Faculty Grants

Collaboration and Innovation Grant Recipients 2013

In May 2013, five projects including television documentaries, a digital archive, a virtual venue and two innovative studies received Confluencenter Collaboration and Innovation Faculty Grants. The competition for these grants is open to faculty from the colleges of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences. The funded projects for 2013 are:

New Blueprint for Success: Micro-entrepreneurs and Cooperatives in Brazil
Dan Duncan, a filmmaker at the Southwest Center, and Marcela Vasquez, associate professor in the School of Anthropology, will produce a series of television documentaries presenting innovative entrepreneurial grassroots ventures in one of Brazil’s most marginal urban contexts—the favelas of Rio de Janeiro— revealing a blueprint for entrepreneurial success.

Disciplinary Trading Zones: A Focus on Methodological Imports
Associate professor of sociology Erin Leahey will study interdisciplinary research itself, examining three different methodological techniques to determine how research approaches are transferred across disciplines. This study will further Confluencenter’s mission of collaboration by providing practical suggestions for supporting interdisciplinary work.

The Documented Border: An Open Access Digital Archive
Journalism faculty Celeste González de Bustamante and Jeannine Relly, Lawrence Gipe from the School of Art, and the borderlands curator at UA Special Collections in the library, Verónica Reyes, will join forces to collect images and oral histories about the U.S./Mexico border to advance understanding of the border and its peoples.

Satire News, Civil Discourse and the Political-Media Complex
Currently, very little is known about viewers’ perceptions of satire news. Professor of sociology and research director at the National Institute for Civil Discourse, Robin Stryker, will study how programs such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report shape students’ understandings of and engagement with American democracy.

Crossing Boundaries Seminar Series
Linda Green, director of Latin American Studies, and Matias Bianchi, School of Government and Public Policy, will use innovative technologies to create a virtual seminar series linking UA faculty and students with scholars and other leaders in Latin America. Seminar participants will converse about human trafficking, the drug trade, natural resource extraction, and U.S./Latin American diplomacy.

Graduate Fellowships

Twenty Grad Students Join First Cadre of Fellows

More than 75 graduate students from across the colleges of Fine Arts, Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) and Humanities applied for Confluencenter Graduate Fellowships of up to $5,000. Fellowships were awarded for the most innovative or collaborative research projects which run the gamut from creating new ways to enhance the classical music experience using computer-generated visualizations, to border studies in Mexico, Chile and on native lands. James Howell and Diane Richardson received funding to create a symposium in 2014 titled “Oceans and Deserts: Charting Transdisciplinary Currents in Environment and Culture within the Arts and Sciences.”


Morgan Apicella                School of Geography and Development

Apicalla’s pilot study assesses factors that influence the participation of teachers in gardening and ecology programs at their schools in Tucson. It will determine what types of support might encourage and sustain teachers’ involvement in these programs in order to improve a gardening and ecology teacher-training program. This study, in the initial stages of development, will involve a partnership between Manzo Elementary School, the Community Food Resource Center (CFRC), as well as faculty and students from multiple disciplines at the University of Arizona.

Dylan Baun                         School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies

Rethinking recurrent strife in Lebanon from the 1950s-1970s, Baun’s research considers those “from below” who actually participated in conflict. To capture the underlying dynamics of social mobilization and armed conflict, it focuses on the practices of two populist organizations that used violence in this period (i.e., the Kata’ib Party and the Lebanese National Movement) and their perceptions and experiences. 

Mark Blair                           American Indian Studies (GIDP)

The main focus of Blair’s research is Native American student retention and what American Indian Studies Programs are doing to support students. It proposes the re- establishment of a Native American Graduate Student Center on campus.

Geoffrey Boyce                  School of Geography and Development

In 2010, controversy over Arizona’s SB 1070 shined a light on the proliferation of policies that target and criminalize immigrants and their loved ones in the United States. Yet in the debate surrounding the Arizona law there was strikingly little discussion of the ways that SB 1070 merely extended – rather than departed from – the broader thrust of federal policy directed toward the policing and criminalization of immigrants. Boyce’s research addresses lacunae in conversations about SB 1070.

