The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Boise State has awarded $16,500 to help fund four faculty research projects. The Osher Faculty Grant 2017 recipients and their projects were selected from applications from tenured and tenure track faculty across disciplines. Over the past six years, Osher has awarded $85,500 in grants to Boise State faculty.
The grant was established by the Osher Institute Advisory Board as a way to support Boise State faculty and help raise awareness of the Osher Institute within the university. Annual member contributions to Osher’s Excellence Fund make the grant possible. The 2017 recipients are:
April Masarik, Department of Psychology: We are currently experiencing the worst refugee crisis since World War II and a small fraction end up being relocated to Boise. It is important to understand ways to provide support for refugee families so they can be successful in our community. This is particularly important for refugee youth, who need to acquire a wide range of skills to develop into thriving adults. The objective of this project is to understand sources of stress and resilience among refugee adolescents and their families that influence adolescents’ educational success. Masarik and her team will use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to examine research questions. They also will analyze salivary cortisol (a biomarker of stress) from adolescents and their parents to examine the physiological effects of stress and coping. The project is a major collaborative effort involving Masarik, Kristin Snopkowski and Kathryn Demps, both from the anthropology department, and Boise School District personnel. The overarching goal is to understand the most effective strategies that reduce adolescent stress and promote resilience to improve educational outcomes for refugee youth as they make Boise their new home.
David Estrada, Department of Materials Science and Engineering: This project aims to integrate the fundamental building blocks of life – stem cells – with atomically thin graphene in order to probe the bioelectric cues which guide stem cell differentiation. Hopefully the scientific understanding the team uncovers about the basic chemistry of life will allow for engineering multifunctional bio-scaffolds capable of controlling the local stem cell environment in order to engineer genetically matched tissues and organs for a variety of diseases.
Jay Carlisle, Intermountain Bird Observatory: Carlisle’s research on the breeding season of long-billed curlews aims to illuminate what factors limit their reproductive success in varying breeding environments – with the hope that this information can help inform conservation planning both on private and public lands. One of the most critical sites is a private ranch in Idaho’s Pahsimeroi Valley because this population consistently has exhibited high reproductive success there, so understanding components that make this site work so well for curlews could be important to managing curlews in other areas. But despite vital landowner support, this site has been difficult to find funding for, especially as state and federal agencies have faced budget cuts in recent years. Carlisle will use Osher support to match small grants from the landowner and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to pay a dedicated Boise State student to assess the 2017 population size and reproductive success of Pahsimeroi Valley long-billed curlew population. In particular, the student will conduct standardized abundance surveys in late April/early May and conduct nest-searching and monitoring in May and June.
Daryl Macomb, Department of Physics: This project will analyze NASA X-ray observations of an interesting type of active galactic nuclei (AGN) – the supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies. The AGN in question have peculiar spectral properties that are inconsistent with scientists’ current understanding of these extremely bright sources of radiation. The team’s work on these black holes will help us understand their broader characteristics and relationship to other such sources.
The Osher Institute is a membership-based, lifelong-learning program for intellectually curious adults age 50 and older. It is offered through the Division of Extended Studies and offers a variety of college-level, noncredit lectures, short courses, trips and special events. Learn more at extendedstudies.boisestate.edu/osher.