2021 Baldwin Funded Seed Project Grants

The Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Seed Project Grants are one type of grant provided through the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment. Seed Projects often seek to explore or expand new dimensions of existing translational outreach, community-based research, and public engagement activities. Seed Projects are animated by innovative ideas and are shaped by the priorities, needs, and interests of the communities they serve.

The 2021 Seed Grants, as described in their submissions, are:

Acquiring and Synthesizing Foundational Knowledge for Hemp-Derived Products

Project Leader:
Shelby Ellison, Assistant Professor, Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Unstable prices for traditional agricultural commodities have caused serious economic distress for Wisconsin farmers, forcing many to consider alternatives. Hemp can be used in numerous industries such as textile, construction, furniture, bioplastic, health, personal care, food, feed, beverage, and energy. The promise of hemp, with its hundreds of possible uses, potential suitability to the regional climate, and fast-growing emerging product markets, could be a welcome alternative for Wisconsin farmers. However, many of these products have never been made or tested at moderate scale and lack infrastructure or institutional knowledge. Hemp does have the potential to create jobs, increase agricultural diversity, and produce environmentally sustainable products but the industry is missing key foundational knowledge that will be critical for its future success. We will utilize the knowledge, experiences, and skills of a broad range of UW-Madison researchers, university collaborators and industry stakeholders to critically assess the feasibility and practicality of hemp paper, textiles, and building materials. We plan to form working groups and develop feasibility reports for each hemp product area. Reports will be presented during webinars and at workshops for hemp fiber processing and production of hemp paper, hemp fabric, and hempcrete. We hope this information will provide timely insight to agricultural and industry stakeholders regarding the feasibility of several hemp-derived products in Wisconsin and beyond.

Advancing the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals Through Industrial Hemp

Project Leader:
Calyn Ostrowski, Director of Advancement, Global Health Initiative

In summer 2020, the Global Health Institute (GHI) organized a series: “COVID & Equity: What We’ve Learned; Where We Go From Here” that convened diverse community and international partners to explore issues of health equity. The series identified actionable next steps to “build back better” and called for bold leadership, systems thinking, and innovative new approaches to address the interconnected issues of health and climate change. Building on these calls to action, GHI will investigate industrial hemp’s versatility in advancing the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals in Wisconsin and across the world. Related to health equity and sustainability, the nascent industrial hemp and cannabis industry is making a worldwide impact by exploring therapeutic applications for epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and more; to providing solutions for climate change, using hemp as an alternative crop for paper, textiles, plastics, construction and other green technologies that rebuild biodiversity loss. Hemp’s versatility, which spans nearly every constructed system, has the potential to advance the Sustainable Development Goals in our local to global communities. GHI is proposing to develop an innovative four-part webinar series and white paper that convenes multidisciplinary UW partners, government officials and community experts who are investigating the plant’s versatility in the context of advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. The overarching goal is to initiate thoughtful dialogue and guidance for future interdisciplinary research at UW-Madison whereby the social, economic, environmental and health benefits of the plant might be further evaluated.

Building and Sharing Collective Collective Knowledge About the Impacts of an Invasive Species New to Wisconsin

Project Leaders:
Brad Herrick, Research Program Manager, Arboretum
Susan Carpenter, Senior Outreach Specialist, Arboretum

Non-native, invasive species pose threats to global biodiversity and can have significant impacts on economies. Jumping worms are invasive earthworm species from Asia that have recently been found in Wisconsin. These earthworms have been shown to change soil structure, chemistry, nutrient cycling, microbial communities, and wildlife habitat. In addition, anecdotal reports from gardeners, land managers, and horticultural professionals indicate that jumping worms may negatively impact native and ornamental plants. These same groups seek guidance on which plants can tolerate jumping worm-infested soil in garden, restoration, and landscaping settings. However, to-date there has not been a systematic effort to collect and organize these reports and disseminate the findings widely, to these groups as well as the public at-large. This project will use an online survey and virtual focus groups to collect reports and observations of how native and ornamental plants perform with jumping worms. This summarized information will be used to compile lists of plants affected or not affected by jumping worms. These lists will be shared state-wide, via electronic and hard-copy outreach materials. This project will not only build and share collective knowledge on the impact of a new and important invasive species in Wisconsin, but will also lay the groundwork for future collaboration and communication with a broad group of concerned stakeholders.

