Tier 1 winners

Reducing the Ecological Footprint of Agriculture: Developing an Innovative Framework for Water Footprint Assessment
Masoud Negahban-Azar, AGNR/ Environmental Science and Technology

Water consumption and pollution are the two major components of agriculture’s ecological footprint. Water Footprint Assessment (WFA) is an emerging research field focusing on the analysis of water use, scarcity, and pollution in relation to consumption, production, and trade. WFA in agriculture leads to answering two major questions: (a) what is the water consumption or pollution per unit of process or product (resource efficiency); (b) does total water consumption exceed water availability or does the total water pollutant load exceed the assimilation capacity of the local freshwater system (sustainability of resource use). Therefore, WFA can be effectively used to manage the ecological footprint of agricultural systems.

The objectives of this research are to develop a framework to assess the water footprints of agricultural systems in a spatially-explicit way; and to use the water footprints as metrics to monitor and manage the ecological footprint of agricultural systems. Findings from this research will help the PI to establish proof of concept to seek larger grants under USDA-NIFA Water for Food Production Systems Challenge Area, and NSF-INFEWS program.


Culture-independent ESBL detection with glucose cycling amplification on paper
Ian White, ENGR/Bioengineering

Infections driven by extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-E) are resistant to most or all penicillins and cephalosporins, leaving carbapenems as the only treatment option. However, carbapenems are a drug of last resort and careful stewardship of its use is critical to prevent further resistance. Thus, it is imperative to identify ESBL-E infections immediately to ensure that the proper treatment is administered. Current methods rely on culture of the pathogenic organisms, which requires more than 24 hours for pathogen identification and often fails in the case of blood cultures. Our team aims to create a rapid (<1hr) and culture-independent tool to phenotypically screen for ESBL-E infections. More specifically, we are proposing a paper-based sensor in which the activity of β-lactamase triggers a molecular amplification feedback loop; the proposed cyclical amplification scheme uses the glucose inherently polymerized within the cellulose sensor package as the amplifying material as well as the signaling molecule. We believe that this design will enable the rapid detection of low copy numbers of active β-lactamase enzymes (i.e., without culture) in a low-cost paper package and an easy-to-use workflow.


Challenges in the Continuity of Care among Formerly Incarcerated Persons Living with HIV or HCV
Lauren Porter, BSOS/Criminology & Criminal Justice

An estimated 15 percent of Americans living with HIV pass through correctional facilities each year and 33 percent of prisoners are currently infected with Hepatitis C (HCV). Although each of these diseases can be fatal, death is preventable with treatment. HIV is a lifelong condition that can be managed with medication, while HCV can be treated and cured in a matter of months. Unfortunately, screening and treatment are inconsistent in correctional settings and incarceration can interrupt existing treatment, threatening the health of patients as well as the communities in which they are embedded. There is thus a pressing need to understand how spending time in prison or jail can threaten the continuity of care among those living with HIV or HCV. In short, these illnesses can be “caught” by the criminal justice system, but individuals with these illnesses can also be lost to the system. Our study investigates the following research question: In what ways does incarceration influence the continuity of care and outcomes for those with HIV and HCV? Within this overarching research question, we have two specific aims: (1) To delineate the challenges faced by patients who have been incarcerated, and (2) To identify the challenges faced by providers who care for formerly incarcerated patients.


Making Toxic Bodies Legible: Lead Contamination in Sub-Saharan Africa
Alison Heller, BSOS/Anthropology

This mixed-methods anthropological research explores lead (Pb) contamination as embedded within historical and neoliberal systems of oppression among pregnant women and their children in Accra, Ghana; Kabwe, Zambia; and Baltimore, MD. This proposal is a pivot from my previous research and would enable timely and theoretically robust work at the nexus of medical and environmental anthropology in three new field sites. By following lead transnationally as an ethnographic object, this project explores links between lead and luxury, colonization and cognition, and contamination and consensus. With the support of this seed grant, I will establish research sites, solidify local partnerships, and conduct pilot studies during the summers and winters of 2018/2019 in order to prepare a competitive application for the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program.


Geographies of Opportunity amidst Increasing Diversity: How Housing, Transportation, and Education Policies Shape Educational Access in Maryland
Ariel Bierbaum, ARCH/Urban Studies & Planning and Gail Sunderman, EDUC/Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership

The increasing diversity of America’s suburbs is changing the dynamics of how we think about access to educational opportunity across and within metropolitan areas. As large numbers of low-income and minority families migrate to the suburbs, how policy makers in these communities respond to increasing diversity has implications for the educational opportunities available to students. Unfortunately, we still know too little about the complex ways that education, housing, and transportation policies interact with each other to shape access to quality schools in these suburban communities. This proposed study on suburban diversification and educational opportunity is designed to address the question: How are policy makers responding to increasing suburban diversity, and how do these responses affect access to educational opportunities and school segregation? We focus on the interaction between educational and place-based policies – school attendance zone design and implementation, housing policies, and transportation access – and the ways they foster or disrupt school segregation in Maryland. We use spatial analytic strategies that link residential areas to school attendance zones and qualitative case study methods to advance our understanding of the relationships between educational and place-based policies, and the impacts of these policies on access to educational opportunity.

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University of Maryland
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