FY2022 CoRE Projects

In FY2022, fourteen CoRE teams with members representing 79 UNH faculty and staff from across the university, as well as 19 external partners, were awarded funding.

Interdisciplinary Working Groups (IWG) support groups of faculty (up to $15,000 for projects lasting one year) to convene around research topic areas to build awareness and relationships across disciplines, allow for cross-fertilization of ideas, identify potential collaborative research opportunities, and provide a venue for finding partners.

The SLATE IWG: Developing a Science Language Arts TEachers (SLATE) Collaborative PD Model

Leads: Christina Ortmeier-Hooper (Dept. of English, COLA) and Bethany Silva (Dept. of Education, COLA)


Abstract: The project objective of the IWG for Developing Science Language Arts TEachers (SLATE) Collaborative PD Model is to develop a strategic plan for collaborative grant pursuits and engage in the development of an innovative professional development (PD) model that integrates cross-disciplinary science and literacy/writing curricula understanding and unit building opportunities for K12 content-area teachers. Through monthly meetings throughout summer 2021 and the 2021-2022 academic year, the IWG team will develop a team of UNH and K12 educators, carry out a pilot study of curricular development and implementation with science and language arts teachers and leverage these best practices into proposal development for large-scale literacy and STEM Education initiatives.

The Nature Economy Collaborative

Lead: Shannon Rogers (Community & Economic Development, Cooperative Extension, Office of Outreach & Engagement)


Abstract: Access to the natural environment is a critical element of the economic, social, and ecological resilience of communities. New Hampshire has recently witnessed record recreation and tourism visitation, soaring home prices, and the economies of rural communities grow and change as visitors and new residents seek more access to nature and a less crowded lifestyle amidst a global pandemic. Nature’s role in broader economic development and quality of life is arguably one of the State’s greatest advantages for business, workforce attraction, and youth retention. Yet, these positive developments have been accompanied by challenges including land use conflicts, a lack of housing availability, a changing climate, social injustices, and ongoing workforce gaps. There is little empirical research assessing and documenting these dramatic changes to our State, which impedes effective policy solutions. UNH is a natural leader in the emerging nature economy space. With a new state level office of Outdoor Recreation and non-profit and community needs for data to support decision making, now is an ideal time for UNH to coordinate around this topic. Our interdisciplinary work group will conduct a systematic review of nature economy data and gaps while fostering discussion on mission identification in this space to enhance UNH’s capacity to pursue competitive funding and support New Hampshire’s sustainable economic development.

Cybersecurity Assessment Testbed for Advanced Manufacturing (CATeAM)

Lead: Qiaoyan Yu (Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, CEPS)


Abstract: This project will develop the first testbed in the New England area to specifically investigate the cybersecurity issues in manufacturing processes. Moreover, UNH is one of the key members of the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII), funded by DoE ($110M). The proposed testbed will enable UNH to establish a strong tie with CyManII and DoE. CyManII will share their industry network and other resources with UNH. The testbed will benefit researchers who are working on sensor design, control systems, wired/wireless communications, signal processing, and cloud computing. The research projects enabled by this testbed align with the NSF's 10 Big Ideas: “Merging ideas, approaches, tools, and technologies from widely diverse fields of science and engineering to stimulate discovery and innovation," and “Developing an agile process for funding experimental research capabilities in the midscale range, a sweet spot for science and engineering that has been challenging to fund through traditional NSF programs."


Pilot Research Partnerships (PRP) Projects seed-funds collaborative research projects for one year with strong potential to attract future funding from external sources and/or with outstanding commercial potential.

Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WrMSDs) Prevention Team

Lead: Diliang Chen (Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, CEPS)


Abstract: Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WrMSDs) are the leading nonfatal occupational injuries. Although force, posture, repetition, and vibration are recognized as four main risk factors of WrMSDs, there is little knowledge about the quantitative relationships between these risk factors and WrMSDs. This limits the development of effective control and prevention strategies for WrMSDs. To address this problem, our interdisciplinary research group proposes a novel wearable sensing system to measure WrMSDs risk factors accurately and completely in real-time through the workday. Using this robust data, the combined effects of risk factors on the human body, including load and muscle fatigue, can be estimated through artificial neural networks. Our long-term goal is to explore the quantitative relationships between risk factors and WrMSDs to help develop effective training programs, safe work practices, sensitive early markers, and effective engineering control technologies for the control and prevention of WrMSDs.   

