The University of San Francisco: Office of Sponsored Projects
Karentz, Austin Gajewski
Austin Gajewski collecting samples in Antarctica under the guidance of NSF-funded Professor/Researcher Deneb Karentz.
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Undergraduate researchers with Claire Castro/William Karney present posters on their work at regional and national conferences. Project funded by the National Science Foundation.
Castro-Karney_PhuongNguyen
Undergraduate researchers with Claire Castro/William Karney present posters on their work at regional and national conferences. Project funded by the National Science Foundation.
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Teacher Resident, Carrie Sanderson, at work in the classroom under the guidance of Prof. Peter Williamson. Projects funded by the U.S. Dept. of Education and AmeriCorps.
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USF students Carolyn Tu & Cendy Valle Osegura harvesting cells in centrifuge in the NIH-funded lab of Prof. Juliet Spencer.

Recent Grant Awards


Juliet SpencerJuliet Spencer, Biology, has been awarded a three year NIH grant in the amount of $424,783. With funds from this NIH grant, Dr. Spencer and her student researchers will be studying the molecular interactions between human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and the immune system. This will aid in the future development of an HCMV vaccine and could also identify new anti-viral drug targets. This is Dr. Spencer's fourth consecutive NIH grant.

Richard WatersRichard Waters, School of Management, has been awarded a $9,950 grant from The Public Relations Society of America Foundation. Dr. Waters will research issues of diversity and practitioner identity in public relations. Public relations diversity studies have mostly focused on gender; one of the most cited industry studies concluded that public relations does a great job of talking about diversity’s value, but that organizations are not as successful in demonstrating a commitment to diversity. His study will expand the discussion to include examinations of career roles, motivations, and satisfaction of practitioners from different racial/cultural backgrounds as well as different sexualities. The voices of these populations will help in creating industry-wide efforts to reach out to those considering public relations as a career.

Peter WilliamsonPeter Williamson, Teacher Education, has been awarded a one year grant in the amount of $163,351 from AmeriCorps for the San Francisco Teacher Residency (SFTR) project. A partnership among USF, Stanford, the San Francisco Unified School District, and the Teachers’ Union, SFTR aims to recruit, prepare, and retain teachers who can be successful working with students in San Francisco’s high-need urban schools. This grant enables teacher “residents” to apprentice in the classrooms of expert teachers while also completing their coursework at USF and Stanford. Residents receive stipends, tuition discounts and loan forgiveness, and they commit to teaching in San Francisco's schools for a minimum of three years. Residents earn a California teaching credential and complete credits towards a master's degree. Now in its fourth year, graduates of SFTR teach in 20 district schools and serve more than 1,500 students across the city.

John CallawayJohn Callaway, Environmental Studies, has received a $10,779 subcontract from Point Blue Conservation Science. This award, from the National Estuarine Research Reserve Science Collaborative, promotes scientific research that is closely linked to decision-makers and users of scientific information. The project will develop a standardized protocol for measuring suspended sediment concentrations in tidal wetlands and use these data to improve simulation models of long-term marsh sustainability. Dr. Callaway will be coordinating the scientific aspects of the protocol development and modeling. He will oversee a post-doc and research technician who will complete field work and lab analyses to develop the methods and improve existing models. San Francisco State University is also a collaborator on this project.

Sami RollinsSami Rollins, Computer Science, has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support students at U.S. institutions who will attend the 4th Networking Networking Women (N2Women) Workshop. The conference will be held at the ACM Special Interest Group on Data Communication in Chicago in August 2014. Student participants will consist of underrepresented graduate students who will be exposed to state-of-the-art research and have the opportunity to interact with leading researchers and fellow graduate students.

Quayshawn SpencerQuayshawn Spencer, Philosophy, has received a $21,514 grant from the National Science Foundation to support “The Race Debate...from Philosophy to Biomedical Research,” a one day conference that will enable philosophers of race to have an extended conversation with biomedical researchers. A novel strategy will be implemented for promoting interaction by assigning particular positions to invited guests to argue for or against points of view. The guests will be comprised of racially and ethnically diverse participants and the conference will be held at the University of San Francisco in Spring 2014. The presenters' papers will be collected and published at the conclusion of the conference.

