From the Grants Office: September Grants Update

The grants office will provide a monthly update of new grants, typically towards the middle of each month. 

The following grants have been recently awarded and total more than $632,415, bringing the School of Education's total to more than $20.2 million of funded research this academic year.

Congratulations to the following faculty members on their recent grants.

Principal Investigator: Rachel Robertson
Department: Instruction & Learning
Project Title: The LEND Center at the University of Pittsburgh
Agency Name: Health Resources and Services Administration
Award Dates: 7/1/2018 - 6/30/2019
Amount: $12,108


The LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) Center at the University of Pittsburgh is a leadership education program funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in the department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). 

At the University of Pittsburgh, the LEND Center is a program of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. It is an interdisciplinary program that prepares graduate and post-graduate students, practicing professionals, and family members of children with disabilities to assume leadership roles in their respective fields. While striving to understand factors that help all individuals attain optimal health and developmental trajectories over a lifetime, the LEND Center forges partnerships of university faculty and students, community service providers, health professionals and educators, leaders in government, business, and philanthropy, as well as individuals with disabilities.


Principal Investigator: Byeong-Young Cho and Emily Rainey
Department: Learning Research and Development Center / Instruction & Learning
Project Title: Promoting Disciplinary Literacy and Learning through Multisource Text Inquires: An Instructional Study of Middle School Learners
Agency Name: Spencer Foundation
Award Dates: 7/1/2018 - 6/30/2020
Amount: $50,000

Although K-12 standards documents advocate for students to learn to read across texts to generate knowledge in cycles of inquiry, questions remain about how students develop the necessary literacies for this work, including the features of learning contexts that most support their development. In this project, Drs. Cho and Rainey examine urban middle school students’ literacy and history learning during a 6-week unit designed to engage them in multisource text inquiries about salient questions of local history. The focus of the unit is on Pittsburgh’s Hill District, a historically Black neighborhood in Pittsburgh that was destroyed in the name of “urban renewal” in the 1950s-60s. In the unit, students will be supported to learn how to critically examine multiple sources (e.g., primary and secondary, print and digital, informational and literary texts), generate historical claims, and present informed stances on current events based on historical understandings. Drs. Cho and Rainey seek to describe the nuances of student learning in a loosely designed inquiry cycle that more closely approximates that of a historian than what is typically found in classrooms. Also, they seek to build understandings of the instructional affordances and potential challenges of engaging students in these highly sophisticated disciplinary literacy practices.

Principal Investigator: John Jakicic
Department: Healthy Lifestyle Institute
Project Title: Look AHEAD-MIND
Agency Name: Wake Forest University
Award Dates: 7/1/2018 - 3/31/2022
Amount: $243,525


The Look AHEAD Mind Study is being conducted as an Ancillary Study to the multi-center Look AHEAD Study. The University of Pittsburgh serves as a clinical center in this study that involves the Healthy Lifestyle Institute and the Department of Health and Physical Activity (John M. Jakicic, PhD), Department of Epidemiology (Anne Newman, MD), and the Division of Endocrinology (Mary Korytkowski, MD). The Look AHEAD Study, which includes approximately 3,500 participants, currently focuses on examining the long-term impact of an intensive lifestyle intervention on numerous health-related outcomes in older adults with type 2 diabetes. The Look AHEAD Mind Study extends the main study by examining extensive measures of cognition to examine the long-term influence of the initial intervention and other factors that may be associated with cognition in older adults with type 2 diabetes.

Principal Investigator: John Jakicic
Department: Healthy Lifestyle Institute
Project Title: A Precision Rehabilitation Approach to Counteract Age-Related Cognitive Declines
Agency Name: UPMC Enterprises
Award Dates: 5/1/2018 - 12/31/2018
Amount: $145,450

The CogEx is being conducted as a collaborative multi-center study between the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Italy (ISMETT and Institute for Health Chianciano Terme). and an Ancillary Study to the multi-center Look AHEAD Study. The University of Pittsburgh serves as the Coordinating Center and the main clinical center under the leadership of John M. Jakicic, PhD (Healthy Lifestyle Institute and the Department of Health and Physical Activity) and Fabrisia Ambrosio, PhD, MPT (Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) in collaboration with Kirk Erickson, PhD, Renee J. Rogers, PhD, Hoby Heatherington, PhD, Daniel Forman, MD, and Abbe DeVallejo, PhD. This Project will focus on identifying behavioral, molecular, and structural biomarkers of brain health that will allow for the stratification of individuals according to their “cognitive signature” along with an understanding of effects on physical function and other aspects of aging. Key to this study is the examination of how different modalities of physical activity (aerobic exercise, resistance exercise, yoga exercise, and stretching and toning exercise) influence the cognitive signature and other aspects of aging.

