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Recipients from 2nd TSG Cycle

Below please find the eleven recipients from the 2nd cycle of the seed grants, including those funded under TSG and by exception.

Fall 2011 Recipients:

Collaborators(Department)  Title of Project  Cycle  Summary of Project 

Hans Barnard 

Kym Faull 
(Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences)

Willeke Wendrich 
(Near Eastern Languages and Cultures)

Ben Nigra 

Chemical Evidence for Alcoholic Beverages in the Ancient and Modern Vitor Valley (Arequipa, Peru) 2011-Fall In cooperation with the University of Chicago and the Peruvian Instituto Nacional de Cultura this project draws from the fields of archaeology, analytical chemistry, anthropology and history to explore the role of alcoholic beverages in the Vitor Valley of southern Peru. The first part of the project entails research into chicha de molle, fermented from fruits of the Schinus molle L. tree. The researchers will develop an anaytical chemical method to reliably identify molecular residues of Schinus molle in pottery excavated from the archaeological site known as the Millo complex. In combination with anthropological and historical data the findings will serve to reconstruct the distribution pattern of the drink around 800-1100 CE. The second part of the project involves creating an ethnographical record of the current viticulture in the region, which still reflects the practices introduced by the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century CE. This component aims to document existing wine production techniques before they are modernized. Local farmers increasingly enter the global market and the subsequent need to meet regulations concerning hygiene and quality control makes that knowledge about these traditional methods is in danger of being lost forever. The results of this project will be used to try and obtain additional grants from institutions such as the Wine Institute, Department of Agriculture, NEH, NIH and NSF.

Dana Cuff 
(Architecture and Urban Design)

Deborah Estrin 
(Computer Science)


Jeffrey Burke 
(Technology Research)

Jason Payne 
(Architecture and Urban Design)


Christine Outram 
(Director of the City Innovation Group and Research Associate, SENSEableCity Lab, MIT)

Ambient Informatics: Illuminating Urban Transportation 2011-Fall UCLA's Bruin Bus becomes part of an experiment to determine whether "ambient informatics" (a type of pervasive computing that communicates information in everyday environments without the use of language, numbers, visual icons, or screens) can improve the public transit experience. While public transportation has witnessed dramatic evolution  in the deployment of Intelligent Transit Systems (ITS), these systems' reliance on smartphones fail to serve those without access to mobile technology. To overcome this barrier to use, the research team proposes a high tech solution:  linking GPS devices to bus stop lighting that will grow brighter and change color to communicate specific information about bus arrival. Riders will be surveyed to determine the effectiveness of this innovation.  Once piloted, the research design will be amended and proposals developed for funding sources including  transportation agencies and the NSF.

Robert Fink 

Marco Iacoboni 
(Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences)

Understanding Musical Empathy through the Audiomotor Mirror Neuron System 2011-Fall A musicologist and a neuroscientist join forces in order to better understand music's unique power to unite people through shared empathy or to divide people based on cultural or other factors. The researchers plan an experiment involving the brain imaging of 20 participants -- 10 musicians and 10 non-musicians-- as they listen to excerpts of three different kinds of music: unfamiliar music, music they claim to "strongly like," and music they claim to "strongly dislike."  A fourth baseline condition (the control) involves examining the brain during the presentation of white noise.  If successful, the researchers expect that the results of this study could propose a biomarker of musical liking in humans, thereby laying the foundation for a theory of musical empathy rooted in embodied cognition.  The researchers plan to publish the results in neuroscientific and musicological journals and use the data for grant applications to NSF and NEH.

David Gere 
(World Arts and Cultures/Dance)

Norweeta Milburn 
(Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences)


Tim Kordic 
(Director of HIV/AIDS Prevention Unit)

AMP it up! 2011-Fall This project seeks to strengthen and expand  upon AMP!, an arts-based, peer education program established as part of an effort to stop the AIDS epidemic in Los Angeles youth.  The seed grant will be used to expand the program's content to prevent substance abuse and to investigate the impact of AMP! in preparation for a grant application to conduct a large-scale trial on related themes. The researchers will conduct a pilot study among 9th grade students in LAUSD health classes, whereby the students will be assigned to one of three groups: (1) AMP! Live; (2) AMP! Virtual; or (3) control group, and will be surveyed pre and post class. The information obtained from this study  will allow the researchers to address whether:  AMP! is an effective prevention strategy for reaching at-risk adolescents across the U.S.; the effects are long lasting; and whether the virtual program or the Live program are more effective than health education provided in regular health classes. Following completion of this pilot study, the researchers will approach the National Institute on Drug Abuse with a proposal for a full-scale trial.

Sharon Gerstel 
(Art History)


Chris Kyriakakis 
(Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering at USC)

Amy Papalexandrou 
(Art History at the University of Texas, Austin)


James Donohue 
(Recording Engineer at WGBH, Boston)

Soundspaces in Byzantium: A Model for Future Investigations of Medieval Performance Spaces 2011-Fall This project investigates the radical shift in the architectural form of the Byzantine church in the Eastern Mediterranean, from a long basilica to a compact, domed building. The researchers hypothesize that the reason for this shift was the intentional creation of a soundspace that could acoustically enhance ritual performance that was primarily chanted — a relationship of architecture and ritual performance that has never been fully explored. This investigation focuses on the transformation and development of the Byzantine church as a performance space by analyzing architectural changes, acoustical properties, the development of chant, and the introduction of decorative themes that are related to music and ritual, in a set of churches constructed between the ninth and fifteenth century. Data obtained from this study will have the added benefit of enabling musicologists and sound engineers to create sound spaces within studios that mimic the sonic dimensions of actual Byzantine settings.  The data will also be used in support of an NSF grant proposal to produce a study of medieval psychoacoustics.

