Small Grant Program

The CSBS Small Grant Program brings together researchers to develop ambitious and innovative research projects that will advance social and behavioral science and show promise for external funding.

Supported by funding from the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation (OVCRI), the program provides researchers a foundation to examine important but unexplored areas in social and behavioral science.

Projects are chosen based on the significance and innovation of the research as well as the promise for external funding. Given that interdisciplinary approaches often yield the most groundbreaking work, priority is given to research teams with members from multiple disciplines.

CSBS small grants may range from $5,000 to $20,000 and are available to both faculty and staff at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Researchers at various stages of the research process are encouraged to apply.

Current Small Grant Areas

Criteria and Eligibility

The CSBS small grants are intended to support activities that will result in the eventual submission of a proposal for external funding such as:

  • The development of new, innovative research projects
  • Small pilot studies needed to support larger funding proposals
  • The development of novel methodological approaches
  • The creation of interdisciplinary networking groups

Criteria for submissions to the CSBS small grant program:

  • Innovative approaches to addressing important issues related to a CSBS grand theme (e.g., solving poverty and inequity, the digital revolution, and the social science of health)
  • Rigorous methods and analyses that can answer the research questions and/or hypotheses
  • A clear path to writing and submitting one or more funding proposals to external granting agencies
  • Research that has the potential to contribute to the broader community of scholars working on issues related CSBS’s grand themes

The CSBS funds for small grants can be used to support the following project-related activities:

  • Personnel costs, such as a graduate or undergraduate student research assistant or a non-student hourly worker
  • Participant support costs
  • Supplies and materials
  • Data access or data set purchase
  • Transcription costs
  • Mailing costs

The CSBS small grants are NOT intended to support:

  • Expenditures generally made by departments and colleges (e.g., travel to professional conferences)
  • Delivery of outreach programs or services
  • Student master’s or dissertation research
  • Tuition waivers
  • PI/Co-I salary
  • Course buyouts
  • Meetings (e.g., seminars, workshops, conferences, or brown bags)
  • Travel, unless specifically required for data collection to carry out the research

Eligibility for a CSBS small grant is limited to:

  • Faculty members at UIUC
  • Research professionals at UIUC (e.g., Research Scientist or Research Development Manager). Note: Graduate students and postdoctoral associates are not eligible to serve as a PI
  • Faculty and staff who are not currently a PI on another CSBS small grant (i.e., PIs can hold that role on only one CSBS grant at a time)

Submission Process


Applicants will upload one-page pre-proposal via the online submission form. Please use this template (Word) (PDF) for your one-page pre-proposal.

The 1-page pre-proposal should include:

  • Background & Significance (Describe the importance of the project and motivation for research)
  • Goals & Objectives (Describe what you seek to accomplish in your project)
  • Methods (Describe you methodological and analytical plan)
  • Requested Funds (Include the total amount, up to $20,000, that you are requesting and how you will spend such funds)
  • Research Team (Describe fit of the assembled team to do the proposed research)
  • External Funding Path (Describe your proposal’s connection to a specific external funding opportunity, and include funding announcement if appropriate)

A current CV from each team member should be submitted along with the pre-proposal.

If the pre-proposal is deemed viable by the CSBS team, a full proposal will be requested.

Full Proposal

Based on the funding mechanism indicated in the pre-proposal (e.g., NIH or NSF), a template will be provided for the 6-page full proposal. In addition, the following information is required: (1) a project summary, (2) a budget and budget justification, and (3) a plan for applying for external funding.

The full proposal will be evaluated by a faculty review panel, which consists of senior social and behavioral science researchers from across the campus.

Review Criteria

Proposals are reviewed based on four criteria:

  • Importance and significance. Does the proposal address an important issue (e.g., a pressing societal challenge or substantive gap in knowledge)? Will the research advance scientific understanding of the issue?
  • Innovation. Is a new and promising solution to a problem proposed? Is a useful novel methodological and/or analytic approach planned?
  • Methodological and analytical strength. Will the proposed methods and analyses answer the research questions and/or hypotheses? Is there an appropriate and strong methodological and analytic plan? Is the plan viable given logistical factors (e.g., funding)?
  • Clear path to external funding. Is there a clear connection to a viable external funding opportunity? Priority is given to proposals that have the potential for federal funding (e.g., NIH or NSF).

Post-award Support

The CSBS will provide close follow-up support on the grants it funds. The CSBS research management team is available to assist with project administration and management, as well as external funding searches and applications.

If unforeseen problems arise in the implementation of the research, the CSBS will do everything possible to help address the situation. However, the CSBS reserves the right to recoup monies from projects that cannot be completed as outlined in the original proposal. The decision to recoup monies and the determination for when monies will be recovered will be made at the sole discretion of the CSBS.

Investigators are expected to provide an annual project status update and a brief (1-page) final report upon completing the project describing the results, impact of the project, and plans to leverage the project in seeking future external funding. These efforts allow us to track and report outcomes as well as monitor the success of our small grant program.

If investigators wish to make changes to the project team, description, design, or budget over the course of the project, they should send a request to with the details of these changes. Any such changes will be considered on a case-by-case basis and should not be made without prior approval from the CSBS.


How are the proposals reviewed?
The proposals are reviewed by a panel of senior social and behavioral science faculty from across the UIUC campus.

Can PIs from other institutions be included on proposals?
The CSBS’s goal is to support research on the UIUC campus. Although this does not preclude collaborations with other universities, it puts applications at a disadvantage if there is only one UIUC researcher or unit applying for a grant with a collaborator or collaborators from other institutions. To the extent that PIs can gather a team of researchers from the UIUC campus, their chances of earning CSBS funding will be enhanced, particularly if the team is interdisciplinary.

Can a person be included on more than one project?
Yes, but someone cannot serve as PI of more than one small grant at a time.

Can small grants be used by graduate students to fund master’s or dissertation projects?
No, funds are intended for UIUC faculty and staff so that they may ultimately apply for external funding.

