Large mural on the back wall of Woodland High School's theater building featuring  a woman with her back against a man. The man is facing away and points to the right. The woman holds a bowl and pours water to a field. They are behind large books, music notes and piano keys. Surrounding them are children holding arms and dancings. The mural is colorful and vibrant.
Malaquias Montoya mural project on the back wall of the Woodland High School's theater building. (Photo Credit: Cheng Saechao/UC Davis)

Public Impact Grants Awarded for Community-University Partnerships

The Office of Public Scholarship and Engagement is proud to announce the nine recipients of the 2024 Public Impact Research Initiative (PIRI) Grants, continuing its commitment to supporting research that creates meaningful community impacts. 

This year's funded projects exemplify the breadth and depth of public scholarship, ranging from efforts to mitigate wildfire risks in Maui; citizen science and environmental justice; advancing healthcare accessibility; and documenting stories of indigenous peoples and immigrants. Awardees were selected from 26 applicants across UC Davis.

"Representing a diverse range of disciplines and approaches, these projects are bound by a common goal — to catalyze change for the greater good,” said Michael Rios, vice provost for public scholarship.

Public Scholarship and Engagement established the PIRI grants program in 2019 to recognize and support research that is cogenerated with community partners, is of mutual benefit, and has a positive public impact. This nationally-recognized grant program supports innovative and impactful community engagement projects that might otherwise be overlooked or underfunded.

Diverse range of projects

The nine projects address pressing issues such as public health, food insecurity and climate change. Read on for a brief overview, and visit the Public Scholarship and Engagement website for full descriptions and a list of all team members and community partners.

Cultivating Youth and Community Resilience in Maui, Hawaiʻi

Led by Heidi Ballard and Jadda Miller, this project engages with Kihei Charter School and Kipuka Olowalu in Maui for wildfire mitigation through land stewardship. It embodies a citizen science approach, emphasizing community participation in scientific research.

Toxic Air Pollutants in California's Environmental Justice Communities

Clare Cannon and Alex Sanchez's project focuses on deploying low-cost air quality sensors in the San Francisco Bay Area in partnership with Rise South City, highlighting the importance of community-engaged research in addressing environmental injustices. 

Improving Air Quality Awareness in Rural Communities

Ian Faloona and Heather Lieb are spearheading an initiative to raise awareness about emissions from agricultural soils and collaborating with organizations to enhance air quality in rural areas. Partners include Comité Cívico del Valle (CCV), the Central California Environmental Justice Network and the National Parks Conservation Association 

Stories of Agri-Cultural Justice from California to the Mississippi Delta

Erica Kohl-Arenas’ project with longtime collaborator Myrna Martinez-Nateras (Pan Valley Institute, American Friends Service Committee) explores food justice through the stories of immigrant, refugee, and indigenous women in California’s Central Valley, highlighting the power of cultural tradition in building sustainable futures.  

Advancing Tele-eye Care Accessibility

Yin Allison Liu, Oanh Meyer, and David Bissig aim to implement a tele-eye care program for individuals with cognitive impairments, demonstrating the potential of technology in bridging healthcare disparities. Their partners include Olleyes, Inc., Alzheimer's Association Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter, Sacramento County Health Center.

Stewarding Future Veterinary Professionals

This project, led by Alexis Patterson Williams in partnership with Breakthrough Sacramento, focuses on diversifying the veterinary profession through education and outreach.

A Bilingual Documentary on COVID-19's Impact on Latine/x Immigrant Communities

Alicia Rusoja will produce a bilingual documentary that captures the profound effects of COVID-19 on immigrant communities in South Philadelphia, offering insights into their resilience and political mobilization.

Deferred Action for Labor Enforcement Research and Policy Initiative

Leticia Saucedo, Raquel Aldana, and Shayak Sarkar will collaborate with the Arriba Las Vegas Worker Center to provide legal and research assistance to undocumented workers in the U.S. labor market, testing the effects of Deferred Action for Labor Enforcement (DALE) protection on workplace advocacy.

Uncovering Diverse Histories of Yolo County

Cecilia Tsu and her team's partnership with the Yolo County Archives seeks to bring to light the untold stories of underrepresented communities in Yolo County, transforming historical research into educational curriculum for K-12 students.

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