2017-18 Transforming Our World Funded Projects

For the 2017-2018 academic year, a total of 42 Transforming Our World Strategic Plan proposals were received. The Strategic Planning Steering Committee was extremely pleased at how strongly linked these proposals were with UTRGV's strategic plan and how they aligned with our Vision, Mission, Values, Core Priorities, and Other Key Areas of Focus. Initially $100,000 was set aside for these efforts, however, after reviewing the quality work from these proposals, the Committee worked with the Office of the Provost to fund 10 proposals for a total of over $130,000. This is a true testament to the value the institution places on initiatives linked to the implementation of our strategic plan. Please see below for a list of the projects/initiatives that were funded, along with their short overview video clip.

With each project, we’ve identified how it connects to one or more of the UN Sustainability Goals, which is another way UTRGV advances its own goals for sustainability and impacts the local community

Projects / Initiatives

Insect Community Dynamics and Volatile and Non-Volatile Compounds that Mediate Sorghum- Sugarcane Aphid Interactions in the Rio Grande Valley

Insect Community Dynamics and Volatile and Non-Volatile Compounds that Mediate Sorghum- Sugarcane Aphid Interactions in the Rio Grande Valley

Team Members

  • Dr. Rupesh Kariyat, Assistant Professor in Biology
  • Dr. Tina Thomas, Lecturer II in Chemistry
  • Kuzy Zarsosa, Biology Student
  • Steven Sargent, Chemistry Student
  • Troy Helle, RGV Sorghum Farmer

Description

This proposal directly examines the factors underlying susceptibility of currently sorghum varieties in the valley, using an interdisciplinary and collaborative effort from UTRGV scientists, students, and producers. The proposal is directed to achieve student success, community engagement, sustainable development and commercialization of the project findings through UTRGV.

2 Zero Hunger. 12 Responsible Consumption and Production. 15 Life on Land.

Transformations: Sing Your Story

Transformations: Sing Your Story

Team Members

  • Daniel Hunter-Holly, Associate Professor in the School of Music
  • Catherine Compton, Lecturer in the School of Music
  • Maria Alejandra Mazariegos, Counseling Specialist
  • Veronica Gaona, Mass Communication Student
  • Lorna Lopez, Music Education Student

Description

This proposal is a semester-long project culminating in a series of interdisciplinary performances. This bi-lingual, bi-literate, bi-cultural project will integrate prepared and improvised music, photography, and student-developed narratives. This creative work will be the foundation upon which the project examines the personal barriers of students in the Rio Grande Valley and how despite these challenges, students persevere to earn their college degrees and transform their families, communities, and the world.

4 Quality Education. 1- Reduced Inequalities.

Tackling A Turtle Tumor Threat - An RGV Community Partnership To Research Sea Turtle Fibropapilloma

Tackling A Turtle Tumor Threat - An RGV Community Partnership To Research Sea Turtle Fibropapilloma

Team Members

  • Dr. Nicholas Blackburn, Ph.D., Assistant Research Scientist at the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute
  • Mariana Devlin, M.E.Sc., Sea Turtle Inc. Conservation Coordinator on South Padre Island
  • Jeff George, B.Sc., Executive Director of Sea Turtle Inc.
  • Joanne Curran, Ph.D., Professor at the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute
  • Megan Keniry, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Biology

Description

Fibropapillomatosis, a tumor-promoting disease in sea turtles, is growing in prevalence locally in the RGV and globally. This proposal is a partnership between UTRGV and the community based Sea Turtle Inc. to tackle this disease. This project will use innovative genomic technologies to profile sea turtle tumors to answer fundamental questions about the disease biology. This project fosters community partnerships and engagement in research. This project highlights UTRGV’s environmental sustainability mission on a research issue that impacts the RGV and beyond. This project will break new ground on fibropapilloma biology.