Aurora Jackson 
(Social Welfare)

Kenneth Wells 
(Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences)

Bowen Chung (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences)

Co-parenting between Single Mothers and Nonresident Fathers in South Los Angeles: A Feasibility Pilot Study 2011-Fall This project studies whether an intervention approach can improve relationships between single black mothers and nonresident fathers. Evidence has shown that nonresident fathers' relationships with the mothers of their children are associated with beneficial developmental outcomes for the children.  However, to date, intervention programs  designed to facilitate emotionally supportive co-parenting relationships between nonresident black fathers and the mothers of their young children have yet to be developed and tested.  This study will recruit low-income, single black mothers and nonresident fathers with a 3-4 year-old focal child.  Half of the parents will participate in a  3-month program that facilitates emotionally supportive and cognitively stimulating parenting.  The researchers will then examine the impact of this intervention compared to the control group, and if successful create an intervention manual for future use, and use the data in support of a large grant to expand the study.
Ioanna Kakoulli 
(Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and Materials Science and Engineering) 

Christian Fischer 
(Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and Materials Science and Engineering)

Mark Harrison 
(Earth and Space Sciences)
Hyalos-Vitrum-Glass: Tracing the Provenance of Sands, Plant Ashes and Natron Salts 2011-Fall This project seeks to use for the first time in provenience studies of ancient glass, fundamentals and methods of geochronology utilizing the principle of doubly-charged species permitting isotopic measurements at relatively low mass resolving power using secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). The study aims to characterize, provenience and help repatriate looted artifacts from ancient sites in the Mediterranean region. Using high resolution SIMS, the focus is to chemically analyze and map major, minor and trace elements within the glass matrix and opacifying crystals, and provide isotopic signatures of certain species. These trace elements and isotopic signatures will then be used to geochemically fingerprint the sands and colorants used in glass making and thereby help identify country/region of origin. This pilot study is the beginning of a longer more in-depth study that will involve national and international partners, and which the researchers will be seeking additional external funding from federal agencies.

Christian Moeller 
(Design Media Arts)

Susanna Chang 
(Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

Integration of Interactive Gaming Approaches in Attention Training Treatments for Pediatric Anxiety Disorders 2011-Fall This project seeks to develop attention-training  treatment for childhood anxiety through the integration of interactive media and videogame technologies.  The project will be conducted in two phases.  Phase 1 will include the adaptation and modification of attention bias modification program (AMP), a new form of treatment for anxiety disorders that utilizes computer-based attention training to directly target and modify biased attention patterns in anxiety-disordered individuals, for use in pediatric anxiety.  Phase 2 will include a preliminary trial of the modified AMP on children clinically diagnosed with anxiety, through a 4-week course of AMP.  If the experiment is successful, the pilot data will be used to apply for a grant to conduct a larger-scaled trial of the same intervention.

Charles Stanish 

Kym Faull 
(Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences)

Edward Young 
(Earth and Space Sciences)

Laura Griffin 

Integrating a 87Sr/867Sr Isotopic Map with Archaeological Research in the Chincha Valley, Peru 2011-Fall This project seeks to create a strontium isotopic (87Sr/86Sr) baseline map for the Chincha Valley of central Peru, with the aim of  understanding the process of state formation in the archaeological record of this region, and to use this data for comparative analyses from around the world.  Strontium isotopic fractionation is a cutting-edge method that allows determination of ancient diets and the mobility patterns of human populations.  Using isotopic analyses, the researchers will study rocks and guinea pig bones (a domesticated staple of the Andean diet for at least 8000 years) from the Chincha valley in order to determine differential access to resources, human migrations, population replacements, social status differences, trade patterns, conflict and other factors that are relevant to testing models of cultural evolution.  This archaeological data will be used to apply for an NSF grant for other related applications.

Eddo Stern 
(Design Media Arts)

Ladan Shams 

Developing a Shared Multisensory Game Space for Players with Different Sensory Capabilities 2011-Fall This project attempts to create videogames that are specifically designed for shared gameplay between the sighted and blind players.  The researchers intend to integrate the worlds of sighted and blind players by (1) using specially constructed hardware to provide sensory input that encodes gameplay information to players through multiple channels (haptic, visual and auditory) and (2) integrating the amount of players' sensory feedback into the game's structure so that the inputs can be dynamically enhanced or degraded in real time in order to affect the gameplay experience.

Timothy Tangherlini 
(Scandinavian Studies)

Vwani Roychowdhury 
(Electrical Engineering)

StoryWeb: Network Discovery of Health Related Stories 2011-Fall This project explores how stories circulate on the internet and in broadcast media, and how those stories influence behavior. With an initial focus on vaccines, the researchers will align newscast stories with stories circulating on the internet, and model the interaction between these two classes of information. Using novel computational models and algorithms, they will predict the likelihood of a spike or drop in vaccinations for a particular region and/or time frame. This process and its result will then be validated against national, state and local historical vaccination data.  The underlying theory is that a multimodal time-sequenced network of stores; story tellers; story themes; places; and events, properly structured and analyzed, will reveal dynamic patterns in the data that will advance our understanding of how stories circulate, and how that process influences social, political and economic behavior.