Principal Investigator: Richard Donato
Department: Instruction & Learning
Project Title: Title VI Language Resource Centers Program (LRC)
Agency Name: Pennsylvania State University
Award Dates: 8/15/2018 - 8/14/2022
Amount: $134,385

The Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research (CALPER) is pleased to announce that it has been refunded by the U.S. Department of Education to continue its work as a national Title VI Language Resource Center for the period of 2018-2022. In this new cycle, The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pittsburgh have formed a consortium to carry out CALPER's goals. The center will be under the leadership of Dr. James P. Lantolf (Director, Penn State), Dr. Richard Donato (Co-director, University of Pittsburgh), Dr. Kevin McManus (Co-director, Penn State), and Dr. Gabriela Appel (Associate Director, Penn State). They will be aided by a six-member advisory board, which includes Dr. Alan Juffs (University of Pittsburgh, Department of Linguistics) and Dr. Dana Thompson Dorsey (University of Pittsburgh, Center for Urban Education).

Over the course of the grant, CALPER project coordinators, faculty members from several institutions across the country, will conduct a total of ten projects. Three projects are conducted by faculty members of the University of Pittsburgh. (1) a Usage-based and corpus-driven vocabulary modules in Russian will be developed by Dr. Edie Furniss (Slavic Languages & Literatures); (2) a Genre-based instructional module for writing in L2 Arabic will be designed by Dr. Myriam Abdel-Marek (Less Commonly Taught Languages Center); (3) High-leverage teaching practices for urban school districts is a project directed by Dr. Richard Donato, in consultation with the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Urban Education and Dr. James Lantolf, director of CALPER. The goal of this project is to collaborate with language teachers in urban school districts in the Greater Pittsburgh area to identify and address specific instructional needs and support activities that enhance culturally responsive pedagogical practices to improve world language instruction. 

CALPER, now in its fifth funding cycle, was established in 2002, when it won its first competitive Title VI Language Resource Center grant. Its mission is to strengthen language education through designing high-quality teaching materials, conducting professional development workshops and symposia, and developing useful resources that support language teaching professionals in the U.S.


Principal Investigator: Laura Roop
Department: Instruction & Learning
Project Title: Fluency Work
Agency Name: Carnegie Mellon University
Award Dates: 7/15/2018 - 6/30/2019
Amount: $25,000

The Western Pennsylvania Writing Project has received a $25,000 grant to collaborate with the Carnegie Mellon CREATE Lab's Fluency Project in 2018-2019. The purpose is to explore how the Fluency framework resonates with National Writing Project principles and social practices. First, Fluency Project educators and CREATE Lab staff participated in the 2018 WPWP Summer Institute and Teachers as Thinkers workshop. Now, three representatives from WPWP, Melissa Butler, Michelle King, and Laura Roop, are participating in monthly think tank meetings and quarterly summit meetings with CREATE Lab and its partners. CREATE and WPWP are co-planning and piloting a five-session study group on Artificial Intelligence, Humanity, and Education during the school year. We are also exploring how our various partners across the country might engage with each other and with us in new ways.


Principal Investigator: Steve Bagnato
Department: Psychology in Education
Project Title: The LEND Center at the University of Pittsburgh
Agency Name: Health Resources and Services Administration
Award Dates: 7/1/2018 - 6/30/2019
Amount: $21,947

Since 1995, The University of Pittsburgh and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC have been awarded grants by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Health Resources Service Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau to support the interdisciplinary leadership education of allied health professionals to train future leaders in serving individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families in both urban and rural settings. Bagnato is one of the founding core faculty members of the LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) grant. The grant supports his role as the core faculty in Psychology-in-Education and his mentoring of 12 ADP interns and the teaching of LEND courses in DIL and SHRS on assessment, intervention, public policy and advocacy and his disability research initiatives with community partners focusing on “best practices” in agency, school, and clinic settings.