Faculty making a difference with grant money

Sam Houston State University researchers collected more than $4 million in research grants in summer 2013 from a number of state and national entities.

Since accepting their grants, SHSU researchers have developed projects such as a new degree plan as well as a training program for educators, state employees and law officials.

Seventeen faculty members were awarded grants to enhance research in their fields, and the research has the potential to affect people throughout Texas and the world, according to school officials.

In an interview with Today@Sam, Delia Gallinaro, executive director at the SHSU Office of Research and Sponsor Programs, said the current research has helped build the university’s reputation and establish a national footprint.

“[The grant recipients’] work will enhance SHSU’s scholarly reputation as well as provide opportunities for our students to be involved in solving very important social and scientific problems,” Gallinaro said.

Cecelia Marquart, project director of the Impaired Driving Initiatives, received the Drug Impairment Training for Educational Professionals grant and the Drug Impairment Training for Texas Employers grant combining for $1.5 million provided by the Texas Department of Transportation. The purpose is to continue her awareness training program throughout the state over the course of three years, she said.

Marquart said her research will create and implement an employer drug and traffic safety education system to help make Texas roadways safer. Since receiving the grant in 2013, the program has trained 383 participants surpassing the grant requirement of 300.

“Our grant is an intervention grant, dealing with alcohol and drugs,” Marquart said. “The majority of it has to deal with training, not only law enforcement but now we are training educators and employers.”

The training program is a bridge between the field sobriety test and a drug recognition expert, she said. The goal is to raise awareness for rising prescription drug abuse and to keep the roads safe.

The department of Industrial and Agricultural Sciences received the Capacity Building Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture for the second year in a row. Tim Pannkuk, Ph.D., assistant professor of Horticulture and Agronomy, is leading the effort to establish an online curriculum for students wanting to obtain a Master of Agriculture degree in alternative agriculture systems.

The $291,000 that was granted will be used over a three-year period. Within that time the department plans to provide education, outreach and research.

Pannkuk has hired SHSU graduate student Kyle Ferrell to design and send out a survey to determine the needs of the agricultural industry. With the information they obtain from the industry, they will be able to create an appropriate curriculum for the master’s degree.

“We as faculty see a demand for an agricultural degree by non-traditional groups” Pannkuk said.  “[The] grant allows us to pursue an endeavor that’s beneficial to society.”

The department will be able to allow the first cohort of 15 to 20 students in the fall of 2015.

Leave a Reply