New Grants for Public Impact Research Spur and Deepen Campus-Community Partnerships

UC Davis faculty from across campus receive funding to support 14 collaborative projects  

The Public Impact Research Initiative (PIRI) was established in spring 2020 to recognize UC Davis faculty and support research that will have a public impact meaning it is useful to, and developed in concert with, diverse constituents beyond the university. Seed and bridge grants of up to $10,000 were offered to support the development of new research collaborations and to deepen, sustain, or evaluate existing collaborative research, respectively.  

PIRI is a reflection of priorities identified in Public Scholarship for the Public Good: An Implementation Framework for UC Davis, a university blueprint created in 2019 for supporting and deepening publicly engaged scholarship at UC Davis. Through the multi-year process that informed the implementation framework, the need for grants to support mutually beneficial collaborations between faculty and non-university partners emerged as a theme. These collaborations allow our faculty and researchers to see the transformative effects on their research: public scholarship not only improves research questions and methods, but also extends projects’ longevity.  

Public Scholarship and Engagement received 36 applications representing faculty and researchers from nearly all ten UC Davis colleges and schools. Project foci ranged from developing techniques for the successful production of the nutrient-dense Ethiopian grain Teff in the Sacramento region to multimedia storytelling campaigns fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in classical music. Across the board, the proposals incorporated collaboration with non-university partners who have regional, national and global reach - from state governmental entities like the California Student Aid Commission to nonprofits overseas like the Hands On Institute in Nepal. 

As Vice Provost of Public Scholarship Michael Rios notes, “We were very pleased with the quality of proposals. The review committee representing a range of disciplines and fields were unanimous in giving high marks to more applicants than we originally intended to fund. Thanks to the Office of the Provost and a number of Colleges, we were able to double the number of grant awards.” 

Public Impact Research Initiative 2020 Seed Grantees

  • Enhancing Research Capacity for Yurok Food Sovereignty
    UC Davis lead: Katherine Kim, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing
    Non-university partner: Yurok Food Sovereignty Project
  • Citizen Science in Prison Gardens: Building Capacity for Transformative Learning at the Intersections of Nature and Self
    UC Davis leads: Ryan Meyer, Center for Community and Citizen Science; Laci Gerhart, Department of Evolution and Ecology; Heidi Ballard, School of Education; Chris Jalladah, Center for Community and Citizen Science
    Non-university partner: Insight Garden Program
  • Partnership to support California Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations
    UC Davis lead: Gail Feenstra, Agricultural Sustainability Institute and UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
    Non-university partner: COOK Alliance and Foodnome
  • Collaborative evaluation of the agronomic performance of Sheba farm’s Teff varieties at UC Davis
    UC Davis lead: Edward Brummer, Department of Plant Sciences
    Non-university partner: Sheba Farms LLC
  • How We Look: A Public Impact Research Initiative
    UC Davis lead: Julie Wyman, Department of Cinema and Digital Media
    Non-university partner: Little People of America
  • Golden Journey Empowerment and UC Davis Collaborative
    UC Davis leads: Laura Kair, School of Medicine and Director of Well Newborn Care; E. Bimla Schwarz, School of Medicine
    Non-university partner: Jasmine Carranza, Golden Journey Empowerment
  • We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For
    UC Davis lead: Claire Napawan, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design
    Non-university partner: Sunrise Movement
  • Community Data Mapping and Dissemination: A collaboration between Resilient Yolo and the Perinatal Origins of Disparities Center
    UC Davis leads: Jennifer Phipps, Department of Human Ecology; Leigh Ann Simmons, Department of Human Ecology
    Non-university partner: Resilient Yolo Partnership

Public Impact Research Initiative 2020 Bridge Grantees 

  • Sacramento County Food Distribution Agency Volunteer Recruitment, Management and Retention Study
    UC Davis lead: Marcella Gonsalves, School of Medicine
    Non-university partner: Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services
  • Humanizing Deportation Exhibit at Border Line Crisis Center, Tijuana: “Juntos Somos Más”
    UC Davis leads: Robert Irwin, Department of Spanish and Portuguese; Leticia Saucedo, School of Law
    Non-university partners: The Bridge El Puente and Borderline Crisis Center
  • INSTRUMENTAL: The Elayne Jones Story
    UC Davis leads: Grace Wang, Department of American Studies; Julie Wyman, Department of Cinema and Digital Media
    Non-university partners: Orchestrate Inclusion, Percussive Arts Society, and the San Francisco Symphony
  • Investigating Financial Aid Application and Take-up Behavior of High School Seniors
    UC Davis leads: Paco Martorell, School of Education; Scott Carrell, Department of Economics
    Non-university partner: California Student Aid Commission
  • Collaborative Rural Community Development Impact Assessment for Global Learning Programs
    UC Davis leads: Nancy Erbstein, School of Education; Jonathan London, Department of Human Ecology
    Non-university partner: Hands On Institute
  • Mapping the “Leftovers”: Participatory Q’eqchi’ Maya Cartography for the Cultural Reforestation of Northern Guatemala
    UC Davis lead: Liza Grandia, Department of Native American Studies
    Non-university partner: Indigenous Peasant Association for the Integrated Development of Peten (ACDIP)

Marcella Gonsalves from the School of Medicine says her partners at the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services (SFBFS) were excited when they decided to apply for the grant and were awarded. Rosie Cerna, key project collaborator and agency relations manager at SFBFS said, “We are thrilled that the grant was funded and we are moving forward with the study to learn more about volunteer practices. This award is particularly important as we continue to rely heavily on our volunteers during the COVID-19 crisis.”

While efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and prevent COVID-19 have impacted many of the grantee's abilities to begin immediate public engagement efforts, they are working with their non-university partners to adapt their project scope and timelines. 

“The Public Impact Research Initiative allows us to pilot innovative grant programs in response to timely opportunities and needs that we hear from both faculty and non-university groups. Many faculty shared the importance for small and nimble grants that allow them to co-develop projects with community partners on one hand, while providing research support to bridge between phases of a project, on the other,” says Vice Provost Rios.

The positive response to the PIRI pilot grant program has not only confirmed the need for resources to catalyze and sustain collaborative research with non-university partners, but also showcases the quality and commitment to excellence in public scholarship that serves our land-grant mission in today’s changing world. Through PIRI, Public Scholarship and Engagement will continue to explore and innovate ways to support research that is, and has the potential to, making a positive impact in communities that benefit society and the health of our planet. 

About Public Scholarship and Engagement

Public Scholarship and Engagement is fostering a culture of engagement at UC Davis that increases the university’s impact through mutually-beneficial relationships that have local, regional, statewide, and global reach.

We envision UC Davis research, teaching and learning that serves society and makes a positive difference in the world.

Primary Category