Assessment of Food Environment and Health Behaviors throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic in NH Hispanics

Lead: Carlota Dao (Dept. of Agriculture, Nutrition, & Food Systems, COLSA)


Abstract: The US Hispanic/Latino population has historically been, and continues to be, at higher risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, lower diet quality, and food security, when compared with US non-Hispanic whites. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, US Hispanics are additionally experiencing disproportionately higher risk of infection as well as increased rates of hospitalization and COVID-19-related mortality. Given these existent disparities, the impacts of COVID-19 on food access and security, physical and psychosocial wellbeing, and health behaviors such as dietary intake and vaccination uptake must be assessed in Hispanic communities longitudinally throughout the pandemic. The goal of the current proposal therefore is to assess the relationship between the food environment, food insecurity, and health behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic in NH Hispanics.

Neuroinflammation Team

Lead: Sherine Elsawa (Dept. of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences, COLSA)


Abstract: Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with tissue damage. The transmission of pain is initiated by the activation of neurons called nociceptors that innervate the peripheral tissues such as the skin or joints. Inflammation is a defensive response by the immune system to promote healing of damaged tissue. However, pain is common during inflammation because immune cells stimulate nociceptors and therefore increase pain. Pain can often prevail even after the inflammation has subsided. This is often seen in arthritis, irritable bowel disease, injuries, infections and allergies. Treatments for chronic pain associated with inflammation are very limited and cause serious side effects (e.g. opioids and addiction). Therefore, there is a need to identify novel therapies to treat inflammatory pain. We are investigating the role of the Gli3 protein in inflammatory pain. This may provide evidence to therapeutically target Gli3 to control inflammation.

The Beetle Aerial Tracking Team (The BAT Team)

Lead: Jeff Garnas (Dept. of Natural Resources and the Environment, COLSA)


Abstract: Many organisms are experiencing geographic range shifts as a consequence of changing climate. In some cases, such shifts may be benign or even beneficial from the perspective of landowners and managers. In other cases, the arrival and establishment of a new organism can represent the threat of significant ecological or economic damage and an expensive and difficult management challenge. The Southern pine beetle (SPB; Dendroctonus frontalis) is among the most economically important insect pests of pine in North America and has recently been detected well north of its historical range boundaries. Once limited primarily to the southern states and Central America with marginal populations as far north as the pine barrens of New Jersey, SPB is now experiencing prolonged outbreaks on Long Island, NY and has been detected in northern New York (Albany), Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The beetle appears poised to become resident in New England where it seriously threatens the ecologically valuable pitch pine (Pinus rigida) and other pine species that occur in the region. Management efforts in Long Island have been complicated by altered timing of seasonal beetle colonization of and development within trees, by altered spatial patterns of attack and local population (SPB “spot”) growth, and by atypical rates and patterns of discoloration of infested trees, the primary symptom for the detection and delineation of spots. Our project proposes to explore the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, or “drones”) equipped with high resolution visible light (RGB) and multispectral cameras to map infested stands. As part of this research, we will design custom algorithms to extract key data and indices of tree stress and decline in response to SPB. By comparing imagery-derived data with on-the-ground assessments of beetle population abundance, developmental phenology, spot attack history, and tree condition at aerially mapped sites, we hope to enhance spot characterization with the goal of optimizing management interventions.