Kevin Chau                         School of Music

Chau’s creative performance project aims at the development of a real-time art music visualization program that reflects live music. The resulting live acoustic performance will combine a musician and responding real-time visualization program with an intention to guide an audience into an active listening role.

Diane Daly                          School of Information Resources and Library Science

Daly’s design project will culminate in a dynamic virtual space to strengthen the Mexican puppetry community and advance the field of puppetry research in the Americas. A project website will facilitate the Mexican puppetry community’s collective expression and add value to its artistic output. In recognition that living Mexican puppetry is an animation of popular Mexican society and a subculture with great influence on puppetry in the Americas, the site will also advance interdisciplinary scholarship by promoting research access.

Courtney Dorroll                School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies

Dorroll’s research concerns a Turkish neighborhood called Hamamönü which underwent extensive revitalization and restoration in 2010. This neighborhood stands as a visual representation of the Neo-Ottoman movement in contemporary Turkey.

PennElys Droz                    American Indian Studies (GIDP)

Indigenous peoples worldwide demonstrate profound resilience amidst challenges emerging from colonization, working to re-empower and provide for the contemporary needs of their people in a manner supporting bio-cultural integrity and the interconnectedness of people and homeland. This research accomplishes the following goals: identification of the areas of intersection between Indigenous epistemologies, practices and ecological engineering; creation of a design methodology rooted effectively in culture, land, and community relationships; and identification of successful practices and challenges to the use of a biocultural design method.

Erin Durban-Albrecht         Gender and Women’s Studies

In the words of M. Jacqui Alexander, how and why does the postcolonial nation-state get “configured as heterosexual”? Related to this question, why is it common sense that some places are inherently homophobic? What effect do these configurations and understandings have on gender and sexual minorities? This project, guided by these pressing questions, will contribute to cutting- edge scholarship in several interdisciplinary fields and intervene in harmful thinking that impacts multiply-marginalized communities.

Miriam Gay-Antaki             School of Geography and Development

The literature on gender and climate governance is very sparse with very little attention paid to issues of gender or feminist perspectives. This project addresses relevant questions about women’s relationship to the environment, and about how others, especially in government and NGOs, see their roles. Gay-Antaki explores ways to document these relationships for the community and communicate her findings at the national, international and NGO level.

Kristin Helland                    Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (GIDP)

The project explores code switching in three different genres (a TV/Internet ad, a music video, and a film) from the perspective of linguistic landscape (LL) and multilingualism.  This study expands the definition of LL that goes beyond the visual texts found in public spaces to incorporate “all those displayed and interwoven ‘discourses’– what is seen, what is heard, what is spoken, what is thought” (Shohamy & Waksman, 2009, p. 313). It introduces an innovative way of analyzing linguistic and non-linguistic semiotics in advertising, music videos, and film.

Megan Henley                     Sociology

Medical research has demonstrated that emotional and physical support during labor improve birth outcomes, yet existing research has paid little attention to the workers who provide that care. The Maternity Support Survey represents the first systematic and cross-disciplinary effort to understand the roles and experiences of labor and delivery nurses, childbirth educators, and doulas, in the United States. This survey asks delivery nurses about their views of childbirth, their perceptions of obstetric practices, the sources of their beliefs about best care, and the organizational supports and challenges that they face.

Maya Kapoor                       English

Kapoor’s project explores how humans manage desert plants in the face of climate change. Specifically, it considers the connection between Arizona’s ecology and the rest of the world, and how conserving our species in response to climate change is a global problem with global players and solutions. 

Sarah Kelly                         School of Geography and Development

For this project, social science and natural and physical science students from both sides of the border coalesce to create multimedia materials and workshops on community-based research. As of late, there has been a focus on ideas of engaged scholarship, community collaboration, and multidisciplinary work, but there remains a need for models appropriate for border cities and an ongoing dialogue about the structure of engagement for these endeavors.

Adam Kullberg                   English

This project analyses the impact of nuclear weaponry and technology on various sites and populations throughout the Southwest, including uranium mines throughout the Navajo Nation in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico; nuclear testing sites; and cities affected by radioactive fallout. It emphasizes not only how experiences connected to these sites have affected specific populations, but how the lasting impact of political and environmental changes have rippled through generation after generation, transforming these populations’ neurological, physical, spiritual, and ethical connections to the land.

