2020 Saint Louis University Research Institute Impact Report

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Kevin Lynch Editor CONTRIBUTORS

MaryCait Dolan Ryan Lawless Claire Creedon



Igniting Discovery, Transforming Lives



1 North Grand Blvd. DuBourg Hall 450 St. Louis, MO 63103 314-977-7742 research@slu.edu slu.edu/research OTHER UNIVERSIT Y PHONE NUMBERS

Office of the President 314­-977-­7777 Office of the Provost 314-977-2193 Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions 314-977-2500 Alumni Engagement 314-977-2250 The SLU Research Institute Annual Report is published annually in autumn for Saint Louis University, its alumni, friends and benefactors.

Mayur Khanna Neha Hanumathiah Owais Qureini Henning Lohse-Busch, Ph.D. Steven Dolan Douglas Garfield SPECIAL THANKS

SLU Marketing and Communications Paradigm Design + Content Strategy SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSIT Y

The Fight Against COVID-19

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D. President Joseph Conran (’67, ’70) Chair of the Board of Trustees Sheila Manion Vice President, Development SLU RESEARCH

Kenneth A. Olliff Vice President for Research and Partnerships Director, SLU Research Institute Matthew Christian Associate Vice President for Research and Chief of Staff Jasmin Patel Assistant Vice President for Research Strategy and Innovation Amy Breuer Manager, Programs and Partnerships




58 Big Ideas

Table of Contents 04








Launched Institutes


Geospatial Institute AHEAD Institute WATER Institute Institute for Healing Justice and Equity Center for Vaccine Development

Featured Initiatives


Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation (SLU-IDBI) SLU Center for Additive Manufacturing The SLU/YouGov Poll PATH @ SLU

Additional Initiatives


160 THE RESEARCH GROWTH FUND METAscripta Chemistry Department Redlining, Race and Public Health Fowler-Finn Lab Additional Recipients

184 RESEARCH INSTITUTE FELLOWS 198 SUPPORT US 200 APPENDIX Researchers Supported by the Research Institute

198 Support Us

Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research COVID-19 Seed Fund Stories Center for Vaccine Development Geospatial Institute Institute for Healing Justice and Equity The Scholarship Opportunity Fund The SLU/YouGov Poll




When I arrived at Saint Louis University in 2014, the University sat on the cusp of its bicentennial as the oldest university west of the Mississippi River, the secondoldest Jesuit university in the nation, and the longest continuing organization in the St. Louis region. We soon embarked on a year-long process to chart a new, ambitious path for SLU as it entered its third century of educational and research excellence. That strategic plan, Magis: Saint Louis University’s Strategy for the Future, was finalized in September 2015. From that plan emerged our current vision: To be a global Jesuit university –– one that is mission-focused, student and patient-centered, and research-driven, working with the people of St. Louis to reimagine, transform and unify our city.

In addition to these structural changes, we realized that additional resources were needed to support these transformative efforts. During this same time, Trustee Rex Sinquefield and Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield, his spouse, were in conversation with Sheila Manion, vice president for development, and I about a transformative gift. The Sinquefields wanted their gift to elevate academic excellence at SLU. Together we concluded that the best way to leverage their extraordinary generosity — $50 million — was to support the growth of research and scholarship. And not just any research, but, as Jeanne likes to say, “research... the Jesuit way”. That is, rigorous research that is grounded in our mission and advances knowledge to better the human condition.

Magis reminded us that academic excellence is best achieved when research informs the educational experience of our students. This allows us to prepare graduates who are critical thinkers committed to building a better world, while strengthening the capacity of our faculty to produce groundbreaking research and scholarship. To that end, Magis called us to “…embrace excellence in research and scholarship by investing in our faculty and research infrastructure, expanding the level of externally funded research and promoting the application of scholarly achievements to societal challenges and opportunities.”

Through this extraordinary gift, the SLU Research Institute was established. Its goal is to accelerate SLU’s rise as a leading Jesuit research university, in part through the allocation of the Sinquefields’ gift among our researchers. This enables us to invest in new and existing research strengths at the University, while recruiting, retaining and supporting exceptional researchers, the bedrock of our research enterprise. This effort has placed SLU on the path to becoming a leader in a number of interdisciplinary fields, from vaccine development to geospatial science.

In order to achieve this, we needed to reimagine how we support scholarship and research. Our investment in this new vision for research began when then-provost Nancy Brickhouse and I restructured the Office of Research and hired bold, new leadership in Ken Olliff, Matthew Christian and Jasmin Patel from the University of Chicago. Ken and his team immediately began to work with faculty from across the University on a Research Growth Plan which called for us to grow the scale and eminence of our research enterprise, develop a set of university-wide research priorities and raise the profile and impact of SLU as a preeminent regional research university. This plan transformed the Office of the Vice President for Research into one which centered on enabling SLU’s students and faculty to accomplish their research ambitions.



The Research Institute also better prepared SLU to tackle big research questions and address the most urgent challenges of our time. When the COVID-19 pandemic began to wreak havoc, the Research Institute empowered researchers as far afield as communication and immunology to provide the knowledge and leadership necessary to navigate such a crisis. The Research Institute Impact Report you are reading now was designed to share our story as well as the tremendous successes of our researchers from the past two years. I am confident that it will show you that we are not a University invested in research simply for research’s sake. Our research is building a better, healthier and more just world — for all. That is research the Jesuit way. Sincerely,

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D. President


In 2018, Saint Louis University celebrated two momentous milestones: the bicentennial of our founding as the first university west of the Mississippi River, and the largest philanthropic gift in our history, a 10 -year, $50 million donation by Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield to launch the Saint Louis University Research Institute. The Sinquefields’ historic gift enabled Saint Louis University to pursue our vision of becoming a preeminent, 21st-century Jesuit research university, one that serves the St. Louis region and the world by igniting discovery to transform lives. Our vision is to grow the scale and eminence of SLU’s research enterprise; create an innovative environment where outstanding scientists and scholars can do their best work; establish distinctive, universitywide research strengths and raise SLU’s profile and reputation as a world-class research university. It is impossible to overstate the impact the Sinquefields’ generosity has had over the past two years. The Sinquefields’ gift has been a powerful statement of SLU’s commitment to distinguish ourselves as one of the country’s leading research universities and the centrality of research and innovation in carrying out our Catholic Jesuit mission. The enthusiasm of our faculty and students for what the Research Institute (RI) is making possible is palpable and contagious. The RI is also enabling SLU to recruit the best and brightest new researchers who want to be part of what we are creating. The Sinquefields’ gift and the launch of the Research Institute have ushered a new approach to carrying out research at SLU: radically interdisciplinary, deeply collegial and unapologetically seeking to improve lives through generating and applying knowledge. With organizational and financial support from the Research Institute, teams of our faculty from across the University have launched four new institutes, establishing SLU as a leader in geospatial science, local and global water challenges, translational drug discovery, racial equity and justice and health data innovation. Funding from the Research Institute is reinforcing existing strengths such as vaccine development, health disparities, humanistic scholarship and biomedical innovation. The Research Institute has also allowed us to be nimble: When the pandemic began to unfold early in 2020, a COVID-19 rapid response fund enabled 25 of our faculty to launch patient sample collection, a mobile app for contact tracing, 3D-printed personal protective equipment and many other timely interventions.

Part of the genius of the Sinquefields’ gift is also the inspiration and flexibility that it provides for other philanthropists. In addition to the annual allocations that the Research Institute receives from the non-profit Sinquefield Center for Research Inc., the RI’s structure also enables additional donors, companies and organizations to engage with SLU’s research enterprise. As you will see in these pages, the Sinquefields’ generosity is catalyzing investments and partnerships across a wide array of topics in which SLU’s faculty have passion and expertise. It is truly an honor to direct the Saint Louis University Research Institute. These paragraphs only hint at the transformation that the generosity of the Sinquefields, together with the ambition of our researchers, has ignited. We designed this Impact Report to share more of our story of growing SLU into a preeminent Jesuit research university. We welcome you to join us on this journey. Sincerely,

Kenneth A. Olliff Vice President for Research and Partnerships Director, SLU Research Institute





The Saint Louis University Research Institute A Bold, New Chapter of Research Excellence. For Scholars. For Truth. For Humanity.




On August 28, 2018, Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield announced a historic $50 million gift to Saint Louis University, the largest in its 200-year history. 8



The Research Institute is the pinnacle of Saint Louis University’s research ambitions, a culmination of forward thinking, incredible generosity and humanitarian service.

The Sinquefields’ gift established the SLU Research Institute, envisioned as a catalyst for a new generation of impactful, internationally acclaimed research bearing the SLU name. The Sinquefields asked that their gift help accelerate SLU’s rise as a world-class research university and provided three aspirations for its use: That SLU use the funds to aspire for excellence in science and scholarship That SLU set ambitious goals and be accountable to those goals


That SLU magnify the impact of their gift by leveraging additional philanthropic, industry and federal funding in order to sustain the high level of research intensity it enables SLU was well prepared to meet these. In 2015, the Board of Trustees approved a University Strategic Plan that called for SLU to pursue a rigorous research agenda. In 2017, SLU developed a Growth Plan to double the value of its research enterprise from $50 million to $100 million while also developing a set of research priorities to guide new investment during the University’s ascent as a preeminent research institution. The Sinquefields’ gift was instrumental in enabling SLU to pursue its existing ambitions with exceptional vigor.



Built for Ambition Over the course of 10 years, the Research Institute will set Saint Louis University on the path to become an international model in promoting teaching, learning and research that exemplify discovery, transformative outcomes and engaged citizenship in a global society.

The Research Institute’s core functions are to:

1 2 3 4 5

Achieve and sustain annual research expenditure growth that places SLU among the fastestgrowing universities in the country Establish eminence in strategic, university-wide research priority areas Raise the profile and reputation of SLU as a world-class research university in the St. Louis area and around the world Recruit and retain world-class research leaders and provide significant investments in their work Leverage the initial gift from Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield to increase federal, industry and philanthropic funding for research done at SLU



Led with Collaboration One of the Research Institute’s earliest tasks was to design a series of collaborative and responsive mechanisms to manage the allocation of the Sinquefields’ gift. Following a planning process involving faculty and staff across the University, the Research Institute now operates with a multi-layered organizational structure centered on faculty engagement.

The Research Growth Committee provides executive advice to the Research Institute and is made up of faculty leaders and administrators who make funding recommendations through competitive processes. A Research Fellows Committee, made up of eight of SLU’s most distinguished researchers, reviews applications by deans for appointing new researchintensive faculty members as Fellows of the Research Institute. Three research councils provide additional guidance to the Research Institute as it relates to specific disciplines in which the University has significant expertise: the Science and Engineering Research Council, the Applied Health Research Council and the School of Medicine Research Planning Committee. The Scholarship Research Council advises the Research Institute in its goal to grow the eminence of the University’s research enterprise by supporting relevant and provocative scholarship opportunities.

Combined, more than 70 faculty and administrators are engaged in determining how best to use the Sinquefields’ gift in growing the SLU’s research enterprise. This structure of shared governance empowers faculty to guide the Institute’s work in order to meet the evolving needs of the global research community. THE RESEARCH INSTITUTE


Advancing Ambition With this organizational structure in place, the Research Institute began deploying a series of competitive programs for awarding funding. From short-term seed funds to long-term grants, the Institute offers ample opportunities for faculty across campus to secure support for their most promising research goals. The Institute launched with three programs to accelerate research growth: the Big Ideas competition, the Research Growth Fund and the Research Institute Fellows Program.



Big Ideas The Big Ideas initiative is the primary mechanism through which SLU carries out its goal of establishing eminence in University-wide priority areas. It is a multi-round competition that encourages teams of interdisciplinary faculty to aim high and pitch their most ambitious research proposals in order to receive direct funding from SLU. The competition’s first round was already set in motion when the Research Institute was founded, but the program was brought under the Institute’s supervision in order to ensure all winners received their well-earned support.

Research Growth Fund The Research Growth Fund focuses on enabling individual faculty members to advance their research programs. This flexible source of funding enables SLU’s most productive researchers to achieve their existing research goals by funding new technology, research assistants and other necessary expenses.

Research Institute Fellows Program The Research Institute Fellows Program facilitates collaboration between the Research Institute and departments across the University to recruit outstanding new researchers. The program allows departments to recruit and retain highly productive individuals whose research productivity will add to the eminence and impact of SLU’s research portfolio.

Empowering Researchers The goal of each of these programs is not to wholly sustain a research project, but rather jumpstart its development. Faculty selected for funding are challenged to develop sustainable business plans that prioritize long-term external funding in order to create a more entrepreneurial and ever-expanding research ecosystem within SLU.



Celebrating Two Years of Success In its inaugural year, the Research Institute supported several studies across a diverse group of disciplines, from early Christianity to medicinal chemistry to behavioral health. The Research Growth Fund received over 100 applications during its first cycle, which awarded more than $1.8 million in funding across the University. In June 2019, the fund’s second cycle awarded another $740,000 to researchers. Under the Research Institute’s guidance, the Big Ideas competition has also proven to be a tremendous asset for nurturing transformative research. The competition format fosters collaboration amongst passionate faculty as they tackle some of humanity’s greatest challenges. To date, more than 50 interdisciplinary teams have competed for planning grants. Several Big Ideas projects have exceeded expectations and continue to position SLU as an emerging leader in critical fields, such as geospatial science, data-driven innovation and public health. By the end of the Research Institute’s first year, it was clear that the Sinquefields’ gift would enable research at SLU to grow at an unprecedented pace. In the summer of 2019, the Research Institute formed a joint venture with Washington University in St. Louis to move into a larger space within the Cortex Innovation Community, called COLLAB. Much like Cortex itself, the initiative was aimed at accelerating innovation and spurring economic growth throughout the St. Louis region. The Sinquefields’ gift also made it possible for SLU to be more competitive in attracting world-renowned researchers. In 2019, the Research Institute announced the inaugural class of Research Institute Fellows, a distinguished group of faculty whose research further enhances the University’s research eminence.

Thanks to these incredible efforts, the research portfolio at Saint Louis University has grown by nearly $8 million since 2016 — and the momentum is only increasing.



To date, the Research Institute has helped launch four new, expansive centers for innovative research. These institutes, which all began as proposals for the Big Ideas competition, build upon SLU’s existing strengths and focus on addressing the larger, more complex challenges facing the world. They also represent a powerful affirmation of the University’s mission to develop new knowledge in service of humanity. THOSE INSTITUTES ARE:

Geospatial Institute at SLU (GeoSLU) Water Access, Technology, Environment and Resources (WATER) Institute Advanced HEAlth Data (AHEAD) Institute Institute for Healing Justice and Equity (IHJE)

The Research Institute has also bolstered the continued, extraordinary impact of SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD). Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the CVD had already established SLU as a national leader in vaccine research, home to one of only 10 National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Units (VTEUs) in the

country. The CVD team’s ongoing research into various infectious diseases and vaccines has received significant funding through the Research Growth Fund and the Big Ideas competition. In April 2020, a generous gift from Stephen C. Peiper, M.D. (Med ’77) and Zi-Xuan “Zoe” Wang, Ph.D., his wife, established a new center of excellence

in vaccine research called the Stephen C. Peiper and Zi-Xuan Wang Institute for Vaccine Science and Policy. This Institute supports research in the Center for Vaccine Development aimed at developing new vaccines for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.





One Vision, Endless Possibilities Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield’s gift to Saint Louis University is a model for how a university and its donors can work together to spread knowledge and enact change around the world. The Sinquefields were excited by the University’s aspirations to accelerate research growth and placed those aspirations at the heart of their historic gift. Together, the Sinquefields and SLU are making great strides toward a singular vision: a world-class research university, rooted in the city of St. Louis, that exemplifies the Jesuit mission, pursues Truth and serves humanity for the greater glory of God.

The Sinquefields’ gift is philanthropy, radical generosity, in its purest form. Propelled by their generosity, SLU will become home to the people, knowledge and discoveries that will shape the course of human history. This is far more than a donation. This is an invitation to change the world — for the better. And for this, we are so very grateful.” —KENNETH A. OLLIFF, Vice President for Research and Partnerships; Director, SLU Research Institute



Investments in Innovation Measuring the Research Institute’s Impact

Research Grants: Overall OVERALL COMPOUND GROWTH OF 5%

+23% 2020















School of Medicine Non-School of Medicine









Compound Annual Growth

Research Grants: School of Medicine SCHOOL OF MEDICINE FIVE-YEAR TREND +7% 2020








2,250 2019



2,580 1,544







1,664 2017






Compound Annual Growth


1,142 2016





3,391 665

Basic Science


Internal Medicine

Family and Community


Research Grants: Non-School of Medicine EXPLOSIVE GROWTH OUTSIDE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE +80% 2020





15,180 693










1,262 465





+16% Compound Annual Growth

747 8,736






1,367 663



8,453 123

Arts and Sciences


College of Public Health and Social Justice





Research Grants: Science and Engineering Research Council +43% 2020



465 2,562






162 56 2019

457 402 555





417 333









243 102

Compound Annual Growth

171 990











99 122


433 383 650







Biomed Eng

Civil Eng

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences


Aero and Mech



Computer Science

Math and Stat

Research Grants: Scholarship Research Council +53% 2020













1,250,845 182,797







201,694 81,778




Compound Annual Growth

1,106,999 154,389





917,816 90,741

143,817 2,344




Social Science




Research Grants: Applied Health Research Council STEADY PROGRESS DURING PAST FOUR YEARS

+13% 2020



Compound Annual Growth




School of Medicine

Valentine School of Nursing


College for Public Health and Social Justice

Arts and Science

Doisy College of Health Sciences

Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology



Every Moment a Milestone A Timeline of the Research Institute’s Growth




Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield Make $50 Million Gift to Saint Louis University, Establishing the Research Institute

National Science Foundation Awards SLU I-Corps Site Grant to Foster Innovation

Researchers Planning WATER Institute Bring SLU Researchers, Regional Leaders Together at SLU Summit for WATER

Fred Pestello tweets before the announcement, “This week is going to be remembered as one of the most significant in SLU’s history. #transformational” Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research also established

2018 22


2019 1.9



SLU, NGA Sign Agreement to Partner on Geospatial Research Projects

President Pestello Announces SLU Research Institute Has Awarded $1.8 Million to 15 Faculty from the New Research Growth Fund

Research Institute Announces Overall Grant Expenditures and Awards Are Up 7% from Previous Year

Major boost to faculty’s goal of transforming SLU into a hub for geospatial research, training and innovation

RI Fellows Committee Formed to Review Candidates for the RI Fellows Program SLU Research Institute Announces Second Round of Big Ideas Competition



2019 3.19



With Leadership from SLU Researchers, International useR! Conference Announced for St. Louis

Saint Louis University and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency host the first Geo-Resolution Conference

Saint Louis University Launches Independent Education Research Policy Center

Though the conference was eventually canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this announcement was a major milestone in establishing SLU and its researchers as a leader in statistical computing.



This is built off of work of a Research Institute Big Idea and spurred by a gift from the Walton Family Foundation.





