Office of the Vice President for Research announces 2023 Social Sciences Research Support Program awards

Wayne State University's Office of the Vice President for Research has announced seven recipients of the 2023 Social Sciences Research Support Program.
Wayne State University's Office of the Vice President for Research has announced seven recipients of the 2023 Social Sciences Research Support Program.

DETROIT – The Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to announce the awards for the second year of the Social Sciences Research Support Program. This internal funding opportunity supports projects for research, creative and scholarly projects that engage the social sciences in carrying out the university's research mission and lay the foundation for further work beyond the award end date.

“I am pleased to announce that my office has awarded seven Wayne State University faculty in the social sciences a total of $70,000 for projects that advance basic knowledge in their respective social sciences, investigate issues of concern to the community, address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion and more,” said Timothy Stemmler, Ph.D., interim vice president for Research. “All of the projects were carefully reviewed by external reviewers who are experts in the fields of our funded faculty, along with a team of internal reviewers comprised of deans, department chairs, and directors of the relevant departments for this internal funding competition. The projects will offer new perspectives in their fields, along with enhancing learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students and paving the way for future external funding opportunities.”

The awardees and their projects include:

Alaina DeBiasi, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Understanding the Potential of Gunshot Detection Systems to Reduce Firearm Violence through the Recovery and Analysis of Ballistic Evidence

This study will evaluate the impact of ShotSpotter in Detroit, Michigan, on the collection and analysis of ballistic evidence supported by the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). While the specifics of this research will be restricted to Detroit, broader conclusions and implications for policy and practice regarding the joint use of ShotSpotter and NIBIN will be generalizable. Moving forward, Dr. DeBiasi will provide a brief review of NIBIN and its correlation process, which highlights its utility to address firearm violence. She will also discuss why Detroit is an ideal setting for this study before introducing my proposed research design and methods.

Emily Grekin, Ph.D., associate professor and graduate director, Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Augmenting Brief Alcohol Intervention Effects with a Novel, Video Exercise

Brief interventions for heavy alcohol use are widespread and their use is rapidly expanding. Currently, there are nearly 5,000 articles indexed on PubMed using the terms “brief intervention” and “alcohol,” including many meta-analyses and reviews. Brief interventions are inexpensive, easy to administer, and uniquely applicable to nontreatment-seeking populations who may refuse extended treatment but accept a minimal, opportunistic intervention.     However, despite their tremendous potential, the overall effects of brief interventions are small and inconsistent, and there is a clear need for studies seeking to increase their efficacy. The goal of the proposed study is to test the degree to which an innovative “self-talk video exercise” can improve the efficacy of an existing brief alcohol intervention.

Michelle Jacobs, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The Detroit Reentry Photovoice Project

This study responds to calls for more research exploring the reentry experiences of historically marginalized populations. Dr. Jacobs proposes to use photovoice, a participant action research (PAR) method with the power to illuminate the experiences of people from historically marginalized groups reentering metro-Detroit communities after serving long-term and life sentences (hereafter, returning citizens). This research places cameras in the hands of returning citizens to assist them with documenting, reflecting on, and raising awareness about their experiences of community integration following long-term incarceration. In addition to humanizing people convicted of violent crimes and educating community stakeholders about returning citizens’ reentry experiences and needs, this research is designed to answer two questions: (1) How do historically marginalized citizens returning from long-term incarceration experience self-efficacy, or the perceived ability to accomplish a goal or respond satisfactorily to life circumstances? (2) How do historically marginalized citizens returning from long-term incarceration perceive their connectedness within the communities to which they return? This photovoice project is the foundational phase of a larger study that will explore returning citizens’ reentry experiences across differently marginalized communities.

Jonathan Stillo, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Tuberculosis and Mental Health in Europe and Central Asia: A Pilot Study

This project examines the relationship between tuberculosis (TB) and mental health in Europe and Central Asia. Dr. Stillo and team will explore the following research question: Does the incidence of mental health-related adverse events or the presence of screening and services for mental health affect patient reported TB treatment interruption and the duration of these interruptions? They will conduct an anonymous, online survey in the World Health Organization European Region countries to answer these questions and to inform future in-depth ethnographic research.

Athena Kheibari, Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Social Work

An Exploratory Study of Public Attitudes Toward Online Pro-Choice Suicide Forums

Suicide stigma is a major barrier to help-seeking for those who experience suicide ideation. There is little known about attitudes toward pro-choice suicide internet forums (virtual communities for suicidal individuals to anonymously share suicide-related content) and its users. Individuals who use these internet forums may be at greater risk for suicide due to the exposure to explicit content about lethal means for suicide and social support for their desire to die by suicide. Hence, stigma toward these individuals may be particularly problematic as it may exacerbate the risk factors for suicide (e.g., more social isolation, self-stigma). The purpose of Dr. Kheibari’s project is to understand stigma toward pro-choice suicide forums and its users and examine opinions regarding censorship of these online forums. The findings could inform new policies and intervention methods that reduce stigma and risk for suicide.

Ajay Ponnapalli, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Management and Information Systems, Mike Ilitch School of Business

My Name is My Identity: Examining the Impact of Name Mispronunciation at Work

Findings from recent workplace reports as well as writings in the popular press suggest that name mispronunciation at work is a growing concern for organizations. Research on name mispronunciation is limited and its consequences for organizationally-relevant outcomes is virtually unknown. As names convey important information and carry deep meanings about a person, it stands to reason that any distortion to a name can be disconcerting and threaten an individual’s identity. Although identity threats are known to have detrimental consequences for a host of employee outcomes, whether or not name mispronunciation—as a unique form of identity threat—has lasting consequences for employees remains unclear. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, scholarly understanding of how employees react to and cope with this form of identity threat is not well-understood. This project proposes two qualitative studies aimed at providing a comprehensive understanding of name mispronunciations at work and its impact on employee outcomes. Further, Dr. Ponnapalli will explore various coping strategies that employees may engage in when their names are mispronounced. Insights drawn from this research have implications for fostering inclusivity in organizations by enabling them to better deal with name mispronunciation at work.

Kyu-Nahm Jun, Ph.D., associate professor, Political Science, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Are we in this together? Exploring inequality-driven mistrust and compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures

This study will investigate if inequality affects compliance with COVID-19 social distancing measures and if trust mediates the relationship between inequality and COVID-19 measures. The central hypothesis is that inequality will negatively affect compliance with government intervention, and trust in the government will mediate this relationship.  The long-term objective of this research program is to develop and evaluate a comprehensive model examining the relationship between political and social trust and policy success during a crisis, considering the impact of social injustices in communities.

Contact info

Julie O'Connor

Director, Research Communications
Phone: 313-577-8845