Diana Montano                   History

Montano examines the ways culture shaped Mexico’s course of electrification, contributing to the discussion of the making of a modern nation and modern citizens. It places the ordinary citizen at its center to reconstruct how modernity was lived, consumed, rejected, and shaped in everyday life. It presents modernity not simply as an abstract force or a static concept but a complex pattern of human choices.

Lucero Radonic                 School of Anthropology

Using infrastructure surveys and resident interviews, Radonic traces the water that flows through a multi-authored maze of pipes connecting a low-income indigenous neighborhood in Sonora, Mexico.  An interactive infrastructure map, ten short video vignettes, and some explanatory texts will be uploaded onto an interactive and bilingual website where visitors will learn about informal water infrastructure and the micro politics of water management. 

David Tecklin                     School of Geography and Development

Tecklin illustrates how fishermen, women shoreline collectors and indigenous leaders have reinterpreted and reshaped the property rights designed for them as part of the Chilean government’s large-scale privatization of the coastline.  The final product will be a web-based interactive map (or story map) that presents filmed interviews as embedded within the larger geographic context of struggles over the country’s coastal waters. The project thus aims to advance interdisciplinary inquiry into property claims as a theme in environmental governance but also to explore new and accessible ways of communicating the practical relevance of such research.

2012 Winners

“Confluencenter seeks out proposals for innovative scholarly and creative projects that cross disciplinary boundaries and intellectual orientations and bring together researchers and artists from diverse areas at the U of A,” said Javier Duran, the center’s director. “We hope that these grants will create and nourish synergistic environments, enable faculty to apply for external funding, and increase the impact and visibility of the research, scholarship, and creative activity at the University.”

This was the third round of Collaboration and Innovation Grants since Confluencenter was founded. The selection panel was co-chaired by Confluencenter board members Peter Beudert, Distinguished Professor, School of Theatre Film and Television; and Ken McAllister, Director and Professor of Rhetoric, Composition and the Teaching of English.

“It was so hard to choose between the many excellent applications,” McAllister said. “We were quite struck by the fact that so many faculty members on campus are already doing collaborative work. There is a lot of interest, desire and willingness to innovate and collaborate and we’re pleased that Confluencenter can step in and support this significant work.”

Six faculty members were awarded five grants averaging $25,000 each this year at the grand opening of Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry at the University of Arizona. Ranging from hip-hop culture to mortgage indebtedness, these innovative projects with partnerships across the campus reflect Confluencenter's mission to enliven academic education and invigorate life-long learning among its diverse constituents – from UA faculty and students to inquisitive Arizonans. These are the winners:

Meg Lota Brown, professor and associate head of the department of English, was awarded a grant to support this consortium of community members and more than 125 faculty and students from 17 departments—including art, history, literature, music, science and theater—in five colleges, all of whom pursue research in the early modern period (roughly 1400-1800). They will present a series of six lectures in the 2012-2013 school year.

Alain-Philippe Durand, director of the School of International Languages, Literatures and Cultures (SILLC) received funding for a symposium (Feb. 7-9, 2013), performances and a journal on the emergence and evolution of hip hop in the U.S. and in France. His collaborators are: Alex Nava, an associate professor of classics; John Melillo, a visiting assistant professor in English; Tani Sanchez, an adjunct lecturer of Africana studies; and Praise Zenenga, an associate professor of Africana studies.

Co-principal investigators Jane Zavisca, assistant professor of sociology, and Marilyn Robinson, associate director of the Drachman Institute, will examine the cultural equation of mortgage indebtedness and homeownership with three initiatives: a study of mortgagors in Tucson; a symposium for scholars, policymakers and community stakeholders on the meaning of mortgages and homeownership; and an external grant proposal to support a national research network to encourage interdisciplinary research on the topic of housing and the home.

Jennifer L. Jenkins, associate professor of English, will launch this interactive website with a collection of more than 450 films by and about Native peoples of America, representing dozens of tribes from Anasazi to Zuni. Many of the films date back to the early days of filmmaking and include government informational films, the renowned 1922 film Nanook of the North, and a series of documentaries produced by television station KYUK in Bethel, AK spotlighting life among the Yup’ik of southwestern Alaska.

