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Recipients from 5th TSG Cycle

Below, please find summaries of the projects that were selected for funding under previous cycles of the Transdisciplinary Seed Grant Funding mechanism.  To learn more about the TSG funding opportunity and upcoming cycles, please visit the TSG home page.

5th Cycle – Spring 2013

Below you will find the recipients from the 5th TSG cycle, including those funded under the Diversity, Health & Welfare (H&W),  Inequality, Collaborative Informatics, and Original tracks.  If you follow the link in the project name field, you will see a map display of the location of the team members' offices.

Collaborators  Project Name Diversity H&W Inequality CI Original Description of Project
Jeanne Arnold, Anthropology, Social Sciences Division

Axel Schmitt,  Earth and Space Sciences, Physical Sciences Division 

Ben Shepard, Anthropology, Social Sciences Division

Investigating Prehistoric Jade Circulation in Northeast Eurasia using Geochronometric Sourcing Methods


        X The team hypothesizes that during the Early Bronze Age, inhabitants of the Lake Baikal region of Siberia tended to travel far greater distances than previously thought. The collaborators will use secondary ionization mass spectrometry (SIMS) for determining the geological sources of jade objects from natural outcrops throughout the region as well as to a sample of archaeological materials from the same region. The goal is to compare the extent to which the region’s prehistoric hunter-gatherer inhabitants circulated these objects throughout the region before and after the Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age transition (~3000 BC).

Kathlyn Cooney (Humanities Division-Near Eastern Languages and Cultures)

Frank Chang (HSSEAS-Electrical Engineering)

Elsbeth Geldhof (The Limburg Conservation Institute) (Conservation of Paintings, Painted Objects, and Historic Interiors)

Remy Hiramoto (Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems) (Advanced Microelectronics Research and Development)

Adrian Tang (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) (RF(IC) Design Engineer)


Below the Surface: Terahertz Technology and Coffin Reuse in Ancient Egypt         X At the end of the Bronze Age, Egypt plunged into a period of intense economic and political crisis, causing elites to recommodify--and even reuse--the body containers of dead ancestors. How intensively were these coffins reused? Did craftsmen cover over only the names and titles of the previous owners, or did they engage in more intensive redecoration? How many times might a coffin have been redecorated during its "lifetime"? An Egyptologist, antiquities conservator, and several specialists of Terahertz technology will team up to see underneath the layers of ancient Egyptian coffins from the 21st Dynasty, a time of intense social upheaval.

Sandra Graham (GSE&IS-Education)

Negin Ghavami (GSE&IS-Human Development and Psychology)

Tumaini Cocker (DGSOM-Pediatrics)

Judy Chiasson (LAUSD) (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion)

Understanding disparities in health and academics of LGBQ youth in urban middle schools X X X     There is clear scientific consensus that lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning (LGBQ) adolescents are a vulnerable population (Kann, et al., 2011). Suicide among LGBQ adolescents is a public health concern (Haas et al., 2010) and research has traced teen health risks to homophobia in the key environments that shape their development, namely schools and relations with peers (Russell, et al., 2010). Recent studies show that ethnic minority LGBQ adolescents may be at especially high risk for suicide attempts and victimization at school (O’Donnell, et al., 2010). To date, research about and interventions to help LGBQ adolescents have paid little attention to differences based on individuals’ ethnicity and the ethnic composition of their schools, even though the school-age  population is increasingly ethnically diverse, especially in urban settings (Orfield & Lee, 2007). This project focuses on the experiences of Asian, African American, Latino and White LGBQ adolescents attending urban middle schools and identifies factors that contribute to risk and resilience for their well-being and academic achievement. This project also examines how anti-LGB attitudes and hostility affect heterosexual adolescents.

Tim Groeling (Social Sciences Division-Communication Studies)

Linda Liau (DGSOM-Neurosurgery)

Joan Harp (Neuron Highway)

Neuron Highway Rehabilitation Software   X   X   This project will test the effectiveness of using low-cost tablet devices as a rehabilitation device for patients undergoing brain surgery. In particular, the software will monitor patients’ emotional and cognitive status. We will also test the effectiveness of the use of stimuli that have been provided by family members to maximize their emotional connection to the patient.

