Geography Faculty Awarded 2 New Seed Grants
The Geography Department is excited to announce two new seed grants awarded to faculty in their research efforts aimed at understanding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic:
Professor Alex Hohl's grant, “A Geospatial Big Data Platform for Understanding Population Sentiment Toward the Spread of COVID-19 in the United States” is being aided by fellow geography department faculty Rich Medina and Neng Wan, along with Sociology Department professor Ming Wen.
As Dr. Hohl explains, "there is an urgent need to study the relationship between reactions of humans (e.g., fear, panic, hate) to the current pandemic of COVID-19 and the characteristics of their residential neighborhood. Federal, state, and local countermeasures, as well as resourcing and funding initiatives, must consider demographic and socioeconomic factors and their association with people’s response to disease outbreaks. This research aims to develop a geospatial big data platform for understanding the geography of population sentiment during the spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States, while providing an invaluable resource for future research on pandemic related hazards."
Professor Tim Collins, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Co-director of the Center for Natural and Technologial Hazards, was also awarded a grant for a study on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on undergraduate research experiences. The research team also includes U of U Sociology professor Sara Grineski, Danielle Morales of the University of Texas-El Paso, along with several graduate students, and an undergraduate major (Shaylynn Trego).
Prof. Collins elaborates: "As COVID-19 has rapidly evolved to pandemic status during spring 2020, undergraduate education in the US has been altered in unforeseen ways. Many universities have required undergraduates to postpone their current research activities, and various summer 2020 undergraduate research programs have been canceled. The impacts of the disruptions caused by COVID-19 on undergraduate students who conduct STEM research are unknown. Fostering an understanding of the impacts of COVID-19 on undergraduates engaged in STEM research now depends on quick response research and the collection of ephemeral data. This project aims to develop an evidence-based understanding of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on undergraduate students’ STEM research experiences. It involves developing, administering, and analyzing a structured survey of 600-800 undergraduate student researchers at multiple research universities. The study will extend societal benefits by enhancing both academic and public knowledge regarding the educational consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as identifying means of lessening such impacts."