Apply now

Past awardees 

Lead PIProposal titleOverviewCSBS Grand Theme
NapolitanoExploring potential psychological correlates of “academic undermatch”College graduates attain better jobs, make more money, and experience less unemployment than high school graduates. Graduating from college is also linked with better health, longer life, and higher self-reported happiness (e.g., Hout, 2012). Unfortunately, there are considerable disparities in US college-completion rates, with children from lower-income homes less likely to graduate (Reardon, 2013). One potential source of these disparities is “academic undermatch,” or enrolling at colleges below the standards of a student’s credentials. Students who undermatch are more likely to drop out (Bowen et al., 2009) and undermatch is disproportionately prevalent among first-generation, low-income (FLI) college attendees, especially those of color (Deutschlander, 2017).

While research has linked structural, social, and cultural factors to academic undermatch, we pose there may also be psychological constructs contributing to undermatch. Two such constructs are backup plans and prospective belonging. People develop backup plans to address uncertainties in their goal pursuits (Napolitano & Freund, 2016). Backup plans can act as ‘safety nets’, but they also incur costs that can jeopardize goal performance (Napolitano & Freund, 2017). For example, when students’investments in researching their “safety school” (an undermatched institution) outstrips their investments in researching their “target” (a well-matched institution) or “reach” schools (an “overmatched” institution), they may be more likely to undermatch. Students’ investment in schools may be impacted by their prospective belonging, defined as an individual’s presumption of how much they will feel a sense of belonging to the new cultural context (Ruedas-Gracia, in preparation). In the new cultural context of post-secondary institutions, differing perceptions of school climate (Minor & Benner, 2018), and overall low feelings of belonging in educational contexts among students of color (Ruedas-Gracia et al., under review), may impact perceived belonging. Specifically, FLI students of color may feel lower levels of prospective belonging to their “reach” schools compared to their“match” or“safety” schools. The proposed research seeks to provide initial evidence on backup planning and prospective belonging as psychological factors that may contribute to academic undermatch among ethnic minority FLI students.
Poverty & Inequity
GreenleeThe Social Ecology of Poverty and Bedbugs in Subsidized Housing (Round 2)We seek to investigate the reciprocal roles of poverty and bed bug infestation. Our previous research on bed bug distribution in Chicago suggests that the strongest correlate of infestation at the neighborhood level is average household income. Bed bug infestations are a problem of poverty in which the public health burden falls disproportionately on poorer neighborhoods. But while poverty represents an increased risk for bed bug infestation, there are suggestions that bed bug infestations may also lead to increased poverty. We suspect that these reciprocal interactions are mediated through housing and landlord-tenant relations. Bed bug control, which can cost $500-1500, places a significant burden on household budgets. Further, we find evidence that bed bug infestations are associated with higher rates of evictions in Chicago neighborhoods. Because evicted residents are more likely to relocate to higher poverty neighborhoods, carrying bed bugs with them, evictions caused by bed bug infestations will concentrate both bed bugs and poverty in the same neighborhoods.

To examine the relationship between poverty, housing stability, and bedbugs we will conduct field research on bedbug incidence and impacts within subsidized low-income housing within the Housing Authority of Champaign County (HACC). In 2019, HACC provided voucher-based rental assistance to 1,100 families with an average household income of $10,301.We will examine HACCs annual housing inspection and complaint records for the prior incidence of bedbugs, and will identify additional complaints associated with bedbugs throughout the study period. For units with complaints, we will recruit and conduct interviews with the tenant, their property owner, and their HACC case manager to understand how bedbugs alter the landlord-tenant relationship. We will also interview housing authority staff to understand how bedbugs alter the program’s administrative relationship with participating landlords and tenants. Conversations with HACC administration indicate they are willing to work with us on recruiting and providing access to administrative data for our project.
Poverty & Inequity
TanPromoting the Long-Term Academic and Social-Emotional Development of Under-Resourced Boys in Small Urban CommunitiesThe DREAAM Kindergarten SuccessProgram has served under-resourced boys entering kindergarten in Champaign, Rantoul, and Urbana schools since the summer of 2015. To date, approximately 80 boys have participated in the program and received academic supports and taken part in family engagement activities. The primary program goal is to increase academic success and social-emotional competence among kindergarten boys.

The goal of the proposed project is to support DREAAM in submitting a proposal to seek extramural funding for a longitudinal evaluation to determine the effectiveness of its program in preparing children for success in kindergarten and throughout their academic journey. The data from this long-term study will support efforts to increase awareness of the program among the community, garner additional funding, and adjust it as needed to increase positive outcomes. This in turn will increase the capacity of DREAAM to provide services to a larger population.

To assist DREAAM in preparing a competitive proposal, we will undertake work in three areas. Firstly, DREAAM needs a conceptual model highlighting the underpinnings of its program. Secondly, we will organize and analyze the data on the program collected to date. Thirdly, we will collect pilot data to begin to understand the effectiveness of the program. Approximately 40 boys will participate in the Kindergarten Success Program from June 29 to July 24, 2020. We will administer measures relating to students’ academic growth (e.g., literacy and numeracy assessments), social-emotional behaviors (Social Skills Improvement System), and their family engagement and parental involvement during this period in order to collect the needed pilot data.
Poverty & Inequity
KontouTransportation Energy Vulnerability and its Geography in the United States ObjectivesTransportation is a major energy consuming sector in the US. Light-duty vehicles account for 58% of the transportation energy used and consume 92% of the country’s motor gasoline [1]. At the same time, transportation energy use facilitates travel and access to opportunities in the US sprawled and car-oriented development and is found as a significant enabler of economic mobility [2], [3]. Long commute distances and high fuel prices can impose burden to families to meet household needs and can raise the share of transportation expenses relative to their income, particularly for households under the poverty line. Automobile dependence [4], low neighborhood density [5], and unreliable public transport services [6] can increase the population share vulnerable to transportation energy use changes. Vulnerable households to transportation energy use increase are not only exposed to budgetary constraints but also to social exclusion [7]. Strong reliance on automobiles with increasing energy costs can hinder job access, educational opportunities [8], and other social functions instrumental to social inclusion and mobility [9]. Measuring the US population’s vulnerability to transportation energy use changes and capturing its geography enables the design of targeted interventions and support mechanisms, which can help vulnerable households to escape transportation energy poverty. Transportation energy vulnerability is a function of three dimensions: exposure, sensitivity, and adaptative capacity [10], [11].