Martie Haselton (Social Sciences Division-Communication Studies)

Jean Turner (Physical Sciences Division-Physics and Astronomy)

A. Janet Tomiyama (Life Sciences Division-Psychology)

Using Scientific Awe to Promote Interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Disciplines         X Scientific awe is the emotion of joyous wonder felt when confronted with scientific experiences that are visually engaging, novel, and mind-bending, such as gazing up at the cosmos and realizing one’s own body is composed of atoms from exploded stars. Experiencing scientific awe is memorable – and possibly a practical tool for increasing students’ interest, ability, and academic intentions in STEM disciplines. Policy recommendations for promoting STEM disciplines have emphasized hiring and training teachers, informational outreach to encourage STEM degrees, and funding STEM research. However, these efforts neglect evidence that scientists, and the students who pursue science, are largely driven by curiosity rather than by external forces. These policy recommendations also neglect emerging evidence that scientific awe could increase interest, ability, and academic intentions in STEM. In this project, researchers from Communication Studies, Psychology, and Astronomy will collaborate to investigate the potential for scientific awe to increase interest, ability, and academic intentions in STEM disciplines, using transdisciplinary methodologies and both hands-on (e.g., viewing the Sun through a solar telescope) and observational (e.g., watching an awe-inducing video) techniques. Ultimately, the researchers seek to develop techniques for inspiring scientific awe in the classroom, to promote STEM retention and to cultivate a plentiful, diverse, and innovative STEM workforce.

Darnell Hunt (Social Sciences Division-African-American Studies)

Allyson Field (TFT-Cinema and Media Studies)

Hollywood Advancement Project: Diversity and the Bottom Line         X The Hollywood Advancement Project examines diversity (or lack thereof) in the entertainment industry. This project has three goals: 1) to generate a comprehensive research analysis of the inclusion of diverse groups in film and television, including starring roles, writing, directing, producing, and talent representation; 2) to identify and disseminate best practices for increasing the pipeline of underrepresented groups into the Hollywood entertainment industry; and 3) to thereby advance existing industry efforts to catch up with and better serve a diversifying America. With collective funding from numerous sources, the Bunche Center and affiliated UCLA faculty will produce the Hollywood Diversity Report on a regular basis, making it the definitive annual accounting of diversity statistics for the industry. This report will provide studios and networks with useful, annually updated information that enables them to match their products to changing American demographics. It will also provide scholars and researchers with a clear picture of who is employed by the industry. The research team plans to release an annual report each January. In 2014, the research team also plans to conduct a pilot content analysis to not only assess who is represented on screen but how they are portrayed on screen and in what types of roles (leading vs. supporting)

Barbara Lawrence (Anderson, Management and Organizations)

Mark Handcock (Physical Sciences Division-Statistics)

Lifting the Fog: Networks of Career Opportunity for Minorities (Renewal) X     X   This project studies how social capital and networks effect minority careers in a large organization using a novel statistical reconstruction approach.

Timothy Malloy (School of Law)

Patrick Allard (F-SPH-Environmental Health Sciences)

Predicting Environment Impacts: Integration of Emerging Science into Public and Private Decision-Making         X This project empirically assesses whether and how businesses and government agencies in the United States and in the European Union have adopted the predictive toxicology concepts recommended in the National Research Council report entitled Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy. In particular, it will examine (1) the extent to which these organizations have considered and implemented predictive technologies in line with Tox21 and the rationale behind their decisions, (2) their views regarding future deployment of predictive technologies over the next 10-20 years with emphasis on the barriers to and drivers of that deployment, and (3) differences in the nature and extent of predictive toxicology use in the United States as compared to the EU. The proposed project will provide the empirical basis and starting point for a larger road-mapping project. That project will examine the potential near-term, mid-term and long-term future of predictive toxicology in business and regulatory settings, identifying expected milestones in the diffusion of predictive methods and associated resource needs, and necessary changes in educational, economic, market, legal and social systems.

Timothy Malloy (School of Law)

Yoram Cohen (HSSEAS-Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering)

Hilary Godwin (F-SPH-Environmental Health Sciences)

Law, Science and Decisions: Design and Evaluation of Regulatory Alternatives Analysis Methods         X This project will develop a regulatory alternatives analysis methodology for evaluating products and their alternatives, and apply it to a case study involving a commercially available pesticide using a nanomaterial as an active ingredient. Alternatives analysis is central to prevention-based regulation, defined as regulatory policies that avert or reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals by mandating or directly incentivizing the adoption of safer alternative chemicals or processes wherever feasible. It will bring together faculty in the fields of law/policy, predictive toxicology and decision analysis in the context of nanotechnology for the first time.