COVID-19 Mutual Aid Garden

Project Leaders:
Kase Wheatley, Research Assistant, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Michael Bell, Professor and Chair, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in the United States, a group of students, staff, and community members have been growing food on ~1.2 acres of land in Eagle Heights at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This space is a living-learning laboratory in which applied agroecology projects foster collaborations between the University and historically-marginalized groups. Diversified crop trials grown on site during the 2020 growing season supplied large quantities of produce to Madison food aid initiatives and highlighted the potential of this space to support three main objectives during 2021 and beyond: nearly year-round crop production to aid those most affected by the pandemic-induced economic downturn; cropping systems trials that integrate annual and perennial agriculture for climate change adaptation; and collaborative projects that train students and community members in practical horticulture skills while demonstrating farming methods of diverse cultural origins. In keeping with the ethos of the Wisconsin Idea, the synergistic goal of these activities is to cultivate an inclusive space for the collective incubation of ideas and practices aimed at addressing the interrelated social, economic, and environmental issues of today ensuring that historically-marginalized peoples help to guide this effort. We hope to further grow relationships established this past season with student groups, faculty members, Tribal Nations, and community organizations fostering collaborative partnerships which provide mutual benefit and material support.

Development and Validation of the Transgender/Nonbinary Coping Measure

Project Leaders:
Louis Lindley, PhD Student, Department of Counseling Psychology, School of Education
Stephanie Budge, Associate Professor, Department of Counseling Psychology, School of Education

Transgender and nonbinary (TGNB) individuals respond to gender-related stressors in ways not captured by current coping measures. We will develop a Transgender/Nonbinary Coping Measure (TNCM) which captures the unique experiences of TGNB individuals in response to discrimination and internalization of societal stigma. Findings for this project will be used to 1) develop and validate the TNCM and 2) provide empirical data which demonstrates how TGNB individuals’ various coping strategies relate to improved mental wellbeing in response to gender-related stress. In alignment with the Wisconsin Idea, this project will impact the larger Wisconsin TGNB community through improving our understanding of TGNB individuals by providing an accurate assessment of their coping responses to gender-related stress. This information will create the base from which interventions can be developed to increase adaptive coping and mental wellbeing within this population.

ENABLE – Enriching Navajo as a Biology Language for Education

Project Leaders:
Joanna Bundus, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Integrative Biology, College of Letters & Science
Sterling Martin, Research Assistant, Department of Integrative Biology, College of Letters & Science

To address the global decline of Indigenous languages, the United Nations has declared 2022-2032 as “The International Decade of Indigenous Languages”. One Indigenous language undergoing rapid decline is Diné bízaad (Navajo language). Project ENABLE (Enriching Navajo as a Biology Language for Education) aims to tackle this issue head on. Over the last 40 years, the number of Diné bízaad speakers has dropped by 42 percent, and current estimates predict by 2030 only 10 percent of Diné (Navajo) will speak their language. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even more dire. The virus has ravaged Dinétah (Navajo Nation, which spans New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah), causing the loss of many Diné bízaad-speaking community members. Despite Diné bízaad being a rich and expressive language, there are almost no words for modern biology terms. In partnership with high school teachers on Dinétah, we identified 210 foundational biology terms. Working with a well-regarded Diné language expert, we are translating these English words into Diné bízaad. We will upload these translations (along with definitions and example sentences) to an easy-to-access website we created. We will track web-site visitation and search queries to assess the usage of the newly created Diné biology dictionary and to monitor biological vocabulary development. Project ENABLE’s website will allow teachers to supplement their biology lessons with terms in Diné bízaad, allowing the next generation of Diné students to discuss science with their families and community.