The proposed research has three major objectives: (1) we will develop indices that quantitatively measure the three vulnerability dimensions in the context of US transportation energy use; (2) we will compute a composite vulnerability score and its geography across US census tracts using open datasets that are representative of the nation’s transportation system characteristics and socio-demographics; and (3) we will assess scenarios of policy instruments application and their effectiveness in increasing adaptive capacity and alleviating vulnerability.
Poverty & Inequity
BrunoExamining the Diversity of Experience with the Federal Tax System across Race and Immigration Status: A case of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax CreditBuilding on prior research by Dylan Bellisle, the proposed study will examine how definitions of family shape which family members are included as dependents on Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) applications and to whom in one’s family system the benefits are shared. Through a lens that attends to intergenerational family relations, previously research found evidence that some families allocate their EITC, and tax refunds more generally, across generations. Recent research also finds that immigrant Latinx families may have less awareness of their eligibility for the CTC and EITC and the process of applying for the benefit. This project will purposely recruit both U.S. born and recent immigrant participants to understand the unique challenges for immigrant families. This research project seeks to explore two different but related questions. First, we aim to understand the individual-level experience of administrative burdens applying for and receiving the Child Tax Credit (CTC), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and tax refunds, and the ways these burdens apply seemingly neutral rules that disproportionately impact racially marginalized groups. Furthermore, we will assess the resources individuals access to assist them in applying for and receiving their CTC and tax refund. Second, through a lens that attends to intergenerational family relations, the proposed study will examine how definitions of family shape which family members are included as dependents on the EITC and CTC applications and to whom in one’s family system the benefits are ultimately shared.Poverty & Inequity
WitmerInvestigation of Mental Health Needs/Services in Minority Agricultural CommunityThe University of Illinois proposes to undertake a research project focused on effective mental health services for patients living in rural agricultural communities. Our objective with this seed grant is to improve the evaluation process for a pilot community so that targeted mental health support may be provided based on the specific needs and conditions in a given rural population. The delivery of rural mental health care services has been recognized for decades as a challenge in the United States (Levin and Hanson, 2001). While mental health services have become more available in urban areas, they have remained virtually inaccessible to the rural population's large swaths. Specific barriers identified include isolation, scarcity of resources, inhospitable climates, the inability to preserve anonymity with in-person treatment, lack of culturally competent care, and indigenous traditionalism that can inhibit diverse thought or identity sometimes associated with mental health treatments.

Our interdisciplinary team has identified a minority, low-resource farming community in Illinois. We may pilot a coordinated data-collection methodology that will evaluate needs, identify context, and govern the design/implementation of interventions. The research team intends to use this data-collection process in creating a larger study, to be funded through a series of resources, including Campus Research Board, Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Extension (ICE), National Institutes of Health, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with an end goal of producing a contextualized, validated mental health intervention that addresses rural, agricultural population needs. This is the first step in a broader research and application program, which will use multiple university-system and external funding resources to create a process that accurately identifies a rural community's specific mental health needs and develops appropriate services and interventions that address community context.
Health/Digital Revolution (switched per BWR)
GotheDesigning and Testing the Feasibility of a Socio-Ecological Intervention to Promote Physical Activity among Cancer SurvivorsThe purpose of this research project is to enhance physical activity engagement among adult cancer survivors by 1) identifying factors within the socio-ecological framework and 2) designing and testing the feasibility of an exercise program. This study will employ a mixed-methods approach and will be conducted over two phases. In phase 1, two or three focus groups will be conducted with at least a total of 15 participants who have recently completed the 12-week StayFit Trial. The goal of the focus groups is to explore these responses in-depth and identify key individual, social and environmental factors that can be targeted in the feasibility study.

The focus group responses and the current evidence for exercise promotion among cancer survivors will serve as the basis for phase 2: to design and test the feasibility of a 12-week socio-ecological model-based physical activity intervention in a group of 30 participants. The goal of the feasibility study is to identify the most effective targets of the socio-ecological model-based intervention that will result in a significant increase in physical activity participation as assessed by an accelerometer.
CuthbertsonBehavioral Health Among Illinois Agricultural ProducersThe goal of this project is to investigate behavioral health (i.e., mental health and substance use) issues among Illinois farmers as a needs assessment for research purposes as well as for purposes of informing Illinois Extension programming. The suicide rate among farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers is nearly 1.5 times greater than that of the general population (Peterson 2018). Recent trends in commodity pricing, fluctuations in loan interest rates, changing politics around global trade, and disastrous weather events have all served as stressors for farmers in the United States (Freeman, Schwab, and Jiang 2008, Weingarten 2017, Ivanova 2018, Snell 2018).