Rashmita Mistry (GSE&IS-Education)

Bernard Weiner (Life Sciences Division-Psychology)

Frederick Zimmerman (F-SPH Health Policy & Management)

Social Justice in the Classroom: Teaching Young Children about Inequality and Poverty     X     The United States is currently experiencing a level of income inequality not seen since before the Great Depression. Despite the intensity of the media's attention to this topic, little mention is made of children's knowledge of inequality, poverty and the social contract (i.e., beliefs about society's governance structure and responsibilities for assisting its most disadvantaged citizens including the poor and homeless), or of curriculum efforts to engage children in discussions about these important topics. Yet, empirical evidence supports not only that young children begin reasoning about wealth and poverty as early as age 5, but furthermore that in the absence of explicit conversations with parents, educators, and other adults, children tend to view poverty and inequality as topics that are best avoided and considered taboo. This is inherently problematic and leads young children to form biased and oftentimes inaccurate opinions about those living poverty; biases and perceptions that can lead them to discriminate against the poor and, as adults, be less likely to support policies and programs to assist the disadvantaged. Thus, the help disrupt children's potentially biased beliefs and attitudes, this seed grant uses a quasi-experimental research design to evaluate a curriculum intervention focused on poverty and inequality and taught to kindergarten, first, and second grade students. This, as far as we know, is one of the first attempts to simultaneously develop, implement, and evaluate, using rigorous methodology, the effectiveness of explicit instruction in influencing young children's reasoning about inequality and poverty. Working closely with a team of exemplary demonstration teachers, we will first develop a social justice inquiry project. Next, to assess its impact, we will assess student' knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes before and after completing the inquiry project as well as comparing the responses of students in the intervention classrooms with those in control classrooms. The project is timely, unique in its approach to interventions, and of theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, we hope to provide new insights into young children's reasoning about social issues and stigmatized groups. Practically, we envision development of a set of lesson plans for teachers to use to address issues of poverty and inequality in the early grades

Janet O'Shea (SOAA-World Arts and Cultures/Dance)

Robert Bilder (DGSOM-Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences)

Fighting without Fighting: the Cognitive Benefits of Hard-Style Martial Arts         X An often noticed but underexamined paradox lies at the heart of martial arts: the fighting arts can render a practitioner calmer, more focused, more astute, even more peaceful. In this study, a dance scholar/martial artist and a neuroscientist combine expertise in order to examine the components of this paradox.

Ellen Pearlstein (GSE&IS-Information Studies)

Joseph Loo (DGSOM-Biological Chemistry)

Rachel Loo (DGSOM-Biological Chemistry)

Joy Mazurek (Getty Conservation Institute)

Michael Nshanian (Physical Sciences Division-Chemistry & Biochemistry)



Identification and measurement of photochemically induced amino acid changes in bird feathers as early markers of light induced degradation


        X Previous transdisciplinary work on feathers at UCLA demonstrated a positive correlation between ultraviolet induced fluorescence changes and light exposure, providing evidence of light damage before visible fading occurs. Since the suspected cause is amino acid changes, a new team consisting of a conservator, two biochemists and a doctoral student specializing in protein analysis, along with a conservation scientist, will work together to answer the question. Can we measure photochemically induced amino acid changes in bird feathers as early markers of light induced degradation, and link these to fluorescence changes? Linking feather damage to appearance under ultraviolet induced fluorescence will give museum personnel responsible for the care of featherwork a powerful and preemptive tool for managing collections. It would enable more nuanced decisions about how best to balance display and access needs against controlled dark storage for preservation.
Olga Yokoyama (Humanities Division-Applied Linguistics)

Eran Zaidel (Life Sciences Division-Psychology)
Hemispheric contributions to syntactic and pragmatic control of shifts in point of view         X We propose to apply electrophysiological methods to linguistic material that contains phenomena dependent on empathy, point of view, and similar cognitive, psychological, or social discourse-pragmatic factors. We hypothesize that the observed differences in the acceptability of target sentences are due to pragmatic constraints that limit the applicability of syntactic rules and choices. We further hypothesize that pragmatic processes in the right brain hemisphere involve empathy which focuses on emotional, moral and social conventions that characterize group self-concept and rely on mirror neuron systems, whereas in the left hemisphere pragmatic processes focus on individuals self-concept and rely more on Theory of Mind. There is now abundant evidence that hemispheric specialization plays a major role in discourse processing. in contrast with the classical evidence, which comes from patients with brain damage, and with recent evidence from fMRI in normal participants, which is extremely costly yet severely limited in terms of the temporal resolution, the proposed experiments will test linguistic phenomena in a radically novel and objective way, establishing new possibilities for linguistic analysis using electrophysiological tools like EEG and measures based on it. Ultimately, the results of the proposed project may support the existence of anatomically localized pragmatic processes, which can be impaired selectively after a focal brain damage, leading to pragmatic deficits. If tests of pragmatic integrity are shown to correlate with tests of the integrity of specific language functions (such as auditory language comprehension, following commands, etc) then pragmatic processes can in the future be used for diagnostic and treatment purposes.