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DeMaria and Seigfried-Spellar; Jarriel; and Wilhelm, Enders and Iyer-Pascuzzi receive the 2023-2024 John Martinson Honors College’s Breakthrough Research Award.

Three Purdue research initiatives recently received funding awards sponsored by the Research Development unit in the John Martinson Honors College. The award bridges Purdue’s mission to deliver high-impact, experiential education with its mission to conduct cutting-edge research. The call for proposals resulted in applications from 37 faculty from 8 colleges and 22 departments across Purdue University. Applications were reviewed by Purdue-wide experts on their research quality, broader impact and their strategies for undergraduate students to engage meaningfully in the research. A consensus panel made the final decisions. Award applications were reviewed by experts across campus on research quality, academic and societal impact and honors student research engagement strategies. The award is a one-time investment to conduct research, scholarship or creative inquiry with undergraduate students in the honors college.   

The research team of Dr. Andrea DeMaria (College of Health & Human Sciences) and Dr. Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar (Purdue Polytechnic Institute) will work with a team of undergraduate researchers for assessing salon professionals’ experiences with sex trafficking and domestic violence victims to design, implement, and evaluate a training program for mitigating trafficking in Indiana. The project will also explore and test ways to strengthen collaborative partnerships with community-oriented policing initiatives with the intent to inform state policy on these issues.    

Dr. Katie Jarriel (John Martinson Honors College) will convene local community partners and undergraduate researchers to bring Indigenous and local peoples’ environmental knowledge (ILEK) from communities in the Marshall Islands, Yap, and Hawai’i to develop quantitative computational models of archaeological and paleoclimate data. By focusing on traditional, sustainable seafaring, this research project will enhance community resilience and well-being for thousands of island communities across Oceania and inform the development of socially-just environmental policies  

The research team consisting of Dr. Roland Wilhelm, Dr. Laramy Enders and Dr. Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi (College of Agriculture) will bring a team of faculty and undergraduate researchers to the Indiana Dunes to enhance the growth and climate resilience of native plant species, such as American bittersweet, by better understanding and managing the interactions between plant and microbes (the 'holobiont'). This research aims to develop nature-based conservation tools that will assist land managers in mitigating the impact of invasive round-leaf bittersweet while simultaneously providing valuable insights into the application of microbiome science to rebalance competition between invasive and native species  

Each of the award winners will work with faculty and staff in the John Martinson Honors College to recruit student researchers and launch their projects this fall, followed by a kick-off celebration in Spring 2024 to begin the yearlong projects