Archives for Grant Awards

Fulbright Award Furthers Trinity College Associate Professor of International Studies Janet L. Bauer’s Research on Islam in Diaspora

Hartford, Connecticut, January 19, 2018 – Trinity College Associate Professor of International Studies Janet L. Bauer has received a Fulbright Global Scholar grant—an award designed to support multicountry, transregional projects—for her research project on The Social Geographies of Islam in Diaspora: Race, Gender, Generation, and Place. With this $25,690 Fulbright award, Bauer is engaged throughout the 2017-18 academic year in research at sites in Canada, Germany, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Bauer’s area of specialization is the ethnography of mobility and gender in Islamic societies, a focus that began when she was a graduate student at Stanford University, where she earned both her M.A. (1976) and Ph.D. (1981) in anthropology. During the past 25 years, she has continued to address questions about Muslim women in diaspora through her longitudinal research, following the same populations over several generations in different Muslim-minority societies. This includes ongoing collaborative research with her Trinity students working among refugee groups in the metro Hartford area.

“The Fulbright research represents the culmination of my work on Muslim diasporas in which I am focusing on women’s activism and their engagement—or nonengagement—with Islamic heritage,” said Bauer. “My goal is to increase our understanding of how immigrants—in this case, Muslim women and youth—use both local and global ties to successfully negotiate places of belonging for themselves and their communities. Using a comparative approach has allowed me to contrast the role of different contexts—of multiculturalism, of specific places, and of immigrant histories—in shaping this process.”

Bauer, a Trinity faculty member since 1984, completed the first segment of her Fulbright project during fall 2017, conducting research in Trinidad and Tobago, hosted by the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at The University of the West Indies. Beginning in February 2018, she will be based for three months at the Institute on Globalization & the Human Condition at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Then, from May to July, she will be in Germany, where her host institution will be the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen.

“Each of these sites provides a unique set of circumstances for better understanding the challenges faced by Muslim women in Muslim-minority contexts,” Bauer said. “This includes anxieties that can arise within Muslim communities because of ethno-cultural differences in religious traditions or generational differences, as well as pushback from non-Muslims.

“Across the globe, Muslims are confronting an onslaught of negative stereotypes and a fear of Islam,” said Bauer. “It’s important to avoid generalizing about Muslims, especially Muslim women, and to remember that most of our Muslim neighbors are an integral part of our communities, leading productive lives.”

Bauer’s current Fulbright project builds upon her prior research projects, which include: “The Americanization of Muslim Refugees in a Majority-Minority City: Understanding Black-Latino-Refugee Relationships in Hartford;” “Race, Gender, and Community in Muslim Trinidad;” and “Iranian Women and the Politics of Exile.” Her current research, she noted, will further inform her work with Trinity students and with Muslim communities in Hartford and elsewhere around the world. She plans to produce a book-length monograph on gender and race in Muslim diasporas following her return to Hartford from Germany.

Bauer’s courses at Trinity include “Modern Iran,” “Hartford Global Migration Lab,” “Immigrants and Refugees: Strangers in Strange Lands,” and “Youth Culture in the Muslim World.”

Since 2014, Bauer has served as a commissioner on the City of Hartford’s Commission for Refugee and Immigrant Affairs. She is a moderator for the “Honest Conversations with Your Muslim Neighbors” program of the Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding. She also is active with local organizations supporting immigrants in Hartford, including the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association Welcoming Committee, the South Marshall Interfaith Coalition, and Hartford Public Library’s Immigrant Advisory Group.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

Written by Kathy Andrews
Photo by Nick Caito

Trinity College Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy & Law Abigail Fisher Williamson is Part of Team Awarded Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant

​Hartford, Connecticut, November 20, 2017—Trinity College Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy & Law Abigail Fisher Williamson is a co-investigator on a research study that has been awarded a $699,960 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The AmeRicans’ Conceptions of Health Equity Study (ARCHES) will examine how Americans of diverse socioeconomic, professional, and racial/ethnic backgrounds think about equity and deservingness in the health domain. Sarah S. Willen, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Connecticut, is the principal investigator. Williamson and Colleen Walsh, an assistant professor of health sciences at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, are co-investigators.

