Sponsored Research 2022-2023

From Curiosity to Impact

2022-23 Sponsored Research in the College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences faculty are engaged in a great number of research projects across our three divisions: Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities. Within our college’s more than 50 departments and programs, over $53 million in grant dollars are at work uncovering answers to some of the world’s most pressing questions. Here’s a snapshot of the funded projects researchers at the College of Arts and Sciences investigated in the 2022-2023 academic year, along with featured stories showcasing the breadth and depth of our faculty’s work across the college.

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Our Research in Action

Curious about how our researchers are making an impact? Below we spotlight several stories that feature research projects across our three divisions. Dive in and learn a bit more about why our faculty love what they do and why they are committed to making a difference in our world.

A bee on a flower

Bringing the buzz back to Pacific Northwest forests

Researcher: Lauren Ponisio, Biology

Examining Potential Floral Enhancements in Harvested Forests for Promoting Bee Populations, and the Barriers and Incentives to Adopting Bee-friendly Practices

Bee populations in North America have been on the decline for decades. A team of researchers led by Lauren Ponisio, assistant professor of biology, has been working to find a way to help them bounce back by reintroducing native plant species throughout post-wildfire timber plantations in the Pacific Northwest.

Read about Bee Population Research

Alexandra Rempel, an associate professor of environmental design, is leading multiple research projects aimed at reshaping the way we think about constructing buildings, including a design tool aimed at helping architects optimize passive heating and cooling systems.

Harnessing nature's wisdom through building design

Researcher: Alexandra Rempel, Environmental Studies

A Design Tool and Intelligent Control Platform for Capturing Climatic Heating and Cooling Resources in Buildings

Alexandra Rempel, an associate professor of environmental design in the Environmental Studies Program, is leading multiple research projects aimed at reshaping the way we think about constructing buildings, including climatic heating and cooling resources. "I'm very interested in earth-building," she says. 

Read More about Building Design

girls doing podcasting, one of the modern storytelling methods

Supporting global humanities with modern storytelling

Researchers: Rachel DiNitto, Maram Epstein, East Asian Languages and Literatures

Creating a New Global Public Humanities Undergraduate Major Track

Academics studying the humanities have traditionally communicated their findings primarily through academic essays and publications, but two faculty members are developing a new major within the School of Global Studies and Languages to train students in the modern methodologies of the public humanities.

Read More about Public Humanities

Finger touches the intelligent screen

Making the benefits of artificial intelligence accessible to all

Researcher: Thien Nguyen, Computer Science

Multilingual Learning for Event Structures from Text

Natural language processing allows computers to recognize and disperse information about events such as natural disasters, cyberattacks, disease outbreaks, and protests by scanning text from news articles or other online sources. Thien Nguyen, assistant professor of computer science, is leading an effort to make these alerts available in a broader variety of languages.

Read More about Artificial Intelligence 

Student researchers on Professor Lucas Silva’s team are studying whether replanting vegetation along rivers can help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Addressing climate change in the Pacific Northwest

Researcher: Lucas Silva, Environmental Studies and Biology

Nature Conservancy Grant to Study Climate Benefits of Riparian Reforestation across a Diversity of Watersheds in Oregon

Climate change continues to challenge humanity. To address the rising greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change, College of Arts and Sciences researcher Lucas Silva and his team are studying how replanting vegetation along rivers can help with sequestering and storing carbon.

Learn about Climate Research

Sarah Preston’s literary research examines the entanglements of advertising and material toxicity in marginalized communities.

How literature can teach us about environmental justice

Researcher: Sarah Preston, English

Toxic Entanglements: Advertising and Material Toxicity in Environmental Justice in Literature

Sarah Preston, a career instructor in the English department, received $35,000 from the prestigious American Council of Learned Societies to explore how literature from underrepresented authors portrays advertising that promotes pesticides and carcinogenic substances, from hair dye to toxic spills.

Read about Environmental Justice Stories

RNA infographic

Decoding RNA to advance medicine and technology

Researcher: Julia Widom, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Mapping the Sequence Landscape of RNA Structure, Dynamics and Protein Interactions Using High-throughput Single-molecule FRET

Assistant Professor Julia Widom is leading a team of dedicated researchers delving into the complex world of RNA, the messenger that carries instructions to the body’s genetic building blocks—and holds the potential to help shape the future of medicine and technology.

Read More about Decoding RNA

Girl thinking in front of the laptop

How work affects our free time and what it means for retirement

Researcher: Kathleen Mullen, Economics

Job Demands, Time Use, and the Timing of Retirement

The effect of a job isn’t limited to being on the clock. Kathleen Mullen, associate professor of economics, is exploring how jobs affect workers’ free time—and how that could influence the decision to retire.

Read More about Job Research 

photo of volcano

Opening a window to the inner ‘cooking’ of a volcano

Researcher: Thomas Giachetti, Earth Sciences

Detailed Distributions of Tephra Fall Characteristics: Insights into Magma Fragmentation and Transport Via Volcanic Plumes

Analyzing volcanic ash and rocks can help researchers predict how the next eruption will unfold. Thomas Giachetti, professor of Earth sciences, aims to accelerate the scientific community’s ability to accurately model volcanic eruptions by streamlining the process for analyzing samples.

Read More about Volcano Research