Spanish Video Version: https://youtu.be/utyAm0R0V2c

14 Life Below Water.

Creating Giant Mexican Puppets For UTRGV Performing Arts

Creating Giant Mexican Puppets For UTRGV Performing Arts

Team Members

  • Lucero Rodriguez, Student, President, Latino Theatre Initiatives (Student Organization)
  • Jennifer Saxton, Assistant Professor in Theatre
  • Francisco Loera, Lecturer III and Co-Director of the Mariachi Aztlán in the School of Music
  • Dana Shackelford, Associate Professor in the Dance Program
  • Francisco Munoz III, Senior Lecturer and Academic Dance Program Director

Description

This proposal is the creation of giant, Mexican-styled puppets to be used by the award-winning, nationally-recognized Latino Theatre Initiatives student organization. These puppets will bring more joy and wonder to the world, and especially the youth of the Rio Grande Valley, via a multitude of diverse performances, such as parades, children's shows, festivals, and appearances at musical and dance programs. The puppets will be based on the famous mojigangas of Mexico, which are used in street parades, and will be the products of careful research to represent regional Mexican culture (from the states of Guanajuato and Queretaro, and especially the town of San Miguel de Allende). They will be of educational value and in demand for heritage events and specifically Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations. Some puppets will depart from the traditional looks and find themselves creatively reconfigured for life in the Rio Grande Valley, sparking discussions of the tensions between traditional arts and modernization.

10 Reduced Inqualities.

Rio Grande Valley Veterans and Significant Others: Before, During, & After Deployment

Rio Grande Valley Veterans and Significant Others: Before, During, & After Deployment

Team Members

  • Dr. Eric Wiley, Professor in Theatre
  • Dr. Martin Rodriguez, Director, Military Veterans Success Center (MVSC)
  • Mr. Frank Martinez, Program Coordinator, Military Veterans Success Center
  • Tracy Wisdom, Counseling Specialist II, Veterans Counseling Specialist
  • Jonathan Romero, Student and Employee, Military Veterans Success Center

Description

This proposal is for the research and development of an original script intended for public presentation, along with supporting multimedia resources, that acknowledges and stimulates discussion about challenges facing persons separated due to overseas deployment. This project responds to the health care crisis in veterans’ families, both here in the Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere in the United States. This research will look at the impact of overseas deployment on veterans’ marital relationships, and other relationships in the immediate family. The work highlights the position of the significant other in post-deployment transition challenges. Subjects who share their stories with the community through this project will potentially help other veterans and their families to appreciate more fully difficulties faced by those who remain at home during deployment. This project can increase understanding of social pressures in veterans’ relationships with their families, and help all parties involved in such relationships to see that their experiences are often shared and tied to common sources. Communicating veterans’ experiences may bring relief and greater public recognition to these community concerns. This research will create a basis for public presentations that will serve the veterans’ community and may spur interest in further presentations at the state and national levels, and thus attract substantial external funding and enhance the university profile in community engagement.

Good Health and Well-Being.

Community Resiliency From Hurricane Disasters In The Bilingual And Bicultural Rio Grande Valley

Community Resiliency From Hurricane Disasters In The Bilingual And Bicultural Rio Grande Valley

Team Members

  • Dean Kyne, Assistant Professor in Sociology
  • Arlett Lomeli, Assistant Professor in Sociology
  • Dawid Wladyka, Assistant Professor in Sociology
  • Katarzyna Sepielak, Lecturer II in Sociology
  • Owen Temby, Assistant Professor in Political Science

Description

The Rio Grande Valley is home to a bilingual and bicultural community of more than a million individuals. This study is focused on understanding perceptions of authorities who manage hurricane disasters and facilitate community resiliency. The study implements the Transforming Our World Strategic Plan by “engaging community” to mitigate disasters, designing a study “impacting the valley and beyond,” providing an “experiential learning opportunity” for graduate students of disaster studies, and supporting the “students’ success.”

