abundant species.

More information on ADVANCE workshops, collaborative research grants, mutual mentoring grants and faculty fellowships is available on the ADVANCE website or by contacting Donna Baron at dbaron@umass.edu.