Trinity College Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and Law Abigail Fisher Williamson. ​Photo by Antonio Rocha Portraits

The grant will support a two-phase study that launched in October and will run until October 2019. The researchers plan to investigate how Americans think about a question that plays a “pivotal but largely implicit role in American public discourse about society’s obligations to its members” – the question of “who deserves what in the health domain, and why.”

“Public health professionals often assert that ‘everyone deserves to live a healthy life,’ but we don’t know whether most Americans actually agree with that statement,” Williamson said. “Healthcare reform has been divisive in recent years, and unexamined attitudes about who is and is not seen as deserving could have something to do with that.”

In the first study phase, the research team will engage residents of Ohio’s Greater Cleveland area using interviews and ethnographic methods. A key partner in the study’s first phase is HIP-Cuyahoga (Health Improvement Partnership-Cuyahoga), a county-wide health equity initiative in Greater Cleveland. In the second phase, Williamson will lead the team in testing findings from Cleveland through a national survey.

The study will also draw on the expertise of researchers at Brown University, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland State University, Syracuse University, the University of South Florida, and the Sisters of Charity Foundation.

Williamson sees a clear connection between this research project and her teaching at Trinity. “There is growing student interest in healthcare policy, and I hope to bring what I learn back to the classroom,” she explained. Williamson said that Trinity students will also gain valuable experience as student research assistants as they learn to transcribe interviews and compile literature reviews for this project.

In addition to ARCHES, in 2015, Williamson began work on a study called “The U.S. Municipal Responses to Immigrants Survey,” supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The nationwide survey and analysis of findings gathered information from 1,000 towns about their formal and informal interactions with immigrants. To read more about that survey, click here.

Written by Kyle M. McGrath ’18

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Rosario Hubert Receives American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship

Trinity College Assistant Professor of Language and Culture Studies Rosario Hubert has been awarded an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship for 2017-2018. The fellowship will enable Hubert to work on her book project, Disorientations: Writing China in Latin America. The project argues that the intellectual discussion of China in Latin America has not taken place within academia, but rather in a network of discourses around criticism, the literary market, fiction, and diplomacy.

“I am very thrilled to have obtained this prestigious fellowship because it is not strictly about my own field of specialty, but rather the humanities in general,” Hubert said. This year, 71 fellows were selected through ACLS’s multi-stage peer-review process from a pool of nearly 1,200 applicants.

Rosario Hubert Web700Hubert received her Ph.D. at Harvard University, where she began this book project as her dissertation. As a native of Argentina, Hubert said she has always had an interest in relations between regions of the world not immediately connected. “It’s common to think of connections between Latin America and other regions of historical significance like Europe and the United States, but it is not usual to find connections between Latin America and Asia or Africa,” she said. When it comes to literature, Hubert noted, connections are usually mediated by the literary market in Europe or the English-speaking world.

Hubert’s project focuses specifically on bridging the gap in scholarship between Latin America and China. Her project involves tracing different historical moments which see an increasing interest in writing about China. For example, Hubert noted that in the 19th century, a significant amount of fiction and journalism discussed China due to the large waves of immigration from that country at the time. That is also the case with the creation of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949 and the emerging discourses of the Third World, Hubert said. By scrutinizing 19th-century ethnographies, modernist translations, Maoist print culture, concrete poetry, and contemporary narrative, this project gathers an unprecedented archive of China in Spanish and Portuguese, and proposes a comparative entryway into the study of Asia and Latin America.

For the next chapter of her book project, Hubert plans to write about intellectuals who traveled to China in the context of the Chinese Revolution and who then returned to publish what they had learned and experienced during their time in China. Hubert analyzes both the historical aspect of these publications and the rhetorical strategies of their translations. She notes that many translations were not direct but rather done through English or French first. What we see today, she argues, is an increase in direct translations between Chinese and Spanish because of the new generations of scholars trained in Chinese studies.

