Grants in News

Starr Hill Pathways scholars listen to University professors and students. Photo: Erin Edgerton

Many grant projects have been busy over the summer! From conducting field tests to hosting seminars, to preparing for future events, check out some incredible Jefferson Trust projects highlighted in the news:

An initiative from the UVA Equity Center and a 2022 annual grant recipient, Starr Hill Pathways brought middle-school students to Grounds for a three-week program to learn about the college experience and engage with a university. Check out their experiences in this UVA Today article, CBS19 feature, and Daily Progress article.

A 2022 flash grant recipient, “Chaos to Chaos: Documenting Afghan Women,” was recently highlighted on CBS19 News for their work to build community and share the stories of Afghan women in the local community.

The Roadmap Scholars Initiative hosted their first summer program, helping first-gen, low-income undergraduates prepare for and apply to elite law schools. Learn more about the scholars in this UVA Law article.

The UVA Solar Car team raced a custom solar-powered electric vehicle at the Formula Sun Grand Prix in Topeka, Kansas this summer. Learn about their preparations and building their car since receiving a Trust grant in 2017 in this Cav Daily article.

Since their 2018 grant, read about the growth and impact of Hoos Connected in this UVA Today feature. The grant funds a one-credit class lasting a single semester that teaches healthy relationship-building skills in small groups of first-year, second-year and transfer students.

“Madayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting from Yirrkala” is the first major exhibition of Aboriginal Australian bark paintings to tour the U.S. It opens in September 2022 at the Hood Museum. Kluge-Ruhe received a Trust grant in 2019 to help produce the accompanying catalog, a 352-page piece in both Yolngu Matha and English (which is the first ever international touring exhibition catalog in an Australian language). Read more about the significance of this exhibition.

The “Transformative Autism Biomarker Research Initiative” in UVA’s Developmental Neuroanalytics Lab was spotlighted in National Geographic’s June 2022 issue. A 2020 grant recipient, the lab is developing new universal screening protocols for social processing disorders.

An Apple a Day…

There are many adages about health, such as “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” or “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  One health truism that we all know to be absolute is “it’s important.”

That is certainly the case at UVA, where the UVA Medical Center accounts for just under half of the University’s $3.99 billion budget. Beyond the numbers, health is interwoven into life and academics across Grounds. Medical school students can dual-enroll at Darden to complete an MD/MBA. Batten and the Cooper Center conduct research in policy and populations that have huge impacts in healthcare. Undergraduates in Biomedical Engineering can have hands-on research experience in developing new technologies. And that’s not even beginning to mention the host of student health services the University offers.

With health being so important, it’s only natural that some of the best ideas we see are to improve health. The Jefferson Trust has recently funded many interesting projects in the field including autism biomarker research, design thinking for medical students, pediatric mental health, and personal protection against air pollution.

It often takes a trained eye to read proposals for projects like these and understand the process and impact.

Fortunately, the Trust has four physicians and two nurses on the board:

  • Victoria Davis Chen, MD (Col ’92)
  • Stephen Chen, MD
  • Ramesh Singh, MD (Res ’07)
  • Susan Singh (Nurs ’05)
  • John Sperling, MD (Col ’90, Med ’94)
  • Pat Woodard (Nurs ’69)

Here are some thoughts they have on healthcare and the Trust’s role in advancing ideas.

John Sperling, MD (Col ’90, Med ’94)

Healthcare is going through enormous changes that have only been accelerated by the recent pandemic.  The Jefferson Trust is ideally situated to help support creative and innovative ideas to impact healthcare not only in Charlottesville but also on a larger scale. We would encourage members of the University community to send their proposals for funding to the Jefferson Trust. Not only is the Jefferson Trust an excellent source for funding, but also has the support of Trustees with significant healthcare experience who can help mentor members of the community that would like to make an impact in healthcare.

Victoria Davis Chen, MD (Col ’92)

Improvements in healthcare are seldom made with one large discovery, but instead a series of smaller discoveries. The medical community relies on published, peer reviewed data upon which to build. In the Trust, we have an opportunity to watch an idea that excites us influence other bright minds. Granting this to a member of our UVA community is much further reaching than the original project being presented.

Pat Woodard (Nurs ’69)

I am always so pleased when The Trust receives health-related grant proposals. As we are living through a pandemic, we are especially reminded of the need for good research in nursing, medicine, public health and related fields. Also, projects that aim to improve nursing and medical education have great impact.