Alessandra CassarAlessandra Cassar, Economics, has received a $60,000 grant from the Levi Strauss Foundation. This invitational grant is to pilot a field experiment in Italy to identify optimal asset building products for poor populations. Dr. Cassar will study financial exclusion of the poor and their lack of access to products to the to help them save their way out of economic and social marginalization. The field experiments are designed to measure the demand, use and impact of three formal savings devices and to investigate the combination of flexibility and commitment offered by these service to poor borrowers.

Janice Dirden-CookJanice Dirden-Cook, School of Education. The University of San Francisco has been awarded two Upward Bound Math & Science grants from the US Department of Education. Both grants are effective September 1. The first grant of $262,500 funds the first year of a five year award for $1,312,500 to support the college preparation services for 63 students from the following SFUSD high schools: John O'Connell, Phillip & Sala Burton, Thurgood Marshall, and International Studies Academy.The second grant of $250,000 funds the first year of a five year award for $1,250,000 to serve 50 students from the following three additional SFUSD high schools: Mission, June Jordan, and The Academy of Arts and Sciences.The services provided by these grants are designed to prepare participants, from families with low-incomes in which neither parent has a college degree, for college majors and careers in the STEM fields.

Judith LambtonJudith Lambton, School of Nursing, has received $1.7 million from a US Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity grant to help build a simulation research lab for the School of Nursing. The new state-of-the-art lab will engage in research to determine how best to teach nursing students to improve patient safety and avoid medical error by using sophisticated clinical learning equipment. Nursing faculty will research which simulation strategies can be adapted across disciplines that share high-stakes error consequences. The research design of this three year grant includes both assessment and training and will allow faculty to measure the cognitive and affective levels of the students' ability.

Peter WilliamsonPeter Williamson, Teacher Education, has been awarded the third year of funding for the Transition to Teaching grant which will total $2,451,961 for five years. This Department of Education grant supports the goals of the San Francisco Teacher Residency program (SFTR). SFTR is a partnership among USF, Stanford University, the San Francisco Unified School District, the United Educators of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Education Fund. Through SFTR, more than 150 highly skilled teacher candidates will be recruited and prepared to teach in San Francisco's public schools in high-need subject areas such as math, science, and bilingual education. The program integrates masters' level courses with a year-long apprenticeship under the guidance of highly skilled demonstration teachers. The grant will support many of the fieldwork, induction, and research components of the program.

William KarneyClaire CastroClaire Castro and William Karney, Environmental Science and Chemistry,received the first year of funding from the National Science Foundation for a grant that will total $197,748. This funding will enable them to continue their research in dehydroannulenes, phenylenes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The three-year grant will provide training for undergraduate students in many aspects of computational organic chemistry and will benefit underrepresented groups in science. This is the third NSF grant for the Castro-Karney research team.

Deneb KarentzDeneb Karentz, Biology and Environmental Science, received an NSF grant for $229,625 for "Collaborative Research: Functional Genomics and Physiological Ecology of Seasonal Succession in Antarctic Phytoplankton: Adaptations to Light and Temperature," This project wil investigate the genomic basis of the physiological and ecological transition of Antarctic marine phytoplankton from a cold dark winter to a warmer, brighter spring. During a field season, functional genomics and in situ fluorometry will be integrated with classical ecological methods to investigate photosynthetic adaptation that occurs during phytoplankton species succession. She is collaborating with the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Nevada.

Courtney KeelerCourtney Keeler, School of Nursing and Health Professions, has been awarded the first year of funding through a subaward from the University of California, San Francisco. She will receive $56,275 over a three year period for her participation on an NIH grant entitled the "Economic Impact of Tobacco Taxes in the African American Community."


David UminskyDavid Uminsky, Mathematics, has received an NSF grant for three years for $149,994 for his project "Dynamics and Pattern Formation of Non-local Collective Motion and Assembly." This is a Research for Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) award in partnership with Dr. James von Brecht at UCLA. They will be studying pattern formation and related phenomena that occur in systems with a large number of "particles" driven by non-local collective motion laws. The math of these particle systems pervades many disciplines, appearing in models in physics, chemistry and biology to control theory and engineering. Two undergraduate students will contribute to the research and participate in summer study at UCLA.