Hubert said that she hopes that her work will “provide questions and answers that not only relate to this topic, but that explain how culture circulates in general and how geographical distance is a category worth analyzing between when looking at world literature.” Hubert noted that this fellowship is a very valuable platform to help make her work visible beyond her own field of study and to help her speak to a larger audience in the humanities.

The American Council of Learned Societies is a federation of national scholarly organizations that are dedicated to the promotion of research, publication and education in the humanities and related social sciences. One of the Council’s primary activities is to advance academic inquiry through the awarding of its prestigious fellowships. Last year, ACLS awarded more than $18 million to more than 300 scholars across a variety of disciplines.

Written by Lorig Purutyan ’17

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michelle Kovarik Awarded $100,000 Grant from Cottrell Scholar Program

Michelle Kovarik, assistant professor of chemistry at Trinity College, has been designated a Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. This prestigious award, with an acceptance rate of 14 percent, recognizes the accomplishments of early-career faculty in chemistry, physics, and astronomy by providing them with support for research and curriculum development initiatives. In addition, scholars become members of the Cottrell Scholar Collaborative, a community of leaders from research universities and undergraduate colleges, with opportunities for networking, collaboration, and additional funding.

Kovarik DSC_7203The research element of Kovarik’s award explores the concept of biological noise, an observable phenomenon whereby cells that are genetically identical respond to situations differently. The reason behind this, she explained, has to do with the cell’s internal processes. With the help of this grant, Kovarik and her students hope to answer the question, “What is the chemical mechanism behind the fact that these cells might be genetically identical but respond to a stimulus or stress in different ways?” A portion of the funds will support stipends for students working in her lab over the summer.

As for the curriculum portion of her project, Kovarik will develop curriculum materials to help students read primary-source scientific literature directed at the scientific community. Furthermore, she will incorporate the use of those materials into her own classes and disseminate the curriculum to teachers of analytical chemistry at other institutions across the country.

This is the second grant that Kovarik has received during her time at Trinity. Last summer she was awarded a National Science Foundation grant and has worked in collaboration with Trinity students at various points in their college careers, ranging from first-year students involved with the Interdisciplinary Science Program (ISP) to seniors working on theses in her lab.

“One of the reasons that I wanted to work at Trinity was because the support for undergraduate research is so strong,” Kovarik said. This experience, she said, “gives students a critical opportunity to develop as scientists while they are here so that when they leave, they are very productive.” Kovarik is currently working on this grant project with Kathy Rodogiannis ’17, a biology major, and Jessica Duong ’19, a chemistry major. Over the summer she will oversee four students in her lab.

Written by Sophia Gourley ’19

Yipeng Shen Receives Mellon Research Fellowship for Chinese Youth Culture Book Project

Yipeng Shen, associate professor of language and culture studies and international studies at Trinity College, has been awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Mid-Career Research Fellowship at Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center for 2017-2018. The fellowship, which supports a year of intensive work, will allow Shen to complete his book, Globalization and Chinese Youth Culture. The project assesses five areas in which urban youth life intersects with globalization in China: food, love, nationalism, environmentalism, and historical memories. Shen is taking a deep look into the factors shaping contemporary China by examining how millennials make life choices.

Photo - Yipeng Shen Web700Shen previously authored Public Discourses of Contemporary China, which examines popular culture and nationalism in China. According to Shen, during the intellectual journey of writing his first book, he realized there are different angles to explore culture beyond race, gender, and class. For his current project, he wanted to take a more specific approach in his research. “Age may be as important a factor to distinguish and make differences in the formation of any kind of meaningful activities in contemporary culture, hence my interest in youth culture,” he said.

After leaving China in 2003 and living in the West for the past 15 years, Shen realized his own knowledge about China was limited. Completing Globalization and Chinese Youth Culture gives him the chance to rediscover and re-identify his connection with China. “I believe it is a nice opportunity to build my own spiritual sanctuary at an age of uncertainty –in terms of both my own intellectual life and the 21st century world,” he said.