Annual Cycle Grant Announcement

Grant recipient Cavalier Autonomous Racing member Madhur Behl

The Jefferson Trust is excited to announce our 2019–2020 annual grant awards totaling $853,357. The 14 projects awarded in this funding opportunity represent a milestone for the Trust—the single largest number of $100,000+ awards made at one time!

In 2020, the Jefferson Trust will award $1 million for the first time in the organization’s history. This will be accomplished through the long-standing annual grants, established annual awards, and the new flash funding awards.

The 2020 annual grants are:

Transformative Autism Biomarker Research Initiative: $122,928

A multidisciplinary group of researchers and clinicians is developing a newborn screening protocol to identify abnormal neurodevelopment before clinical symptoms manifest. In the face of steeply rising autism rates, early intervenion has the potential to drastically improve outcomes.

Guiding Student Research to Solve Global Problems in Air Pollution: $100,000

In October 2018, the World Health Organization officially labeled air pollution “a silent public health emergency.” Through this initiative, students will gain familiarity with air-filtering technologies and will partner with faculty to study the impact of those technologies in the U.S. and several developing countries.

Community-Engaged Learning and Leadership Initiative at Madison House: $100,000

A cohort of Madison House student leaders will enroll in courses focused on community-based learning and service projects, all while volunteering in the Charlottesville community. Madison House will then pair interested UVA faculty and their class syllabi with community partners, for deeper community-based learning opportunities.

The Engaged Writing Project: Embedding Community Engagement Preparation Into UVA First Year Writing Courses: $100,000

This project will embed public service competencies into first-year student writing requirement courses. Students will come to understand their development as writers in relation to central challenges of our time, from local to global.

Summer Program for Entrepreneurial Nanoscale Engineering: $100,000

This summer internship experience is created for rising second- and third-year students interested in entrepreneurialism and nanoscale technologies. Interns will participate in research projects directed by UVA’s nanoSTAR faculty—the Institute for Nanoscale and Quantum Scientific and Technological Advanced Research.

Advancing Interdisciplinary Readiness: $96,000

UVA’s Environmental Resilience Institute will generate training for graduate students and faculty interested in interdisciplinary research that can have a positive impact on communities. Participants will gain the skills needed to lead collaborative projects that address rapid environmental change.

Cavalier Autonomous Racing: $50,000

The Cavalier Autonomous Racing Club, under the supervision of UVA faculty, will build, develop, program and race an autonomous electric go-kart. Club activity will culminate in a demonstration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500 race.

stARTup Studio: a Business Bootcamp for Creatives: $45,000

This bootcamp will offer a full-day, interactive program for artists at the university and in the community—to help them increase the visibility of and market for their work.

Creating Educational Citizen-Leaders Through Service Learning: $38,437

In partnership with teachers at Charlottesville’s Greer Elementary School, UVA architecture and education students will employ problem-solving processes known as “design thinking” to address student achievement gaps at the elementary school.

The Sixth International Seminar of Young Tibetologists: $32,900

This bilingual conference—offered in both English and Tibetan—will include presentations from early career scholars who are normally isolated from each other across linguistic barriers. The three disparate spheres of Tibetan Studies (Chinese, Tibetan and Euro-American) will interact as a single community.

Breaking the Sound Barrier: Deaf Opera Workshop: $32,000

This performance project will unite the worlds of the Deaf and hearing. Deaf actors from Broadway will join opera singers to work on a new production of Poulenc’s iconic opera of religious persecution, “Dialogues of the Carmelites.” The UVA-based workshop will also be filmed for a documentary.

Strategies of Collecting: Museum Seminar: $15,652

An interdisciplinary group of UVA students will obtain experience researching and proposing objects for acquisition by the Fralin Museum of Art, and will visit leading auction houses, art dealers and galleries in New York.

FLIP at UVA: $14,161

The local chapter of FLIP National (First-Generation, Low-Income Partnership) will align with various university departments to promote programming for and greater inclusivity of first-generation and/or low-income students.

APIDA Student Survey: $6,279

The Asian Student Union will create a survey for all Asian-identifying students at the University of Virginia to ask about their UVA experience. This data will then be shared with university leadership, to better address issues affecting this community.