Peter HonigsbergPeter Honigsberg, School of Law, received $40,000 from the Levinson Foundation to support the Witness to Guantanamo project. Its purpose is to collect and share the stories of Guantanamo detainees and other witnesses to document and expose human rights and rule of law violations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since 9/11. The project offers the public and policymakers the rare opportunity to witness how Guantanamo's presence has impacted countless lives through moving and intense conversations with former detainees and their families; prison guards; chaplains; interrogators; habeas and JAG attorneys; interpreters; FBI and CIA agents; medical personnel; psychologists; high-ranking government and military officials. This project is also supported by grants from the Sigrid Rausing Trust and the Samuel Rubin Foundation who awarded another $5,000 in March 2014.

John Sullivan newJohn Sullivan, Biology, just received a ;two year grant from the National Institutes of Health for $296,713. He is researching the disease schistosomiasis, which afflicts approximately 200 million persons in developing countries. The disease is caused by several species of schistosome blood flukes which develop in compatible species of freshwater snails. Compatibility between schistosomes and their snail intermediate hosts is determined in part by the outcome of the interaction of the larval parasite with the host's innate immune system, and in incompatible snails the larval schistosome parasites are attacked and killed by immune cells. As in other innate immune systems, that of the vector snail Biomphalaria glabrata is thought to rely on recognition of common pathogen-associated molecules by receptors on these immune cells. The specific aims of the proposed research are to identify one or more specific pathogen-associated molecules to which the innate immune system of B. glabrata responds, and then to characterize this response at the molecular level.

David WolberDavid Wolber, Computer Science, has been awarded an NSF grant entitled "Collaborative Research in Computational Thinking through Mobile Computing". This collaborative project involves MIT, Wellesley College, the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and Trinity College, and is for three years in the amount of $565,836.USF's award is for $94,839. The goal is to motivate more students to learn the fundamentals of computing by enabling them to build apps for phones and tablets. The project leverages App Inventor, a new visual programming tool for building mobile apps and will focus on the creation of on-line, Khan Academy-like teaching resources.

Christian ThompsonChristian Thompson, Kinesiology, has been awarded a sixth year of funding in the amount of $50,733 from On Lok Day Services, a non-profit social service organization. He is participating in a citywide health promotion program for San Francisco seniors to enhance their well-being and health at 2 different senior centers. Dr. Thompson offers both fall prevention maintenance, wellness trainer workshops and outreach activities through the Always Active community program. This grant is funded by the City and County of San Francisco's Department of Aging and Adult Services.

Megan BolithoMegan Bolitho, Chemistry, has been awarded a two-year grant from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. The grant, the Single Investigator Cottrell College Science Award, provides $35,000 to faculty in the first three years of his or her academic career. This grant is centered around quorum sensing (QS), a means of communication utilized by bacterial cells to coordinate group behaviors. Because virulence is often a QS-controlled behavior, QS inhibition has the potential to mitigate disease caused by bacterial pathogens that communicate in this way. Small molecule inhibitors will be developed through both rational design (organic synthesis) and computational screening methods.

Sami RollinsSami Rollins, Computer Science, has received a three year NSF grant of $179,863 for a project to encourage broader adoption of renewable energy sources which is key to minimizing our dependence on the electric grid and fossil fuels. The project will provide an improved understanding of energy consumption and generation in homes, particularly green homes. Dr. Rollins, along with her collaborator, Dr. Nilanjan Banerjee at the University of Arkansas, will conduct a broad study of 15 homes which are both grid-tied and off-grid, and powered by a variety of renewable sources. They will study energy generation and how it is consumed and ;conduct research critical to encouraging the adoption of more environmentally responsible practices in the home.

Nancy GlennNancy Glenn, Training Director for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), has received a grant from the American Psychological Association in the amount of $25,036. The purpose of the grant is to provide financial support for the pursuit of APA accreditation of USF's well-established internship program in the local Bay Area. This will enable the internship program to achieve national recognition and attract a more diverse range of applicants. With accreditation status, graduating interns will have access to a wider range of professional opportunities.

David LattermanDavid Latterman, the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good, has received a $9,000 grant from CHS Consulting to conduct a market study for the Port of San Francisco. For this study, 10 USF students will conduct the surveys at the waterfront to assess whether there is interest in water taxi transportation.


Richard WatersRichard Waters, School of Management, has been awarded a Page Legacy Scholar grant from Pennsylvania State University in the amount of $9,493. Dr. Waters will study and measure the corporate social responsibility efforts of institutions and their ability to create a connection with the community.

Click here to view previous grant awards.