This fellowship is particularly significant for Shen because it provides an opportunity to “refine through communications with the world, books, and other people of similar interest, what we know and do not know.” He noted that the prestigious Mellon Mid-Career Research Fellowship has given him – a non-native English speaker who has worked very hard for a long time in United States academia – acknowledgement and encouragement.

Shen is the second Trinity College faculty member in the past two years to receive a Mellon-Mid Career Research Fellowship at Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center. (Lida Maxwell, associate professor of political science, was awarded a fellowship last year.) The Mellon Program supports faculty research in the humanities and related fields while promoting intellectual exchange among faculty, fellows, and other visitors to the Whitney Humanities Center.

Written by Lorig Purutyan ’17

Judy Dworin Performance Project Receives Grant for ‘Creativity Connects: National Demonstration Projects’

The Judy Dworin Performance Project (JDPP), led by Trinity College Professor of Theater & Dance Emerita Judy Dworin, has received a $75,000 grant for Creativity Connects: National Demonstration Projects, an award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mid-America Arts Alliance, the New England Foundation for the Arts, and the Connecticut Office of the Arts. The award supports a program that empowers incarcerated individuals and their families to express their emotions and experiences through art, thus facilitating healing and transformation. The grant initiative funded six projects nationwide that demonstrate the intersectionality of arts and other realms of public life. Community Partners in Action, a Hartford based non-profit social service organization that works with individuals affected by the criminal justice system, is a principal partner on this grant. Other collaborating organizations include Families in Crisis, the Department of Correction, and Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network.

Building on its 12-year history serving incarcerated and newly released women, JDPP has expanded its programming to other affected constituencies. During this grant period, multiple performance residencies will emphasize emotional discovery through artistic expression and give voice to these experiences in a final performance or group sharing event organized around the theme of “Choices.” The performance residency at York Correctional Institution draws on the stories of its participants to create an uplifting exploration of past traumas and shared pain and resilience. The Moms and Kids Program will work with approximately 20 incarcerated women to develop interactive arts activities that they will share with their children during a special visit. The performance residency at Cybulski Reintegration Center will provide men preparing to leave prison with the opportunity for reflection, expression, and interaction with their children and families. The Bridging Boundaries after-school program will provide a safe space for children to express their feelings about the incarceration of parents and loved ones. Finally, women who are released from prison will have the opportunity to share their stories and experiences through two arts engagements: New Beginnings, a weekly arts workshop in which women from the Resettlement Program and Trinity College students participate together; and Women Beyond Boundaries, professional performance opportunities with the Ensemble of JDPP.

The grant will also support a documentary, which will illustrate the program’s unifying theme of “Choices,” and disseminate JDPP’s work to a wider audience. Produced in partnership with Connecticut Public Television and under the direction of Emmy award-winning videographer John O’Neill, the film will showcase the process of transformation, demonstrating the stark realities of incarceration, its impact on families, and the healing power of the arts.

The Judy Dworin Performance Project is a nonprofit organization of professional artists who innovate, inspire, educate and collaborate to harness the arts as a catalyst for creative expression, community building and positive change. Its other programming includes the Moving Matters! Residency Program and its professional dance/theater Ensemble. JDPP also participates as a partner in Free to Succeed, a Trinity College-led program that offers college study in prison and post-release for women at York Correctional Institution.

Written by Ellen V. Hart

Michelle Kovarik Receives NSF Grant to Study Cellular Differences in Social Amoeba

Kunwei Yang ’17, Trinity College Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michelle Kovarik, Kathy Rodogiannis ’17, and Allison Tierney ’17 in Kovarik’s lab.

Kunwei Yang ’17, Trinity College Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michelle Kovarik, Kathy Rodogiannis ’17, and Allison Tierney ’17 in Kovarik’s lab. Photo by Andrew J. Concatelli

Cells, the building blocks of all biological life, can be chemically different even when they are genetically identical. While this heterogeneity has been studied in mammalian cell lines, particularly in human cancer, it has not been explored in other types of organisms. Trinity College Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michelle Kovarik recently received a $212,253 grant from the National Science Foundation to adapt existing biochemical and bioanalytical tools to study cellular differences in the social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum. By isolating and measuring levels of the enzyme protein kinase B, Kovarik’s research will add to existing knowledge of the causes and impacts of cellular heterogeneity. This data will provide a valuable context for future research on the subject.

