2023 IRWG Faculty Seed Grant Awards

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2023 Faculty Seed Grant Awards
2023 Faculty Seed Grant Awards

IRWG has awarded six Faculty Seed Grants for faculty projects on women, gender, and sexuality. The grants support individual research activities, initial research efforts, performances, and community-based research.

"I am thrilled that IRWG is able to support these important research projects, which engage questions of vital interest across fields and disciplines,” notes interim director Allison Alexy.  “The projects offer new creative perspectives and models of collaborative scholarship, while demonstrating the ongoing centrality of intersectional gender-based research. I am particularly struck by the resonances between the projects, which speaks to the dynamism of the IRWG community."  

All IRWG seed grants are reviewed by a multidisciplinary faculty peer review panel and each proposal gets individualized feedback from the committee, given to the faculty applicant by IRWG’s Program Director for Faculty Research Development, Dr. Rebecca Shea Irvine. Rebecca supports the peer review committee and provides ongoing research development assistance to the recipients. 

The next deadline for Faculty Seed Grant proposals is October 1, 2023. The application portal will open by September 1, 2023. Please consider scheduling a consultation with Rebecca Shea Irvine, IRWG's Director for Faculty Research Development, as you design your project or refine your proposal. If you are interested in including community engagement in your project, our partners at the Ginsberg Center are happy to think and talk with you, and they are generously holding appointments specifically for IRWG affiliates. 

The 2023 seed grants were awarded to the following projects (in alphabetical order): 

Ashley Lacombe-Duncan - Assistant Professor, School of Social Work; Core Faculty, Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities; Associate Director, [Sexuality|Relationships|Gender] SRG Research Collective, University of Michigan; and Adjunct Scientist, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto, Canada.

Collaborators: Ms. Gabi Celia Ortiz, second-year doctoral student in the School of Social Work at Boston College, Ms.Yasmeen Persad, Research Coordinator of TWIRI, and Dr. Mona Loutfy, Infectious Diseases Specialist, Clinician Scientist and Full Professor at the University of Toronto and Women’s College Hospital in Toronto.

Factors Associated with Primary and Preventative Health Care Among Trans Women in Canada: Bridging Research Gaps to Enhance Holistic Health and Reduce Inequities
Access to primary health care from a primary care (otherwise known as family) physician is critically important to receive routine care as well as health promotion and disease prevention, including cancer screening. This study draws on retrospective chart review data from 1495 trans women in Montreal and Toronto, Canada to quantitatively characterize family physician access and engagement as well cancer screening (anal Pap and prostate-specific antigen [PSA] testing) among trans women with (n=86) and without HIV (n=1409), and associated factors, bridging gaps in health research for this underserved population. Data were collected and will be analyzed utilizing community-based participatory methods.

HaEun Lee - Postdoctoral Research fellow (will be starting tenure track faculty position in Aug 2023), Center for Global Health Equity, University of Michigan

Collaborators: Dr. Donah Assimire, Head of the Department of Bishop Stuart University’s (BSU) Gender Studies and Public Management in Mbarara, Uganda, Sr. Maria Goretti, Divine Mercy Maternal and Child Care Women Association, in Fort Portal, Uganda

How does women’s marital status influence Village Savings and Lending Associations (VSLAs) related economic gains, health, and empowerment? A mixed methods study
Village Savings and Lending Associations (VSLA) is an informal microfinance model designed to deliver financial services to people with limited access to formal financial services. Since women and girls suffer most from poverty, VSLAs often target women. However, in the microfinance literature, women are often viewed as a homogenous group without their marital status considered as a key variable that can influence women’s participation and outcomes related to VSLA. Therefore, this study aims to understand how rural Ugandan women’s marital status influences their VSLAs participation and experience related to economic gains, health and healthcare utilization, and women’s empowerment.

Maria Muzik - Associate Professor, Psychiatry, University of Michigan

Collaborators: Dr. Gwenyth O. Lee, Assistant Professor, Epidemiology, Rutgers University, Dr. Maka Suarez, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Oslo, Dr. Itziar Familiar-Lopez, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

A Participatory Landscape Analysis of Women’s Mental Health in Ecuador
Our study team has identified depressive symptoms as an understudied issue affecting the wellbeing of women in coastal Ecuador. In 2021-2022, our interdisciplinary team conducted pilot research to estimate the prevalence of this issue and understand the structural factors driving adverse mental health outcomes from the perspective of women themselves. We propose to build on this work by conducting a participatory landscape analysis of researchers, governmental, and non-governmental actors currently working in this space followed by an in-country workshop. In doing so, we will inform the design of an intervention that addresses depression symptoms among women in Esmeraldas, Ecuador.

Versha Pleasant - Clinical Assistant Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Michigan

Redefining the Crown: Photo Essays of Hair Expression among Black Breast Cancer Survivors
Black women suffer disproportionately from increased breast cancer-related mortality, necessitating enhanced prevention, early detection, and treatment efforts. One important area of intersectionality between breast cancer and Black women is hair, which carries significant historical and cultural relevance. We want to explore the downstream impact of chemotherapy-induced alopecia on Black women's engagement in their breast cancer care. Redefining the Crown is a photo essay project giving voice to Black breast cancer survivors who have chosen different paths regarding their hair expression. The goal is to empower Black women through narrative and imagery to seek screening and treatment related to breast cancer.

Jennifer Steinorth - Lecturer I, English, University of Michigan

To Illuminate A Life With Others, C.D. Wright
Before her untimely death in 2016, American poet C.D. Wright was lauded for her innovations in documentary poetry and unflinching commitment to social justice. Of her private life she wrote little. This biography will trace the literary and personal development of a woman born into the Arkansas judicial system, who came of age in the violence of the 1960s, was scarred by trauma in the sexual liberation of the 1970s, and whose groundbreaking innovations in form, style and literary citizenship, legacy of teaching and editorial midwifery make her one of the most influential poets of an age.

Emilia Yang - Assistant Professor, Art and Design - Anti-Racism by Design, Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design, University of Michigan

Women against violence, militarism and impunity: building spaces for activist, artistic and archival practices from Central America
The project will convene decolonial feminist artists and activists working on social, racial and gender justice across Central America to foster artistic collaborations, conversations and a collective research project. In these collaborations, we will describe, reflect and create processes linked to the past and future of survival and healing of gender-based, state violence, intergenerational trauma and mental illness.

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