A group of students are inventing a "jalapeno popper" which is a cross between a bell pepper and a jalapeno pepper. The group has been cross breeding the plants for five seasons and are a few seasons away from a final product. The group was photographed at the student farm where they meet every Tuesday to tend to the plants and discuss their progress. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Seed and Bridge Grants

Learn About the 2021-2022 PIRI Grant Recipients

The Public Impact Research Initiative (PIRI) was established through Public Scholarship and Engagement (PSE) to recognize and support research that is cogenerated with community partners, is of mutual benefit, and has a positive public impact.


Seed Grants


Building the Tools of Land Sovereignty: Aiding Lisjan Ohlone Networks in Building Governmental and Financial Tools

UC Davis leads: Professor Gregory Downs and Assistant Professor Justin Leroy, Department of History, College of Letters and Sciences
Collaborator: Sogorea Te’ Land Trust

This seed grant proposal seeks to establish an ongoing connection between UC Davis and the Sogorea Te Land Trust and Lisjan Ohlone peoples... The initial round of work will serve to help introduce current UC Davis graduate students to the workings of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust and to their organizing practices and needs, and in turn to demonstrate the utility of our students’ research and communications skills to the Land Trust members and to produce useful research for the Land Trust. Our goal is to utilize these contacts to apply for additional funding down the road, from both university and external sources, that might build an ongoing partnership that helps to sustain a public engagement focus in our graduate training and to recruit successfully Native applicants for graduate training. The specific activities the seed grant will sponsor will be a two-fold research project by the graduate students for the Sogorea Te Land Trust, research projects designed by Sogorea Te leaders to be useful for them and to expose our students to the practices of building land sovereignty, one focused on engaging with governmental leaders, another on analyzing and reproducing data about donors.


Evaluation of Wildlife Rewilding on Livestock Producers in a Patagonian Working Landscape

UC Davis lead: Assistant Professor Justine Smith, Department of Wildlife and Conservation Biology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Collaborator: Fundación Flora y Fauna Argentina

Restoring wildlife populations is a central goal in conservation, yet it can come at a real and perceived cost to local livestock producers. A lack of agency and empowerment experienced by producers contributes to animosity towards rewilding efforts... For these mutual benefits to be achieved and persist, rewilding in working landscapes must be realized from a perspective of shared goals. Intentional wildlife rewilding has not been robustly examined in working landscapes, yet it provides a rigorous framework through which to study the ecology of coupled human-natural systems and directly improve wildlife management to reduce human-wildlife conflict. In order to examine how wildlife rewilding affects and interacts with local livestock producers, UC Davis wildlife researchers seek to partner with Fundación Flora y Fauna Argentina (FFFA), a conservation nonprofit that conducts rewilding and conservation projects in the working landscapes of Argentine Patagonia. This work will be conducted in the Patagonia Azul Biosphere Reserve on a mix of restored and working ranches, where FFFA has recently established a rewilding program and has developed relationships within the local producer community.


Identifying and addressing ecological knowledge gaps in managing California’s low-elevation ecosystems to minimize the negative impacts of wildfire, and enhance post-fire recovery

UC Davis leads: Professor Valerie Eviner, Associate Professor Jennifer Funk, and Professor Mary Cadenasso, Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Collaborators: California Native Grasslands Association, Pepperwood Preserve, and Tuleyome

While fire is a natural part of many of California’s ecosystems, the recent increases in wildfire intensity, frequency, and size are unprecedented... Particularly since current wildfire regimes are different from past manager experiences, there is a need to develop a new conceptual understanding and management framework for California’s fire-prone ecosystems. The knowledge gaps are particularly large in northern California’s lower elevation woodlands, chaparral and grasslands, where there has been little investment in research to understand how land management influences wildfire severity, or post-wildfire recovery. This project will identify priority management challenges, knowledge gaps, and research opportunities related to post-wildfire recovery of ecosystems. It will also develop proactive approaches to manage California’s systems before wildfires to minimize the negative effects and maximize potential benefits of wildfire. Working with diverse land managers, we will assess multiple conservation and range management goals, including: erosion control, water infiltration and storage, native species conservation and restoration, weed control, forage quality and quantity, and wildlife food and habitat.


luk’upsíimey/North Star Collective: Niimiipuu/Mayan Connections – Language Revitalization in Chiapas, Mexico

UC Davis leads: Professor Hernández-Ávila, Department of Native American Studies, College of Letters and Science
Collaborators: luk’upsíimey/North Star Collective; Beth Piatote, Department of Native American Studies, UC Berkeley

This particular project proposes what will be a historic collaboration between the luk'upsiimey/North Star Collective and Mayan writers in Chiapas, Mexico, with the intention of deepening our understandings.. regarding the over twenty-five year history of a flourishing movement of language revitalization through the promotion of creative writing currently underway in Chiapas, partly due to the San Andrés Accords that were signed between the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and the Mexican federal government. The San Andrés Accords were not honored by the Mexican government except for one point; the accords made possible the creation of CELALI, the state center for Indigenous Languages, Art, and Literature, instituted in 1997. Professor Hernández-Ávila's work has focused on Chiapas since CELALI's inception, and on the writers who are promoting language revitalization through the creation of literature in their languages, translated into Spanish. She has more than twenty years of experience in Chiapas, and a network of relations(hips) with these writers, artists, and community activists. We are excited about taking a Niimiipuu/Nez Perce delegation to Chiapas to engage with our Mayan counterparts about their work in language revitalization, to visit, with them as guides, select cultural centers in rural areas, to share our work(s) with each other, and to consider how we might embark on a joint publication, the first of its kind.


