UWT Founders endowment, Chancellor's grants fund 19 projects

Catching spammers, taking a fresh look at the Hilltop community, and farming sustainable coffee in Costa Rica are among the projects — including two led by students — selected to receive special funding at the University of Washington Tacoma.

Two endowment funds lend support to more than a dozen projects supporting scholarship, research and campus improvements. The Chancellor’s Fund for Research and Scholarship and Founders Endowment annually award grants to UW Tacoma faculty, staff and students with promising ideas.

Eight projects will receive Chancellor’s Fund awards, and 11 will receive Founders Endowment grants. The amounts of the 19 grants range from $1,195 to $19,185.

The Chancellor’s Fund grants, first awarded in 2006, provide support for research and scholarship projects by students, faculty and staff. Preference is given to junior faculty, and faculty applicants are encouraged to include students in their proposals.

The Founders Endowment, established in 1992 by community and business leaders, provides support for academic purposes, including facility improvement projects that benefit UW Tacoma but are not funded by the state or the university.

A committee comprising faculty and staff members and a student chose the projects from a field of 39 submitted for consideration. The projects represent a wide range of scholarship, research and academic fields.

The list of grant recipients and their projects include:

I. Chancellor’s Fund for Research and Scholarship grants

1. Yan Bai, assistant professor, Institute of Technology; and Chiraag Aval, incoming graduate information management student / Fighting image-based spam with honeypots — This project investigates an alternative approach to defending against image-based spam, which hides unwanted messages and commands in images sent through email. The researchers will use a “honeypot,” to lure spammers onto websites where they can capture information from the spammers and study how malicious software infects computers and sends out image spam, consequently infecting more computers by turning them into “zombies” or “bots.”

2. Matthew Kelley, assistant professor of urban studies / Community Cartographies of the Hilltop — Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood has a rich history that ranges from its leading role in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s to its struggles with gang violence during the 1990s. Hilltop is currently a neighborhood both seeking and resisting transition. Property values have risen in recent years, and longtime neighborhood activists are seeking to maintain a sense of community that has been diluted by a new generation of residents. Drawing on geo-tagged digital photographs, sketch maps, GPS-enabled audio recordings and semi-structured interview data, Kelley will compile, analyze and visualize community perceptions of Hilltop. Using a combination of GIS (geographic information system) and Google Earth, he plans to produce 2-D and 3-D cartographic representations of the neighborhood.

3. Sian Davies Vollum, associate professor of geology / The ancient process of forming coal

4. Michelle Garner, assistant professor of social welfare / Services for homeless people

5. Yonn Dierwechter, associate professor of urban studies / Planning and governance in Eastern Europe and South Africa

6. Bonnie Becker, assistant professor of marine ecology / New ways to study geoduck larvae

7. Yan Bai, assistant professor, Institute of Technology; Sam Chung, associate professor of computer science; and Apaporn Boonyarattaphan, graduate computing and software systems student / Security control for e-healthcare systems

8. Peter Selkin, assistant professor of environmental geophysics / Earth’s magnetic field studied in iron oxide

II. Founders Endowment grants

1. Rebecca Singer, senior, environmental science / Farming sustainable coffee in Costa Rica — Finding a balance between high-quality coffee yield and maintaining environmental integrity is at the heart of Singer’s project. Using 10 Costa Rican coffee farms to test her hypothesis, she hopes to show that reducing the use of fertilizer and using alternative farming methods will increase yields and help to ensure continued coffee productivity and quality for Costa Rica’s largest export crop. As an undergraduate student, the project provides Singer with the unique experience of designing her own research project, taking on the responsibility of performing independent field work and working with scientists and researchers, including experts in soil management and tropical agriculture.

2. Naarah McDonald, administrative coordinator; and Bombie Salvador, assistant professor of business management / Transform classroom into collaborative learning space

3. Joe Kapler, computer maintenance technician III / Upgrading classrooms into “smart rooms”

4. Turan Kayaoglu, assistant professor of political science / Politics, philosophy and economics seminar series

5. Suzanne Klinger, head of reference services / Reference services upgrade

6. Shristi Prakash, senior, environmental science / Measurement of PFCAs in surface water in Puget Sound

7. Jim Gawel, associate professor of environmental chemistry and engineering / Undergraduate research at Spirit Lake, Mount St. Helens

8. Linda Dawson, senior lecturer in physical science and statistics / New technology for hands-on instruction in introductory physics

9. Josh Tenenberg, professor of computer science / Industry fellows

10. Jim Coolsen, special assistant to the chancellor / Addition of videoconferencing capability

11. Beckie Ethridge, director, Teaching and Learning Center; Riki Thompson, assistant professor of English, Interdisciplinary Arts and Science (IAS); Trista Huckleberry, assistant professor of educational psychology, IAS; Linda Dawson, senior lecturer in physical science and statistics, IAS; Lia Wetzstein, instructional supervisor IAS; Julie Buffington, program administrator, IAS; and Jennifer Quinn, professor of mathematics, IAS / Web-based faculty assessment toolkit.