Lead: Shawna Hollen (Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, CEPS)


Abstract: Atomically-thin crystals provide a vast set of electronic properties that promise future innovation in sensors, flexible electronics, and quantum computers. Even more exciting is what happens when the crystalline layers are stacked with a twist between them: an artificial crystal since this structure would not grow naturally. This twist causes a moiré pattern on a scale 10's to 1000's larger than the atomic spacing. The same pattern you get when overlapping two window screens, or taking a picture of a computer screen with your phone camera. When this happens in these twist-stacked 2D layers, the extra pattern can dramatically change the electronic behavior of the material and control its quantum ground state. With this project, we will study how twisted tantalum disulfide crystal layers change a native charge wave pattern that forms in that material. These native charge waves are very sensitive to the atomic positions and associated electronic potentials in the crystal. We plan to control those through the twist, and thus control the formation of the charge wave. This control has never been shown before. It would be a strong candidate material for quantum computing, and could enable thin, flexible, and ultra-fast electronics.

Civic Health Team

Lead: Michele Holt-Shannon (NH Listens, Carsey School of Public Policy)


Abstract: Everyone in a community should have the opportunity to participate and have a voice in the public affairs of their towns regardless of such factors as social class, gender, race, ethnicity, age, or how long they might have lived there. In broad terms, a Civic Health Index measures the degree to which residents of a community are aware of the civic activities where they live and how to participate in those activities, connect with and trust each other when it comes to working together to improve their communities, and to what extent and how residents volunteer in their communities and contribute their time and resources to public and nonprofit causes.


Current measures of civic health are limited to states or large metropolitan areas, reflecting the nature of data available in national surveys like the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey. Smaller cities and towns, such as the hundreds found in New Hampshire and other primarily rural states, would benefit from access to tools for assessing civic life in order to design interventions that can increase public participation in ways that are inclusive, equitable, and effective. This team will design and demonstrate effective, replicable methods for the description of civic infrastructure and assessment of civic health at the community level. A community based civic health Index can help to assess the degree to which those opportunities are experienced equally or if there are disparities in civic health that might lead to inequities regarding who gets to participate in civic life and have their voices heard.

Thriving with Theater

Leads: Elizabeth Moschella (Prevention Innovations Research Center, Office of Research, Economic Engagement, and Outreach) and Julianna Gesun (Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, CEPS)


Abstract: Gender-based bias and harassment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in academia can create an unwelcoming and often hostile climate that poses major obstacles to the retention and advancement of women. Yet efforts to reduce harassment and bias, such as trainings and reporting systems, have historically been unsuccessful. Thus, the purpose of this study is to adapt and pilot an interactive theater intervention, Speaking Up, developed by PowerPlay Interactive Development, to reduce gender-based harassment and bias and promote thriving outcomes, including academic persistence and sense of belonging, among undergraduate students in engineering. The project team will implement a three-stage iterative research adaptation and evaluation process informed by theoretically-based frameworks that note the importance of incorporating insights from the target audience in the development of prevention tools. The research team will facilitate focus groups with undergraduate engineering students to adapt scenarios that depict gender-based bias and harassment in engineering (e.g., verbal and physical, exclusion of social and professional opportunities) for the Speaking Up workshop to ensure they are contextually relevant and believable and realistic. The Speaking Up workshop will then be piloted with undergraduate engineering students at three universities to evaluate the impact on (1) gender-based harassment victimization, (2) attitudes toward gender-based harassment and bias, and (3) students’ self-reported academic persistence and sense of belonging. This collaboration brings together a multidisciplinary team to adapt and pilot an innovative intervention to address gender-based harassment and bias and improve the retention and advancement of women in engineering.

Tumor-on-Chip for Drug Delivery

Leads: Sarah Walker (Dept. of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences, COLSA) and Linqing Li (Dept. of Chemical Engineering, CEPS)


Abstract: Breast and ovarian cancer remain deadly diseases. While very distinct cancers, one defect that links them is a protein called STAT3. In cancer, this protein functions inappropriately and this promotes the cancer cells to grow, not respond to chemotherapy, and to move to other locations in the body. Developing drugs to target STAT3 could have a major impact on the treatment of breast and ovarian cancer. However, in 2003, it was estimated that 10 years and $800 million dollars were needed to bring one new drug to market. While a number of drugs are identified early in the process, one of the major problems is that drugs are generally identified in cells grown on plastic which doesn’t mimic what is going on in the body as the cells are generally in a three-dimensional conformation. In addition, these models used do not take into account the method of delivery of the drug which is through the veins. Thus, when drugs are moved through the stages of preclinical testing and clinical trials, many of these drugs fail. To address this issue, we propose to establish a tumor-on-chip model that will culture cancer cells in three dimensions with veins to deliver the drugs. The goal is to more closely mimic the delivery of a cancer drug in the body so that we can identify drugs targeting these cancers to have a better chance of getting into patients in the future. This project brings together the drug discovery and cancer biology expertise of Dr. Walker’s lab and the vascular biology and microfluidics expertise of Dr. Li’s lab to develop a model to better assess drug efficacy.