However, research about farmer mental health and substance use is scant, and there is little research-based information about Illinois farmers in particular. The behavioral health of Illinois farmers is significant given the overall research demonstrating farmers have higher psychological distress than the general population (Roy et al. 2013), in the more specific context of recent USDA projections that soybean production will decrease over the coming years and prices for corn and soybeans are decreasing as well (Schnitkey 2019, USDA 2019, USDA ERS 2019). Addressing behavioral health among farmers is essential. Poor mental health among farmers and producers have been associated with lower rates of adopting new technologies and policies, potentially leading to inefficient farming practices (Hounsome 2006). Depression among farmers is also associated with a higher rate of injury (Xiao et al. 2013), which is of additional concern as farming is already a high-risk occupation (Newman, Leon, and Newman 2015). Nearly 100 agricultural workers every day suffer an injury leading to lost work time (CDC 2019). Additionally, farming is the second most fatal industry; over 400 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury in 2016 (CDC 2019). This project uses multiple methods to assess behavioral health among Illinois farmers.
MahoneySleep, depression, and modifiable lifestyle factors in menopausal womenSleep disruptions pose a significant health concern for midlife women. Over 40% of women undergoing the menopausal transition report sleep problems, such as insomnia, difficulty falling or staying asleep, and nighttime awakenings. Equally important, perimenopausal women are 2-3 times more likely to experience depressive symptoms than premenopausal women, potentially further impairing their sleep. Indeed, depression is a critical predictor of sleep quality in midlife women. The disruptiveness of these experiences is one of the primary reasons menopausal women seek medical care. Further, these symptoms have a negative impact on the quality of life, they precede adverse health outcomes, and they pose a burden to the health care system. The changing hormonal milieu in midlife is likely one factor influencing the severity and frequency of menopause symptoms. Notably, depression and sleep quality are both significantly associated with reproductive hormone concentrations in midlife women. Additionally, these debilitating menopausal symptoms are also likely to be influenced by modifiable behavioral factors including diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical activity. However, there is a significant gap in our knowledge regarding the complex relationships between these lifestyle factors, hormones, sleep disruptions, and depression in midlife women. This is important as identifying the relationships between these variables could provide targets for interventions aimed at relieving these health concerns.

Therefore, we will address these gaps via the following specific aims: Specific aim 1 will test the hypothesis that depression mediates the association between endogenous reproductive hormones and subjective sleep quality across the menopausal transition. Specific aim 2 will test the hypothesis that modifiable lifestyle factors are significantly related to the severity and frequency of sleep disruptions and depression in midlife women. The funds from the Center for Social and Behavioral Science will be used for subject remuneration, blood draws, hormone assay kits, the purchase of activates for recording sleep in the home, and the purchase of survey instruments.
MejiaFall Risk in Older adultsAlthough falling is one of older adults’ greatest fears and a leading cause of accidental injury and death, an estimated 30% of older adults lack a comprehensive understanding of their actual fall risk. Fall risk embodies both physical and psychological processes—the physical and perceived ability to meet the demands presented by an environment.

Current approaches to fall prevention focus on a combination of strength and balance, demands of the environment and daily activities, and perceptions of self-efficacy and balance confidence, but neglect the psychological processes of accurately understanding risk within the context of daily life. To move fall prevention forward, an intraindividual perspective on fall risk is necessary to identify the extent of day-to-day variability in physical resources, older adults’ awareness of their physical ability, and the implications of this awareness on the magnitude of activity on that day. The project goal is to prevent falls by increasing older adults’ awareness of their fall risk in daily life. The objective of this proposal is to employ a micro longitudinal study of daily objective and subjective fall risk and fall risk behaviors to (aim 1) establish that objective and subjective fall risk vary within individuals over a 30 day time period; (aim 2) characterize who (e.g., those with greater fall risk at baseline) is most likely to vary in fall risk; (aim 3)show that variability in fall risk and awareness of fall risk (i.e. the intraindividual correlation of objective and subjective risk) are independent predictors of risk-taking behaviors.

The results from the proposed research will show that individuals differ in their awareness of their fall risk in daily life and that these differences have implications for fall prevention behaviors. This research will define new fall risk parameters—intraindividual variability in and awareness of risk—which will be used to develop awareness profiles and inform the development of personalized fall prevention strategies.
OgolskyBehavioral Metrics of Relationship Quality to Support Care Partner Dyads Adapting to Mild Cognitive ImpairmentMild cognitive impairment (MCI)–pre-clinical signs of abnormal cognitive decline–becomes more prevalent with age (6% at age 60; 25% by age 80)and often advances to dementia. This subtle cognitive change is initially noticeable only to individuals and their closest social partners. Among married older adults, spouses become partners in care who cope with this change together. The impact of this care partnership on individual and shared health and well-being is conditioned by the quality of the relationship. However, although an essential component of informal care, relationship quality is difficult to quantify in a scalable way that provides actionable insight.

The purpose of this project is to develop behavioral spatial proximity metrics of relationship quality so that the strength and health of the relationship can be quantified, supported, and ultimately incorporated into community health. This project will deploy a validated location monitoring system into the homes of 20 community-residing older adult couples where one partner perceives a change in cognition. Our study aims to (1) develop Spatio-temporal autocorrelation metrics and models to quantify the variability in spatial proximity within the MCI care partner dyad; (2) apply multilevel dyadic analysis to align proximity metrics with a momentary physiological response and daily reports of stress, well-being, and relationship quality; and (3) establish guidelines for an integrated support system that monitors spatial proximity as an informative and actionable marker of relationship quality.
Mullen Testing the Efficacy of Therapy Integrating Peer-Sharing, Technology, Aerobic and Resistance Training (TIPSTART) Intervention to Reduce Mental Illness in First-Generation College StudentsAn estimated 18.1% of U.S.adults 18 years or older live with mental illness and 4.2% live with serious mental illness. Indeed, mental health conditions are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. Among college students, mental health is a growing concern with approximately a third or more students reporting at least one mental health issue. Presidents from four-year colleges are increasingly allocating additional resources to address this unmet need. Although data is currently unavailable to assess the extent of psychological damage to students caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic, leading agencies and advocacy groups have acknowledged the inevitable impact of coping with stress from fear, uncertainty, changes in everyday behavior (sleeping, eating), and adopting federal guidelines for social distancing—each a serious threat to mental health and to individuals at risk of worsening pre-existing conditions.