SLU’s Liz Chiarello Named Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study to Study Opioid Epidemic

SLU, Washington University Launch COLLAB, a Joint Initiative at Cortex to Accelerate Innovation in St. Louis

Former NGA Director Robert Cardillo Named Distinguished Geospatial Fellow at SLU

SLU Research Institute Announces Winners of the Second Round of Big Ideas Competition









13 Faculty Receive $740,000 from SLU Research Institute’s Research Growth Fund

SLU Center for Vaccine Development Launches Study to Boost Effectiveness of Seasonal Flu Vaccines

One-Year Anniversary of the Sinquefield Gift, SLU Research Institute

SLU Research Institute Announces Annual Research Expenditures Grew at 9% in Past Year, Over 16% Since 2016


3 Members from the Inaugural Class of Research Institute Fellows





SLU Research Institute Announces Inaugural Class of Research Institute Fellows

Research Space Allocation Process for New Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building Opened

SLU Nursing Professor and Research Institute Fellow Denise Cote-Arsenault Named Fulbright Scholar

New SLU/ITEN Partnership Looks to Create More St. Louis Start-ups



2019 10.1



SLU, Washington University Receive $6.4 Million to Tackle Opioid Research

Saint Louis University Launches the Geospatial Institute at SLU (GeoSLU)

SLU’s Michael Rozier Named EthicalGEO Fellow with the American Geographical Society

Announcement is made by President Pestello at the Geospatial Gateway Forum hosted by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. GeoSLU becomes the first project to emerge from the Research Institute’s Big Ideas competition as a full Institute.







SLU’s Enrico Di Cera Named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Winners Selected for Research Space in New Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building

SLU Research Institute Announces the Third Round of the Big Ideas Competition

SLU’s Daniela Salvemini Named Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors for Pioneering Research on a Treatment of Neuropathic Pain, a Possible Alternative to Steroids and Addictive Opioids









SLU Research Institute Expands Spark Microgrant Program to Encourage Collaborations Between St. Louis and Madrid Campuses

Start-Up Founded by SLU Pharmacologist Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D., Raises $30 Million in Series A Funding

Saint Louis University, Washington University Collaborate to Share Access to Imaging Center and Invest in Powerful New Microscope

New Partnership Between GeoSLU, Geospatial Giant Esri to Advance Geospatial Research and Innovation







SLU Launches Study of Possible COVID-19 Treatment (remdesivir)

Philanthropists Bolster Vaccine Research at SLU, Establish Stephen C. Peiper and Zi-Xuan Wang Institute for Vaccine Science and Policy; Donors: Drs. Stephen C. Peiper and Zi-Xuan “Zoe” Wang

SLU Research Institute Awards $765,000 to Faculty, Students Engaged in COVID-19 Research

SLU Research Institute Awards $300,000 from COVID-19 Seed Fund to 16 Faculty to Address Pandemic

SLU Launches New WATER Institute



2020 7.1





SLU Poll Conducts First Academic-Led Poll of Missouri Voters

SLU’s Liz Chiarello Featured on the Cover of Radcliffe Magazine for Opioid Research

Saint Louis University, Washington University School of Medicine Announce Vaccine Trials as Members of NIH’s New COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN)

$1 Million Gift From Robert Wheeler, Ph.D., Supports Psychology Research on Human Motivation, Funded by the Wheeler Endowed OntosScience Research Fund

SLU Launches Phase Three COVID-19 Vaccine Trial, the First for the St. Louis Region





New Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building Opens

GeoSLU Awarded $5 Million Grant to Train Workforces of Department of Defense and the National GeospatialIntelligence Agency (NGA) Across Next 5 Years



Saint Louis University Establishes New Institute for Healing Justice and Equity

Saint Louis University Establishes Advanced HEAlth Data Research Institute



Overcoming an Outbreak How Researchers at Saint Louis University Are Mobilizing Against the COVID-19 Pandemic



Answering the Call As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, Saint Louis University mounted an aggressive response that engaged the full range of its research capabilities. More than 60 researchers from 20 academic departments are currently studying the novel coronavirus as well as the pandemic’s wide-reaching impacts on our society. Informed by the University’s Jesuit mission, much of SLU’s COVID-19 research is being conducted in service to those made most vulnerable during this difficult time.

“COVID-19 has taught us a great deal about the complexities of a global pandemic. At SLU, we have the collective strength to invest in a wide range of studies that will help us understand the pandemic on every level — scientific and social, local and global.” — JASMIN PATEL Assistant Vice President for Research, Coordinating Director for COVID-19 Research



The Race for a Vaccine SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) is a globally renowned leader in the field, with notable discoveries that have contributed to life-saving vaccines for influenza, tuberculosis, hepatitis C and other infectious diseases. The CVD is also home to one of only 10 Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Units (VTEUs) in the nation. VTEUs play a critical role in the vaccine development process by developing and evaluating vaccines with rapid-response capability in the event of a pandemic. Led by Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., the CVD has been on the forefront of the global search for a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19. Vaccine Trials In August 2020, SLU began accepting volunteers to participate in a phase three clinical trial to study the effectiveness, safety and immune response generated by a vaccine co-developed by scientists at Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center. Those in the study were randomly assigned to receive either the mRNA-1273 vaccine or a placebo, which were given in two injections, 28 days apart. Participants could not contract COVID-19 from the vaccine and were not deliberately exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Upon success of the phase three trial, the vaccine will become subject for approval and distribution by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Treatment Development Although there are no treatments for the novel coronavirus, scientists at SLU have tested what could be one of the first. Led by Sarah George, M.D., the VTEU at SLU completed a study of the safety and effectiveness of remdesivir in treating COVID-19 patients. The study’s early findings indicated that remdesivir shortened the recovery time for hospitalized patients from 15 days to 11 days. The study also showed that mortality rates dropped from 11.6% to 8% for those given the medication. Further testing is needed in order to fully validate remdesivir’s effectiveness and safety for treating COVID-19, but George and her fellow researchers are encouraged by the study’s early results. Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), referenced the drug as the new standard-of-care at a White House press conference. George and her team are currently involved in a new study involving remdesivir.



“COVID-19 is one of the scariest diseases we’ve seen in our lifetime. But for all the fear and the complexity surrounding the virus, we are seeing the power and promise of our global health care community.” — DANIEL HOFT, M.D., PH.D. Director, Center for Vaccine Development

“COVID-19 has created an immeasurable level of collaboration across the University. As students, faculty, administrators, health professionals — we are coming together to have thoughtful conversations about how SLU responds to today and plans for tomorrow.” — TERRI REBMANN, PH.D. Director, Institute for Biosecurity; Special Assistant to the President During COVID-19

research, the center will develop vaccines for new infectious diseases, support a new computational biology team and infrastructure and assist in recruiting new physician-scientists. Peiper, an alumnus of SLU’s School of Medicine, is the current Peter A. Herbut professor and chair of the Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology at Thomas Jefferson University and the senior vice president for the Enterprise Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Service Line at Jefferson Health System. Wang is the scientific director of the Molecular and Genomic Pathway Laboratory for the Jefferson Health System.

Immunization Science and Policy Partnership In February 2020, Tim Wiemken, Ph.D., associate professor from SLU Center for Outcomes Research, and Ana Santos Rutschman, S.J.D., assistant professor in the Center for Health Law Studies, received a Spark Microgrant in order to begin the Immunization Science and Policy Partnership at Saint Louis University. The partnership aims to unite SLU’s experts working at the intersection of vaccine science and health law. Although the project is still in its early stages, Wiemken and Rutschman are using the COVID-19 pandemic as the impetus for planning the partnership’s future.

Institute for Vaccine Science and Policy

Human Challenge Studies

In April 2020, the Center for Vaccine Development received a generous gift to build upon the momentum of its COVID-19 research. Stephen C. Peiper, M.D. (Med ’77), and his wife, Zi-Xuan “Zoe” Wang, Ph.D., gifted $750,000 to support research aimed at developing new vaccines for COVID-19 and other illnesses.

In 2018, the Center for Vaccine Development opened an Extended Stay Research Unit (ESRU) that allows for human challenge studies in which volunteers are exposed to certain viruses while researchers test novel treatments, collect samples and better understand the body’s immune response. In 2020, the ESRU was renovated in order to safely quarantine COVID-19-positive volunteers and monitor their recovery progress.

“It is clear to me that it will be critical to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 in order to win this war,” Peiper said. “I had discussed the possibility of supporting SLU’s School of Medicine with Dean Robert Wilmott, and things came together for me: a deadly pandemic, the necessity of vaccine development and the excellence of the SLU Center for Vaccine Research. The path forward became obvious.” The couple’s gift led to the creation of a new center of excellence, the Stephen C. Peiper and Zi-Xuan Wang Institute for Vaccine Science and Policy. In addition to COVID-19





Bold Steps from Big Ideas The COVID-19 pandemic represents one of humanity’s greatest challenges, one whose scope extends far beyond the virus that caused it. Guided by its Jesuit mission, Saint Louis University is committed to studying the full breadth of the coronavirus pandemic. Researchers across campus have spent the last several months investigating the pandemic’s broader, potentially unexpected implications on issues like public health, education, the economy and racial injustice. While the race for a vaccine remains a global priority, this research will help address key questions that are certain to arise after one is developed and distributed.



GeoSLU Tracking the Virus The Geospatial Institute at SLU is now home to a robust, cross-disciplinary effort to track the spread of COVID-19 and identify locational trends, such as population mobility following the implementation and lifting of stay-at-home orders and the formation of infection hotspots. Geospatial technology has proven critical to aiding public officials and health care providers in understanding how real-time behavior patterns relate to coronavirus infection rates.


“Geospatial science is invaluable during a pandemic like this. We’re able to see human behaviors and patterns like never before, and the data we collect will inform more effective public health directives and keep more people safe.” — ENBAL SHACHAM, PH.D. Associate Director, GeoSLU


My COVID-19 Tracker App

The Effectiveness of Social Distancing

One group of GeoSLU faculty has collaborated on a mobile app that monitors real-time symptoms and locations of symptomatic individuals while providing users with geolocated health care facilities. Any individual is welcome to download the free app and join the effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their community by reporting symptoms, locating nearby health care facilities and studying real-time map data.

Marc Painter, Ph.D., assistant professor of finance, is conducting a study that harnesses geolocation data to evaluate the effectiveness of local social distancing orders. His early findings have indicated that political beliefs present a limitation to such orders, as the likelihood of an individual following social distancing protocols is affected by that individual’s political beliefs. Painter has co-authored a paper on this topic with Tian Qiu, a Ph.D. student in the finance department at the University of Kentucky.

Learn more about this study by downloading the app at: https://cs.slu.edu/projects/covid19/

Co-Investigators: Enbal Shacham, Ph.D., Professor, Public Health Flavio Esposito, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Computer Science Tim Wiemken, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Center for Outcomes Research (SLUCOR) Roberto Coral, Research Assistant, Computer Science

Real-Time COVID-19 Symptom Tracking Among Front-Line Workers Front-line workers are at the highest risk for COVID-19 infection and transmission to their community and family members. This study is leveraging self-reported data from grocery store employees to determine if, when and where they may become infected with COVID-19. Participants are asked to download an app and answer questions throughout the day and week about their symptoms, psychological mood and behaviors. Researchers intend to use this data in order to identify patterns of infection using outdoor global positioning systems and determine how they may relate to community living spaces linked to increase risk for COVID-19 infection.

Research Roundtable: Predicting and Responding to Outbreaks In June 2020, the Research Institute presented the first installment of Research Roundtable, a new webinar series highlighting the transformative work happening at SLU and its partners across the region. Hosted in partnership with GeoSLU, the inaugural session centered on the COVID-19 pandemic and was titled Predicting and Responding to Outbreaks. Moderated by Robert Cardillo, former director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and Distinguished Geospatial Fellow at SLU, the webinar assembled a panel of experts to discuss the evolving nature of the pandemic as well as how geospatial technologies are shaping public health response.

Panelists included: Enbal Shacham, Ph.D., Professor, Public Health; Associate Director, GeoSLU Christopher Tinson, Ph.D., Associate Professor, History; Director, African American Studies Alex Garza, M.D., Head, St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force; Chief Medical Officer, SSM Health

Principal Investigator:

Jason Hall, Co-Founder and CEO, Arch to Park

Enbal Shacham, Ph.D., Professor, Public Health

Jared Shoultz, Health and Human Services Technical Lead, Esri

Co-Investigators: Flavio Esposito, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Computer Science Stephen Scroggins, Program Evaluation Coordinator

You may view a recording of the webinar on SLU’s YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/SaintLouisUniversity

Roberto Coral, Research Assistant, Computer Science Tim Wiemken, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Center for Outcomes Research (SLUCOR)



The AHEAD Institute Actionalizing Health Data The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the AHEAD Institute with an invaluable opportunity to apply its expertise in data science during a global health crisis. Faculty associated with the AHEAD Institute are actively working to compile several sources of COVID-related data and partner with researchers across campus for analysis. In the years that follow the pandemic, these studies will help answer important questions of public health and patient outcomes. They will also support SLU’s growing database of health informatics that will prove instrumental in predicting and preparing for future pandemics.



Automated Analysis A group of AHEAD Institute faculty are leading the development of a time-series anomaly detection tool for COVID-19 mortality. The tool both automates and aggregates publicly available health data, providing critical intelligence to local policymakers and health departments as they plan public health safety guidelines.

Co-Investigators: Tim Wiemken, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Center for Outcomes Research (SLUCOR) Christopher Prener, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology Samson Niemotka, Student, Health Data Science

Influenza-Like Illness Syndromic Surveillance In the absence of widespread testing for COVID-19, researchers at the AHEAD Institute and GeoSLU joined to investigate syndromic surveillance approaches to identifying and tracking potential, unreported cases. Comparing three years of publicly available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention FluView Interactive, the team found a 76% decrease in influenza positive tests and a 27% increase in influenza-like illness during the weeks since COVID-19 outbreaks began in the United States. This suggests that FluView Interactive may have potential utility for additional COVID-19 syndromic surveillance.

Co-Investigators: Tim Wiemken, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Center for Outcomes Research (SLUCOR) Enbal Shacham, Ph.D., Professor, Public Health; Associate Director, GeoSLU

Policies and Practices of SHEA Research Network Hospitals During the COVID-19 Pandemic Tim Wiemken, Ph.D., associate professor in the Center for Outcomes Research, collaborated with a national research group to conduct a survey in collaboration with the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). The survey assessed policies and practices around the optimization of personal protection equipment (PPE), testing, health care personnel policies, visitors of COVID-19 patients in relation to procedures and types of patients. Overall, 69 individual health care facilities responded in the United States and internationally, for a 73% response rate.



The Institute for Healing Justice and Equity Highlighting Disparities The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored and exacerbated several issues related to racism and racial inequalities in the United States. The Institute for Healing Justice and Equity is bringing researchers together with scholars, activists, health care practitioners and community leaders to examine the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on minority communities. Together, they are creating substantive dialogue around actions and policies to drive more equitable outcomes in health care and public health.



The Color of COVID In April 2020, the Institute launched a webinar series, The Color of COVID, to discuss the growing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Black Americans. The series features expert panelists in the fields of medicine, psychology, sociology and beyond as they answer questions and share insights about how the coronavirus is impacting Black communities across the country. To date, faculty have hosted two installments of the series, one discussing public health disparities and another addressing healing justice approaches to community care.

Structural Racism and COVID In June 2020, the Journal of Law and the Biosciences published a paper co-authored by Ruqaiijah Yearby, J.D., M.P.H., professor of law and executive director of the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity; and Seema Mohapatra, J.D., M.P.H., of Indiana University. The paper, entitled “Law, Structural Racism, and the COVID-19 Pandemic,” examines how structural racism created racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 infection and death rates.

Racism in the Workplace During COVID Yearby and Mohapatra also published a piece for the Health Affairs Blog detailing structural disparities within the workplace that disproportionately affect women of color and low-wage workers, particularly those within the home health care and meat-packing industries. These disparities, which include time-off benefits and insurance coverage, have caused these groups to suffer from higher COVID-19 infection rates. Yearby and Mohapatra were interviewed by Public Health Law Watch for their work on the piece.

Racism Is a Public Health Crisis In partnership with The Justice Collaborative Institute and Data for Progress, the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity published a report declaring racism a public health crisis and outlining the steps needed to respond to it. Much of the report’s supporting data references current disparities in COVID-19 infections and reveals a larger system of inequity that drives all aspects of life, including education, employment, housing, law enforcement and health care.



The WATER Institute Protecting a Fundamental Resource The WATER Institute is currently developing several studies that will investigate how water, water infrastructures and water technologies are changing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although these studies are in the early planning stages, their findings will be essential to understanding how a global health crisis affects Earth’s most vital resource. The Role of Water During COVID-19 In July 2020, the WATER Institute hosted a webinar that brought together several researchers to discuss water’s relationship to COVID-19. The webinar focused on public health theory; practices in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as they pertain to pandemic response; and local water-related actions taken in the City of St. Louis to address COVID-19. The panel also discussed WASH initiatives underway in communities around the world and their effectiveness at mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

Panelists included: Roger Lewis, Ph.D., Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health Curt Skouby, Director of Public Utilities, City of St. Louis Shilpa Alva, Founder and Executive Director, Surge for Water



Rapid Response COVID-19 Seed Fund With generous support from Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, the Research Institute launched a Rapid Response COVID-19 Seed Fund to support faculty-led pilot projects related to coronaviruses and mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Research Institute awarded the funding in two rounds, one in April 2020 and another in June 2020, for a total of $300,000.




Antibody Response and Prevention of SARS-CoV-2 Fusion Activity This team is actively developing the pseudotype SARS-Cov-2 spike (S) protein in Lentivirus or VSV for analyzing neutralizing antibody, fusion inhibition, antibody mediated inhibition or enhancement of virus replication. Researchers are using COVID-19 convalescent patient sera for further validation. They are also cross-testing peptides representing potential B-cell epitopes on S2 with patient convalescent sera in ELISA for competitive inhibition to analyze epitope specific response. Finally, the team is analyzing isotope and half-life of antibodies in patient sera.

Principal Investigator: Ranjit Ray, Ph.D., Professor, Infectious Diseases

Collaborators: Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Infectious Diseases Sarah George, M.D., Assistant Professor, Infectious Diseases James Brien, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Changes in Gambling Behavior Due to COVID-19 COVID-19 has resulted in the mass cancellation of sporting events and closure of gambling establishments. These closures have resulted in major impacts on human behavior, and they may have implications for those with gambling addictions. In this study, researchers are examining the impact of these abrupt closures in individuals at-risk for and diagnosed with gambling disorder, including behavior, perceptions, and potential compensatory responses in frequent gamblers over time.

Comprehensive Evolutionary and Functional Elucidation of COVID-19Related Viruses In order to prevent and combat COVID-19, it is critical that scientists have a full understanding of the evolution, biology and pathogenesis mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2. In this study, SLU researchers are systematically studying the evolution and function of COVID-19 and COVID-19related viruses. Findings from the study will greatly inform the development of treatments and vaccines for future diseases caused by novel coronaviruses.

