A study on author Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved,” a film titled “The Tourist Tax,” a textbook about the euphonium, a pilot project on social networks and transfer students’ decisions, and a college algebra boot camp highlight a few of the wide-ranging projects granted 2020 Presidential Incentive Awards at the University of North Georgia (UNG).

“With an increased annual investment of $415,000 in the Presidential Incentive Awards, we were able to fund 44 of the 69 proposals submitted,” UNG President Bonita Jacobs said. “Many recipients of these awards have leveraged their research to publish articles and books, present at prestigious conferences and pursue external grants. I look forward to seeing the fruits of this year’s award recipients.”

Since Jacobs launched the Presidential Incentive Awards in 2013, more than $1.7 million has been invested in faculty and staff whose research and scholarly work have a direct impact on enhanced educational experiences for students and innovations that improve professional practices. Last year, 38 grants received more than $360,000.

Dr. Sudhanshu Panda, professor of geographic information systems and environmental science at UNG, received a semester award, one of the most prestigious awards, to develop a mobile app to help farmers remotely monitor the health of its livestock. Panda explained that in the pilot project, goats, sheep and cows will wear a transponder collar that will transmit data to a UNG server for analysis. When the data reveals that an animal exhibits abnormal behavior, the app will alert the farmer to the animal and its location.

“This will revolutionize the way animal health is managed,” Panda said, explaining he has tried other avenues to fund the project. “I was very happy to learn I received this grant. If I can make this work, it will mean great things for rural farmers as well as research at UNG.”

Ashley Bruce, lecturer of kinesiology at UNG who received an innovation award, believes her research will help two groups: volunteer students in a high-intensity interval training exercise program and kinesiology students using a Bluetooth-capable accelerometer to measure physical activity and fitness levels.

“The aim is it see if students’ activity and fitness levels improve during this eight-week program,” she said. “And the overall goal is to teach them health habits that they can carry into the rest of their life.”

The projects span academic units in all six colleges and the Lewis F. Rogers Institute for Environmental and Spatial Analysis. Other offices and departments include Campus Recreation and Wellness and the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership.

There are three categories of awards.

  • Semester awards provide up to $12,000 with a full release from teaching and service for one semester.
  • Summer awards provide up to $10,000 to support faculty in focused and meaningful research and scholarly and creative activities in summer 2020.
  • Innovation awards of up to $5,000 each provide opportunities for collaboration among colleagues or individual pursuits focused on innovations and partnerships that promote best-practice models.

Jacobs pointed out several projects are collaborative and interdisciplinary in nature.

For example, Campus Recreation and Wellness is teaming up with the kinesiology and nursing departments to offer interactive wellness fairs on UNG’s Dahlonega Campus in spring 2020 and the Gainesville Campus in fall 2020.

Meri-Leigh Smith, associate director of wellness and health promotion at UNG, explained while the wellness fairs previously had been planned for both campuses, the funding will add extra services, including cholesterol screenings and health checks for students, faculty and staff.

“Our kinesiology students will conduct the blood pressure and cholesterol checks and they will hand out professional education materials,” Smith said. “Our nursing department will present informational posters, which will be used at the health fairs and conferences to showcase their research.”

Source: President awards $415,000 for faculty and staff research and innovation