First-Generation College (FGC) Students (neither parent received a four-year degree) are at a greater risk for mental illness, and while their academic progress is often loosely monitored, they are rarely provided any supportive services beyond what is accessible to the rest of the student body. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, FGC Students represent 24.6% of the freshman class, and the situation is the same. Proposed Study. This study is designed to test whether cognitive-behavioral therapy combined with exercise, and further supported by FGC student peer groups and text-messaging will increase adherence to mental health services, lower self-reported mental illness symptomology, and secondarily improve academic outcomes regardless of diagnosis. The analysis will include an examination of the intervention’s targeted mechanisms of change (increased physical activity and social engagement).
GartheThe Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Impact of Stalking and Cyberstalking among College StudentsThis project is designed to further the understanding of stalking and cyberstalking, including its prevalence, risk factors, and impact on health outcomes and help-seeking behaviors among college students. National surveys find that 1 in 6 women in the United States havebeen victims of stalking in their lifetime, and the prevalence of stalking is highest among college students. Stalking occurs when someone repeatedly harasses, threatens, or follows the victim, leading to concerns of fear and safety(Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). These experiences can also take place through electronic methods (i.e.,cyberstalking; Tokunaga & Aune, 2017).

Stalking victimization is associated with a host of adverse outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and trauma symptoms (Basileet al., 2005; Fisheret al., 2006). Most studies examining stalking have relied on cross-sectional estimates, used inconsistent definitions and measurements, and have not included cyberstalking. Additionally, research examining stalking and cyberstalking has received less attention in campus-and community-based prevention and intervention efforts. Therefore, a longitudinal study is necessary to address these gaps, informing prevention and intervention efforts among a population at greatest risk for stalking/cyberstalking. The goal of this project is to collect baseline data from college students to inform a federal application where we would propose to follow a cohort of college students longitudinally across three years.
Lara-CinisomoCOVID-19: Assessing Depression and Anxiety in Mexican-American and Mexican Immigration mothers (CADA MAMI; translation is each mother)Women of Mexican descent also have a high rate of fertility and elevated exposure to immigrant-related stressors, increasing their risk of depression and anxiety. The proposed study directly responds to the CSBS’s Health Research Small Grant objectives because it focuses on factors that contribute to poor mental health in vulnerable mothers.

The proposed research has three major objectives: (1) we will develop indices that quantitatively measure the three vulnerability dimensions in the context of US transportation energy use; (2) we will compute a composite vulnerability score and its geography across US census tracts using open datasets that are representative of the nation’s transportation system characteristics and socio-demographics; and (3) we will assess scenarios of policy instruments application and their effectiveness in increasing adaptive capacity and alleviating vulnerability.

Annually, as many as 43% or 378,263 women of Mexican descent in the U.S.suffer from perinatal depression[1], a major depressive episode occurring in pregnancy or first postpartum year that affects approximately 20% of women in the general population [2]. Women of Mexican descent also have elevated rates of perinatal anxiety, with 20-36% compared to 15% of women in the general U.S. population [3]. Women of Mexican descent also a high rate of fertility and elevated exposure to adversity, such as poverty, throughout the life course, increasing their risk of poor perinatal mental health. While rates of PND in Mexican-American versus Mexican immigrant women are equivocal, Mexican immigrant women are especially vulnerable to factors associated with migration processes, such as acculturative stress, that can translate into a higher risk of poor depressive and anxiety symptoms. Depression and anxiety during the perinatal period have been shown to have negative and potentially long-lasting effects on women and their infants. Perinatal anxiety is associated with preterm birth and poor infant development [4]. Postpartum women with depression are more likely to exhibit negative interactions with infants [5] and infants of women with postpartum depression are at increased risk of emotional and behavioral problems [6]. While immigrant-related stressors are risk factors(e.g., acculturative stressors, deportation fear) for depression and anxiety in mothers, less is known about how large-scale events such as the coronavirus pandemic increases a woman’s risk for depression and anxiety. The current coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has resulted in significant illness and death in the U.S. and across the globe [7]. Racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. have been especially and disproportionately affected, likely due to disparities in health risk factors (e.g., diabetes, hypertension), economic constraints on quarantine behaviors, limited access to high-quality healthcare, and unequal health care [8]. The current sociopolitical climate has exacerbated these disparities due to racism and discrimination, particularly towards Latinos [9]. Health disparities are further complicated by immigrant status. Fears of deportation have increased in recent years further complicating access to care among marginalized communities, including mothers of Mexican descent. Recent Spanish-language news outlets have reported that fears of deportation have been heightened during the pandemic, with some communities fearing deportation more than COVID-19 [10]. All these psychosocial stressors may lead to increased mental health disorders among mothers of Mexican descent. Indeed, we found that deportation fears were significantly associated with an increased risk of anxiety in prenatal women [3]. Therefore, the proposed study aims to answer the following research question: How does COVID-19 stress (e.g., fears of contagion, household impact, etc.) affect maternal mental health (i.e., depressive and anxiety symptoms) in mothers of Mexican descent? We hypothesize that COVID-19 stress will heighten immigrant-related stressors and that women will report experiencing elevated depressive and anxiety symptoms since the pandemic and stay-at-home orders.
Maldonado Identifying SARS-COV-2 Critical Control Points At Rantoul Foods And The Community: Aim 3 The larger project initially brought together researchers from the Institute for Genomic Biology, NCSA, Veterinary Medicine, Microbiology, Pathobiology, Statistics, Civil and Environmental Engineering, as well as individuals in the OSF Healthcare System, to address the community health emergency of COVID-19/SARS-COV-2 among workers at Rantoul Food, a pork processing plant. The situation is now further complicated by the temporary agricultural workers arriving in late June. The larger project involves testing of community members as well as taking environmental samples. Our cohort in particular considers the social, behavioral, and cultural contexts that affect susceptibility to infection. We aim to mitigate pathogen transmission as we develop data on social stressors imminent to premature death and to establish linkages between disease and social stressors. We will focus on transmission dynamics outside of the plant and other workplaces, considering how people can incorporate recommended disease prevention measures into their daily lives beyond their workplace--and what obstacles might hinder them from doing so. To this end, we will identify social factors, including race, gender, nationality, education, and income levels, as well as access to pertinent information, that affect living and working conditions. We expect to produce data on the asymmetries of healthcare care, social stressors, and premature death, all of which these populations already experience. As statistics show, the current pandemic crystallizes their vulnerability.Health
BerenbaumContentment, Satiation, and DepressionThe complementary goals of the proposed project are to: (a) examine the relation between satiation and the subjective experience of contentment; (b) replicate previous findings that depression is associated with contentment; (c) replicate previous findings that depression levels decrease following bariatric surgery; (d) examine whether changes in depression are associated with changes in satiation; and (d) examine whether reductions in depression following bariatric surgery are mediated by changes in satiation and/or contentment. The project is intended to demonstrate feasibility and provide pilot data in support of an extramural grant proposal.