Principal Investigator: Dapeng Zhang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biology

Effects of BCG Vaccination on Host Immunity Against SARS-CoV-2 Infection Although several vaccines targeting the SARS-CoV-2 virus are moving to clinical trials, their availability is still 12 to 18 months away. Thus, a ready-to-use treatment or vaccine to prevent or reduce the mortality of COVID-19 is urgent. Recent epidemiological studies indicate that tuberculosis vaccine BCG, or bacille Calmette-Guerin, may reduce morbidity and mortality in COVID-19 patients. This in vitro study is currently investigating whether BCG-trained immunity by vaccination affects SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Principal Investigator: Jianguo Liu, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Infectious Diseases

Collaborator: Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Infectious Diseases

Principal Investigator: Jeremiah Weinstock, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Psychology




The Etiology of Staying Home The concept of staying home has become a particularly important, yet understudied, element of public health response to COVID-19. At the same time, lock down and stay-at-home orders have made keeping up with rent and mortgage payments all the more difficult for many. This project examines the impact of COVID-19 on housing and housing security in St. Louis, such as the link between homelessness and viral spread. Findings from the study will help inform sensible interventions to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on housing security.

Principal Investigator: Monica Eppinger, J.D., Director, Center for International and Comparative Law

Health Misinformation, Media Exposure, Uncertainty and Anxiety During the COVID-19 Pandemic Citizens frequently receive inconsistent messages from the media regarding COVID-19 risk factors, spread, fatalities and overall impact. Thus, in managing the outbreak of COVID-19, one of the most pressing challenges is combating confusion and misinformation with clear data about risks and informative resources for prevention. Researchers in this study are examining different channels of information exposure along with other predictors of information seeking and preventative behaviors, as they relate to the feelings of confusion and anxiety prevalent during the current pandemic.

Impact of Changes During the COVID-19 Pandemic on Activity, Anxiety, Stress and Sleep in Older Adults Older adults are more susceptible to functional decline, limited mobility and challenges getting out beyond their homes. Researchers in this study are examining the experiences of older adults during the time of COVID-19 related to stress, anxiety, activity and sleep. Data is being collected via an online survey of community dwelling older adults, followed by telephone interviews with a targeted subsample of participants.

Principal Investigator: Helen Lach, Ph.D., Professor, Nursing

Collaborators: Devita Stallings, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Nursing, Saint Louis University

Principal Investigator:

Janice Palmer, Ph.D., Webster University Nursing

Jennifer E. Ohs, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Communication

Rebecca Lorenz, Ph.D., University of Buffalo School of Nursing

Collaborators: Ilwoo Ju, Ph.D., Brian Lamb School of Communication, Purdue University Amber Hinsley, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Communications, Texas State University

ded Projects Taehwan Park, Ph.D., Pharmacy Administration and Public Health, St. John’s University




Large-Scale Collection of COVID-19 Donor PBMC In order to move forward with COVID-19 research, investigators require clinical specimens from individuals recovering from SARS-CoV-2 infection. The Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) and CVD laboratories have the experience and capabilities to obtain these important samples for SLU research. Researchers are currently collecting peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and disseminating them to multiple SLU investigators in order to strengthen their COVID-19 studies.

Principal Investigator: Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Infectious Diseases

Collaborators: Ranjit Ray, Ph.D., Professor, Infectious Diseases Richard DiPaolo, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology David Ford, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Sarah George, M.D., Assistant Professor, Infectious Diseases

Technology-Assisted Intervention to Address Loneliness and Social Isolation Among Older Adults Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, loneliness and social isolation among older adults had reached “global epidemic” status and has significantly escalated over the last year, particularly for older adults living alone in a community. Researchers in this study are currently developing a computer-based platform to host a moderated “Circle of Friends” that will offer social support for older adults during and after the pandemic.

Principal Investigator: Marla Berg-Weger, Ph.D., Professor, Social Work

Collaborator: John E. Morley, M.D., Professor, Geriatric Medicine

Specimen Collection to Study SARS-CoV-2-Specific Cell Responses In collaboration with EpiVax, a leader in the field of immunoinformatics, SLU researchers are submitting concepts and applications to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in order to identify novel T cell targets expressed by SARS-CoV-2, as well as those shared between the highly pathogenic betacoronaviruses, SARS and MERS. Findings from the study will aid in the development of T cell-based diagnostic tests, similar to those used for tuberculosis.

Principal Investigator: Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Infectious Diseases

Collaborators: Ranjit Ray, Ph.D., Professor, Infectious Diseases Richard DiPaolo, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology


David Ford, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Sarah George, M.D., Assistant Professor, Infectious Diseases



COVID-19 and Student Resilience: A Blessing in Disguise? Students who began the Communication Sciences and Disorders graduate program in August 2020 are in an interesting position, having transitioned to online courses at the end of their undergraduate careers and then resuming in-person study. It remains to be seen if their repeated adjustments to a “new normal” will impact their resilience. In this study, researchers will build a culture of resiliency among department faculty, administrators, fellow-students and campus ministers. Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected from participating students to assess the effectiveness of the promotion of resilience in the incoming cohort.

Principal Investigator: Mitzi Brammer, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor; Director of Graduate Program, Communication Sciences and Disorders

3D Printed User-Specific N-95 Respirator Alternative

Vitamin D as Treatment for SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Researchers affiliated with SLU Center for Additive Manufacturing (SLU CAM) have developed an alternative to an N95 respirator for use at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital in the event of a severe shortage. The design consists of a permanent 3D-printed shell that is customized to the user via optical face scan, as well as an exchangeable filter.

Vitamin D has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties in studies of other viruses and may have therapeutic properties useful in the treatment and mitigation of COVID-19. This project will determine if vitamin D treatment can reduce viral load and positively impact normal cell processes during infection, as well as analyze how vitamin D affects RNA transcription.

Principal Investigator:

Principal Investigator:

Andrew Hall D.Sc., Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Susana Gonzalo, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Collaborators: Andre Castiaux Ph.D., Post-Doc, Chemistry Keith Pereira, M.D., Assistant Professor, Radiology




Stress Experienced by Nurses During the COVID-19 Pandemic Nurses and their families are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 due to lack of protective equipment, exposure to the infectious agent, lack of a treatment for the virus and increases in both work and work-related stress. This study will assess stress levels among nurses during the pandemic and to identify the correlated factors. Participants will respond to a brief online survey designed to assess their stress, career outlook, perspective of the virus and demographic information.

Principal Investigator: Karen Moore, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, Associate Professor, Nursing

Advanced Tele-Practice Services for Adult Neurogenic Communication and Swallowing Disorders During the COVID-19 Pandemic COVID-19 has placed an increased emphasis on tele-health capabilities for all specialties. In the field of medical speech-language pathology, there is an increased demand for research examining the effectiveness and potential superiority of remotely delivered services. This project will contribute to the need by conducting patient assessments via the new Zoom Telemedicine system, enabling sensitive cases to receive continued treatment, graduate students to complete their required clinical contact hours and adding to the literature on older adults’ usage of technology-based treatment.

Principal Investigator: Whitney Postman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders


North American Coalition for the Study of Digestive Manifestations of COVID-19 (DMC19) It is imperative that researchers gain a better understanding of the gastrointestinal expressions of the virus causing COVID-19, especially when considering that endoscopy appears to be a hotspot for transmission of the virus. Researchers in this project will compile data of the gastrointestinal and hepatological symptoms found in those who have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, creating new insights into how COVID-19 may be detected.

Principal Investigator: Jason Taylor, M.D., Associate Professor, Internal Medicine



Burnout, Resilience and the Humanism of Medicine During the COVID-19 Pandemic In work environments, the notions of burnout and resilience are highly relevant factors for one’s job satisfaction. Physicians regularly experience extended hours and insufficient resources in their daily experiences, but these have been exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic. What remains to be seen is the possible mitigation that one’s sense of their medical career being a “calling” and not just their job may have on burnout and resilience. The proposed project seeks to better understand the relationships between career calling, burnout and resilience among physicians throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Principal Investigator: Jason Werner, M.D., Associate Professor, Pediatrics

Supporting Employees During Involuntary Telework: How Supervisors Are Helping Employees Manage the Work-Family Interface

Assessing the Effect of Obesity on the Pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 (the Causative Agent of COVID-19) in the Syrian Hamster Mod

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are being forced to complete work responsibilities from home. This has contributed to shifting boundaries between work and family roles as employees juggle child- and elder-care duties in addition to their typical work tasks. This project will leverage qualitative methods in order to better understand the role of supervisors as employees establish new boundaries between their work and family.

Two of the most important risk factors associated with COVID-19, diabetes and hyperlipidemia, are closely linked to obesity. This study seeks to assess and show the degree to which obesity exacerbates the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2. Syrian hamsters, which support high levels of viral replication of the virus, will be separated into four groups. Two of these groups will be fed a high-calorie diet while the others will be fed a normal-calorie diet. After four weeks of these diets, one group from each category will be intranasally infected with SARS-CoV-2 in order to study the effects of diet and weight on pathogenesis.

Principal Investigator:

Principal Investigator:

Candice Thomas, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology

William Wold, Ph.D., Chairman, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology



In the Field Outside the lab, researchers at SLU have coordinated several efforts to immediately assist frontline health workers and inform local pandemic response. These efforts are a direct reflection of SLU’s commitment to studying the coronavirus as not only an infectious disease in need of treatment but also an ongoing public health crisis in need of action.



Community Leadership Robert Gatter, J.D., a professor in the Center for Health Law Studies, currently serves on the St. Louis County Health Department COVID-19 response team. Gatter was named to the position by St. Louis County Executive Sam Page in order to assist the department with reviewing and drafting policies aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. Gatter is a nationally recognized expert in public health law and pandemic preparedness, including quarantine legality.

Terri Rebmann, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and

special assistant to the president during the pandemic, currently serves on the newly established Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) COVID-19 Task Force. In March 2020, Rebmann and her colleagues on the task force distributed a national survey for APIC members to investigate the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) in U.S. hospitals. The survey found that nearly half (48%) of all U.S. health care facilities were already out of or almost out of N95 respirators that are critical to caring for COVID-19 patients. The survey was widely referenced in both state and federal efforts to secure more PPE for health care workers.

Psychological Support Hotline Volunteers from SLU’s Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology created a hotline specifically for frontline health care workers at SSM Health hospitals. The hotline was designed to provide immediate support for workers whose psychological and mental health suffered during the early months of the pandemic. Callers received guidance and resources from SLU’s volunteer clinical psychologists, as well as referrals to Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute (SLBMI) if needed.





The only reason we’ve been able to do any of this work is because of the giving spirit of the St. Louis community. In these difficult times, our neighbors have lent their time, their support and their compassion. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.” —DANIEL HOFT, M.D., PH.D. Director, Center for Vaccine Development



Innovation Begins With Ideation The Big Ideas Competition The Big Ideas competition is a multi-year process designed to identify and invest in world-changing research at Saint Louis University. The competition intends to seek out University-level ambitions that no college or department could achieve on its own. Participants receive increasing levels of investment over several years in order to grow their projects from ideas to impacts. The following sections highlight the competition’s promise at all levels, beginning with those projects that have exceeded every expectation and launched as fully realized institutes.





Best and Brightest Inside the Big Ideas Shaping SLU’s Research Enterprise The Big Ideas initiative represents the future of Saint Louis University’s research enterprise. These are the people, projects and prospects that will define a new generation of discovery. They represent some of the complex challenges facing humanity — both new and old, today’s and tomorrow’s. It is with shared strength and forward vision that SLU is prepared to rise to the occasion and tackle these challenges for the betterment of all humanity.

FEATURED: Geospatial Institute (GeoSLU) AHEAD Institute WATER Institute Institute for Healing Justice and Equity Center for Vaccine Development







Creating a Hub of Geospatial Innovation

where things are, “Knowing and why, is essential to rational decision-making.” — JACK DANGERMOND



Here and Now A Conversation With Vasit Sagan, Director, Geospatial Institute

The applications for geospatial When something happens, be it a natural technology and intelligence are endless. disaster or a global pandemic, it’s all Within the Institute, researchers are too easy to focus on the what. What using location data to investigate happened? What did it do? What does it mean? But for Vasit Sagan and a team of researchers at “Satellite imaging doesn’t lie,” Sagan says. SLU, the more compelling “You see what you see. And there’s so much question, perhaps even we can see today, from where people live to the more vital question, is: Where did it happen? where crops grow to how animals move.” Sagan is the director of the Geospatial Institute (GeoSLU), a relatively new enterprise aimed at expanding geospatial research capabilities at SLU and increasing geospatial expertise throughout the St. Louis region. But what is geospatial science? Sagan offers a simple answer. “Everything that happens, happens somewhere,” Sagan says. “Geospatial science is the science of location, and using location to answer big questions.” He describes how our everyday lives have changed since the first satellite launched into orbit, with innovations like satellite imaging and GPS navigation. Today, applications for geospatial data are as simple as finding directions to the nearest coffee shop, or as complex as solving global food shortages and tracking the COVID-19 pandemic. Imagine you’re a farmer, and you want to investigate the impact of a torrential rain on your crops. Not long ago, you would devote countless hours to physically walking your fields and examining them in-person. Now, farmers can deploy a group of drones to survey their land and receive real-time imagery. That data enables them to make more informed decisions about what to plant, when to plant and how crops respond to changing conditions. 64

issues ranging from public health to commercial agriculture to social justice. Any researcher whose work includes a locational element is well-positioned to engage GeoSLU faculty and advance their work through geospatial data collection and analysis. Sagan describes the future of geospatial intelligence quite simply: It’s all about data. Today, new geospatial data is generated every second by smartphones, cars, planes, ships, satellites—the list goes on and on. The challenge then becomes: How do you use it in the most meaningful, ethical way? “Obviously it’s not practical to analyze every data point by hand,” Sagan says. “That’s where people and technology come in. We’re currently developing novel methods of processing vast amounts of geospatial data and converting it into actionable intelligence that will inform high-impact research.” The Geospatial Institute comes at an opportune time as the St. Louis region is poised to become a national center for geospatial research. A $1.7 billion headquarters for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is currently under construction for a 2025 opening. Geospatial research is also becoming increasingly vital to St.


Louis industry leaders, such as Bayer and Boeing. In 2018, the NGA signed a Collaborative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with SLU, which will foster groundbreaking collaborations on local geospatial research, training and innovation initiatives. SLU is also an active participant in the GeoFutures Initiative, a strategic planning program aimed at transforming the St. Louis region’s future in geospatial intelligence. Robert Cardillo, a Distinguished Geospatial Fellow and former director of the NGA, has worked extensively with GeoSLU to provide the region with strategic guidance during this exciting time. The GeoFutures Initiative, which unites members of federal, state and local government, as well as private industry and higher education, has identified five strategic geospatial priorities for St. Louis: scaling up talent and workforce development, raising the innovation capacity, accelerating entrepreneurship, supporting advancement of the community-led neighborhood and positioning the region as a global thought leader. GeoSLU has, is and will be contributing directly to most of these priorities.

“This is the right time and the right place for what we’re building,” Sagan says. “As we think about the future, we see ourselves training the next generation of geospatial researchers who will go to work right here in St. Louis.”



Experts in the Field Meet the Team Leading the Geospatial Institute

Vasit Sagan, Ph.D. Director, Geospatial Institute Associate Professor, GIScience

Sagan’s current active research focuses on developing state-of-the-art remote sensing and GIS tools, AI/machine learning, sensor/information fusion, change detection and geospatial analytics for food, water, human security, bioenergy and countering wildlife trafficking. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications and two book chapters and has presented more than 100 conference papers and workshops. He has served as PI or Co-PI on over $35 million in grant funding from several government segments, including the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy and NASA. Sagan directs SLU’s Integrated Applied Science Ph.D. degree and GEOINT Certificate programs. He also serves as an associate editor of ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Sensing. The U.S. Department of the Interior recently named Sagan to a three-year appointment on its National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC). The NGAC provides council to the executive branch on matters of geospatial intelligence and promotes responsible data sharing across government, private and non-profit sectors.

Ness Sandoval, Ph.D.

Associate Director, Geospatial Institute Associate Professor, Sociology Sandoval currently conducts research at the intersection of demographic techniques and computational spatial science to study spatial inequality in American cities. His primary research interests involve applying different techniques to advance the field of social-environmental synthesis. Sandoval also has an interest in the emerging field of Forensic GIS and the applications of spatial statistics to crime, social and economic neighborhood disadvantages. Finally, he has initiated several projects that focus on machine learning and spatial-temporal changes in urban areas and hierarchical spatial models for social and economic inequality. Sandoval is the co-director of the Ph.D. program in Public and Social Policy and the director of the MA Sociology Program.



Enbal Shacham, Ph.D., M.Ed. Associate Director, Geospatial Institute Professor, Public Health Shacham has built her career on conducting research to identify health inequities and improve health outcomes across community and clinical settings both domestically and internationally. Her research agenda has focused on predicting and preventing infectious and chronic disease by exploring community and geospatial health determinants, examining patient behaviors and clinical practices to improve health outcomes. She has been funded for decades to examine how location and health are interrelated. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shacham has utilized geospatial science and analytics, bringing in non-traditional public health and health care data to inform where and why infections are occurring throughout the pandemic. Shacham co-directs SLU’s Geospatial Ethics Research and Practice Group, a group formed under the express mission of scrutinizing geospatial technologies and practices for their ethical considerations, in a manner consistent with SLU’s commitment to justice and the common good.

Henning Lohse-Busch, Ph.D. Director of Business Development and Outreach

Lohse-Busch advances the Geospatial Institute by facilitating internal and external engagement, seeking new strategic partners, identifying potential research opportunities, supporting grant applications and promoting academic programs through communication, brown bags, seminars, symposiums and outreach events. Lohse-Busch is a strategic thinker and technical leader with over 20 years of experience in transportation, energy-efficiency and renewable energy research. Prior to joining SLU, he led and managed a research group at Argonne National Laboratory. He also spent time working on assignments at the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington D.C. and co-developed and taught a powertrain course at the Illinois Institute of Technology.



By the Numbers

6.5 +


A Look at the Geospatial Institute’s Impact The Geospatial Institute launched in 2019 and has already made substantial strides in integrating geospatial research and study into the University’s curriculum. From new degree programs to new funding opportunities, the Institute is leading the charge to position SLU as the nation’s preeminent hub for geospatial intelligence. The following is a brief overview of the Institute’s progress to date.



$5M via U.S. Department of Defense $1.4M via U.S. Department of Agriculture $326K via United Soybean Board




Two Annual Conferences Organized Including Geo-Resolution 2019, a landmark event uniting the stakeholders leading St. Louis’ future in geospatial science

$50 Million in Proposed Funding

30 68

$6.5+ Million in Active Funding, Including:


30 Peer-Reviewed Works Published





$800 Thousand Net Tuition Revenue Generated from GIScience Masters and IAS Ph.D. Program

10 Active Partnerships, Including: U.S. Department of Defense U.S. Department of Energy U.S. Department of Education National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) NASA Esri U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF)



75 Students Currently enrolled in certificates, minors and degree programs

501 Credit Hours Of geospatial courses taught in 2019


25 Applications For the 2020 GIScience Master’s Program



Mapping the Future What’s Next for the Geospatial Institute The Geospatial Institute is at the forefront of a multi-faceted initiative to position the St. Louis region as the country’s preeminent hub for geospatial intelligence. Achieving that goal will require continued investment in the Institute’s research, but its leaders are highly encouraged by the support already in place from government, industry and philanthropic partners. Here are a few of the team’s highest aspirations, as they look toward the next 20 years of geospatial innovation. Establish a National Geospatial Research Hub

Expanding Academic and Workforce Training

The Geospatial Institute remains committed to developing new partnerships with innovators, industry, federal agencies, local and regional governments and universities. Over time, the Institute hopes to build strong, St. Louis-based teams that will be more competitive for broad research grants.

