Funding brings new and renewed research opportunities

The summer months brought a variety of interesting funding opportunities to FIU, from new grants to renewed funding for existing projects. In addition, a new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) institute launched in September will build a nationally recognized education research group that will capitalize on more than $20 million in active STEM funding. To see all of FIU’s recent award activity, click here.

CRUSADA Receives Renewal of P-20 Grant

CRUSADA, the Center for Research on U.S. Latino HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse, and C-SALUD, the Center for Substance Use and AIDS Research on Latinos in the United States, were founded in 2003 by Mario De La Rosa (pictured), professor of social work in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work. The centers were established to help reduce, educate, prevent and eventually eliminate HIV and substance abuse health disparities affecting Latino minorities in the U.S., in particular among Latinos residing in Miami-Dade County.Mario de la Rosa

Recently, CRUSADA received a renewal of the P-20 funding for $5.8 million over five years. “The new grant is based on progress made and is more difficult to obtain. This solidifies the center as one of this country’s leaders on research focusing on Latino substance abuse and HIV,” says De La Rosa.

CRUSADA is unique in its work with a little studied, and yet growing, population – recent immigrants. “We have published more than 20 peer review papers on the topic and have an additional six papers under review and about 11 more in progress,” De La Rosa points out. The group also been selected to present a panel at the 2012 Science of Eliminating Health Disparities Summit presented by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Future projects include a study on substance abuse and HIV behaviors among new Latina immigrants, which will expand upon earlier CRUSADA work on this topic. The center will also continue to develop its research on migrant farmworkers’ substance abuse and HIV behaviors and will partner directly with the community-based organizations providing health services to Latino immigrants and farmworkers.

Nuclear Research Interdisciplinary Program Wins First Grant

The Nuclear Research Interdisciplinary Program (NRIP) won its first award for $281,000 from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for curricula development. The award for this proposal, the first written by the cross-disciplinary group upon forming, “illustrates the outstanding ability of FIU to succeed when competing as a united whole and is a strong indication of the broad opportunities for FIU to secure much more funding in nuclear research,” says John Proni, executive director of FIU’s Applied Research Center (ARC). The principal investigator for the project, titled “Nuclear Curricula Development at FIU,” is Joerg Reinhold, associate professor in the Department of Physics in the College of Arts & Sciences. Co-investigators are David Roelant, associate director of research at ARC; Jose Almirall, professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Arts & Sciences; and Leonel Lagos, DOE Fellows program director at ARC.

The NRIP is composed of over 35 members of FIU faculty and staff interested in developing programs in nuclear research, including researchers from physics, medicine, chemistry, engineering and the Applied Research Center. Led by David Roelant and Seza Gulec, members often work together to write proposals that include experts from across FIU as well as other strategically allied universities. NRIP have submitted two proposals for $11 million to the U.S. Department of Energy; one grant is focused upon nuclear medicine and the other is on radiochemistry.

Education Grants Help Launch STEM Transformation Institute

STEM Transformation InstituteFIU launched the STEM Transformation Institute in early September, a multidisciplinary partnership that will pave the way for student success in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The STEM Transformation Institute responds to several key recommendations made by the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology to meet the national imperative for more and diverse scientists and engineers. FIU manages more than $20 million in active STEM education grants.

The institute brings all of the university’s efforts together into a collective mission to transform STEM education from preschool through graduate school. Transformative institute approaches include implementing collaborative learning models and innovative pathways to increase the number, diversity and excellence of STEM graduates and teachers.

Currently, FIU has 7,500 undergraduate students majoring in STEM fields. It is the largest producer of STEM degrees for Hispanics and one of the top producers of STEM degrees for all minorities. The STEM Transformation Institute brings together faculty from FIU’s College of Arts & Sciences, College of Education and College of Engineering and Computing to build a nationally recognized STEM education research group that will capitalize on these efforts and develop effective instructional techniques for the classroom. “We know how to prepare top quality STEM professionals by placing the student in the center of learning,” said Laird Kramer, founding director of the STEM Transformation Institute. “The STEM Transformation Institute will bring those techniques to the forefront, benefiting all of our students.”


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