The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

President’s Circle awards 10 faculty research grants

John Smith, associate professor in the College of Education & Kinesiology, supervises his students during a stress test Sept. 30 in Room E178 at Brooks Campus. Testing for health assesments will consist of cardiovascular and aerobic tests to evaluate cardiovascular endurance; body composition test for percentage body fat; low fasting blood glucose to check for diabetes; cholesterol and blood pressure test. Smith plans to offer these community health resources at this campus before the end of 2013, with the $9,906 he was awarded as a recipient of the President’s Circle Faculty Research Grant. Photo by Lucia Espino.

Updated Nov. 12, 9:45 p.m.

By Lucia Espino

Texas A&M-San Antonio’s President Circle has awarded $70,284 in grants to selected faculty members who submitted research proposals, where undergraduate students will participate.

The grants, awarded in late August, are the first awarded by the President’s Circle, which provides immediate need for students and underwrites new initiatives by President Maria Hernandez Ferrier to enhance the university’s strategic plan, according to the office of the president.

Members of the circle may contribute toward the President’s Research Grant Program, which provides an annual $35,000 matching grant to provide funding for undergraduate research in all disciplines.

The awardees, listed below, have begun research projects that span diverse topics in the disciplines of natural and social sciences, business, education and kinesiology.



The amount available for individual projects was a maximum of $10,000. Eligibility included tenure-track and full-time faculty members who proposed developing research projects that include undergraduate research experiences set to begin this fall, said Megan Wise de Valdez, Biology assistant professor and program coordinator.

Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier called on the Senate earlier this year to form the committee and evaluate proposal submissions.

Wise de Valdez, review committee chair, said because this was the first year grants were awarded, Ferrier’s request was reasonable because the Faculty Senate has faculty members who were elected by their colleagues and represent each of the institution’s three colleges.

Award letters, signed by recipients in late August, describe a “rigorous evaluation of the submitted proposals,” conducted by five committee members.

“It was a learning experience. Faculty members reviewing faculty members’ proposals,” she said.

In addition to Wise de Valdez and Sosa-Fey, members of the committee included: Melissa Jozwiak, early childhood education assistant professor; Durant Frantzen, criminology associate professor; and Richard Green, accounting assistant professor.

Members of the review committee evaluated each proposal, with the exception of their own or proposals where they contributed. Scores were added and the highest ones were awarded the grant, Frantzen explained.

The grant project’s fiscal award period is Sept. 1-Aug. 31. The ten research grants are now in the ninth week of development.

Frantzen was awarded $4,400 ($500 less than his proposed budget) for his proposal, titled “Exploring the Connection between Criminal History and Protective Order Efficacy.”

The grant will allow Frantzen and his students to launch a longitudinal study that explores the relationship between criminal history patterns and likelihood of a protective order violation. The goal is to understand the relationship between civil orders of protection and criminal offending behavior.

Student researchers will be supervised and trained to collect data from local agencies related to the project. Teresa Livengood, senior criminology major, has been assigned as a student researcher.

Livengood said she accepted the position with the research project because it will give her an  opportunity for a real-world experience in her field of study. She plans to graduate in December and attend graduate school at Sam Houston State University.

She said she was conducting research before Frantzen was awarded the grant and is currently in the process of reimbursement for her work.

Historical Monograph Grant

History associate professor Edward Westermann’s research project will be a historical monograph titled, “Witnessing Hitler’s Germany: Reporting from the Third Reich,” currently under contract with the University of Kansas Press. The project focuses on the role of the press in reporting events related to the Nazi seizure of power in Germany and the Nazi regime’s anti-Semitic measures, Westermann explained.

He has set aside 100-paid hours for student research from the award, and is looking for one history and one communications student to participate in this project. Westermann said the opportunity to involve students will refine their research and academic skills while learning how to write a monograph.

In his proposal he requested grant support for two separate monograph projects relating to the historiography of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany and two course releases: one for the current semester and another beginning in the spring. Next year’s course release was approved with a $3,750 budget.