Reuniting Families: Understanding the impact of immigration prison decarceration due to the COVID-19 pandemic on detained immigrants and their families

UC Davis lead: Assistant Professor Caitlin Patler, Department of Sociology, College of Letters and Sciences
Collaborator: American Civil Liberties Union

The COVID-19 pandemic marked an unprecedented change to U.S. immigration detention whereby the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) litigated court orders mandating the decarceration of immigration prisons to ensure social distancing and protect health... These litigative efforts have contributed to a reduction in the average daily detained population from 55,000 in 2019 to 17,000 in November 2020. This truly unprecedented decarceration now provides us with an equally unprecedented opportunity to understand the experiences of released individuals. We will use a longitudinal, mixed-methods, and multi-perspective research design to follow 300 households with a loved one released under court orders litigated by the ACLU. We will begin by conducting a longitudinal survey of released adults focused on individual and household economic stability, health, and engagement with key societal institutions (e.g. education, healthcare). We will then compare study households in California to individuals observed in the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) during the same time period. This allows us to make population-level comparisons, including accounting for concurrent challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. Third, to identify mechanisms that may explain trends in the survey data, we will conduct in-depth interviews with 60 released adults and their families.


UC Davis – Wellspring Women’s Center partnership to build understanding of COVID-19 vaccine confidence among diverse, low-income women in Sacramento

UC Davis lead: Associate Professor Ester Apesoa-Verano, Professor Sheryl Catz and Postdoctoral Scholar Susan Miller, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing
Collaborator: Wellspring Women’s Center

This project will support a new partnership between the Wellspring Women’s Center and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. Ester Carolina Apesoa-Varano, a sociologist and Associate Professor of Nursing, is the lead investigator... The UCD-Wellspring Partnership project will use a mix of brief telephone surveys and in-depth qualitative interviews to identify and describe barriers and facilitators of COVID-19 vaccine confidence among socially vulnerable women of different ages, race/ethnicity and COVID-19 history. The project will also explore the acceptability of potential vaccine promotion strategies among these women and the social services staff working with them. The main goal of the project is to understand diverse participant and stakeholder knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about COVID-19 vaccines in order to guide micro-targeted efforts to address vaccine hesitancy and build vaccine confidence.



Bridge Grants


California BIPOC Youth Perspectives about COVID-19 Pandemic: A Community Engaged Participatory Research

UC Davis lead: Professor Natalia Deeb-Sossa, Department of Chicana/o Studies, College of Letters and Science
Collaborators: Empower Yolo; Rosa Manzo, Associate Director of Medical Education, UC Merced; Skye Kelty; Postdoctoral Fellow in the Joint Graduate Group in Pharmacology and Toxicology, Rutgers University

With our partners, we will: 1) pilot a model of narrative-driven, community-based participatory research that centers the voices, experiences, and needs of low-income and working communities in California now deemed essential, 2) produce and communicate narratives.. with these communities in order to inform and influence ongoing “disaster governance” (see Tierney 2012) and 3) refocus the public narrative about young BIPOC and “essential” workers during the pandemic who are at greatest risk of illness and economic disaster. Through the use of photovoice, spoken word, and focus groups we envision our young participants will express their experiences as well as their ideals for driving social change through youth environmental and social activist initiatives. We will produce policy-relevant knowledge by partnering with community-based organizations engaged in policy advocacy which include Empower Yolo, SAYS, Puentes Network and Fresno County Golden Plains Unified School District. Our methodology, contributions, and innovations will use Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR).


Deepening Co-Creation of Research for Yurok Food Sovereignty

UC Davis lead: Associate Professor Katherine Kim, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing and Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine
Collaborator: Nature Rights Council

Yurok country, the region of the Klamath Basin encompassing the Yurok Tribe reservation, has been defined in recent times as a food desert even though there are abundant natural resources that historically sustained the population... High levels of poverty, reliance on heavily processed food from federal assistance programs, and loss of traditional and tribal knowledge has contributed to health disparities which are seen starting from birth. In order to counter this food desert narrative the Nature Rights Council, a local non-profit organization in the Klamath Basin, launched a pilot program called the Yurok Food Sovereignty Project for and with 30 households of native women who are pregnant or new mothers and their families. The initiative applies modern harvest and food processing practices and restores practices of intergenerational reciprocity through the Victorious Gardens home gardening assistance service and a subscription-based food delivery of sustainable protein sources. Through a combination of stakeholder engagement, training, and application of research skills in the evaluation of the Yurok Food Sovereignty Project, we will enhance the community’s capacity for health disparities research and program evaluation as well as strengthen the quality of university’s community-engaged research.


Understanding WIC participant responses to vendor policy enforcement

UC Davis leads: Professor Tim Beatty and Ph.D. student Charlotte Ambrozek, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Collaborator: California Department of Public Health: Women, Infants and Children Program

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides targeted nutrition assistance for low-income pregnant and postpartum women and their children under 5... WIC supplies nutrition-dense foods and nutrition and breastfeeding counseling to the families of half of the babies born in the US each year. 6.2 million individuals received WIC benefits in FY2020, with more than 14% of those in California. The economics, public health, and nutrition literatures document sustained health and social benefits for WIC participants from the program. Positive effects are strongest for the most marginalized populations, including African-American mothers, allowing WIC to address inequalities in maternal and postpartum care. This Bridge grant will sustain and strengthen a research-policy partnership between the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) WIC Division and researchers from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis. The partnership combines researcher expertise with program administrator insight to address a fundamental policy question. This project will complete an unprecedented link of CDPH WIC administrative data from several sources, covering all participants exposed to a disqualification in California over 4 years. Results will inform ongoing policy discussions and institutional practices.