Research participants will be 15 women who will be assessed both before and following sleeve gastrectomy (bariatric) surgery, along with 15 control (obese) women not undergoing surgery who will also be assessed longitudinally. Depression will be measured using both questionnaires and semi-structured diagnostic interviews and clinical rating scales; anxiety will be measured using questionnaires; contentment and other forms of pleasurable emotion (specifically, cheerfulness and tranquility) will be measured using questionnaires; satiation will be measured using ad libitum consumption of a palatable liquid meal (e.g. Ensure) – using visual analogue scales, participants will rate hunger, satiation and palatability before, during and after the meal consumption. Data will be analyzed using repeated measures analyses of variance, regression analyses, and mediation analyses.
NevilleMindfulness for Radical Healing: Feasibility of a Culturally Congruent Virtual Mindfulness-based Intervention for African AmericansAfrican Americans experience both general (e.g., relationship difficulties) and racism-based stress (e.g., racial microaggressions). Research consistently documents the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions (MBI) such as mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy in reducing the effects of general stress symptoms. For example, MBIs help reduce stress responses such as anxiety and depression, high cortisol levels, chronic pain, maladaptive coping behaviors, and psychological symptoms of burnout across racial and ethnic groups. There is also some evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of MBIs for African Americans specifically on reducing stress outcomes. Mindfulness has been associated with lower depressive symptoms, lower anxiety, reduced addiction severity, and improved blood pressure in African American samples. Although we know a great deal about the role of MBIs in reducing the negative effects of general stress, there is almost no research that also tests the effectiveness of reducing both general and racism-based stress among African Americans. Currently there is a shortage of empirical research on theoretically grounded and data driven MBIs to promote African Americans as they navigate multiple sources of stress. To address this gap, the proposed study aims to pilot and determine the feasibility of the Mindfully & Collectively Revolutionizing Wellness (Mi-CReW) Program, a virtual, culturally responsive MBI for African Americans. The purpose of the Mi-CReW intervention is to introduce mindfulness as a tool for personal and community wellness for African Americans, especially in resistance to racism-based stress. A study of Mi-CReW is necessary to determine whether further efficacy testing, refinement, and/or expansion is warranted.Health
TabbThe Impact of Racial Bias and Discrimination on Racial-ethnic Minority Women's Experiences and Healthcare Interactions during Perinatal PeriodSince the publication of Unequal Treatment by the Institute of Medicine in 2003, a growing body of research has suggested that racial bias among providers contribute to racial disparities in maternal health (Oribhabor et al., 2020; Saluja & Bryant, 2021). Racial discrimination has been shown to relate to adverse birth outcomes (Alhusen et al., 2016), and racial bias manifests in more prejudiced interactions, including less high-quality and culturally sensitive care (Oribhabor et al., 2020). Although there are a lot of studies being done on racial bias and patient-provider communication, fewer studies focus on the area of maternal health, where racial bias contributes to health disparities (Saluja & Bryant, 2021). In addition, most current assessments on patient-provider communication do not incorporate the perspectives of racial-ethnic minority patients about providers’ biased behaviors (Hagiwara et al., 2019). It is imperative to include the voices of racial-ethnic minority patients so that researchers can understand what racially biased behaviors look like in clinical interactions from patients’ perspectives. Moreover, racial-ethnic minority patients can provide insights on how providers can address their biased behaviors and discuss the barriers to treatment. This project conducts six online focus groups(8 participants)to achieve three goals. Aim 1:Understand the experiences of racial-ethnic minority women regarding discrimination and biased interactions in healthcare settings during their perinatal period. Aim 2:Identify specific racially biased behaviors (verbal and nonverbal) that racial-ethnic minority women encounter in clinical interactions.Aim 3:Explore racial-ethnic minority women’s perspectives on how providers and the healthcare system can address biased behaviors in clinical interactions or treatment.Health
PietrowiczPiloting A Living Veteran (ALiVe) Brain BankMany health challenges that military Veterans face are physically “invisible,” that is, injuries sustained to the brain and psyche. Understanding how trauma affects the brain, both physically and psychologically, and screening for these invisible injuries, is essential to advancing interventions and clinical treatments for Veterans, SMs, and their families. Specific aims are to collect data that will a) build capacity of the ALiVe (A Living Veteran) Brain Bank resource at UIUC, b) support the development of a public data corpus that captures the lived experiences of Veterans and their brain health, c) support qualitative analysis surrounding Veteran experiences related to brain health and d) support the development of data analytics that infer and predict dimensions of brain health via analysis of embodied human signals (e.g., speech, language, movement). This data will include surveys, interviews, and short functional assessments and to develop preliminary, prototype machine models that infer clinical variables for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) based on speech and language data.
These Aims provide preliminary data and preliminary data analysis results that will support pursuit of multiple external funding opportunities. This seed project is aimed to facilitate progress towards the research team’s overarching goal to establish an MRI-based military Veteran living ‘brain bank’ for studying the complex challenges facing Veterans resulting from their military service. This larger effort, called “A Living Veteran (ALiVe) Brain Bank,” is a developing interdisciplinary, collaborative initiative between the Chez Veterans Center, the College of Applied Health Sciences, the Beckman Institute, the Applied Research Institute, and the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute. For the ALiVe effort to date, the research team has collected Veteran health and wellness survey data via a pilot study and is currently collecting MRI data to examine Post-Traumatic Epilepsy in Veterans with TBI. The proposed research for this pilot project will 1) expand the ALiVe core data content further, to include interview data and standard mental health screening data, and 2) conduct a preliminary analysis of the data that will lead to the development of interactive “brain health mirror” tools that reveal invisible injuries. More specifically, interview data will enable exploration of relationships among speech, language, relevant survey data, and health conditions resulting from invisible injuries common to Veterans. This effort will add new dimensions to the data repository, and together with the data analysis, will provide the preliminary results needed to seek external funding for the larger goal of building ALiVe.
OleschukCooking for one: Understanding and improving the domestic food practices of people who live aloneLiving, and with it cooking, alone are progressively dominant features of modern life and span much of the life course. Single-person households now represent almost30% of all households in the United States and are the fastest-growing household form in the country. These shifting household dynamics hold implications for health because people who live alone are at heightened risk for poor nutrition. The adverse health outcomes faced by this population likely reflect single-living specific food challenges such as food packaging and recipes chiefly tailored to a group, the sole burden of domestic labor, and regular isolation while cooking and eating. The weight of many of these challenges is highly apparent in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many into especially isolated living conditions and asked them to rethink their cooking habits. They are also coupled with broader adversities faced by Americans as a whole in navigating food environments that regularly encourage nutritionally poor food choices. Despite this population’s growing size and heightened risk for poor nutrition, people who live alone have been overlooked by research, policy, and practice, leading to gaps in understanding and support to mitigate these challenges and their associated health outcomes.