Kovarik’s research will also establish a methodology for testing chemical differences in social amoeba at the single-cell level. Kovarik’s post-doctoral research focused on developing these tests for human cancer cells and the adaptation of two tools – microfluidics and peptide substrate reporters – will expand the application of these technologies to other organisms. “These tools have been developed with a huge investment of time, money, and student labor, yet they are not widely used,” said Kovarik. “Part of this project focuses on new applications of these powerful tools to see how else they can be used.”

This summer, Kovarik is working with three students (pictured) to test and refine the methodology. Of the 10 students whom Kovarik has employed in her lab over the past three years, seven have been involved with various aspects of this project. This dedication to student research was recognized by a reviewer at the National Science Foundation. Kovarik noted, “One reviewer was impressed that all the preliminary data in the proposal had been collected by my students here at Trinity, in our lab. I am very proud of this.”

Working with students is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job, and Kovarik is deeply committed to their success. “My undergraduate mentor changed the course of my career and my life,” she said. “One of the reasons I came to a small undergraduate institution was because I wanted to make sure that more students have a similar experience.”

Kovarik’s NSF grant will fund two student researchers in her lab for the next three summers. She is looking forward to this work and the opportunity to mentor future practitioners. “I am very passionate about my work,” she said. “Doing undergraduate research can be life-changing for those who decide to be professional scientists.”

Written by Ellen V. Hart

Trinity College Associate Professor Harry Blaise and Collaborators Inspire Teachers and Young Students

Trinity College received a grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) aimed at strengthening curriculum and interest in biomedical sciences. Associate Professor of Engineering Harry Blaise ’94 (Trinity College), Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Cater Arico (University of Hartford), and Magnet School Theme Coach Jerry Crystal (Capitol Region Education Council Academy of Aerospace and Engineering) served as project leaders.
The grant funded the BME-4-STEM program, BME referring to Biomedical Engineering and STEM signifying the accompanying skills of science, technology, engineering, and math. This initiative created and piloted an innovative middle school biomedical sciences curricula that was developed by college faculty, middle school educators, industry leaders, and undergraduate student STEM leaders, and may well be among the first such broad and collaborative approaches in biomedical sciences in the country.

In a training session at Trinity College this summer were: (L-R) Penny Kelly, science teacher at CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering; Harry Blaise, associate professor of engineering, Trinity College; Jerry Crystal, STEM coach, CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering; Marjahn Finlayson, science teacher, Talcott Mountain Science Academy; Joseph Palladino, professor of engineering, Trinity College; Jesscia Voight '17, Trinity enigineering major; DavidJohn F. Douglas, science teacher at CREC Medical Professions Academy; Andrea Kwaczala, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, University of Hartford; Hugh Nguyen '17, Trinity engineering major; Jonathan Craig, executive director of Talcott Mountain Science Center; Mary (Cater) Arico, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, University of Hartford; and invited speaker Ulrike Klueh, associate professor, UConn Health Center.

In a training session at Trinity College this summer were: (L-R) Penny Kelly, science teacher at CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering; Harry Blaise, associate professor of engineering, Trinity College; Jerry Crystal, STEM coach, CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering; Marjahn Finlayson, science teacher, Talcott Mountain Science Academy; Joseph Palladino, professor of engineering, Trinity College; Jesscia Voight ’17, Trinity enigineering major; DavidJohn F. Douglas, science teacher at CREC Medical Professions Academy; Andrea Kwaczala, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, University of Hartford; Hugh Nguyen ’17, Trinity engineering major; Jonathan Craig, executive director of Talcott Mountain Science Center; Mary (Cater) Arico, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, University of Hartford; and invited speaker Ulrike Klueh, associate professor, UConn Health Center.