Lead: Kai Ziervogel (Ocean Process Analysis Laboratory, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space)


Abstract: Plastic pollution in the sea has been recognized for several decades as one of the largest environmental tragedies of our time. Research on ecosystem responses to plastic waste in the sea mainly focuses on the detrimental effects on megafauna. Comparatively little is known about interactions between plastics and their byproducts (i.e., potentially toxic additives) and marine microbes (bacteria, microalgae, fungi) that have the potential of utilizing plastic waste as carbon and energy source as well as surfaces to grow on. Small plastic debris (microplastics) may also get incorporated into microbial aggregates acting as precursors for rapidly sinking, macroscopic aggregates (marine snow) that accelerate sinking of plastic waste into the ocean’s interior. This collaborative study brings together a microbial oceanographer (PI Ziervogel, EOS) and an environmental geochemist (co-PI Stubbins, Northeastern), to work on both of these aspects of microbial responses to plastic contamination in the ocean. We developed a research strategy that combines laboratory incubations with exploratory field work in the Gulf of Maine. Our results will provide new insights into these highly understudied yet critical aspects of plastic pollution in the sea.


Strengthening Existing Centers better positions existing interdisciplinary research Centers for success, supported by a 1:1 funding match by non-OSVPR funds.


Leads: Harlan Spence (Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, CEPS; Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space) and Katharine Duderstadt (Earth Systems Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space)


Abstract: JEDI-EOS will expand the capacity of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space to conduct world-class research that effectively incorporates environmental justice and promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion. This effort builds on preliminary data and deliverables developed by UNH groups during the national Undoing Racism in the Geosciences program as well as on emerging research relationships with minority-serving institutions. The overarching goal is to better position the Institute for success in enhancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within our community in order to pursue complex research questions with societal impact. We expect these efforts will have a positive impact on the broader university research enterprise, as well the local communities in which our research takes place, by promoting a safe, inclusive, supportive, diverse research environment that effectively attracts and retains a workforce reflective of our national demographics.


Supporting Large, Complex Proposal Development provides funding (up to $100,000 for one year, to be matched by a minimum of 25% non-OSVPR funds) to shape and position major, interdisciplinary external grants with an annual budget greater than or equal to $3.5M for success.

Proposals to Fly Space Science Center Instrumentation on the NASA GDC Mission

Leads: Lynn Kistler (Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, CEPS) and Jim Clemmons (Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, CEPS)


Abstract: The project objective is to develop two proposals to fly instrumentation developed at UNH’s Space Science Center (SSC) on NASA’s next strategic mission in the heliophysics, the Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC). This mission is planned to consist of approximately six identical spacecraft so that the physics of the ionosphere-thermosphere system can be resolved in a global manner. The SSC has developed instruments that will measure 1) the fluxes, spectra, and pitch angle structure of precipitating charged particles and 2) the winds within the tenuous gaseous medium that is the thermosphere. NASA’s opportunity specifies the measurement of these quantities among others, and the SSC has mature technology and a proven track record for delivering these instruments. The expected total amount that will be proposed for the two instruments is 40M.


FY2022 CoRE Kick-Off Event Recording

We kicked off the FY2022 CoRE Initiative with 3-minute presentations by each team about their project and collaborators. Please note that each team and their project is presented as a "Chapter" in the video. To view the chapters, click on the horizontal white lines in the top left corner and navigate to a particular chapter. To close the chapter view, just click on the horizontal white lines again!

FY22 CoRE Kick-Off Event Recording