Thirteen faculty awarded 10 research grants valued at more than $45K

KEARNEY – The Research Services Council at the University of Nebraska at Kearney has awarded 10 grants totaling $45,649 to 13 UNK faculty as part of its bi-annual grant competition.

The purpose of the Research Services Council is to encourage research and creative activity by UNK faculty and graduate students.

The RSC places special emphasis on seed grants for projects that potentially lead to external funding, demonstrate the potential for publication or other appropriate forms of dissemination, and projects that involve students in research.

Those receiving funded grants include:

Sherry Crow, assistant professor of teacher education, and Lisa Kastello, assistant professor of art and art history, ,531
“Exploring Experiences of Indian Elementary School Children who are Intrinsically Motivated to Seek Information.”
Their project builds on Crow’s work into intrinsic motivation, where she explores how and why some children have intrinsic motivation to learn while others don’t across cultures. This particular iteration of the project will send the investigators to India, following a trip last year to Uganda.

Kristy Kounovsky-Shafer, assistant professor of chemistry, $8,406
“Development of Microfluidic Devices to Extract Extremely Long DNA Molecules for Genome Analysis”
Kounovsky-Shafer is developing a process to extract longer DNA molecules for analysis. The end goal of this project is to allow cancer researchers to have better raw materials (e.g. longer DNA) to study.

Lee Powell, assistant professor of physics, $5,378
“Combined Photometry and Spectroscopy Observations of Poorly Studied Binary Star Systems at McDonald Observatory.”
Powell and two undergraduate students will travel to McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, to study binary star systems. The broader goal of the project is to hone the study of binary star systems so that researchers may better understand star evolution.

Joan Blauwkamp, professor of political science, and Charles Rowling, professor of political science, $4,646
“Are Americans Okay with Torture?”
Blauwkamp and Rowling will study the impacts of priming and framing on polls to assess Americans support of torture. Specifically, they will run a quasi-experiment to better understand what factors may skew survey results on torture.

Kazuma Akehi, assistant professor of kinesiology and sport sciences, $4,000
“Impact of the Post-Surgical Rehabilitation on Lower Extremity Muscle Rapid Force Characteristics: Cohort Study.”
Akehi’s project will develop an evidence-based practice within the UNK Athletic Training, Sports Medicine and Exercise Science programs for rehabilitating ACL tears in athletes.

Angela Hollman, assistant professor of information technology, and Michelle Fleig-Palmer, associate professor of management, $3,703
“Identifying the Factors that Lead to Successful Peer Support in a Breast Cancer.”
Hollman and Fleig-Palmer will work with breast cancer patients to better understand what makes an effective support group. The ultimate goal is to incorporate their findings into developing better online support groups for rural patients.

Evan Hill, assistant professor of psychology, $3,667
“Behavioral Assessment of Auditory Sensitivity and Range in the Mallard Duck (Anas Platyrhynchos).”
Hill will determine the hearing range and minimal sensitivity of the mallard duck. This line of research contributes to the understandings of sensory adaption of not only animals, but also humans.

Ron Wirtz, associate professor and coordinator of user services for Calvin T. Ryan Library, $2,873
“Galvanized Yankees Along the Platte: The Role of Former Confederate Soldiers in Western Settlements.”
Wirtz will study the history of the 3rd US Volunteer Infantry from the Civil War. This infantry was made up of Confederate prisoners who were freed by the Union for their service, and they spent the beginnings of their training at Fort Kearny before being moved to Julesburg, Colo.

Michelle Bissell-Heath, associate professor of Enlgish, $2,275
“Dueling with Literary Legacies?: The Battle for Cultural Respectability and National Pride in U.S. and British 19th Century Card, Board, and Parlor Games.”
Bissell-Heath will visit The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y. (for which she was awarded an external grant to examine its archives) to examine the card, board and parlor games of the 19th century. She will trace the transatlantic and nationalist connections between the games – particularly trying to determine how the battles between the U.S. and Britain are reflected in the games.

Christie Maloyed, assistant professor of political science, $1,200
“Rural Incipient Food Deserts: Identifying Incipient Food Deserts and Developing Interventions in Rural Nebraska.”
Maloyed will collaborate with researchers from University of Nebraska-Omaha and Center for Rural Affairs to develop a better understanding of how food deserts function in a rural landscape (most of the studies of food deserts are centered on urban areas), specifically within Nebraska.

Writer: Todd Gottula, Director of Communications, 308.865.8454,
Contact: Richard Mocarski, Director Sponsored Programs, 308.865.8496,

One thought on “Thirteen faculty awarded 10 research grants valued at more than $45K

  1. Congratulations to the research grant recipients, amazing research going on at UNK.

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