In the coming years, the Geospatial Institute will create new programs and initiatives designed to train the next generation of geospatial researchers. The Institute was recently awarded a $5 million grant, called GEOINT Learning through Academic Programs (GLAP). This grant will specifically enable the Institute to train new global employees of the Department of Defense and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

The Institute is also eager to support the GeoFutures Coalition as the group moves into an implementation phase. SLU is uniquely positioned to support the talent pipeline and workforce training needed to support the coalition. The Geospatial Institute’s in-house expertise and resources also make it a strong partner to shape the center of excellence outlined in the GeoFutures report.

Broaden the Research Portfolio Geospatial science is a continually growing field, and the Geospatial Institute plans to evolve with the field by investing in emerging technologies and novel applications for its research. The Institute believes geospatial intelligence may inform some of the most critical social issues facing our world, including food security, social instability and natural disasters.


Establish Data and Analytic Services As the Institute pursues larger and broader projects, the need for data analytics infrastructure increases. The Institute plans to invest in new tools and systems that support the intake, processing and interrogation of the large data sets produced by geospatial research techniques. Once this infrastructure is in place, the Institute plans to offer mapping and data analytic services for a fee to local stakeholders and partners. This service offering will also enable the Geospatial Institute to provide contractual service to the local geospatial ecosystem.




The Place to Be Early Success and Future Promise Since its launch in 2019, the Geospatial Institute has welcomed several faculty members whose work builds upon its mission. Together, they have made considerable progress toward many of the Institute’s long-term goals, while also joining the fight against COVID-19 in 2020. The following is a brief recap of the Geospatial Institute’s achievements to date.

Training the Geospatial Workforce

Investigating the Challenges of COVID-19

Positioning St. Louis as a global center for geospatial research will require a workforce trained on cutting-edge geospatial technologies. Thanks to a $5 million grant called GEOINT Learning through Academic Programs (GLAP), the Geospatial Institute is currently building specific programs and curriculums that will train geospatial employees for both the Department of Defense and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The Institute has also created several new programs designed to validate a student’s proficiency in geospatial research. These include a 12-month master’s program, a Geospatial Health Certificate and the USGIF Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Certificate. Additional programs, including some targeting K-12 students, are in the early planning stages. The Geospatial Institute’s health lab was well-equipped to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, from initiating new research projects to supporting the local St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force and the St. Louis County Department of Health and Human Services. Enbal Shacham, associate director of GeoSLU, is currently working alongside Flavio Esposito, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science, and Roberto Coral, a research assistant in GIS, to implement My COVID-19 Tracker, a symptom and location tracking app with contact tracing capability. The team has promoted the app’s use with regional public health agencies and submitted several proposals to develop and implement an early sensing technology that would synthesize multiple data points in order to accurately identify locations where COVID-19 outbreaks could occur. The Institute also submitted four works for publication addressing racial and social inequity related to COVID-19 infections.



Uniting the St. Louis Region

In spring 2019, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and Saint Louis University co-sponsored a new geospatial conference in St. Louis that brought together the government, academic and industry partners who are growing the geospatial ecosystem in the greater St. Louis region. Dubbed Geo-Resolution 2019, the conference included a moderated conversation between SLU President Fred Pestello and Vice Admiral Robert Sharp, director of the NGA; an industry career fair with members of the national intelligence community; a student mentoring lunch where students discussed in-demand skill sets and local career opportunities with leaders from industry, academia and government; and a poster session highlighting current research in which geospatial techniques play a critical role. Former NGA director Robert Cardillo played an instrumental role in bringing the conference to St. Louis and fostering collaboration between GeoSLU and the NGA. Attendees also got a first look at new renderings for the NGA’s upcoming Next NGA West facility in north St. Louis. A 2020 Geo-Resolution conference was planned but ultimately postponed due to COVID-19. The GeoSLU team did partner with USGIF to produce a well-attended virtual special edition of the Geospatial Gateway Forum with Geo-Resolution to St. Louis in October 2020. GeoSLU faculty is already working to plan Geo-Resolution 2021.

Feeding the World With Geospatial and Agricultural Technology

Countering Human Trafficking

Considering the Ethics of Geospatial Technologies

The world’s population is projected to reach roughly 10 billion by 2050, creating a significant challenge to provide sustainable, high-quality food around the world. Addressing this challenge requires developing and producing high-yield and high-quality crops with minimal environmental impact. The Geospatial Institute’s Remote Sensing Lab has been developing modern machine learning (ML), cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision (photogrammetry, multiscale imaging) technologies to integrate vast multi-scale, heterogeneous data and knowledge in agriculture and food systems. Using ML/AI-powered multi-scale remote sensing technology (drones and satellites), researchers will observe open agricultural fields with varying environmental stress to inform effective crop breeding and develop improved genotypes that thrive in stressed conditions caused by climate change. Victims of human trafficking are often photographed in hotel rooms, and recognizing those hotels is an important part of the cases made against traffickers. With funding from the National Institute of Justice, GeoSLU researcher and Research Institute Fellow Abby Stylianou, Ph.D., is leading a collaboration with faculty at Temple University and George Washington University to develop machine learning-based approaches to hotel recognition. The team has produced an image search tool that has been deployed at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The image search is supported by images uploaded to the TraffickCam smartphone application by its over 250,000 users around the world who upload photos of their hotel room when they travel. Geospatial mapping technologies have tremendous potential for the common good. But without ethical reflection and wisdom, the same technologies can lead to great harm—some intended, others simply the result of narrowly or poorly conceived projects. Consequently, the Geospatial Institute has formed a Geospatial Ethics Research and Practice Group with the express purpose of scrutinizing geospatial technologies and practices for their ethical quality, in a manner consistent with SLU’s commitment to justice and the common good. The group is led by GeoSLU associate director Enbal Shacham, Ph.D., M.Ed., and Michael Rozier, S.J., Ph.D., assistant professor of health management and policy. Rozier is a Jesuit priest who brings a vital connection to SLU’s mission as the group explores the ethical issues involved with the use of geospatial tools and technology. In 2019, the American Geographical Society (AGS) named Rozier an EthicalGEO Fellow, a prestigious opportunity to study what can be done, and what should be done, with geospatial technology. BIG IDEAS | L AUNCHED INSTITUTES




This is truly an exciting time for us, for SLU and for St. Louis. We are at the forefront of the initiatives that will transform this region for the next generation.” — VASIT SAGAN, PH.D. Director



Data-Driven Innovation



You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” — DANIEL KEYS MORAN



Information, Integration, Innovation A Conversation With Leslie Hinyard, Executive Director, AHEAD Institute

The goal of health care is all in the name: to provide critical care for a person’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. But in the Information Age, with a wealth of medical and personal data at our collective fingertips, the question becomes: How can we do better?

Challenges like this are not uncommon in health care. Hinyard says they stem from the fundamental nature of health research, which is often narrow in focus and siloed in practice. The AHEAD Institute offers a more holistic approach by building networks of collaboration between researchers and using data science to support broader theories.

It’s a question that led Leslie Hinyard and a group of SLU researchers to found the Advanced HEAlth Data “Clinicians and researchers don’t always (AHEAD) Institute. This comprehensive center for speak the same language,” Hinyard says. data-driven innovation “We want to bring people together who are aims to equip health working on similar projects, who might not researchers with the tools and resources needed to know it, and empower them with data to parse an ever-increasing answer bigger questions.” amount of health data into clear, actionable findings. Although the AHEAD Institute is built on analytical expertise, it’s not a barrier “People don’t count unless we count for entry. Hinyard hopes to attract a wide them,” Hinyard says. “Data is an array of investigators to the Institute’s immensely powerful tool, but only if it’s work, especially those from non-clinical collected, analyzed and presented in the fields. It is through diverse disciplines right way.” and perspectives that the AHEAD Institute will find novel applications for She gives a recent example using its work. COVID-19. In the pandemic’s early stages, all new cases were recorded “In most cases, we have the data on hand equally without regard to age, race, and we have the capability to render it ethnicity, or sex. Now, through more effectively,” Hinyard says. “What we’re informed data collection, researchers looking for are interesting questions and have identified several correlations complex challenges that could benefit between race and infection rates. from this level of analysis.”



She brings up global health crises, like the opioid epidemic. It has been studied by physicians, nurses, physical therapists, public health researchers—all at various times through various lenses. Hinyard sees the AHEAD Institute as a place where data can fill in the gaps and begin to answer the bigger questions: What can we do about it now, and what does it mean for the future of health care?

“As researchers, we all want the same thing,” Hinyard says. “And with the AHEAD institute, we’re in a position to work across more fields, find more solutions and impact more lives.”



Experts in the Field Meet the Team Leading the AHEAD Institute

Leslie Hinyard, Ph.D., MSW

Director, AHEAD Institute Chair and Associate Professor, Health and Clinical Outcomes Research Hinyard has expertise in secondary data analysis including national survey research, large administrative claims databases and research involving electronic medical records as well as analysis of prospective and observational studies. Her research focuses on health disparities and health equity, health-related quality of life and psychosocial needs of cancer patients. Additionally, she works with an interdisciplinary group of researchers to improve training for interprofessional health care clinicians for improvements in advance care planning and palliative care.

Jeffrey Scherrer, Ph.D.

Associate Director for Research, AHEAD Institute Professor, Family and Community Medicine Scherrer started his career in 1990 as a research assistant in animal models of memory. Over time, he decided to pursue research more directly connected to public health and later to patient outcomes. He completed his doctoral degree in Health Services Research. After nine years as an associate research professor at Washington University Department of Psychiatry, he returned to SLU. He moved into family medicine, which provided a clinical background for his interest in the interplay of medical and physical health. Scherrer enjoys research methods almost as much as the research question. At SLU, he can pursue his interests ranging from diabetes quality indicators to military veteran issues to metformin and its association with dementia, all while maintaining a funded research focus on risk factors for, and consequences of, mood disorders. Scherrer has also received funding from the Research Institute’s Research Growth Fund to purchase a nationally representative medical data set and apply it toward his studies relating to medication effectiveness, disease management, health outcomes and beyond. 80


Timothy Wiemken, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Health and Clinical Outcomes Research Associate Professor, Division of Infectious Disease Wiemken previously served as an infection preventionist at the University of Louisville Hospital and the hospital epidemiologist for the Robley Rex Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He has been certified in infection prevention and control since 2008 and is a fellow of both the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). He has authored and co-authored numerous guidelines and book chapters on infectious diseases and infection prevention and nearly 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and national/international guidelines related to infectious disease epidemiology. His research currently focuses on pneumonia, influenza, emerging respiratory pathogens, data science in health care and health care-associated infections. Wiemken has also conducted extensive research into the COVID-19 pandemic, including a collaboration with Enbal Shacham of the Geospatial Institute at SLU to identify potential undocumented cases using publicly reported influenza-like illness and laboratory-confirmed influenza disease.

Paula Buchanan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Health and Clinical Outcomes Research Operations Manager, AHEAD Institute Consulting Practice Buchanan’s work studies the development, progression, treatment and outcomes of chronic and acute illnesses. Many of her studies utilize epidemiological and statistical modeling to examine these relationships in large population-level registries and databases such as those from the VA, Medicare and national insurance and pharmacy benefit management companies. As operations manager for the AHEAD Institute’s consulting practice, Buchanan and her team provide methodological and analytic support for many grants and research projects for faculty throughout the University. The support ranges from power and sample size calculations to data analysis and interpretation to presentations of results. Buchanan has experience with all types of study designs, from retrospective to prospective, as well as working with sample sizes of three subjects to over a million subjects.

Richard Grucza, Ph.D.

Professor, Family and Community Medicine Professor, Health and Clinical Outcomes Research Grucza is broadly interested in advanced quantitative research related to the epidemiology of substance misuse and related disorders. He has been continuously funded through grants from the National Institutes of Health and other sources since completing his postdoctoral fellowship in 2003. His current research includes pharmacoepidemiology and outcomes of opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment using insurance claims data, as well as understanding policy influences on OUD treatment. He’s also examining causal factors in the decline in adolescent substance use and delinquency using a novel application of item-response theory methods. Finally, Grucza is investigating the increase in alcohol-related morbidity and mortality, particularly among middle-aged and older Americans and using administrative data to identify at-risk individuals. BIG IDEAS | L AUNCHED INSTITUTES



By the Numbers A Look at the AHEAD Institute’s Impact Since launching in mid-2020, the AHEAD Institute has united researchers all across the University to harness the incredible potential of health care data. Moving forward, the Institute is committed to building strategic partnerships with health care organizations and data providers around the world, while also sponsoring more comprehensive research projects on campus. Here is a brief overview of the progress the Institute has made during its inaugural year.

60 2

21 Active Projects Investigating issues such as opioid abuse and access to diabetes technologies in underserved populations

60 Manuscripts Accepted With another 14 currently under review


Million 82


$2 Million in Funding Provided by NIH and Foundation awards



30 Members in Research Interest Group Representing a wide field of multidisciplinary researchers

8 Current Clinical Research Scholars Program (CRSP) Fellows, from: Pediatric Otolaryngology Endocrinology Neurology Urology Neurosurgery Pediatric Gastroenterology Psychiatry Family and Community Medicine/Medical Family Therapy



1 Virtual Data Warehouse (VDW) Spanning: ~4 million patients 4 states 23 hospitals 290 clinics

Acquisition of 4 Nationally Representative Data Sets Electronic health records All-payer inpatient care Pediatric inpatient care Emergency department visits



Connecting the Dots What’s Next for the AHEAD Institute



The AHEAD Institute’s work builds upon SLU’s rich history in public health and health outcomes research. These early years, leaders say, are intended to build the Institute’s awareness while validating its core concept. Beyond that, the AHEAD Institute has great ambitions to change the way SLU researchers use health care data and promote broader problem-solving throughout the University. These are a few of the Institute’s short-term and long-term goals.

Virtual Data Warehouse (VDW)

AHEAD Research Symposium

A primary focus of the AHEAD Institute is the strategic development of a local Virtual Data Warehouse (VDW). The VDW will encompass a limited dataset of approximately 4 million deidentified patient medical records from a Midwestern health system. The Institute plans to make the VDW fully operational in late 2020, at which time it will become an active data source for grant-funded research projects.

As awareness of the AHEAD Institute’s data sources and research infrastructure grows, it plans to hold an inaugural research symposium in 2021 that will showcase the collaborative work being conducted within the Institute. This event will highlight the application of large data research to the advancement of clinical practice and public health.

The VDW was also built in accordance with the Health Care Systems Research Network (HCSRN), a collective of research centers that collaborate on multi-site studies in real-world health care settings across the United States and in Israel. The AHEAD Institute was recently granted associate membership to the HCSRN, which will expedite the completion of the VDW and create new opportunities for global collaboration and grant funding. HCSRN membership is a major milestone for the AHEAD Institute and one achieved well ahead of the projected timeline. AHEAD core faculty are now engaged in HCSRN data committees and learning about the numerous opportunities to collaborate on funded research.

Presented work will include multidisciplinary, collaborative research across diverse fields of study, such as COVID-19, health disparities among various populations, mental health and pain management. The symposium will also celebrate the breadth of research projects conducted between core faculty, affiliated faculty and external collaborators.

Faculty Support The AHEAD Institute is currently developing procedures for lending its expertise in data management and analysis to researchers across the University. These collaborative consultations will assist core faculty and biostatisticians in all stages of the research process: study design, protocol development, data collection,

database management, data analysis and communication of results. The AHEAD Institute offers a wealth of experience working with national, publicly available survey data, such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Faculty engagement with the AHEAD Institute will translate to robustly designed and analyzed health research programs, ultimately fostering greater clinical care and more positive health outcomes.

Additional Goals In the next few years, the AHEAD Institute plans to expand its influence by identifying novel applications for its data. Future projects include the establishment of a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Policy Research; expanding expertise and data coordination services for clinical trials and prospective data collection; including patient-generated data in its data warehouse; and working with other research institutes within SLU to link key data sources.



Ahead of the Curve Early Success and Future Promise Since launching in mid-2020, the AHEAD Institute has celebrated a number of high-impact research projects. These projects bring together faculty from several disciplines to examine how data can answer some of the biggest questions in health care, from substance addiction to disease spread. Progress on a few of the AHEAD Institute’s early initiatives is summarized below.

Virtual Data Warehouse Creation


The Virtual Data Warehouse (VDW) is the AHEAD Institute’s hallmark project, requiring strategic collaborations between SLU, a Midwestern health system partner and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Together, these groups have successfully configured a local AWS environment to store the VDW data files, tested and validated encryptions processes across system platforms, ensured HIPAA compliant cyber-security measures and optimized the end-user experience for accessible and efficient research.


Virtual Data Warehouse Management

Research Interest Group

Public Relations


Key Personnel

In order to ensure good stewardship of data within the VDW and other data sources, the AHEAD Institute has developed a series of policies and procedures to streamline data requests and research support infrastructure. Several workflows and technologies have also been implemented to dispatch data and research support requests to appropriate personnel for efficient project management. These processes have laid the groundwork for sustainable methodological and biostatistical research infrastructure across the University.

The AHEAD Institute has generated significant grassroots interest in its faculty and services through the creation of a new Research Interest Group. Several projects and collaborations have already formed among this small group of multidisciplinary researchers, who share their ideas through ongoing discussions. For example, Jeffrey Scherrer, AHEAD Institute associate director for research, recently formed a collaboration with faculty in the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training to investigate pain management and osteoarthritis.

Part of the AHEAD Institute’s formal launch consisted of a promotional campaign intended to build awareness of the new institute within SLU and the larger academic community. Over the last year, the Institute has developed several media resources, built several web pages and filmed a promotional video. These efforts have been a tremendous asset in legitimizing the Institute and conveying its ambition.

Parallel efforts within the AHEAD Institute have led to the successful launch of a new web application: Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap). All processes and procedures related to the oversight of REDCap now operate within the AHEAD Institute. This effort has enhanced the usability of the data management system and resulted in substantial cost savings for the University.

Much of the AHEAD Institute’s work in the last year was made possible through the strategic hires of key personnel, including a data manager, program coordinator and two biostatisticians. These professionals were essential in the execution of the AHEAD Institute’s early initiatives and will be vital to the Institute’s sustainability moving forward.