Through the creation of innovative lesson plans, experiments, and teacher training – first as a pilot program at a local level and ultimately replicated nationally – Blaise and his collaborators seek to educate and excite middle and eventually high school students about biomedical sciences. The project is part of the Hartford.Health.Works. (HHW) portfolio of programs. HHW is the brainchild of BEACON (Biomedical Engineering Alliance and Consortium), Rising-Tide Healthcare, and Movia Robotics. The goal of HHW is to leverage the city’s existing healthcare and technology infrastructure to drive STEM education, entrepreneurism, medical device manufacturing, and workforce development in the city of Hartford. Trinity College joined HHW as the lead education partner, and this is the first grant-funded programmatic initiative.

Crystal recruited local middle school teachers to participate in the summer program, and Arico’s responsibilities included industry outreach as well as curricula development. Both Blaise and Arico recruited engineering faculty and STEM undergraduate student leaders to teach the material to educators during the STEM Teacher Academy. According to Blaise, students from the Metropolitan Learning Center, a CREC school in Bloomfield, Talcott Mountain Science Center, and the Hartford Youth Scholars summer program participated in the program. In addition, “Trinity and University of Hartford students were involved during all phases of the program, including serving as teaching assistants, lab assistants, and program evaluation assistants,” he said.

The grant supported a number of students and teachers interested in biomedical engineering coursework and careers. Blaise recognized the dearth of such curriculum nationwide, especially in low-income school systems like Hartford. Partnering with CREC and programs such as Hartford Youth Scholars allowed BME-4-STEM to reach underserved students.

Blaise, whose current research is focused on the effects of caffeine on memory at the neuronal and synaptic levels, can still recall his own childhood encounters with science, showing that early exposure can often spark a deeper interest. “I built a very crude crystal AM radio when I was about 9 or 10,” he said. “I remember it working, although I was only able to receive one station. Later on, when I was in high school, I used to watch the PBS TV series, The Mechanical Universe. It was a documentary-style show covering geometry, trigonometry, and physics… That was about the time I decided to pursue a career in the STEM field.”

Written by Ursula Paige Granirer ’17

$1.2 Million NSF Grant Extends Reach of Work by Computer Science Professor Ralph Morelli

Trinity College - Mobile Apps Expo - May 24, 2016

Ralph Morelli, Trinity College professor of computer science. Photo by John Atashian.​

A supplemental grant from the National Science Foundation will fund the extension of a project led by Ralph Morelli, Trinity College professor of computer science, to train high school educators to teach an Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles course through the use of app development (Mobile CSP).

This supplemental grant of $1,187,819 will allow Morelli to scale the program to an online classroom and nine satellite locations across the country this summer to instruct high school educators to teach the CSP course. The award to Trinity College includes a sub-award to the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, which is a partner in the professional development program.

Working with Morelli as the co-principal investigator for the Trinity project is Dr. Chinma Uche, president of the Connecticut chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA). Pauline Lake ’13 is their full-time teacher consultant and staff member. At St. Scholastica, the PI is Assistant Professor Jennifer Rosato and her co-PI is Professor Chery Takkunen Lucarelli.

“The new high school AP course is designed to reach a broader range of students,” Morelli said. “Computer science is really an important discipline. A lot of jobs require computing skills, but I think it’s even more important than that, given the ubiquity in computing in everything we do now. It’s important that students be studying this: How do computers work? Why are they having these good effects, why are they having these bad effects, and what can we do about them? Pick any field, and you can cite examples of how you need to know some computing.” Acknowledging the need for students of all ages to be exposed to computer science in school, President Obama announced a Computer Science for All initiative earlier this year.

In order for high schools to offer this AP course, teachers first must learn how to teach it. “The NSF started a project to develop curricula for this new course and to train teachers,” Morelli said. “That’s where our funding comes from.” Many high schools do not have dedicated computer science teachers, so teachers from all disciplines may participate in the professional development. “It is a big stretch for some of them,” Morelli said. “The key goal of the summer professional development is to get them confident enough to say, ‘I can teach this.’”