A course release allows faculty to reduce their teaching hours and dedicate more time to research and special projects. “This research grant will help me to have the additional time that I needed in order to be devoted to writing and research,” Westermann said.

Campus Crime Prevention Grant  

Criminology assistant professor Claire Nolasco was awarded $7,828. She said this is about half of her proposal’s budget and “had to do away with some of the expense items necessary for the project.”

Nolasco’s two-phase project proposal, called “Target Hardening – Situational Crime Prevention and Campus Crime,” is a collaboration with the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore in Princess Anne, MD. This project will analyze how well students, campus police, and the campus itself, are prepared to handle a crime situation. Results of phase one will be presented Nov. 20-23 at the 2013 American Society of Criminology in Atlanta. Results from phase two will be presented Feb 18-22 during the 2014 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Conference in Philadelphia.

Students, criminology majors or otherwise, have several opportunities to participate in this project, Nolasco said. Students are needed to respond to surveys, take the self-defense course planned for phase two, and portray the different crime scenarios. Students participating will qualify to will one of five $10 gift cards; those in the self defense course will qualify to win and fifth generation iPod touch.

Approximately 560 students in both institutions have already answered the survey, she explained, and about 87-90 students have shown interest in taking the self-defense course.

“I also am hiring student assistants to help with the project such as handling the data, organizing the self-defense classes and coordinating different aspects of the project,” Nolasco said.

John Smith, associate professor in the College of Education & Kinesiology, assists Joel Tijerina, physical therapy junior, during a stress test Sept. 30 in Room E178 at Brooks Campus. Smith is a President’s Circle Faculty Research Grant recipient and was awarded $9,906 for his proposal “Health & Fitness Assessment for South San Antonio.” He plans to offer these community health resources before the end of 2013, where stress tests will be part of the health assessments provided to the South Side community in San Antonio. Photo by Lucia Espino

 Community Health Grant

One of the top quality proposals was the community health project proposed by John Smith, curriculum & kinesiology associate professor, Wise de Valdez said.

“His proposal has great undergraduate involvement and it strengthens his own lab in a sustainable way. Everything he requested is re-usable,” she said.

Smith said the community project will initially consist of two or three students and a faculty member as the staff. “My goal is to one day make this an internship and allow students to run the program.”

Smith said this project will allow students to interact with actual patients and give them a different range of results to work with, instead of always having to test each other. “It provides great opportunities for these undergraduate students to do community outreach,” he said.

Students majoring in exercise science, who might be looking into corporate or personal fitness training, cardiac rehabilitation or pre-physical therapy, would be most qualified to participate in the research project, Smith said. “We already have several students interested in this program,” he said.

The community health project will be located at Brooks City-Base Campus in the Human Performance Lab in Room E178. The project is expected to start by the end of the fall semester.

Participants must be at least 18 years old and will receive a questionnaire to see if there are any limitations regarding the tests offered, Smith said. “If there are any limitations, we would need clearance from their doctors, or we can look for other options,” he said.

Assessments will be customized according to each participants’ results and what they want to accomplish. Testing includes cardiovascular and aerobic tests to evaluate cardiovascular endurance; body composition tests for percentage of body fat; low fasting blood glucose to check for diabetes; cholesterol and blood pressure tests.

Editor’s Note: All recipients were contacted during the writing of this article. Certain grants were highlighted over others depending on the responsiveness of the recipients.


About the Author

Lucia Espino
Lucia Espino is the Comunidad Editor for The Mesquite. Her primary role on the news staff is to further the mission of the news site by reporting on the economically underserved communities surrounding campus including City Council District 3 and southern Bexar County. Lucia is a communications major with a minor in business. Bilingual and a native of Mexico, she is a 2013 participant of the Emmy-award winning Proyecto U broadcast collaborative advised by Communications faculty and KWEX 41/Univision San Antonio. She is a 2007 Fox Tech High School graduate and attended San Antonio College where she was a staff reporter for The Ranger. Lucia is currently a paid intern for the Texas A&M's Colonias Program.

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