We believe today’s data will solve tomorrow’s dilemmas. Our job is to build the network that will get the right data into the right hands.” — Leslie Hinyard, Ph.D. Director



In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans.” — KAHLIL GIBRAN



Water Innovation to Serve Humanity



Clean Slate, Clear Focus A Conversation With Amanda Cox, Director, WATER Institute Life begins with water. It is our world’s most precious resource, nurturing every plant, animal and person. And yet, our water faces perpetual threats: scarcity, impurity and rising pollution. Understanding — and addressing — these challenges is at the heart of a rising research enterprise at SLU. Led by Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E., associate professor of civil engineering, the Water Access, Technology, Environment and Resources (WATER) Institute promises deep investigations into water and detailed insights into its influence on humanity.

safe to drink. We’ve done it for over 100 years. But having the infrastructure, expertise and training in place to do so — that’s where the complexity starts.” Today, the WATER Institute engages 17 SLU faculty members and 30 students from varying disciplines. The Institute is the first of its kind in the Midwest, and its location in St. Louis fills a historic gap in urban water research. Leadership has structured the WATER Institute to address the complex challenges affecting water resources on a global scale through three distinct lenses: the built environment, aquatic ecosystems and social justice. The goal, Cox says, is to give researchers a wide purview to examine deeper trends and evaluate their impact on humanity.

“Water is a broad topic because it influences so many aspects of our society,” Cox says. “To fully examine water, you also have to examine engineering, social justice, “Our goal is not only to continue all the public health, economics... great technical research we’re doing, but the list goes on and on.”

also to add the interdisciplinary capabilities

The intricacies of water led needed to answer those bigger questions,” Cox, along with Elizabeth Hasenmueller, Ph.D., Cox says. associate professor of earth “Things like why certain communities and atmospheric sciences, and Craig struggle to maintain infrastructure and Adams, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, professor how economics influence water policy of civil engineering, to consider a are very much top-of-mind for us.” more holistic approach to waterrelated research. The three of them, After years of hard work and meticulous each with their own areas of expertise, planning, the WATER Institute officially had crossed paths over the years and launched in June 2020 after receiving recognized an emerging need for funding from the Research Institute’s interdisciplinary collaboration. Big Ideas competition, a universitywide competition to identify emerging “It’s easy to look at an issue like poor research priorities. At the start of the fall water quality and think it’s a simple one 2020 semester, the WATER Institute to solve,” Cox says. “But the reality is moved into dedicated laboratory that these issues are often much more and work spaces within SLU’s newly complex. We know how to make water



opened Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building. This brings all WATER Institute investigators under one roof while engaging undergraduate and graduate students in unique, hands-on research experience. Now, Cox says the real work begins. And as she sees it, the sky’s the limit.

“The potential of this institute is really remarkable,” Cox says. “We see our work as an extension of SLU’s mission to improve people’s lives. And all life begins with water.”



Experts in the Field Meet the Team Leading the WATER Institute

Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E. Director, WATER Institute Associate Professor, Civil Engineering

Cox’s research activities cover a wide range of topics related to water movement. She has conducted studies on river engineering, sediment transport, urban drainage, stream restoration, bridge pier scour, hydraulic structures and erosion control. Cox uses a variety of research methods including numerical simulations, physical modeling, direct field measurements and remote sensing. Through her research, she applies advanced technologies in novel ways to observe and model water and sediment flow behavior.

Elizabeth Hasenmueller, Ph.D. Associate Director, WATER Institute Associate Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Hasenmueller’s overarching research goal is to improve our understanding of how disturbances, especially urbanization and climate change, affect water quality and quantity. Her research focuses on the interaction of water, soil and rock in both natural and altered systems. She is particularly interested in the origin and transport of contaminants in surface waters and groundwaters. To examine hydrologic and geochemical processes over multiple scales in space and time, Hasenmueller’s research incorporates a variety of methods such as field sampling, laboratory experiments, analytical techniques and theoretical modeling.



Rachel Rimmerman, MBA Director of Business and Outreach, WATER Institute

As director of Business and Outreach, Rimmerman leads the WATER Institute’s marketing, communications and development processes. This includes identifying strategic partnerships with internal and external stakeholders, as well as facilitating outreach activities for community impact. Her collaboration with colleagues across the University builds the awareness and engagement needed to grow the WATER Institute into a leading center for water-centric research. Since 2017, Rimmerman has also served as a technical advisor and staff mentor for the international team of Billikens for Clean Water (B4CW), a SLU student organization that spreads awareness about clean water crises and implements local and international community-based water projects.

Craig D. Adams, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE Primary Investigator, WATER Institute Oliver L. Parks Endowed Chair, Professor of Civil Engineering

Adams’ research in SLU’s Water Quality and Treatment Laboratory is focused on both drinking water quality issues and on evaluating and implementing appropriate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) technologies for developing nations. Adams’ recent work analyzing the cause and control of both cyanotoxins/cyanobacteria and novel taste-and-odor compounds directly translates into actionable guidance for utilities in the United States and beyond. Adams is also involved in the validation and testing of a wide range of filtration and disinfection technologies used in developing nations. He focuses heavily on the social and educational aspects of drinking water quality and treatment, often planning and conducting workshops that improve community awareness of water-related technologies.



By the Numbers A Look at the WATER Institute’s Impact Since launching in mid-2020, the WATER Institute has made a tremendous impact both on campus and across the region. Its leadership is encouraged both by the numerous projects already underway, as well as new prospects waiting to be discovered. A sampling of this year’s metrics is provided below.

3,600 + 3,600+ Square Feet in New Space

The new space is housed within the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building and includes: Hydraulics lab Wet chemistry lab Instrument room


Cold room Shared meeting space

17 Active Research Projects Investigating issues of water supply, treatment, pollution and beyond

50 +

50+ Streams, Rivers, Lakes and Springs Investigators are working across several major bodies of water in the U.S., Belize and the Caribbean.




13 Peer-Reviewed Publications Including works cited in prestigious publications such as: Science of the Total Environment Water Resources Research Ecology of Freshwater Fish * Researchers also published four non-reviewed works in 2020.

15 + 30

15+ Professional Presentations The WATER Institute is committed to engaging and educating the academic, regional and business communities.

30 Students Undergraduate and graduate students benefited from hands-on research experience through the WATER Institute.




Over $3.2 Million Awarded in Funding Led by eight primary investigators during 2020



Ripples Through the World What’s Next for the WATER Institute

The WATER Institute represents a groundbreaking new chapter in the way SLU approaches water-related issues around the world. As you speak to the Institute’s leadership, the excitement for the coming years is evident. Their goals are as local as they are global, with the ultimate intent of creating an enduring center for water innovation right here in St. Louis. These are just a few of the team’s highest aspirations.

Meaningful Collaboration Collaboration is the guiding force of the WATER Institute. Its first and foremost goal is to create an environment in which faculty may exchange insights and share resources toward greater outcomes. The Institute’s move into the new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building affords them an opportunity to work together in an organic, ongoing way.

Community Engagement Much like water itself, leaders hope to see the WATER Institute bring people together. Over time, the Institute will become a hub where academics, business professionals and community leaders come to learn about emerging topics within the field of water.


“The WATER Institute is very much a catalyst. I believe these are discussions worth having, and now with the Institute, we are providing a forum in which to have them.” — CRAIG ADAMS, PRIMARY INVESTIGATOR


“Expanding our expertise in complementary areas will help build up our ability to be competitive for larger, multi-faceted projects. And in that regard, the WATER Institute will help demonstrate the collective strength of the University.” — ELIZABETH HASENMUELLER, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

Fresh Perspectives Although the WATER Institute boasts a diverse group of faculty at launch, leaders say there is room to add voices from across the University. Many of the systemic issues surrounding water are intertwined with fields like business, law and economics. Attracting researchers in these fields and amplifying studies in these areas will help exemplify the WATER Institute’s holistic approach.

Positive Change

Global Renown

Student Engagement

The WATER Institute is committed to the humanitarian application of its work. Leaders are currently planning an advisory council that will act as a resource for municipalities, private businesses and community leaders as they address water-related challenges in their respective fields.

The WATER Institute’s unique approach is well-suited for more ambitious research grants. As these opportunities become available, the Institute will leverage the strength of its faculty and the scope of its capabilities to achieve greater success. Through that success, leaders are eager to see the WATER Institute become one of the world’s preeminent authorities on water-centric research.

Leaders at the WATER Institute currently serve as ambassadors to Billikens For Clean Water and the SLU chapter of Engineers Without Borders, student organizations dedicated to raising awareness of and promoting action against the global water crisis. These students receive ongoing guidance and education from WATER Institute faculty, enabling them to gain real-world insights into the potential and promise of water-centric research. BIG IDEAS | L AUNCHED INSTITUTES


Reflections on Year One Early Success and Future Promise Despite launching only a few months ago, the WATER Institute has already made significant headway. Investigators have been eager to approach their new colleagues about work they are currently conducting, as well as ideas they would like to pursue in the future. Progress on various initiatives at the WATER Institute is summarized below.

Informing Effective Water Treatment


Organizations around the world are attempting to solve water quality issues in impoverished communities with well-meaning technologies. However, these technologies often require scientific validation and community adoption in order to achieve long-term success. Investigators at the WATER Institute believe that effective treatment solutions must go through the community first. Together, they are assembling a series of guiding documents that will validate filtration and disinfection technologies, ultimately enabling these organizations to introduce sustainable water treatments that are mindful of the surrounding community.


Educating the Water Industry

Understanding Microplastics

Tracking Water Movement

Two issues drive the vast majority of customer complaints to water companies: poor taste and odor. Taste and odor complaints arise from a variety of ways and can also vary drastically from place to place. Therefore, it is a challenge for water companies to know precisely what is causing them in some cases. Researchers at the WATER Institute are currently engaging with American Water on addressing these challenges, such as methodology to detect novel compounds that may cause taste and odor-related issues and evaluating treatment approaches to remove them. American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. These partnerships offer vital opportunities to improve water quality and make an everyday difference in people’s lives.

Determining the transport and fate of microplastic (tiny pieces of plastic < 5 mm) debris in the environment is an emerging field of study. Although small, microplastics can cause significant issues when introduced into a water supply or ecosystem. The WATER Institute is combining technical research with humanitarian thinking to answer the big questions surrounding microplastics, like how they move from place to place and what that means for the future of our environment, water treatments and more. Investigators are specifically looking at how microplastics move through local rivers and affect groundwater systems.

Water can move through the environment in many ways, depending on its surroundings. Researching how water moves through a given system is critical for understanding how various nutrients and pollutants are moved through the earth. Researchers with the WATER Institute have studied the movement of water across several different types of land use, from rural farmland to dense, urban blocks. Early studies have helped visualize how much faster both surface and groundwater moves through urban watersheds. This work has shown great promise for its application in emerging urban research topics, such as the transport of road salts.

In many cases, sewer leaks aren’t detected until they cause noticeable property damage. This makes it difficult for sewage companies to proactively manage sewer infrastructure and implement upgrades before they become critical.

Detecting Sewer Leaks

Investigators within the WATER Institute have partnered with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) on a study to determine if the presence of common chemicals from laundry detergents can be used as a method to detect sewer leaks that may impact streams. The method will enable wastewater managers to quickly identify infrastructure in need of upgrading.





The WATER Institute is an incredible reflection of SLU’s mission. There’s really no better place than right here, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, to advance humanity through water.” — AMANDA COX, Ph.D., P.E. Director



Humanizing Equity 104


Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.” — MAYA ANGELOU



In Pursuit of Parity A Conversation With Ruqaiijah Yearby, Executive Director, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity Ruqaiijah Yearby, J.D., M.P.H., could not have predicted the path 2020 would take. While the world battled the COVID-19 pandemic, the conversation in the United States turned toward another public health crisis: racism. Racial injustice is not a new discovery, but its many influences in our society are the focus of Yearby’s work at SLU’s new Institute for Healing Justice and Equity. The Institute, the first of its kind in the United States, was formed with the goal of eliminating disparities in individual and community health and wellbeing caused by systemic oppression. The novel coronavirus, as it turned out, was a perfect case study. “This year has given us an incredible opportunity to look at our work as it pertains to COVID-19,” Yearby says. “Specifically, at how things like inequities and systemic oppression have allowed for, or even caused, disparities in COVID infections and death.”

“We’re seeing that with COVID now. During Jim Crow, laws were passed that kept racial and ethnic minorities out of collective bargaining, which resulted in paid sick leave for American workers. Many of these racial and ethnic minorities serve as essential workers, risking exposure to the virus every day, without the protection of paid sick leave that would allow them to stay at home when they get sick.” Still, identifying an issue is only the first step toward a solution. The Institute is structured to focus on three pillars: equity in policy, healing justice and community research ethics. Healing justice, in particular, is an emerging framework for both addressing trauma caused by systemic oppression and designing new, more inclusive practices of healing. Combined, these pillars provide the scope needed not only to investigate issues of racial injustice, but also to take action against them.

It is imperative, Yearby says, to engage She shares an example from right here communities during the research process in St. Louis: Coronavirus infections and value oppressed minorities not as are highest in areas where low-income subjects, but as partners. She indicates housing with severe health-related that solutions are often prescribed for the housing violations is most common. community without first understanding Those same areas, she says, are primarily what the community really needs. By composed of African Americans. establishing partnerships with local Correlations like this exist throughout community organizations, Yearby hopes our society and much of the Institute’s to start meaningful dialogues. work focuses on identifying their root causes in history “We really want to make sure people are valued and highlighting their in the research designed to help their community,” consequences today. “Many of the laws, policies and practices passed during the Jim Crow era have created the inequities we see today,” Yearby says.


Yearby says. “We want to hear the issues on their minds while also introducing them to what we’re seeing. Together, we’ll work toward solutions that allow those oppressed to move forward toward equity — not set them back.”


These principles inform the Institute’s work in the community. Its co-founders are entrenched in community engaged practices that eliminate barriers to resources and fully incorporate individuals as partners in solution-based programming. For instance, instead of asking Black men to seek out health care screenings despite lack of trust in health care systems, The Barbershop Tour takes screenings to Black men in spaces they already populate. The Justice Fleet is another community-based project that brings healing justice and solutionbuilding tools into communities and asks them, “What do you need to heal from and what solutions can you create that speak to your immediate needs?” When the community is included as partners in research and activist endeavors, it leads to more viable and comprehensive solutions. The Institute for Healing Justice and Equity received funding through the Research Institute’s annual Big Ideas competition but will also be housed under SLU’s Office of Diversity and Community Engagement. As the office’s research arm, the Institute will convene scholars, healing practitioners and community partners to research, implement, assess and evaluate efforts to eradicate oppression and achieve equity. In the years to come, the Institute plans to compile a series of researchbacked healing practices, theories and frameworks to assist policymakers in creating sustainable approaches to achieve racial equity. Yearby says the world sorely needs that research, and it couldn’t come at a better time.

“Between COVID and racial protesting, the connection between inequity and oppression has never been clearer than right now,” Yearby says. “And I’m excited that the work we’re doing here will help alleviate these issues and improve the health and wellbeing of communities everywhere.”



Experts in the Field Meet the Team Leading the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity

Ruqaiijah A. Yearby, J.D., M.P.H

Executive Director, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity Professor of Law, Center for Health Law Studies Yearby is a specialist in the structural determinants of health care, the intersection of employment and health care and justice in medical research. She has dedicated her career to improving the lives of vulnerable populations by addressing the lack of equal access to quality health care. Through her research and work with community groups, Yearby advocates for equal access to quality health care and fair wages for racial and ethnic minorities, women and the poor. Using empirical data, her research explores the ways in which inequities in society, law and the health care delivery system prevent minorities, women and the economically disadvantaged from attaining equal access to quality health care, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality.

Kira Hudson Banks, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Psychology

Banks has been working to support individuals and groups to understand themselves, others and systems of oppression for over 20 years. Her teaching, research and community involvement is rooted in the values of Black Psychology, which uplifts the interconnectedness and resilience of people and rejects an individual and deficit approach. Her research examines the experience of discrimination, its impact on mental health and intergroup relations. Her courses have ranged from Abnormal Psychology to the Psychology of Racism. Banks has published over 20 articles in peer-reviewed outlets including American Psychological Association journals such as American Psychologist, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology and Journal of Diversity in Higher Education.



Amber Johnson, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Communication As a scholar, artist and activist, Johnson has focused their research and activism on narratives of identity, protest and social justice in digital media, popular media and everyday lived experiences. As a polymath, their mixed-media artistry involves working with metals, recycled and reclaimed goods, photography, poetry, percussion and paint to interrogate systems of oppression. Johnson’s notable awards include the Golden Anniversary Monograph Award for research on black masculinity and the performative possibilities of social media; the Lilla A. Heston award for Outstanding Scholarship in Interpretation and Performance Studies for work on embodied pedagogies and social justice; and the Faculty Excellence Award for Diversity and Social Justice, a presidential citation for social justice work within and beyond the communication discipline.

Keon L. Gilbert, DrPH

Associate Professor, Behavioral Science and Health Education Gilbert uses his interdisciplinary training to engage in research in several areas, including social capital, health disparities, African American Men’s health and interventions to prevent chronic diseases. Gilbert’s work draws on his training to investigate the intersection of racial identity, racial socialization and structural racism as an important, yet unexplored, social determinant of African American males’ health across the life course. Part of understanding this intersection is to understand cultural and structural changes within African American communities over time and to better understand the opportunities and limitations of males’ participation in formal organizations, social networks and systems of social support where they live, work and play.



By the Numbers


A Look at the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity’s Impact The Institute for Healing Justice and Equity officially launched in fall of 2020, making it one of the newest centers for interdisciplinary research supported by the Research Institute. Its leadership has attracted early attention at the national level through various grants, publications and writings. The next several years will provide vital opportunities to expand the Institute’s influence to implement meaningful and sustainable change in our communities. The following is a brief recap of the Institute’s early successes.

4 co-founders 2 graduate assistants 19 faculty




1 110

25 Affiliated Members


$1.6 Million Awarded in Funding

1 Webinar Series Conducted Entitled “Color of COVID,” exploring the links between COVID infections and race

15 +

15+ Blogs and Articles Examining topics such as structural racism in the workplace, police violence and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on marginalized populations. Publishers include Harvard Business Review, Oxford Journal of Law and the Biosciences and American Journal of Public Health. Health.



5 New Institute Hires Including a program director, research fellow, biostatistician and two graduate assistants

4 Grants Received Two from the Missouri Foundation for Health, one from the Art Healing Initiative Fund and one from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation



Dr. Norman White Award for Engaged Scholarship and Service Awarded to Kira Hudson Banks, Ph.D. and Amber Johnson, Ph.D.

Dr. Terry Leet Researcher Award from Generate Health Awarded to Amber Johnson, Ph.D.

Taylor and Francis Award for Outstanding Revised Textbook Awarded to Amber Johnson, Ph.D., for “African American Communication: Examining the Complexities of Lived Experiences”



Community Through Connection What’s Next for the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity



The Institute for Healing Justice and Equity intends to transform SLU into the epicenter of equitable community building and knowledge curation related to healing from social injustice, trauma and oppression. Over the next few years, its leadership will lead several studies designed to achieve equity, address trauma and involve communities. Here are some of the highlights to expect along the way.

Intentional Collaboration The Institute seeks to generate collaboration internally (faculty, students and staff) and externally (local, national and international organizations) to address systemic oppression that leads to inequity.

