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.
Yolo Family Poverty Reduction Pilot
Associate Professor Catherine Brinkley, Center for Regional Change and Department of Human Ecology, College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, with collaborator Associate Professor Vikram Koundinya, Department of Human Ecology.
Partners: Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency and Yolo County Children’s Alliance
This project supports a pilot program focused on families experiencing homelessness with children under the age of five.
The study proposes to document and assess a county-level program that provides wrap-around case service management and a guaranteed cash program that will bring families above the California Poverty Measurement (CPM) for two years. The study offers potential for policy impact given the novel focus on county programming which house social services programs and assessment of families experiencing the highest need. The study joins a growing cohort of evaluations on cash transfer programs and builds on First Five’s mission to make “sure every child in California gets the best start in life” by focusing on the most vulnerable children and long-term impacts of programs that aim to break cycles of poverty.
Stewarding and Improving Asian Specialty Crops with Second Generation Seeds
Assistant Professor Ga Young Chung, Department of Asian American Studies, College of Letters and Sciences, with collaborators Professor E. Charles Brummer, Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, Katharina Ullmann, Director, UC Davis Student Farm, Antonia Palkovic, Researcher, Department of Plant Sciences, and Laura Roser, Junior Specialist, Department of Plant Sciences.
Partner: Second Generation Seeds
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities have long contributed to California agriculture and cuisine, but the legacy of sociopolitical challenges, including exclusionary land and citizenship laws, low working wages, and language barriers in accessing resources still impacts AAPI farmers today (Tsu 2013; Garcia 2012; Daniels 2011).
Many crops with cultural significance to the AAPI community have not been bred for production in the United States, resulting in a limited selection of varieties of culturally relevant seeds available to farmers, especially those that are adapted to sustainable agricultural systems. In this project, we plan to establish a participatory breeding and evaluation program in collaboration with community partners, AAPI farmers. This project ultimately aims to: 1) produce new knowledge that combines academic knowledge with the knowledge and rich cultural legacy embedded in this historically marginalized community, and 2) increase crop diversity so that AAPI farmers can easily adapt and increase farm profitability while building climate resilience and food sovereignty into farming systems.
Empowering Young Female Scientists: A Collaboration with Davis Senior High School
Associate Professor Jennifer Funk, Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences.
Partner: Davis Senior High School
Scientific research experiences for high school and undergraduate students enhance educational outcomes, including increased content retention and broadening participation and diversity in science.
These activities are particularly important for women and minorities, and may have a disproportionately large impact on attitudes toward science when implemented at the high school level. The objective of the proposed work is to: 1) create a research internship in the area of plant science for female high school students that is co-developed by me and a community education partner, and 2) assess the impact of the program on short- and long-term educational outcomes. The program with Davis Senior High will run annually during the winter quarter, with the first cohort conducting research in 2022. Each year, 10 female students will conduct 20 hours of research at UC Davis over a 10-week period. Students will work in teams of 2-3 students and visit my lab, greenhouse, or field site on weekdays after school. Students will be introduced to a range of research approaches including plant growth measurements, analytical chemistry, field ecology methods, and data analysis. High school students will be supervised by the PI and a graduate student, who will gain valuable mentoring skills and salary to support their own education. Educational outcomes from the program will be assessed through pre- and post-experience surveys and follow up with students 2, 4, and 6 years after graduation.
Youth-Elder Cartographic & Cultural Encounters in Northern Guatemala
Associate Professor Liza Grandia, Department of Native American Studies, College of Letters and Sciences.
Partner: ACDIP, the Indigenous Peasant Association for the Integrated Development of Peten
In reciprocal collaboration with a Q’eqchi’ peasant federation in northern Guatemala representing 162 villages (roughly one tenth of the country’s territory), this project will continue our preparation of a Q'eqchi' Atlas for mapping land use in their autonomous indigenous villages as a planning tool for climate reforestation and sacred site protection.
A Q'eqchi' Maya cadastral expert from an allied organization will continue training ten Q'eqchi' youth in land surveying skills so they can demarcate communal areas and farming zones in three pilot villages that have won a legal precedent to register their lands in common with municipal authorities. To build grassroots momentum beyond the three villages, their councils of elders will then meet with a regional group of spiritual guides with whom the PI has been working for the last four years to develop a strategy to reclaim and reforest sacred sites throughout the region.
UC Davis-Huron Middle School Partnership for Promoting Mental Health Resilience in Middle School
Assistant Professor Maciel Hernandez, Department of Human Ecology, College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences.
Partner: Huron Middle School
Latinx youth in the United States, which are about 50% of children in California, often face limited academic opportunities and heightened health disparities (Santacrose et al., 2021; Yosso & Solórzano, 2006).
These disparities are more pronounced among Latinx in rural communities (Stein et al., 2016). Very few studies have considered school-based relationships and mental health resilience as avenues for promoting positive academic outcomes among Latinx youth living in rural communities (Stein et al., 2016). The proposed research project will partner with Huron Middle School (HMS), located in a primarily Latinx rural community in California’s Central Valley, to evaluate the Students Mentored via an Advisory Room Teacher (SMART) program, a program developed to improve students’ academic outcomes and reduce behavioral problems, and investigate what factors promote youth mental health resilience. The proposed project will evaluate the SMART program’s current practices through a school-wide survey to examine what promotes youth mental health and mitigates the negative effects of life stressors experienced by students. This project will include community voices to ensure that future planning and priorities related to school practices and the SMART program reflect youth-identified needs. We expect youth will have unique perspectives on school-based needs and supports that could inform how to tailor the SMART program to address mental health concerns.