11 Sustainable Cities and Communities. 13 Climate Action.

Establishing A Butterfly Garden on the UTRGV Brownsville Campus

Establishing A Butterfly Garden on the UTRGV Brownsville Campus

Team Members

  • Lucia Carreon Martinez PhD, Lecturer I in Biology
  • Julie Mustard PhD, Assistant Professor in Biology
  • Alejandro Fierro Cabo PhD, Assistant Professor in School of Earth, Environmental and Marine Sciences & Biology
  • Rupesh Kariyat PhD, Assistant Professor in Biology
  • Sara Black PhD, Lecturer I in Biology
  • Jose Mata, Biology Student
  • Siurabe Argueta, Biology Student
  • Jessica Solis, Biology Student
  • Brian Villanueva, Biology Student

Description

Nearly 40% of the over 700 species of butterflies found in the United States occur within the lower Rio Grande Valley; therefore, conservation efforts here can have a large impact. This proposal is for the establishment of a butterfly garden on the UTRGV Brownsville campus, which will address multiple aspects of UTRGV’s Transforming Our World strategic plan. It will promote student success by providing research opportunities and experiential learning projects. The community will be engaged through outreach and bilingual displays produced by students. By providing a suitable habitat for butterflies and increasing awareness about their importance, UTRGV will be able to address a significant global challenge.

2 Zero Hunger. 15 Life on Land.

Rgv Our Voice/Nuestra Voz Survey

Rgv Our Voice/Nuestra Voz Survey

Team Members

  • Natasha Altema-McNeely, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Political Science
  • Dongkyu Kim, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Political Science
  • Mi-son Kim, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Political Science
  • Laryssa Mykyta, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Sociology & Co-Director, Center for Survey Research & Policy Analysis

Description

This project is a pilot survey designed to: (1) capture attitudes and opinions of Rio Grande Valley residents on key international, national, state and local issues, and (2) inform policy at the state and regional levels. This survey will provide a platform for academic research, student engagement, and community discourse on topics affecting the RGV. Despite increased interest in the political attitudes of the Hispanic population, knowledge about Hispanic attitudes and opinions remains underdeveloped and most studies have been conducted on a national sample in which Hispanics are represented as a minority group. The RGV OVNV survey will address these gaps by examining Hispanic attitudes in a majority context thus contributing to a broader understanding of Hispanic political and social attitudes on a range of policies and issues of national as well as local concern.

10 Reduced Inequalities. 16 Peace and Justice Strong Institutions.

Transcending Language Boundaries By Fostering A Translingual-Community Engaged Pedagogy For All

Transcending Language Boundaries By Fostering A Translingual-Community Engaged Pedagogy For All

Team Members

  • Dr. Alyssa G. Cavazos, Assistant Professor in Writing and Language Studies
  • Dr. Sandra Musanti, Associate Professor in Bilingual and Literacy Studies
  • Dr. Alma Rodriguez, Professor in Bilingual and Literacy Studies
  • Dr. Javier Cavazos, Assistant Professor in Counseling
  • Norma Dibrell, Graduate Student in Writing and Language Studies

Description

This proposal will create a linguistically inclusive faculty learning community (FLC) that promotes a Translingual-Community Engaged approach to teaching. Translingual pedagogies can be applied in all teaching contexts across disciplines and are anchored in active learning through community engagement. This proposal will investigate the impact on teaching effectiveness, language awareness, and academic engagement by (1) Designing, implementing, and evaluating a FLC and (2) Building capacity in translingual community-engaged teaching and learning.

4 Quality Education.

A Water Resource Development From Atmospheric Air In Gulf Of Mexico

A Water Resource Development From Atmospheric Air In Gulf Of Mexico

Team Members

  • Jongmin Kim, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering
  • Jihoon Kang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Environmental Science
  • Jason Parsons, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Chemistry
  • Erik Castillo, M.S. Candidate, Mechanical Engineering

Description

This project will showcase UTRGV’s continuous efforts for innovative and sustainable water resource development. The atmospheric water is estimated to be enough to alleviate global water shortage. Currently US states including CA and TX are suffering from decreasing water resources. Since ocean air from the Gulf of Mexico is saturated with moisture, atmospheric moisture can be a sustainable alternative to provide water for arid local communities in South Texas. This project will harvest atmospheric moisture from South Padre Island to test the quality of collected water for its reuse and to learn about the feasibility of the proposed water resource development scheme.

6 Clean Water and Sanitation.

Sustainable Development Goals.