National Recognition The Institute will distinguish itself as a national leader and conduct cutting-edge research on equity, healing justice and community research ethics.

Published Works Leaders within the Institute are writing a book titled Humanizing Equity, Healing Justice, that includes the concept of Humanizing Equity, which was developed by Amber Johnson, Ph.D. to illuminate the need to incorporate healing practices into equity measures as a means to address the psychological and physical harms of oppression.

Actionalizing Research A database of healing justice practice and resources is planned, which will make SLU the preeminent institute for archiving innovation around healing justice.

Community Engagement The Institute will convene local, national and international researchers as well as community members to develop optimal practices for engaging local communities in the research process. One proposed study includes the development of theoretical models showing the association between a community’s employment and its health.



From Healing Comes Health Early Success and Future Promise Several researchers at SLU have brought their work in racial oppression and inequity under the new Institute for Healing Justice and Equity since it launched in fall 2020. With its degree of funding and faculty resources, the Institute aims to pursue bigger and broader projects that will connect policymakers with well-researched policies for alleviating the effects of systemic oppression. Many current initiatives within the Institute are summarized below.

Shut It Down


The Shut It Down initiative provides racial equity and implicit bias education for teachers, so that they are better able to work with students who have experienced trauma or severe stress in their lives outside of the classroom. The goal is to foster the development of safe and supportive school environments that create opportunities for students to improve educationally while minimizing the need for the kinds of school disciplinary practices, like suspensions, that can lead to worse outcomes for kids, in school and beyond.


St. Louis Racial Equity Fund

The Institute is one of 10 initial, contributing organizations to the St. Louis Racial Equity Fund. Through a community-led grant-making process, the fund will support efforts to develop capacity and infrastructure in the racial justice movement to envision, articulate and create a transformed St. Louis region through community organizing and healing arts.

Virtual Justice Fleet

The Justice Fleet is a mobile network of experiences that foster community healing through art, play and dialogue. Housed inside of box trucks, each mobile exhibit ventures into various neighborhoods to engage community members in discussions about implicit and explicit bias, social justice and empathy. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty successfully converted this program into an all-digital experience for participants.

Employment and Women’s Health Disparities

This initiative studies the connection between employment practices and women’s health disparities in women 18 years to death. Investigators are evaluating whether current governmental efforts to address inequities in employment and women’s health disparities lead to law and policy changes that impact women’s health. This work also examines the societal systems, organizational structures, institutional practices and legal policies that cause inequities in employment, which directly impact women’s health.

Equity in Health Care Institutions

This project will evaluate law and policy initiatives governing health care institutions and whether they address discrimination in health care based on age, disability, ethnicity, race and sex that limit access to care and causes disparities in health outcomes.

Equity Initiatives and Community Impact

The Institute plans to conduct ethnographic case study research to assess how various governmental and institutional equity initiatives and policy changes have impacted actual lived experience of those most impacted by inequities.

Racism Is a Public Health Crisis

In partnership with the Justice Collaborative Institute and Data for Progress, the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity published a report in September 2020 that investigates the laws and policies contributing to significant health disparities among minority groups. The report also includes a series of recommendations for local governments in order to overcome racism in their communities through healing justice practices.





Equity means looking at people and giving them what they need, while also recognizing that they are owed a debt. Repaying that debt is the essence of healing justice.” — RUQAIIJAH YEARBY, J.D., M.P.H Executive Director



Center for Vaccine Development Protecting Humanity From Deadly Disease

For just a few dollars a dose, vaccines save lives and help reduce poverty. Unlike medical treatment, they provide a lifetime of protection from deadly and debilitating disease.” — SETH BERKLEY, M.D., CEO, GAVI





On the Front Lines A Conversation With Daniel Hoft, Director, Center for Vaccine Development As director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Allergy and Immunology; director of the Center for Vaccine Development (CVD); director of the Institute for Vaccine Science and Policy (IVSP); and a professor of infectious diseases, Daniel Hoft wears a multitude of hats across Saint Louis University. But now, in the face of a lethal, global pandemic, it is his confidence and optimism that stand out above all. “Times like this are part of the job,” Hoft says. “We’re very accustomed to being called upon to work on something that’s urgent and necessary for the world.”

Hoft’s addition to SLU’s faculty made a substantial impact on the University’s ability to research new vaccines to combat the disease. Since then, Hoft has led more than 25 vaccine clinical trials as principal investigator and helped elevate SLU’s reputation as one of the nation’s leading institutions for vaccine research. Today, Hoft is leading SLU’s extraordinary efforts to develop and test vaccines against COVID-19, supervising several clinical trials and collaborating with his colleagues in the School of Medicine on potential treatments. Although he’s been involved in research relating to countless infectious diseases, such as AIDS and influenza, Hoft describes the current COVID-19 pandemic as one of the most complex he’s faced in his career.

Hoft’s career in medicine was sparked during his time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Borneo. There, he served as a senior malaria technician for two years before deciding to return to the U.S. and enroll in medical school. Seeing firsthand “We’re facing a tremendous, acute the devastation caused by challenge in COVID-19,” Hoft says. “And infectious diseases, Hoft made this the primary it’s exacerbated by the fact that we don’t focus of his research and have anything in place to protect people. career in internal medicine.

So we have much to learn.”

“My time in Borneo was a defining, eye-opening experience,” Hoft says. “It was there that I saw how important infectious diseases are around the world, arranged to take the MCAT while in Borneo and started medical school immediately after returning to the U.S.” Hoft arrived at SLU in 1992, bringing with him several research projects involving immunology and microbiology. At the time, the U.S. was facing a surge of tuberculosis cases, and


While researchers will certainly learn more about the coronavirus family as a result of the pandemic, Hoft believes they will learn even more about the vaccine development process. He says the current effort to develop a vaccine is the most ambitious, most aggressive he’s seen in his lifetime. As a result, researchers around the world are now learning how to speed up the vaccine development process — without cutting corners on safety.


As Hoft reflects on the pandemic that will define 2020 in the history books, he does so with gratitude for the way in which the St. Louis community has come together to tackle its many challenges and volunteer for the vaccine trials that make his research possible. It is in times of great distress that humanity takes greater strides toward innovation. Between Hoft’s leadership and the CVD’s legacy, many of those strides are happening right here at Saint Louis University.

“We know this is an incredibly difficult time,” Hoft says. “But we are immensely grateful to everyone who has understood how important this pandemic is, and who has done their part to protect themselves and others.”



Experts in the Field Meet the Team Leading the Center for Vaccine Development

Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D. Director and Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, Allergy and Immunology Director, Center for Vaccine Development Director, Institute for Vaccine Science and Policy Adorjan Endowed Chair of Infectious Diseases and Immunology Hoft is the director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Saint Louis University and the principal investigator (PI) for the SLU Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU), one of only 10 elite NIH-funded VTEUs in the country. Under his leadership, the CVD has built upon its 30-year legacy of communitycentered research excellence. In December 2019, the NIH renewed SLU’s VTEU status, and in April 2020, a generous gift from Stephen C. Peiper, M.D. (Med ’77), and Zi-Xuan “Zoe” Wang, Ph.D., established a new center of excellence under Hoft’s leadership: the Stephen C. Peiper and Zi-Xuan Wang Institute for Vaccine Science and Policy. In addition to his proven leadership, Hoft has earned national recognition for his contributions to science. Hoft’s research has studied whether mucosal vaccinations and booster vaccinations enhance immunity induced by conventional vaccination. He was the first to demonstrate that human γ9δ2 T cells develop protective memory responses after vaccination, a paradigm shift that provides an important new approach for tuberculosis vaccine development. Among his contributions to the field are the development of improved tuberculosis vaccines, the development of vaccines for Chagas Disease and pandemic influenza vaccine development. Recognizing his scientific accomplishments and excellence in teaching, Hoft was elected a Fellow of the St. Louis Academy of Science in 2018. In June 2020, he was named to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee which provides peer review, consultation, advice and recommendations to the assistant secretary for health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.



Sharon Frey, M.D.

Clinical Director, Center for Vaccine Development Kinsella Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine Professor, Associate Director of Clinical Research, Division of Infectious Diseases, Allergy and Immunology

Frey is a professor and the Ralph Kinsella endowed chair in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Allergy and Immunology at SLU. Frey also serves as the clinical director for SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD), the co-PI for the SLU NIH-sponsored Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) and the co-director for clinical research for the Division of Infectious Diseases, Allergy and Immunology. Frey is a clinical trials expert and has conducted two of the first three prophylactic HCV trials in humans. Her most recent research emphasis has been in the evaluation of vaccines against influenza including chimeric and pandemic influenza strains, vaccines to counter bioterrorism/biowarfare and emerging infections such as smallpox and plague. In 2020, Frey became the PI for phase three COVID-19 vaccine trials, the first for the St. Louis region. The trials study the effectiveness, safety and immune response generated by a vaccine co-developed by industry scientists and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center.

Getahun Abate, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Infectious Diseases, Allergy and Immunology

Abate is a physician scientist and has clinical, teaching and research duties. As a clinician, Abate provides infectious diseases consultation service at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. Abate is also the program director for the Infectious Diseases fellowship at Saint Louis University and therefore spends significant time teaching. Abate’s primary research interests are mycobacterial diseases including tuberculosis (TB) and nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). TB was declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization in 1993, and as part of the effort to find better ways to control tuberculosis, Abate has helped develop simple and reliable assays for rapid detection of multidrug-resistant TB. In addition, the Abate Lab has worked toward developing novel anti-TB drugs and new treatment regimens.

Sarah George, M.D. Associate Professor, Infectious Diseases, Allergy and Immunology

George is an associate professor of medicine at SLU and a staff physician at the John Cochran VA Medical Center. The George Lab has developed extensive expertise in dengue and flaviviruses. In collaboration with others, George showed that live attenuated tetravalent dengue vaccination induces a cross-serotype, specific, durable T cell response that recognizes discrete viral proteins. George has also been principal investigator on vaccine trials related to Zika and Yellow Fever. In April 2020, George was PI for an NIH trial testing the safety and efficacy of remdesivir in the treatment of COVID-19. Early data indicate that patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19 recover faster when administered remdesivir, cutting recovery time from 15 to 11 days. Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), later called the drug the “new standard-of-care.” BIG IDEAS | L AUNCHED INSTITUTES


By the Numbers


A Look at the Center for Vaccine Development’s Impact The Center for Vaccine Development at SLU has been on the frontline of the global fight against infectious diseases for over 30 years. Home to the region’s leading experts in vaccine and treatment research, the CVD has also become a national leader during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are a sampling of metrics highlighting the Center’s extraordinary impact.

320 5-8




$5–8 Million in Funding Over 20+ Years


76 Faculty, Scientists and Staff in Infectious Diseases

Over 320 Studies Conducted in the Center for Vaccine Development’s 30-year history

19,441 20,000 +

19,441 Study Participants With exceptional support from the St. Louis community

20,000+ Square Feet in Research and Clinical Space 7,000+ for the Center for Vaccine Development 5,000 for state-of-the-art laboratory space in the Edward A. Doisy Research Center 17,000+ in the newly renovated Extended Stay Research Unit (ESRU)


6 Active and Upcoming COVID-19 Studies Including vaccine and treatment evaluation as well as basic research to support the study of COVID-19



Transformative Initiatives What’s Next for the Center for Vaccine Development



Stephen C. Peiper and Zi-Xuan Wang Institute for Vaccine Science and Policy From Bench to Bedside, Public Health to Policy SLU alum, Dr. Stephen C. Peiper and his wife Dr. Zi-Xuan Wang have generously donated $750,000, to be matched by the School of Medicine to launch a new Institute for Vaccine Science and Policy. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has made it abundantly clear that the connections between vaccine science, public health and policy are of critical importance.

This new center of excellence will sit at the intersection of these fields, uniting the expertise of more than 35 faculty from SLU’s School of Medicine, College for Public Health and Social Justice, College of Arts and Sciences and School of Law to address the complex, global challenges to human health. Over the coming year, the group will develop a vision and mission for the Institute, develop an infrastructure and leadership team for the IVSP and work to establish SLU as a leader in bridging the gaps between vaccine science, public health and policy.

Systems Vaccinology A Cutting-Edge Initiative From World-Renowned Faculty Systems biology research is an emerging discipline in biomedicine, one with vast potential for new discoveries that will improve scientists’ understanding of complex mammalian processes. Translation of systems biology research may lead to new treatments and preventative strategies for maintaining optimal public health. In an effort to lead the study of this promising discipline, a group of faculty from the School of Medicine and College of Arts and Sciences led by Hoft has joined together to build a dedicated center for systems biology research at Saint Louis University. Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D. and the CVD team at Saint Louis University have responded to the Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit’s charge to conduct state-of-the-art systems biology studies of vaccine and infection responses. Hoft successfully out-performed seven other highly competitive institutions and secured a $2,444,953 award from the national VTEU network of its omic work. The systems vaccinology team is launching with a five-year focus on vaccine-related systems biology, which is well-suited for National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded programs or capital program project grants. Once the center is operating at full capacity, faculty plan to expand its scope beyond vaccinology and immunology, which will open greater access to public and private funding sources, as well as numerous partnerships within the academic and private sectors.



Clinical Studies and Crucial Discoveries A Look at the CVD’s Current Projects The Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) is home to Saint Louis University’s efforts to serve humanity through life-saving vaccines. Across several multidisciplinary studies, scientists are conducting basic and clinical research into infectious diseases and vaccine development. The scale and scope of the CVD has expanded considerably over the last several years, with researchers now working at every stage of the vaccine development process for some of the world’s most devastating illnesses.

Current Trials Universal Flu Vaccines Influenza viruses mutate constantly, resulting in the emergence of viruses that may not always match those targeted by seasonal and pre-pandemic influenza vaccines. Seasonal influenza vaccines are made anew each year to match the strains predicted to circulate in the upcoming season. To receive the best protection against influenza, people must be vaccinated annually. The CVD faculty are working to develop a universal flu vaccine that will protect against all strains of influenza, providing broader protective immunity for a longer length of time. Hoft recently received a $3 million R01 award to complete pre-clinical work on a prototype universal influenza vaccine targeting T cells.

Extended Stay Research Unit The state-of-the-art Extended Stay Research Unit (ESRU) includes $860,000 of remodeling investment to convert hotel rooms in the Salus Center into a


space where the CVD conducts human challenge and natural history studies. The facility is designed to protect the safety of the study volunteers and nonstudy participants in the building, using a sophisticated HVAC system for aerosol containment. Clinic staff provide round-the-clock patient care and the space includes 23 patient rooms with private bathrooms, two lounges, a kitchen, dining room and an exercise facility to allow volunteers to continue their normal activities as much as possible. This unique asset was designed for influenza human challenge studies and has been updated to house COVID-19 positive volunteers as well.

Influenza Challenge Studies Volunteers in challenge studies are either challenged with influenza to study the biology of viral infection and human immune responses, or are first given either a flu vaccine or a placebo, and then intentionally exposed to a strain of influenza to determine if the vaccine is protective against infection


and disease. Volunteers are quarantined in our challenge unit for approximately 10 days while they are monitored and have blood and lung tests, as well as nasal swabs to see if they are infected with flu and shedding the virus. This type of controlled study allows CVD faculty to precisely measure human immunity and the safety and efficacy of vaccines and allows for much faster vaccine development. Volunteers must test negative for flu on two consecutive days before they return home to prevent community spread of influenza.

COVID-19 Natural History Studies Due to the lack of effective treatment for COVID-19, the CVD is not performing challenge studies with COVID-19 patients. However, the ESRU allows the CVD to house COVID-19 positive individuals with mild symptoms in order to understand the progression of the disease through the course of the infectious period. Understanding the day-to-day nature of the virus and

the human immune response can help develop more effective vaccines and treatments.

COVID-19 Prevention Network COVID-19 Prevention Network: SLU is a member of the newly organized national network, the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN), organized by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The network is developing and testing vaccines and treatments in the fight against COVID-19. SLU researchers, led by Sharon Frey, M.D. and Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., participated in the first large-scale phase three vaccine trial, the Moderna mRNA vaccine, that has enrolled thousands of participants across the U.S. Frey, Hoft and the CVD team are now preparing for the next phase three study to launch.

Remdesivir Treatment Trials SLU was selected as one of the first sites to participate in the remdesivir clinical trials for hospitalized COVID-19

patients with moderate to severe disease. The antiviral drug has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in hospitalized adult and pediatric patients over the age of 12. Clinical studies that employ remdesivir in combination with other therapeutics are underway with the goal that a more potent, efficacious treatment regimen is identified to combat severe COVID-19 disease. SLU’s remdesivir trials are being led by Sharon Frey, M.D. and Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D.

Participate in a Study If you are in the St. Louis area and would like to participate in one of the Center for Vaccine Development’s clinical trials, please call (314) 977-6333 or email vaccine@slu.edu to learn more. The CVD welcomes participants of any age, race or gender. Thank you.

Universal Coronavirus Vaccine Development The current COVID-19 pandemic is caused by a highly pathogenic betacoronovirus. The previous SARS and MERS epidemics were also caused by betacoronoviruses, with similar evolutionary pathways as our current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Led by Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., SLU researchers are developing T cell targets that will protect against these three deadly betacoronaviruses as well as viruses that

could emerge from the same family to cause a future pandemic. Researchers are exploring T cell targets expressed by all three viruses to create innovative vaccine constructs that harness the protective capacities of both antibody-secreting B cells (vaccines currently under development) and antiviral T cells (providing broader, longer-term immunity).





I’m excited for what the future may hold. COVID-19 will be a major milestone in how we understand both the viruses that harm us and the immune systems that protect us.” — DANIEL HOFT, M.D., PH.D. Director



On the Horizon

Updates From Rising Big Ideas Initiatives We’ve only scratched the surface of what the Big Ideas competition has made possible at Saint Louis University. Each year presents new challenges to examine and new opportunities to answer some of the biggest questions facing humanity. The following sections highlight some of SLU’s more recently funded Big Ideas competition winners. These projects, though early in development, represent the strength of the University’s research enterprise and a bright future for all.

FEATURED: Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation (IDBI) Center for Additive Manufacturing (CAM) SLU/YouGov Poll Sepsis Center People and Technology Horizon (PATH) @ SLU







Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation (IDBI) Igniting New Drug Discovery For more than 200 years, Saint Louis University has built incredible strength in the fields of chemistry, biology and medicine. It is with this strength in mind that a new institute at SLU aims to develop a comprehensive and well-integrated center for drug development.

earlier stage, with the ultimate goal of getting more quality drugs to market and benefitting more lives.” The formation of the IDBI reflects a broader shift within the pharmaceutical industry, as primary drug discovery moves away from large corporations and into academia. IDBI will enable smaller, more agile research groups within SLU to pursue pharmaceutical applications for their works.

The Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation (IDBI) is a recent recipient of funding from SLU’s annual Big Ideas competition. Led by “We have an incredible opportunity to John Tavis, Ph.D., professor of molecular microbiology and The Institute has launched capitalize on the industry’s shifting immunology; Marvin Meyers, with three modules: Expert paradigm,” Tavis says. “Our goal is to Ph.D., professor of chemistry; Communities, Educational create a sustainable center of knowledge and Jack Kennell, Ph.D., Services and Discovery professor of biology, IDBI is and collaboration that will support great Services. Together, the three designed to stimulate ideas modules give IDBI faculty a researchers in taking their findings to and foster collaboration wide range of opportunities market as a new drug.” between researchers at SLU to collaborate with one whose work relates to drug development. another, educate the campus community and engage the pharmaceutical industry. Tavis and his colleagues believe “Drug discovery is inherently a multi-factorial that, in time, the IDBI will become an essential institute optimization problem,” Tavis says. “To make even the within SLU, one that bridges the gap between the smallest molecule for a drug, you need collaboration University’s prestige in the sciences to real-world between biologists, chemists and pharmacologists. Now applications in pharmaceuticals. through IDBI, we’re creating that collaboration at a much

“I believe we have a bright future ahead of us,” Tavis says. “The SLU mission is to serve mankind, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than by discovering more drugs that save more lives.”



Goals 1 2 3 136

Formalize Policies and Procedures The IDBI formally launched on January 1, 2020. Since then, the leadership team has been actively working to develop an efficient operating structure. Most recently, the Institute has established protocols for awarding seed funding to those projects with high potential, as well as a review process for evaluating projects based on their ability to compete for external grant funding.

Quick Facts IDBI’s current areas of interest include: Autoimmunity, inflammation and cancer

Provide Tools and Education Two of IDBI’s three core modules involve providing the tools, education and training required to get more SLU researchers involved in the drug discovery process. To that end, the IDBI team has invested in CDD Vault, an industry-standard database for drug development. It will allow researchers across campus to study a global repository of synthetic molecules and collaborate in a central interface. The Institute also plans to hire an analytical chemist, who will provide critical, in-house evaluation of a drug’s responsiveness in the human body.

Build Strategic Partnerships IDBI leadership is currently forming a panel of external industrialization officers, who will advise members on ways to identify, manage and grow working relationships with industry partners, such as pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology start-ups. Such relationships are critical to validating the potential of IDBI’s research outputs and ensuring they are deployed to the marketplace.


Biomaterials and skeletal muscle Cardiovascular, liver and other organ systems Infectious diseases Medicinal chemistry Neuropathy and pain Obesity, diabetes and related diseases Rare, orphan and genetic diseases

In less than a year, IDBI membership has grown to 81 senior members and 44 associate members. IDBI includes faculty from biology, chemistry and clinical trials.

John Tavis, Ph.D. Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Tavis has studied the HBV replication mechanism of HBV and the biochemistry of the viral reverse transcriptase since 1992. He serves as the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council for the annual Molecular Biology of the Hepatitis B Viruses Meeting and as a member of the Council for Extramural Grants at the American Cancer Society. His current work focuses on developing novel drugs to suppress HBV replication that target the essential viral ribonuclease H enzyme.

Marvin Meyers, Ph.D. Professor, Chemistry

Meyers received his BA in chemistry from Dordt College and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Illinois. From 2000 to 2010, Meyers worked as a medicinal chemist in drug discovery at Pfizer, where he worked on new drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease and pain. In 2010, he joined a team of scientists at SLU working on discovering new drugs for rare and neglected diseases. I​ n 2018, he transitioned to SLU’s Department of Chemistry where he continues to work on new drug discovery for infectious and other diseases.

Jack Kennell, Ph.D. Professor, Biology

In the past, Kennell has incorporated Service-Learning projects in his classes and found that these projects are very effective in stimulating student interest in Biology, leading to favorable learning outcomes. Service-Learning projects allow students to experience biology in real-world settings and offer insight into concepts that underlie biological phenomena faced by our society in ways that cannot be adequately provided in the classroom.





Center for Additive Manufacturing (CAM) Printing Potential Although the technology goes back to the 1980s, scientists are only just beginning to scratch the surface of what additive manufacturing (commonly known as 3D printing) can do. With the formation of the Center for Additive Manufacturing at Saint Louis University (SLU CAM), one group of researchers hopes to get the vast possibilities of additive manufacturing into the hands of faculty, students and beyond.

“We’ve invested in two high-end machines, a Stratasys Fortus 450MC high performance material large-buildvolume FDM printer and Stratasys J735 multi-color, multi-durometer, polyjet printer,” says Castiaux. “Together, they provide a lot of flexibility in terms of print color, material and speed.”

The advantages of modern 3D printing are endless, from custom fixturing to rapid prototyping to affordable SLU CAM was founded by Scott Martin, Ph.D., manufacturing. department chair and The technology, however, professor of chemistry; Andy historically been difficult “SLU CAM represents a democratization of has Hall, D. Sc., associate for researchers to access, 3D printing on campus,” says Castiaux. professor of biomedical requiring a significant engineering; Andre Castiaux, “You don’t have to be an expert on this investment in machinery and Ph.D., postdoctoral expertise. The SLU CAM technology to find value in it. We’re very esearcher in the Department team hopes to close this gap excited to work with students and faculty of Chemistry; and Scott Sell, with on-site guidance for Ph.D., associate professor anyone interested in utilizing alike to bring their visions to life.” and program coordinator 3D printing technology, in biomedical engineering. The center intends to spark whether it be for class finals or real-world prototyping. imagination and advance innovation by offering the campus and regional communities access to the latest 3D printing is a unique intersection of art and science, additive manufacturing technology, as well as a wealth one that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the SLU CAM team. of hands-on training and support. According to Hall, additive manufacturing is quickly emerging as a fine art medium and the team is eager to pursue opportunities with on- and off-campus artists to “As our colleagues across campus push the limits of what’s create immersive works through computer-aided design possible in their research labs, we have an incredible opportunity to support them with cutting-edge 3D (CAD) software. printing technology,” says Hall.

“We aspire to see artists and engineers working together in our facility to create beautiful, expressive pieces,” says Hall. “That collaboration really speaks to our broader mission of connecting people with the technology to embrace new possibilities.” BIG IDEAS | FEATURED INITIATIVES


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Demonstrate Capabilities With both printers now fully operational, SLU CAM leadership is excited to show off their capabilities to SLU faculty and students. The team has used the last several months to print a wide array of objects that illustrate the intricacies of each machine. Most recently, the team responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by designing a 3D-printed face mask that uses optical facial scanning to ensure a proper, custom fit.

Expand Technologies SLU CAM’s initial funding enabled the purchase of two printers, but leaders say they’re just the beginning. Many emerging applications for additive manufacturing, like bioprinting and metallic printing, require separate machines. Over time, SLU CAM hopes to acquire these technologies and enable new discoveries, particularly in the fields of biology, medicine and pharmacy.

Engage Community SLU CAM fills a vital need in the St. Louis community as an educational authority on 3D printing technology. The team recently partnered with MADE, a St. Louis-based makerspace, to collaborate with local artists and hobbyists on more complex prints requiring SLU’s advanced machinery. Over time, SLU CAM also plans to forge new collaborative relationships with local start-ups and corporations whose work is well-suited for additive manufacturing research.


Quick Facts SLU CAM is housed in the University’s new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (ISE) Building. The market for additive manufacturing is expected to reach $34B by 2024, according to a recent report from Frost and Sullivan. SLU CAM’s current industry partners include Boeing, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), MADE — Maker Space, Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) and BioSTL.

R. Scott Martin, Ph.D. Department Chair, Professor, Chemistry Martin’s research primarily focuses on using microchip technology to study cellular systems in a manner where an analysis scheme can be integrated to study the release of neurotransmitters in near-real time. This approach will allow the use of in vitro models to study the processes that lead to disease onset by studying cell-to-cell interaction on a molecular level and in a quantitative fashion.

Scott Sell, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering Sell conducts research in the areas of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, particularly focusing on the potential for electrospinning to create extracellular matrix analogue scaffolds for dermal and musculoskeletal repair. He has also done extensive research on the incorporation and controlled release of platelet-rich plasma from electrospun scaffolds. Sell’s research interests include tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, electrospinning, polymeric scaffolds, dermal regeneration and ligament repair.

Andre Castiaux, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Researcher, Chemistry

Castiaux’s work focuses on the development and incorporation of 3D-printed devices into scientific research. Specifically, he investigates the use of 3D-printed devices for the separation of analytes of biological importance and develops platforms for cell co-culture and analysis of cell secretions. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher working toward the incorporation of 3D printing technologies for microfluidic applications.

Andrew Hall, D.Sc.

Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering Hall’s research interests stem from his experience in medical imaging. He works with interventional radiologists to optimize pre-operative imaging protocols to support emerging minimally invasive procedures, such as prostate artery embolization. His lab is also working on image-guided robotic therapies for pedicle screw placement and laminectomy in the spine. Hall’s lab uses 3D printing extensively, including the development of 3D-printed objects with controllable radiopacity and dissolvable 3D-printed tissue molds derived from CT images.





The SLU/YouGov Poll Recording the Missouri Opinion Throughout history, polls have been used to gauge public opinion on a given issue. Although they’re most frequently associated with election years, polls can lend deeper insights into a population’s values, beliefs and needs. Embracing the potential of accurized polling in Missouri is the foremost goal of a new collaboration between researchers at Saint Louis University and YouGov, a global leader in market research.

survey firm used by prominent media organizations such as CBS News and The Economist and was found by a 2016 Pew Research Center study to “consistently outperform competitors.” The SLU/YouGov Poll was awarded an implementation grant during the third round of the Big Ideas competition, and the first edition of the poll was distributed to 900 Missouri voters in June 2020. That poll included a mix of questions relating to political races, COVID-19 policies and social justice issues.

Led by Steven Rogers, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, the SLU/YouGov Poll is a new, state-wide poll of Missourians designed to equip Though the SLU/YouGov Poll offers immediate benefit researchers and policymakers as a political pulse check in with a scientific assessment “The SLU Poll seeks to understand public an election year, the team of public opinion throughout believes in the poll’s the state. The idea, according opinion over time. This high quality poll is long-term value as a tool for to Rogers, came from a lack more than just an election year scorecard, analyzing public opinion and of comprehensive statewide it creates opportunities for faculty, students, monitoring changes over polling in Missouri. and policymakers to better understand how time. Such changes are highly “Most polls you see in relevant to researchers across the issues are perceived across this state.” Missouri today relate the University, in fields like only to presidential and political science, — MATTHEW CHRISTIAN, gubernatorial races,” Rogers anthropology and health care. ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESEARCH says. “But there are many In the future, faculty will be more issues that Missourians care about and that able to lease time on the SLU/YouGov Poll and develop policymakers need to know about, like Medicaid, specific questions to inform their research. schools and roads.” Rogers and his team believe the SLU/YouGov Poll is a The SLU Poll initiative was endorsed by the Research direct application of the University’s pursuit of truth for Growth Committee in 2019, with the primary goal of the advancement of humanity. Although politicians are identifying an external firm to field a survey before the elected to represent their constituents, Rogers indicates 2020 election. Rogers, along with associate directors that there is often a disconnect between policy Kenneth Warren, Ph.D., professor of political science, and opinion. The SLU/YouGov Poll, with its focus on and Evan Rhinesmith, Ph.D., director of research and Missouri and thoughtful questioning, promises to shed evaluation at the SLU PRiME Center, partnered with a light on truth across the state. YouGov to design the first poll. YouGov is a trusted

“It’s easy for politicians to get trapped into a bubble of believing that everyone thinks like them,” Rogers says. “Our poll offers invaluable insights into what people actually think and what they actually believe. It represents an important check on our democracy.”



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Serve Missouri The SLU/YouGov Poll is the only non-partisan, scientific survey of Missouri voters that publishes all results for public access. To that end, the SLU Poll team is providing a critical resource for researchers and policymakers to gauge opinion on the issues affecting Missourians.

Create Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration Over time, the SLU Poll team plans to formalize its process for collaborating with researchers across the University. The group has already collaborated with the School of Education and School of Public Health to include relevant questions on previous surveys. This presents a wide-reaching opportunity for researchers to use accurized data to inform or validate their studies.

Establish Policy and Elections Research Center SLU Poll’s long-term goal is to open a new Policy and Elections Research Center, a place for scholars to collaborate on elections-based and policy-based research. This would be a larger, more holistic umbrella that would house the existing SLU/YouGov Poll, while also studying the intelligence and insights from the poll.


Quick Facts Questions from the SLU/YouGov Poll fall into three categories: Those designed to shed light on how Missourians’ opinions change over time Those relating to SLU faculty’s research agendas Those relevant to current events or the immediate needs of the Missouri community

The first SLU/YouGov Poll was distributed in summer 2020 and a second was distributed in October 2020. The SLU/YouGov Poll has earned media mentions from MSNBC, Fox and The Hill.

Steven Rogers, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Political Science Rogers serves as the director of the SLU/YouGov Poll. He received his Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University. Rogers’s research focuses on elections, particularly at the state level. His in-progress book manuscript addresses the question: Do elections hold state legislators accountable for their own performance?

Kenneth Warren, Ph.D. Professor, Political Science

Warren received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has more than 30 years of professional polling experience. Warren has authored several publications in the area of electoral behavior and public opinion research, including In Defense of Public Opinion Polling and Encyclopedia of U.S. Campaigns, Elections and Electoral Behavior (Vols 1 and 2).

Evan Rhinesmith, Ph.D.

Director of Research and Evaluation, SLU PRiME Center Rhinesmith earned his Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas. His research uses survey findings to shape and inform education policies, specifically those intended to improve access and opportunities for students and community-engaged research. Rhinesmith’s published works include several book chapters, technical reports and peer-reviewed articles. He also regularly writes policy briefs and blog posts regarding education policy and practice in Missouri for the PRiME Center.





People and Technology Horizon (PATH) @ SLU Balancing Technology With Humanity Although humans are becoming increasingly reliant on technology, it is not without friction. Too often, technology is inaccessible or biased to specific demographics or modalities, leaving users frustrated by awkward, limited interactions. A new initiative at Saint Louis University is working to determine why technology designs often fall short and how they may evolve to better serve our individual needs.

time, they have already established themselves as highly productive and collaborative researchers, securing a combined $4.8 million in funding and establishing numerous collaborations both on and off campus. Their success led to PATH @ SLU being awarded research space in SLU’s new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building following a highly competitive allocation process.

People and Technology Horizon (PATH) @ SLU is a PATH has united these researchers for a series of studies multidisciplinary initiative at the human-technology that are reconsidering technology design through frontier. In an age where humans are often required to people-centric thinking. Their work also examines the accommodate technology, growing role of technology in PATH seeks instead to our lives and the potential it “The promise of technology is that it’s for augment human capabilities has to become more inclusive everyone, but often we see that the through people-driven and representative of the technology is retrofitted for those on the technologies. Led by Jenna human experience. Gorlewicz, Ph.D., associate margins of society, rather than designed For example, the video professor of mechanical conferencing tools that for them,” Gorlewicz says. “In fact, learning engineering, PATH asserts from the DeafBlind community has allowed became widely adopted that human capacity should during the COVID-19 dictate technology design — us to develop a diverse, multi-sensorial pandemic are marked by not the other way around. approach to technology design that everyone awkward pauses and missed Closing the gap between social cues during use. can appreciate.” people and technology, Realizing this, PATH faculty Gorlewicz says, is the next are currently investigating methods of augmenting the frontier in the ever-evolving digital world. technology with new sensory inputs, such as haptic “As a society, we spend a lot of time and money training feedback. Gorlewicz says the study heavily references the DeafBlind community, which uses a wholly unique system people on technology that, in many cases, they don’t even of tactiles to augment communication. like using,” says Gorlewicz. “Instead, we should be developing technology that feels innate in how we Gorlewicz is quick to point out that PATH’s goal is not to interact with it.” hinder technology design, but to complement it in a way that makes the experience more meaningful for end users. In addition to Gorlewicz, PATH is led by Terra Edwards, Ph.D., associate professor of anthropology, and Flavio PATH’s work will ensure that, even as technology Esposito, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science. becomes an irreplaceable part of our humanity, our Although the three have only been at SLU for a short humanity is not lost in its adoption.

“PATH is a way for us, as a people, to come together and change the way our technology is designed,” said Gorlewicz. “Because our technology should not hold us back, but instead propel us forward.” BIG IDEAS | FEATURED INITIATIVES



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Improving Non-Visual Digital Graphics on Touchscreens Touchscreens with vibratory capabilities, such as tablets and smartphones, are extremely common today. However, they are best known for and primarily designed around their significant visual component, leaving them largely inaccessible for those unable to view the screen. Researchers affiliated with PATH are currently exploring how vibrations and other multisensory feedback can be used to enhance the accessibility and usability of touchscreens, particularly in visual content. This work will reveal new pathways of multimodal learning while increasing accessibility for learners of all styles.

Developing Wearable Haptic Interfaces for DeafBlind Individuals The protactile language that has emerged in the DeafBlind community over the last decade offers incredible insight into the development of touch-based technologies. PATH faculty are currently studying the core elements of communication that can be re-routed through the tactile channel, which will benefit all users while also affording DeafBlind individuals a more independent remote communication experience. Findings from this study will inform the design of a wearable haptic interface that will demonstrate co-presence for DeafBlind individuals.

Enhancing Teleoperative Systems Although research in telepresence robots indicates that they hold great promise, challenges still exist in creating a sense of total connection between local and remote users. Tangible interactions, expressive gestures and physical referencing represent three primary social behaviors missing in the current telepresence experience. In response, PATH researchers have created a robust ergonomic manipulator that enables gesturing capabilities for telepresence interactions. This device offers a critical step in bridging the gap between video conferencing and humanoid robots and will be relied upon for future studies in remote communication. SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSIT Y RESEARCH INSTITUTE — IMPACT REPORT 2020

Quick Facts PATH @ SLU relies on deep, multidisciplinary collaborations across the social sciences, engineering and computer science. Faculty plan to translate their next-generation technologies into society via start-ups and licensing agreements with industry partners. PATH @ SLU is the first research facility of its kind in the Midwest, with ambitions of becoming a pillar in St. Louis’ growing technology hub.

Jenna Gorlewicz, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering Gorlewicz directs the Collaborative Haptics, Robotics and Mechatronics (CHROME) Lab. Her research interests are in haptic and multimodal interfaces; learning technologies; medical devices and robotics; engineering education and entrepreneurship. Gorlewicz is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award, as well as the co-founder of an educational technology company, Vital, which is bridging the digital graphics accessibility gap in STEM education.

Flavio Esposito, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Computer Science Esposito’s research centers on networked systems: network virtualization, network management, Software-Defined Networks (SDN), network architectures and (wireless) network protocols. His recent research projects include the use of machine learning for network management and computer security, networking for big data and network management for disaster scenarios, 5G and Internet of Things. He is a Geospatial Fellow of GeoSLU and is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Terra Edwards, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology Edwards’ research is concerned with the many ways that language reflects and is shaped by our experiences in the world. For the past 10 years, she has been pursuing this interest in DeafBlind communities in the United States, which has developed a new tactile-based communication system. She has published articles on language emergence, re-channeling language, sign-creation and intention-attribution. Edwards is currently writing a book about language and life in DeafBlind communities titled, Going Tactile: Life at the Limits of Language.