Hai Ren, assistant professor of East Asian studies and Jonathan Sprinkle, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, received a grant to study the history of the emergent class, the precariat, and to develop an interactive mobile application to inform others about their findings. They will meld innovative technologies with new knowledge in a way that is informative and engaging. The precariat are people whose lives and finances are precariously impacted by economic shifts, social insecurity and globalization.

2011 Winners

Stacie G. Widdifield, professor of art history, is director of this project to examine the role that Chapultepec Park, an historically significant site in the middle of Mexico City, has played in the relationship between humans and water in the midst of a dynamic urban milieu. The role of visual images, i.e., land- and aqua-scapes, in the development of public sensitivities to resources is a key part of the investigation. The park also is also an elegant reflection of the larger struggle—in Mexico and across the planet—to protect the global commons in the face of rapid environmental change and to create a sense of connection between people and the places that sustain them.  The project will include an on-line exhibition of the works studied in the project and those created in a new graduate seminar, “Waterworks,” as well as a week-long “think tank” during the first week of October. The team includes faculty, staff, and graduate students as well as a scholar affiliated with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.

Since filming this video, Yuri had to change her proposal because Koko has arthritis and can no longer “sign.” Instead, she is working with UA faculty members Drs. Dieter and Netzin Steklis, experts on African apes, on a documentary exploring the beneficial role of play in wild gorillas. They will seek to answer the question, “In what ways may play help build skills, increase fitness, regulate emotions, and promote relationships and sexual reproduction among gorillas?” Determining the essential qualities of play and their benefits in gorillas is of particular interest in light of the recent discovery that humans and gorillas differ in only 1.75% of their DNA—much less than previously believed. Gorilla Games will feature footage of wild gorillas in Africa at play, as well as humans playing. Audiences will learn how these activities impart critical skills or experiences that are life-enhancing and life-extending. While play may seem trivial in our lives, it may define who we are and how we came to be. The film is slated to be finished in 2013.

Two researchers—Heshan Sun, assistant professor, School of Information Resources, College of Science and Mary A. Peterson, professor, department of psychology, and research social scientist, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences—tackled the question, “How can 3D effects be used effectively to enhance student engagement in the primary learning tasks?” They combined their expertise in visual science and human‐computer interaction to create a study employing more than 100 UA students. The results of the study will revolutionize the growing field of 3-D web-based learning.

Karen K. Seat, Ph.D., an associate professor in Religious Studies, was awarded the Provost’s Grand Challenges Faculty Grant for this project, which took her to such places as the Faith & Freedom Coalition Conference, a Southern Baptist convention, Pat Robertson’s Regent University, Liberty University School of Law, Phoenix Seminary and the Smart Girl Politics conference. She interviewed dozens of leading social conservative and Tea Party activists, lobbyists, professors and talk show hosts. A central piece of her research is an examination of gender in conservative Christian movements and her most prized interview was with 86-year-old anti-feminist icon Phyllis Schlafly. Karen’s expertise on evangelicals in America made her an in-demand speaker during the Republican primaries. She has or will present papers at scholarly conferences: “The Christian Worldview as a Master Narrative: Negotiating Gender and Politics in Evangelical Subculture(s),” “The Politics of Southern Baptist Complementarianism” and “Evangelicals and Women’s Leadership in the Post-Palin Era.” She also has been approached by two scholarly presses about writing a book.

Confluencenter was a principal sponsor of this international symposium on multilingualism held at the UA in April 2012. Coming from disciplines as diverse as computational linguistics, anthropology, second language acquisition, comparative literature, and translation studies, a body of prominent scholars from around the world met for a public discussion about what it means to live in more than one language in the 21st century, including all of the emotions, politics, identities, practices, pleasures, and dangers that doing so can involve. More than 200 people attended this three-day event, as well as 250 individual online viewers from around the world. The peer-reviewed journal that will emerge as a result of this conference, "Critical Multilingualism Studies," can be found at www.multilingual.arizona.edu. This publication will trace the "state of the art" of multilingualism research—across disciplines that often lack a common venue for dialogue on this burgeoning topic. The Confluencenter grantees for this project were two assistant professors in German Studies, David Gramling and Chantelle Warner, as well as an assistant professor in Turkish Studies, Aslı Iğsız.