Expanding Nature-Based Extension Education: Promoting Well-Being During COVID-19 and Beyond

Project Leaders:
Larissa Duncan, Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, School of Human Ecology
Chad Cook, Land and Water Outreach Program Manager, UW-Extension

Research shows exposure to nature can have a positive impact on physical and mental well-being of people across the lifespan. UW-Madison and the Division of Extension are uniquely positioned to expand the research on this topic and bring a variety of valuable programs across the state to have positive impacts on overall human health and well-being. Extension efforts, such as with the Master Naturalist, Positive Youth Development, and Master Gardener programs have found benefits of connections with nature for their audiences, but nature-based programming has not been a primary Extension goal or developed strategically to a statewide level. Extension educators recognize the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the value of nature to the people of Wisconsin, especially during difficult times, and see an opportunity for a coordinated, evidence-based approach. The goal of this grant is to build a statewide team to identify the evidence related to nature and human wellness that can be incorporated into Extension programs to address the needs of diverse audiences. We plan to conduct a review of existing research on nature’s connection to human well-being and identify research gaps (including opportunities to address gaps in diversity, equity, and inclusion). We will map points of connection among Extension programs, as well as identify target audiences and their unique well-being needs that could be supported by nature-based programs. This information will be used to create a framework that will bolster existing programming efforts and set the stage for multiple extramural funding requests led by both campus and Extension personnel.

Galaxy Scouts: Space-Ventures with Stella and Riley

Project Leader:
Snezana Stanimirovic, Professor, Department of Astronomy, College Of Letters & Science

To improve societal scientific literacy, this project is developing three comic strips for middle-school students, three accompanying activity books, as well as Saturday workshops at the UW Space Place. “Galaxy scouts: Space-ventures with Stella and Riley” break down the stereotypes of science in society and popular media, and emphasize the importance of scientific discovery at a level appropriate for middle-school students. The activity books focus on key scientific concepts mentioned in comics, and guide students through several simple exercises. The workshops are led by trained UW students (comics ambassadors). The project collaborates with the MMSD Planetarium where comics workshops will be advertised. Once tested at UW Space Place, the project will run Saturday workshops in towns across Wisconsin, in the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea and with the goal of improving scientific literacy in remote and rural Wisconsin places where students have very limited STEM-related opportunities.

Holding History: Reconnecting Communities and Archives in the Time of COVID-19

Project Leaders:
Joshua Calhoun, Associate Professor, Department of English, College of Letters & Science
Sarah Marty, Faculty Associate, Bolz Center For Arts Administration, Wisconsin School of Business

Since 2015, “Holding History” has brought the hidden histories of books, archives, and unusual media forms to the UW-Madison community and an intergenerational, public audience. Our activities facilitate hands-on learning in a variety of formats, including archival discovery days, print and papermaking workshops, lectures, and reading groups. At over fifty events, we have hosted 2,500 visitors and interacted with thousands more through our digital channels. Currently, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot host events in which groups crowd over cultural objects. Over the course of our so-called new normal, we have begun growing our audience of lifelong learners through participatory digital events such as virtual play readings and YouTube live sessions with special guests from the world of libraries, theatre, and publishing. We are now launching two new platforms to facilitate the remote exploration of unusual media: “The Holding History Podcast,” a fast-paced audio exploration of media history and archival worlds, and The Bookish Blog, a collaborative space for written expression and bookish conversation. These two platforms are designed to meet the needs of our existing community in accessible, enjoyable formats. In addition to building on our community of past participants, this timely, asynchronous, virtual programming will allow us to attract new audiences and further expand the impact of the “Holding History” program beyond the borders of our campus, our state, and even our country.

Increasing Awareness for Children with Language Impairments from Underserved Communities

Project Leaders:
Audra Sterling Von Glahn, Associate Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, College of Letters & Science
Alexis Maltman, Research Associate, Waisman Center

Approximately one in 14 children have language impairments (e.g., autism spectrum disorder, developmental language disorder) that require clinical intervention. Early identification of language impairments enables access to diagnostic and intervention services, which improves outcomes across communication, social, academic, and occupational domains. Children from underserved communities receive diagnoses later and are more likely to receive a misdiagnosis compared to children from higher socioeconomic and majority groups. There is an urgent need to provide accessible information to parents and community members working with children from traditionally underserved communities on 1) red flags that may indicate a language impairment and 2) actionable steps to support families through the assessment process. The goal of this proposal is to develop and sustain community partnerships starting with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County to promote advocacy for children with language impairments. Through the development of culturally-sensitive and accessible educational resources, focus groups, and seminars in collaboration with community partners, we will optimize advocacy and outreach efforts to support children and families in need of clinical intervention within Dane County, with a broader goal to scale up these approaches regionally and nationally.