Stacking Solar Energy and Ecological Systems for Public Powerful Impacts Through Co-Development
Associate Professor Rebecca Hernandez, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources with collaborators Associate Professor Majdi Abou Najm and Assistant Professor Rebecca Lybrand, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, Assistant Professor Steven M. Grodsky, Cornell University, Lydia Jennings, Postdoctoral Scholar at University of Arizona, and UC Davis graduate student Yudi Li.
Partners: Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Electric Power Research Institute (EPR), Xerces Society
Recognizing the potential impacts of ecological restoration at ground- mounted solar energy facilities in California for biodiversity conservation (e.g., pollinators, California tiger salamander) and ecosystem service delivery (e.g., soil carbon sequestration, visual amenity) to the local community, project partners (Wild Energy Initiative, UC Davis; Sacramento Municipal Utility District; Electric Power Research Institute; Xerces Society, local tribes) seek to pursue the co-development of two novel experimental demonstration sites at two ground-mounted solar energy sites: UC Davis (monofacial) and Rancho Seco II (bifacial).
Vegetation in the Central Valley of California was historically characterized as a flower-dominated, prairie biome. Today, less than 2% of the historical extent of these prairies exist. California prairies and grasslands are a more resilient carbon sink than forests in response to 21st century changes in climate. Across these two facilities, project partners seek to answer the question if optimal solar energy generation and ecological restoration can be pursued simultaneously (i.e., “stacked”) and to determine best practices across multiple facets, including seed mixes, site preparation techniques, biodiversity impacts, visual amenity, and tribal engagement. Overall, this award will deepen understanding of ecological restoration potential at ground-mounted solar energy sites and elucidate how co-development across stakeholders may enhance scientific outcomes and the rehabilitation of the ecosystems of the Central Valley.
The Murky Politics of Clean Air in the San Joaquin Valley
Associate Professor Jonathan London, Department of Human Ecology, College of Agricultural & Environmental sciences.
Partner: Central California Environmental Justice Network
This project will document the impacts of the implementation of a new state law (Assembly Bill 617) that seeks to improve air quality and public health in some of the most overburdened communities in the state.
It uses a multi-method and participatory action research approach to build on a long term collaboration between the UC Davis PI, Jonathan London (Department of Human Ecology), and the community PI, Nayamin Martinez (Executive Director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network.) The project will help expand upon an existing partnership between Jonathan and Nayamin as part of their Robert Wood Johnson Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Fellowship. The project will produce a set of research-based products – a policy brief, infographic, one or more peer-reviewed articles, and presentations – directed to improving the implementation of the policy. In particular, it seeks to inform strategies to ensure that AB 617 truly improves the health and well-being of residents in two communities (the urban neighborhoods of Southwest Fresno and the rural town of Shafter) engaged in the policy implementation and to hold the regional and state agencies responsible for the policy accountable to the community and their environmental justice goals.
Open Letters from Prison: Mobilizing Communities of Collective Care
Assistant Professor Benjamin D. Weber, Department of African American and African Studies, College of Letters and Sciences, and collaborator Assistant Professor Ofelia Ortiz Cuevas, Department of Chicana/o Studies, College of Letters and Sciences.
Partner: California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP)
Growing out a year-long collaboration between UC Davis faculty, students, and staff and California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) members, this project seeks to amplify the voices and expand the reach of Open Letters Writing Group members inside four California prisons by creating and distributing a special issue of The Fire Inside prison newsletter featuring their original writing and artwork.
Our aims are threefold: (I) to create and publish the special issue; (II) to plan the next iteration of the Writing Group; and (III) to build a partnership between CCWP and UCD’s Beyond the Barriers Initiative by designing a resource map and transition guide for people coming home from prison who are returning to college. Our goal is that this project will strengthen the existing collaboration between UC Davis faculty, students, and staff and CCWP members inside and outside of prisons in California and expand the impact of the collaborative work. The project is grounded in Ethnic Studies approaches to individual and collective storytelling which seeks to address asymmetries of institutional influence and power. It utilizes modes of horizontal feedback, reflection, and collaboration in studying the past to write personal narratives about the present and future.
Meeting Health Needs of Newly Arrived Afghan Refugees: The Impact of Cultural Health Navigation
Serena Yang, Professor and Division Chief, General Pediatrics; Vice Chair, Community Engagement, Dept of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, with collaborator Michael Wilkes, Director of Global Health, School of Medicine.
Partner: Opening Doors, Inc.
Sacramento has the largest community of Afghan refugees in the country, which has continued to grow with the newest wave of refugee resettlement following the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan in Aug 2021.
Opening Doors, Inc. (ODI) has been serving the region for over 20 years as one of the five resettlement agencies in Sacramento that offers programs and services to immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers. ODI already has resettled 940 people this past year, with a capacity of resettling over 2,000 by the end of this year. ODI’s priorities are to improve the health of newly arrived Afghans through outreach, education, and support services including increasing health literacy, coordinating health care, and enrolling in Medi-Cal or Refugee Medical Assistance. The goal of this new research collaboration is to leverage the assets of our two organizations, ODI and UCD, to explore the impact of cultural health navigation on health and access to health care for newly arrived Afghan refugees in Sacramento. We plan to examine the health needs and health-seeking behaviors of newly resettled Afghans, the facilitators and barriers to their accessing care, other needs or stressors, and measures of resilience at 90-day post-resettlement in Sacramento.