The goal of this project is to better understand how living alone impacts cooking and eating patterns in ways that may support or hinder health in addition to social, familial, and community food connections. Research conducted at this stage will serve as pilot data in support of an external funding proposal aimed at bolstering the robustness of its findings and developing, implementing, and evaluating community interventions aimed at supporting community food resources, social connections, and healthy eating among single-living populations.
Clancy The BLEEDVAX Survey: Continuing Analyses of an Emerging PhenomenonAfter SARS-CoV-2 vaccination many menstruating people reported heavy periods, and formerly menstruating people (e.g., trans men and postmenopausal people) reported breakthrough bleeding. Like fever and fatigue, menstrual changes are likely a short-term side effect borne out of system-wide immune activation. However, this bleeding can be uncomfortable, painful, and/or affect mental health. Under normal circumstances, heavy bleeding warrants invasive procedures to rule out severe disease, making it an alarming presentation. A significant number of individuals also misunderstand short-term menstrual change to indicate long-term fertility concerns, exacerbating vaccine hesitancy. There is a critical need to characterize the range of effects based on known inflammatory pathways, determine the needs of menstruating people in better navigating these side effects, and restore trust in vaccine clinical trial procedures as these effects were missed. The primary objective of this project is to leverage our unprecedented sample of post-vaccine menstrual experiences by collecting follow-up data with a revised instrument and performing multivariate and mixed methods analyses to uncover the causes as well as consequences of increased bleeding.Health
McDowellData Storytelling for Community OrganizationsCommunity organizations can make data meaningful, valuable, and powerful through storytelling. Data storytelling is an emerging area; the iSchool has offered a graduate-level data storytelling course for the past three years. This course—both in curricular content and pedagogical strategies—has great potential for helping to transform the impact of community organizations by helping stakeholders to tell more effective stories. Greater data fiction, in e-gov and open data portals, presents challenges and opportunities for storytelling as a powerful way of conveying meaning. This project will put data storytelling tools into the hands of community organizations. The goal of this project is to pilot a toolkit, based on the data storytelling course, to bring storytelling from information science to community organizations. This toolkit will equip individuals in community organizations to tell stories with their data in ways that show meaning, develop value, and help articulate community narratives. The project will leverage pre-existing relationships, established by the former Center for Digital Inclusion, through library practicum, and by the Youth Services Community Engagement course, which has, since 2012, places masters students in community organizations to build bridges between their work and library services.

The methods will be information design-based, incorporating qualitative and quantitative elements. The data storytelling curriculum will be developed iteratively, based on input from participants through workshops, interviews, and focus groups. Social network analysis will be used to make strategic decisions about how to leverage pre-existing relationships with community organizations and how to plan for effective dissemination.
Digital Revolution
NgMapping Global Geographies of Online Consumption: Comparing Usage of Websites, YouTube Trends, and Twitter Trends over 100 countries The digital revolution powered by the internet, smartphones, and the Web enables much of the world’s content to be globally accessible. The flow of (mis)information in online digital spaces influences protest movements, national elections, and popular culture. But do web users really transcend national boundaries? On one hand, we believe that social media such as YouTube and Twitter, enable content to gain currency globally, yet we also know that web use tends to be quite culturally specific. Our understanding of global online flows remains fragmented, depending on the site of research. The proposed study addresses this knowledge gap and assesses the extent to which the Web has realized its potential as a global medium. Our main objective is to examine the extent of similarities between countries’ web use patterns simultaneously accounting for different modes of online consumption. We propose to analyze web usage in over a hundred countries, based on people’s consumption of each country’s most popular websites, as well as each country’s consumption trends from YouTube and Twitter. This would, to the best of our knowledge, be the first study to simultaneously compare global web use through both websites and multiple social media platforms. Using databases of world languages and geographic distances, an additional objective is to unravel the extent to which these similarities are driven by language and geography. This project, broadly speaking, assesses the cultural impact of the digital revolution on a global scale and establishes UIUC as a thought leader in this interdisciplinary area integrating approaches from social and information sciences.Digital Revolution
OsmanThe Effect of Mobility-on-Demand Services on the ‘Last Mile Problem’Over the past three years, several US local governments have taken an interest in subsidizing Uber and Lyft rides to and from transit stops. For instance, Dallas, TX, and Raleigh, NC have developed pilot programs that reduce the fares of Uber services for linked metro trips. These programs are designed to resolve the "last mile problem": the challenge of increasing public transit access for residents whose trips do not originate and/or end near existing stops. The last mile problem is widely considered to be the key challenge for increasing mass transit ridership in US cities and achieving substantial greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the transportation sector.