Morelli’s initial grant proposal in 2012 was to train 30 Connecticut teachers over three years using Mobile CSP; that goal was exceeded. In 2014, the NSF awarded another grant to the College of St. Scholastica to scale the Mobile CSP online. “Together we’ve created what’s called a MOOC, a massive open online course, which hosts our materials,” Morelli said. “We use that for the professional development course which we offer to teachers in the summer. Teachers then use that same course in their classrooms.”

Last summer the project trained cohorts of teachers in Manchester, New Hampshire, San Francisco, and Boston. “We ended up training more than 100 teachers altogether,” Morelli said. “This year, with this supplemental funding, we’re going to train 80 teachers online with the funds that go through St. Scholastica, and the Trinity funds go to train 80 teachers that are spread out in different local cohorts. There’s a total of nine of them: New York City; Manchester, New Hampshire; Holyoke, Massachusetts; Kean University in New Jersey; Germanna Community College in Virginia; the University of San Francisco; Bucks County Community College outside of Philadelphia; the University of Delaware; and at Trinity College here in Hartford.” St. Scholastica has already committed to training another120 teachers next year. “The idea is to have our project, together with other projects of the same kind, train something like 10,000 computer science teachers,” Morelli said. “The name of the program we’re funded under in NSF is CS 10K.”

The mobile CSP course has been endorsed by the College Board, so the hundreds of teachers who get this training can then simply submit the Mobile CSP syllabus to the Board and it will be approved as an AP course for their respective schools, Morelli said.

“In the online version of this project, the course meets four weeks entirely online. The teachers are spread out, some in rural areas, and it can be very difficult for them to get professional development like this,” Morelli said. After educators learn how to teach computer science, they will be able to offer the AP CSP class, which means, as Morelli explained, “Students will have access to something they would otherwise not have.”

Written by Andrew J. Concatelli

Joshua Stillwagon Receives Grant from Institute for New Economic Thinking

Joshua Stillwagon, assistant professor of economics at Trinity College, has received a grant from the Institute for New Economic Thinking to continue his research on Imperfect Knowledge Economics. The $37,780 award will extend Stillwagon’s junior faculty leave to a full year.

Stillwagon Web100​According to Stillwagon, there is a prominent debate in the field of financial economics about whether financial markets are efficient or irrational. “My research looks at data of traders’ forecasts of future asset prices, to get a better idea of how they form their expectations,” Stillwagon said. This grant funds the continuation of that ongoing research.

“Most recently I’ve been looking at expectations of traders in the stock market to examine whether they focus on the fundamentals rational theory would imply, such as company earnings, or factors that the behavioral theories would suggest, such as extrapolation,” Stillwagon said. “The research is trying to weigh in on the debate of the rational theory versus behavioral theory. Both could be important, but they are often viewed as mutually exclusive. If you acknowledge there is change over time, then there is room for both of them to enter.”

The rational theory claims that all relevant information is incorporated in the appropriate way into asset prices, Stillwagon explained. The behavioral theory, however, argues that prices often deviate from appropriate values due to traders’ psychological biases. “This research project focuses on a deficiency common to these otherwise diametrically opposed schools of thought: they both presume that the forecasting strategies used by market participants, and therefore the relationship driving asset prices, are completely time invariant or at least changing in only a mechanical, predetermined manner,” Stillwagon said. “This work builds on that of Imperfect Knowledge Economics, which recognizes the pervasiveness of non-routine change and genuine uncertainty.”

This research examines how expectations are influenced by both behavioral and efficient market factors, but allows for structural change over time. “I’ve been working with survey data in other markets. Now we’re doing it in the stock market,” Stillwagon said. “Preliminary results for the stock market suggest that both are relevant for understanding traders’ expectations, but in evolving ways over time.”

Stillwagon is working on this project with Roman Frydman, professor of economics at New York University. “He has done a lot of work in the foreign exchange market, developing the Imperfect Knowledge Economics theory and looking at how the relationships change over time, and I have been doing empirical work with survey data primarily,” Stillwagon said. “Now we’re combining survey data and time-varying relationships for work on the stock market.” This work will be extended to both currency and bond markets.

Written by Andrew J. Concatelli

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