Planning AHEAD

Project Leaders:
Jennifer Abel, Financial Security Outreach Program Manager, Human Development and Relationships Institute, UW-Extension
Sara Richie, Life Span Outreach Program Manager-Vilas County, Human Development and Relationships Institute, UW-Extension

In response to a statewide need of comprehensive resources for end-of-life planning, a team of UW-Madison Division of Extension Educators, Program Managers, and State Specialists have developed a program series called Planning AHEAD: Advance directives, Home finances, Estate planning and Arriving at Decisions for the end of this life. Planning AHEAD features seven modules: an introductory “Getting Started” overview followed by six content modules covering Personal Finance Basics; Advance Directives; Estate and inheritance planning; Choices in end-of-life care; End-of-life decisions (e.g. burial, cremation); and Understanding and dealing with grief. Educators will pilot test the new curriculum, revise it based on participant feedback, and train facilitators around the state to deliver the program. The modules are designed to help older adults and others reduce the stress that comes with losing a loved one by planning ahead for the end of life. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for such a program when many families are experiencing unexpected losses. The stress of their tragedies is magnified by lacking information on the wishes of the deceased and clear financial, legal, and medical plans. Project goals are threefold: 1) improve participants’ understanding of the end of life planning process, 2) provide participants with relevant resources and 3) ultimately increase the number of people that pre-plan their own end of life decisions.

The Riding in the Moment Project: Preparing Community Partners to Enhance Dementia Quality of Life

Project Leaders:
Alicia Oestreich, Graduate Student, Department of Kinesiology, School of Education
Samantha Schwartz, Graduate Student, Department of Kinesiology, School of Education

More than 100,000 Wisconsin residents living with Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias experience behavior and psychological issues that can negatively impact their quality of life and their families. Riding in the Moment is an innovative program that was designed in Colorado to enhance the quality of life of adults with dementia and their families. This community-based program is delivered at therapeutic horseback riding centers where adults with dementia and their families have the opportunity to ride and groom horses and engage in other interactive, nature-based activities. Studies have found that Riding in the Moment is safe, acceptable, and positively influences quality of life for adults with dementia and their families. Despite the compelling evidence for Riding in the Moment , the program has not yet been implemented in Wisconsin. Therefore, we have partnered with two therapeutic horseback riding centers and an Aging Disability and Resource Center in Wisconsin to accomplish two objectives: to deliver training on recommended dementia-care practices and the use of the standardized Riding in the Moment implementation and curriculum manuals. Accomplishing these objectives will better situate the community partners to successfully deliver and sustain the Riding in the Moment program in Wisconsin, and ultimately, enhance the quality of life of adults with dementia and their families.

Using Outdoor Spaces and Nature to Support Sennett Students’ Self-Regulation and Readiness to Learn

Project Leader:
Elizabeth Larson, Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology, School of Education

Our community partner, Sennett Middle School, is actively working to enhance 676 largely economically disadvantaged, minority students’ learning and wellness by designing a new health-promoting, restorative, active outdoor space. To assure this space fosters community and enhances students’ readiness to return to learning, our team from UW-Madison’s Occupational Therapy Program will work with the Sennett Middle School staff to expand their application of the Zones of Regulation program, currently used with special education students, to all students in this outdoor space. The first step will be a school-wide training provided pro bono by the program’s author, Leah Kuyper. Zones of Regulation is a cognitive-behavioral approach that helps students to recognize their needs and emotions and select self-regulation strategies so that they can meet the demands of the environment and be successful socially. Next, using our occupational therapy expertise in self-regulation, play and child development, in consultation with Leah Kupyer, and in collaboration with Sennett stakeholders, we will develop student user and staff guides. These guides will translate and adapt the Zones of Regulation core principles for use in outdoor spaces to help students consciously regulate their actions and increase self-control, and help staff to better understand and address students’ dysregulation and behavioral challenges. The focus will be on how to meet the needs of individual students and community building rather than a “policing” approach. We plan to build several restorative outdoor spaces desired by the Sennett community to be immediately available to students when they return to on-campus learning, post-COVID-19.