This project encompasses a set of studies using an experimental design that examines the behavioral response to subsidies for Uber services on transit-linked trips. Our project asks three main questions: (1) What is the demand response to subsidies that target linkages to metro/rail services (i.e., the effect on transit ridership, car usage, and Uber utilization)? (2) Do reductions in travel costs differentially affect riders who are underserved by existing public transit networks? (3) If the subsidy program were scaled up and implemented at the city-level, would the effects quantified in 1 and 2 significantly reduce congestion and transport-related emissions?

The project’s first phase is a 2-month randomized experiment in Chicago aimed at obtaining preliminary results and proof-testing the experimental apparatus. We will recruit about 300 participants (100 treatment and 200 control). Participants will enable the Google Timeline app on their mobile phones to record their movements and upload the Timeline data to our data portal. Treated participants will receive a subsidy of 25-50% off transit-linked Uber trips. Behavioral impacts will be estimated using an ANCOVA specification, whereby we regress the outcome variable on treatment assignment while controlling for baseline values of the variable. City-level congestion impacts will be estimated using the Cube Voyager transportation modeling software that is used by regional planners for scenario analysis.
Digital Revolution
Lara-CinisomoVirtual mindfulness for veterans’ caregivers (ViMiVetCare)With the disabled veteran population rising, the number of informal caregivers for veterans (ICVs) has surged, with estimates as high as 5.5 million in the United States. ICVsprovide complex care for longer durations than non-veteran caregivers, often while meeting other life demands. The added responsibility of caring for a disabled veteran can increase ICVs' stress and put them at risk for short-and long-term poor mental and physical health. These risk factors can be complicated by social and geographic isolation. Despite ICV'srisks, there is limited research on effective interventions for this population, including holistic approaches. There is even less on the feasibility of clinical trials using innovative complementary health interventions. Complementary practices, such as mindfulness, have been shown to reduce stress and improve mood among caregivers in the general population. Our preliminary data suggests that mindfulness-based training significantly reduces stress in ICVs. However, the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)intervention with ICVsis yet to be determined. The first step is to determine the acceptability and feasibility of a virtual MBSR intervention. Our pilot data showed that ICVs have competing demands and geographic barriers that prevent them from attending in-person interventions, suggesting that a virtual MBSR intervention is needed for this special population. Our data also showed that there is interest in mindfulness-based training. However, competing demands made it difficult for some caregivers to participate because they had to stay home to care for their veterans. To meet this special population's needs, the proposed study will work with veterans' caregivers through virtual focus group interviews to adapt our pilot intervention from in-person to live streaming. Evidence demonstrates that mindfulness training, including programs that are offered via live stream, reduces stress. Because access to technology and skills with video cameras and audio can vary across participants, the proposed study will also inquire about adaptations needed to increase the accessibility and acceptability of the live-streaming MBSR intervention. Given the need to stay home due to COVID-19, virtual focus groups will safely allow caregivers to participate in the study while caring for their veterans. The proposed study will enroll 25 caregivers of veterans to participate in virtual focus groups. Three waves of virtual focus group interviews will be conducted. The first focus group meeting will focus on learning about this population's technical needs, capabilities, and barriers. The second focus group will gather information about mindfulness-based training perceptions and gather recommendations for tailoring the live streaming intervention for their needs. We will adapt the in-person mindfulness-based program to live streaming using data collected in the first two focus group interviews. The last focus group interview will gather perceptions of the adapted intervention to ensure it will be acceptable and feasible for veterans' caregivers. The following aims: 1) guides the study and adapt an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention from in-person intervention to live streaming. We will conduct focus groups with veterans' caregivers to identify their needs and perceptions of mindfulness-based training offered virtually to ensure the adapted intervention meets their needs. 2)Assess the accessibility and acceptability of an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention for veterans' informal caregivers. To determine the adapted intervention's acceptability, we will conduct focus groups with participants to ascertain whether the intervention can meet their needs and barriers to participation.Digital Revolution
LeichtBridge Funding to Pursue Continued Support for the NSF-Funded Project, “RAPID:Tracking and Network Analysis of the Spread of Misinformation Regarding Covid-19.”In this ongoing project, we are tracking and conducting network analyses of dubious and downright false information spread via the internet, Twitter, and chat rooms regarding the COVID-19 epidemic. We are tracking and identifying the nodes of misinformation regarding COVID-19 origins, spread, and treatment to (a) provide coherent and up-to-date information on the networks through which false information is spread, and (b) to provide scientists, policy makers, and journalists with potential places to concentrate their efforts to mitigate the effects of misinformation as the pandemic unfolds. The current results of our project have been submitted to the Russell Sage Foundation Journal of Social Sciences, and our preliminary results suggest that labeling dubiously sourced Facebook posts drastically reduces the subsequent sharing of those posts, in accordance with cognitive and dramaturgical theories of engagement. We were also invited and conducted a briefing to the House of Representatives Science Oversight Committee on the spread of COVID-19 misinformation and the overall state of social media research infrastructure (April 20th).

In addition to continuing our research on the network spread of COVID misinformation across social media platforms, our next endeavor involves assembling a research and development team for the purposes of developing machine learning and AI protocols for identifying and better labeling misinformation on social media platforms. We are in the preliminary stages of assembling a consortium of fact-checking organizations as partners in this endeavor as well as additional expertise in software development and AI applications. We have identified two sources of funding to which our efforts will be directed (the Discovery Partners Institute Seed Grant Program and the NSF Convergence Accelerator Program, RFP 21-572, both attached). The ultimate goal of our next endeavor is to develop a computer application available to end consumers, social media providers, government agencies, and other stakeholders to label social media misinformation in real-time in ways that are consistent across social media platforms and independent from social media providers themselves.
Digital Revolution