New Sparks

A First Look at Rising Big Ideas Initiatives Each year, Saint Louis University recognizes a new class of Big Ideas projects to receive the preliminary funding necessary to take their plans to the next level. The following projects represent some of the rising recipients of planning grants through the Big Ideas competition.



The Henry and Amelia Nasrallah

Center for Neuroscience Developing New Treatments for Chronic Pain In April 2018, Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and physiology and fellow at the St. Louis Academy of Science, proposed a new Center for Translational Chronic Pain Research as part of the inaugural round of the Big Ideas competition. The Center would take a “personalized approach” to the treatment of chronic pain and catalyze innovations at SLU that could be moved to the marketplace; the global market size for moderate to severe chronic pain is estimated at over $50 billion and is expected to grow at 10% (as of 2018). Salvemini wanted to secure new intellectual property and create new SLU-based start-up companies to keep talent in St. Louis. In December 2018, the University received a generous $300,000 endowment from Henry Nasrallah, M.D., former chair of the Department of Psychiatry, and his wife, Amelia, a research psychologist, that established the Henry and Amelia Nasrallah Center for Neuroscience. Salvemini, Ph.D., a nationally recognized leader in chronic neuropathic pain research, was selected to lead this new center as its director. Her previous vision for a Center for Translational Chronic Pain Research at SLU was transitioned into the new center. As head of the new center, Salvemini’s original vision has continued to flourish. In December 2019, she was named a fellow with the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) for her contributions toward understanding and finding better treatments for chronic pain. This recognition put her among recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Science and numerous Nobel Laureates. In January 2020, BioIntervene, a biopharmaceutical company founded in 2014 by Salvemini, raised $30 million in series A funding from MPM Capital — one of the largest investments in research commercialization in SLU’s history. The investment propelled Salvemini’s discoveries forward, setting the stage to begin phase one clinical trials for a new non-addictive painkiller.

Principal Investigator Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D. Professor, Pharmacology and Physiology



PRiME Center Exploring the Intersection of Education and Policy Education underpins many of the most pressing social concerns that cities face, and policy is the primary vehicle for realizing change in the education system. In 2018, several SLU faculty members came together to propose the SLU Center for Urban Education Policy and Economic Growth (SLU UEPEG). They pitched a vision for a research center that would focus on applied social and economic policy research in order to address critical social issues in the St. Louis region and beyond. The goal of the center was to create a data hub that would be used to better understand the conditions of regional communities, develop strategies for improvement and assess the effectiveness of programs and policies. At the time, none of St. Louis’s three major research universities were conducting large-scale applied policy research in education to directly address the social and economic needs of our communities. In their proposal, the leaders of SLU UEPEG identified the Walton Family Foundation as a potential source of revenue. In November 2018, just months after SLU UEPEG received an endorsement from the Research Growth Committee, the Walton Family Foundation funded a separate proposal that led to the transition of SLU UEPEG into the Policy Research in Missouri Education (PRiME) Center. The PRiME Center aims to enhance knowledge and inform policy around education in Missouri and has fulfilled many of the goals laid out in the original SLU UEPEG proposal, including: enhancing SLU’s existing relationships with K-12 schools by launching a series of evaluations being conducted in coordination with St. Louis-area school systems; hiring three post-docs to serve as research and data analysts for the Center and for St. Louis Public Schools; attracting world-class talent to the center, including Research Institute Fellow Cameron Anglum, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Education; and creating the Education Policy and Unity doctoral program in partnership with the School of Education in fall 2019.



Co-Investigators Takako Nomi, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Educational Studies Gary Ritter, Ph.D. Dean, Professor, Education Michael Podgursky, Ph.D. Director, Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research Heather Bednarek, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Economics

Center for Healthy Living Envisioning a Healthier St. Louis for All Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. About half of adults (117 million people) have one or more chronic health conditions, with 86% of the nation’s $2.7 trillion annual health care expenditures going toward their treatment. Much of the illness, early death and associated high costs of chronic diseases and conditions can be improved — and even prevented — by promoting behaviors that include healthy dietary patterns, physical activity, mindfulness, safe sex and moderate substance use. Promoting healthy behavior is at the heart of SLU’s Center for Healthy Living, a new interdisciplinary initiative for lifestyle optimization that received a preliminary planning grant in the inaugural round of the Big Ideas competition. Although centers like this exist across the nation, they are often inaccessible or cost-prohibitive to those most in need in their resources and also lack a research focus or long-term vision community implementation. The Center for Healthy Living at SLU will become the model for effective prevention and management of chronic disease, facilitating sustained healthy behaviors and rigorously studying the role of “health risk behaviors” in chronic disease management and prevention in the St. Louis region. Research from the Center for Healthy Living will inform multidisciplinary intervention strategies for sustained healthy living in local communities.

Co-Investigators Tricia Austin, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Department Chair, Physical Therapy and Athletic Training Gretchen Salsich, Ph.D. Professor, Physical Therapy and Athletic Training Jeremiah Weinstock, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Psychology



Center for Global Jesuit Studies Building Upon SLU’s Jesuit Heritage The Society of Jesus’s global ubiquity across the centuries and incomparable records have attracted scholars who are interested in a variety of disciplines, regions and eras. Despite this, a survey of national research universities, including a number of Jesuit universities, reveals that none have developed academic centers for the interdisciplinary study of all Jesuit activities in their relevant contexts. It is with this gap in mind that a group of Saint Louis University faculty have proposed a Center for Global Jesuit Studies. The first-of-its-kind research center will encompass not only Jesuit history but also the global movements and processes to which the Jesuits have belonged. It will offer a unique opportunity for the University to develop an area of eminence with a direct tie to its Catholic and Jesuit heritage, while also connecting faculty and students with exceptional scholarship opportunities related to the Jesuits and their global frameworks. SLU is well positioned to establish a dedicated center for Jesuit studies, with several existing Jesuit partnerships and a location convenient to uniquely concentrated Jesuit resources in the St. Louis region. The Jesuits recently built the Jesuit Archives and Research Center, a $9 million state-of-the-art facility that holds the archives of all of the Jesuit provinces in North America and their missions, adjacent to SLU’s campus. Other impressive facilities in St. Louis include the Mercantile Library and the Missouri Historical Society, as well as SLU’s own extraordinary Vatican Film Library, Pius XII Memorial Library, University Archives, Rare Book Room and Art Museum. During the initial planning phase, the project’s co-investigators will strengthen partnerships with these regional organizations, as well as learn about the experiences of comparable centers across the country.



Co-Investigators Paul Lynch, Ph.D. Associate Professor, English Kate Moran, Ph.D. Associate Professor, American Studies Filippo Marsili, Ph.D. Associate Professor, History Charles Parker, Ph.D. Professor, History Randall Rosenberg, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Systematic Theology David Suwalsky, S.J. Vice President for Mission and Identity

AI @ SLU Preparing for the Next Generation of Computing The rapid increase in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies raises a number of ethical, economic and legal questions that must be answered. AI @ SLU is a new research center aimed at providing superior education, research and service to the AI community. Leaders say it will become a multidisciplinary entity for developing, testing and implementing AI technologies. At the same time, it will leverage SLU’s strengths in the humanities, ethics, law and policy in order to proactively examine new questions related to AI technology. Faculty associated with AI @ SLU will conduct activities in research, education and outreach. During the project’s initial planning year, the leadership team conducted a survey and multiple open fora to examine SLU’s specific resources, capabilities and strengths relevant to AI and to assess the actual and potential support for AI on campus. Following these, the leadership team concluded that the development of an AI-centric research center at SLU is a compelling strategic initiative with the capacity to advance research across a wide array of disciplines. In the project’s second year, the leadership team looks forward to developing a comprehensive plan for realizing this vision.

Co-Investigators Mamoun Benmamoun, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, International Business Michael Goldwasser, Ph.D. Professor, Department Chair, Computer Science Srikanth Guruajan, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Engineering Steven Smart, M.D. Internal Medicine, Cardiology Flavio Esposito, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Computer Science



Health Policy Research in Action Network Informing Better Policies in Health Care The Health Policy Research in Action initiative is a cross-campus, interdisciplinary network to promote health policy research that fosters transformative education, service and advocacy to improve access to quality, affordable, equitable health and public health services. This initiative will leverage SLU’s existing strengths, such as data-driven research and its #1 nationally ranked Center for Health Law Studies, in order to effectively inform public policymakers, health leaders, community leaders and the media. The initiative’s stated goal is to make SLU the nation’s premier university for health and public health policy research, as well as a respected source of health policy data. At a time when policymakers and health care providers are attempting to redress the social and institutional determinants of poor health, the Health Policy Research in Action initiative will expand SLU’s research efforts to effectively address these issues. During the project’s initial planning phase, leadership will host a series of workshops and events in order to identify areas of strong faculty interest and expertise. This will help determine how the project may elevate existing research to higher levels of impact, visibility and funding, while also identifying potential gaps in research. The team will also assemble an advisory board of grassroots health and public health leaders to facilitate community-based participatory research. Strategic collaborations with other Big Ideas, including the AHEAD Institute and the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, are also planned. Finally, the leadership team will investigate how best to design and support opportunities for students, residents and fellows that meld research, training and service.



Co-Investigators Ellen Barnidge, Ph.D., M.P.H. Associate Professor, Public Health Heather Bednarek, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Economics, Elizabeth Pendo, J.D. Joseph J. Simeone Professor of Law, Center for Health Law Studies Fred Rottnek, M.D. Professor, Family and Community Medicine Sidney D. Watson, J.D. Jan​e and Bruce Robert Professor, Center for Health Law Studies

The Resilience Laboratory Understanding the Science of Survival Every species has its comparative advantages, traits that enable its evolutionary survival. Group cooperation for adaptation is humanity’s superpower and the source of its resilience. That is the hypothesis around which SLU’s new Resilience Laboratory is built. The Resilience Laboratory brings together dynamic thinkers at SLU who are poised to make major contributions to social resilience: how it’s understood, how it’s operationalized to benefit specific communities adapting to unprecedented change and how it’s enhanced the human capacity for social resilience. St. Louis is an ideal location for the Resilience Laboratory’s work, offering big-city and big-river-basin challenges on a small enough scale to get work done and test results. The St. Louis community also has a number of strengths that may be leveraged, such as the Cortex Innovation District’s start-up culture and makerspace, as well as the regional innovation community. The Resilience Laboratory builds upon its leaders’ internationally recognized research. Independently, they have attracted over $500,000 in external funding and forged collaborative partnerships with Harvard, Oxford, the National Geographic Society, the Radcliffe Institute, the Fulbright Foundation and more. Together, the team believes they are well positioned to make SLU a global leader on this increasingly vital issue. Next steps for the Resilience Laboratory include mapping the competitive and cooperative landscape and providing educational and training opportunities to students.

Co-Investigators Mary Prendergast, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Anthropology, SLU Madrid Katherine C. MacKinnon, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology Monica Eppinger, Ph.D., J.D. Associate Professor, Law



Applied Research in Interdisciplinary STEM Education (ARISE) @ SLU Refining the STEM Education Experience ARISE @ SLU aims to make Saint Louis University a powerhouse in Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER), a relatively new and interdisciplinary field that advances STEM theory and knowledge. DBER is recognized by the National Academies of Science and is gaining support from many federal funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation. With its deep ethos for service and existing infrastructure that includes the Office of Institutional Research, the Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning and the new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (ISE) Building, SLU is poised to become a renowned leader in DBER. In the coming months, ARISE @ SLU will develop a plan for leveraging SLU’s existing expertise and resources in order to foster a culture of evidence-based and learner-centered STEM teaching that will directly benefit SLU students.

Co-Investigators Elena Bray Speth, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Biology Paul Bracher, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Chemistry Brenda A. Kirchoff, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Psychology and Neuroscience Chris Carroll, Ph.D., P.E. Assistant Professor, Program Coordinator, Civil Engineering Mike May, S.J. Associate Professor, Mathematics



Sepsis Center Fighting Lethal Infection Sepsis is the body’s extreme reaction to infection, a condition that spreads throughout the entire body via the bloodstream. Every year in the United States, an estimated 1.5 million people develop sepsis, and an estimated 250,000 people die from it. The annual cost of treating sepsis in the United States is nearly $24 billion, making it the most expensive conditions treated in hospitals. Death from sepsis is caused by multi-organ failure, but the mechanisms responsible for their failures are poorly understood. Despite a clear, urgent need, centers for sepsis have not been widely developed in the United States, and there is no such center in the St. Louis region. In 2018, an interdisciplinary group of Saint Louis University faculty proposed the SLU Sepsis Center as part of the inaugural round of the Big Ideas competition. They envisioned a translational research center that also served the local community through educational outreach, one which would position SLU as a nationally recognized center of excellence in sepsis research and treatment. The Research Growth Committee agreed, and the project was endorsed with enthusiasm. In the years since, the Sepsis Center has successfully obtained a grant shared by David Ford, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, and Blythe Janowiak Mulligan, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology. The center has also supported a seminar series with speakers representing the top sepsis research programs in the United States including speakers from the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Kentucky, Boston University and Emory. Collaborations between SLU investigators and the invited speakers have also been established, opening the possibility for new publications and grants. During the upcoming year, the Sepsis Center leadership team plans to foster increased collaborations both within SLU and with other leading universities. They also plan to compete for the National Institute of General Medical Sciences Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams, which has a direct cost recovery of $700,000 – $900,000 per year for five years.

Co-Investigators David Ford, Ph.D. Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Blythe Janowiak Mulligan, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Biology Jane McHowat, Ph.D. Professor, Pathology



Windows of Opportunity Updates From Select Recipients of the Research Growth Fund The Research Growth Fund was formed immediately after the Research Institute was established and was designed as a flexible source of funding to support established researchers as they advance their research ambitions and the goals of the Research Institute. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis and frequently used to support equipment acquisition, hire student researchers and finance additional research time. With several millions of dollars awarded thus far, the Research Growth Fund is representative of Saint Louis University’s commitment to empowering world-class researchers and becoming the world’s leading Jesuit research university.

2020 (COVID-19-REL ATED) AT A GL ANCE 46 proposals received 25 proposals selected $297,933 awarded 2019 AT A GL ANCE 190 Proposals Received 29 Proposals Funded $2.6 million awarded





METAscripta Historic Preservation Meets Modern Application Debra Cashion, Ph.D., MLIS, is an assistant librarian at SLU’s Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library, home to more than 37,000 manuscripts originally recorded on microfilm by SLU researchers at the Vatican Library in Rome during the 1950s. Her award from the Research Growth Fund kickstarted a new project, entitled METAscripta, intended to preserve the Vatican Library’s most precious manuscripts and share them with the world. “We often see historic works like this get locked away in vaults, never to be seen again,” Cashion says. “We feel these manuscripts are simply too important to hide away, as they are a direct connection between SLU and the Vatican.” Cashion describes the project’s origins as a simple preservation effort. The microfilm format will eventually be eclipsed by new technology, rendering the collection obsolete over the next several years. As she began digitizing them into a more accessible format, however, she saw the potential to create something far greater: a collaborative platform for scholars to study and catalog the manuscripts for years to come. “We’re extremely blessed to have these works in our collection, because people can’t just go into Vatican libraries to look around,” Cashion says. “This is an opportunity to share works of universal cultural heritage with a global community of scholars.” Although Cashion is primarily focused on SLU’s microfilmed manuscripts, she believes the METAscripta platform will expand over time to include new works and collections. She has presented the project both at the Vatican and around the world, each time generating new interest from individuals and libraries who want to see their works digitized and preserved for a new generation.




Debra Taylor Cashion, Ph.D., MLIS Digital Humanities Librarian


Recent hire of a full-time software architect to manage the project’s digital resource and server environment Presentations given at the Dark Archives conference at Oxford University in the U.K. and the Schoenberg Conference at the University of Pennsylvania. METAscripta writings published in the Oxford journal, Medium Aevum

“To me, METAscripta represents one of the broadest scholarly applications of SLU’s mission,” Cashion says. “These are pieces of our history, literature and culture. We simply cannot let them fade away.”



Goals Preserve Manuscripts

Father Lowrie Daly, S.J., and Dr. Charles Ermatinger consult micro lms in the original Vatican Film Library reading room in DuBourg Hall, ca. 1953–1958.

Cashion views the Vatican manuscripts as treasures of humanity but points out that their audience is limited by their current state on microfilm in SLU’s libraries. Converting them to a new, all-digital format will ensure the manuscripts are not lost to time but are instead ready to be discovered by a new generation of scholars around the world.

Crowdsource Collaboration

The Vatican Film Library, ca. 1995 - Microfilm reading room with large readers and special table offered “modern” accommodations to researchers in age-old manuscripts.

In tandem with the digitization process, Cashion’s team is actively building an online platform to store and catalog the manuscripts. The platform is described as a robust research environment in which scholars will be able to search for and study manuscripts in SLU’s collection. Opening up the platform also presents an opportunity to crowdsource the organization process and allow the global scholar community to identify ancient and unstudied works.

Continue Vatican Partnerships The METAscripta project continues a longstanding tradition of SLU applying innovative technologies to study historic Vatican works. In fact, the 1950s microfilm project was born from direct communication between former SLU President Paul C. Reinert and Pope Pius XII. Cashion has presented the METAscripta project to Vatican librarians and is optimistic that the future will present new opportunities for SLU to work with additional Vatican manuscripts. METAscripta uses innovative metadata methods for summary indexing, embedded image tagging and controlled vocabulary crowdsourcing to support and encourage the study of the VFL microfilm collection of manuscripts from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.



Department of Chemistry Outfitting Labs for Ongoing Discovery Purification traditionally represents one of the largest time commitments in synthetic chemistry research, but new technologies have made it possible to achieve the same results in a fraction of the time. Christopher Arnatt, Ph.D., seeing the wide-reaching value of such equipment, led a successful effort to bring it to SLU chemistry labs using funds from the Research Growth Fund. “On our old equipment, purification would take anywhere from two to three hours,” Arnatt says. “Now, we can automate the process and achieve the same results in just 15 minutes.” Arnatt’s purchase included four flash chromatography systems, one microwave synthesizer and several waterless condensers. He describes them as critical investments that will enable SLU’s chemistry faculty to balance multiple projects at once while granting students early exposure to industry-leading instrumentation. “When our students graduate, they often go on to work in high-end laboratories where they will see this type of equipment,” Arnatt says. “It’s a tremendous benefit for students to have this level of access while in school.” Outside the classroom, Arnatt indicates that the new equipment will help SLU become more competitive for research grants. Funding organizations typically look at research infrastructure, including facilities, when awarding grants. Now with multiple labs outfitted with cutting-edge equipment, Arnatt is eager to begin a new chapter for chemistry discovery at SLU.




Christopher Arnatt, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Chemistry


All equipment has been purchased and installed in laboratories. New equipment has been used in over $4.3 million in new grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Monthly solvent usage in chemistry departments has decreased by 40% with the new equipment.

“This represents a significant investment in the future of synthetic chemistry at SLU. We’re now properly equipped to manage the scale of experimentation that defines our ambitions.”



Goals Improve Productivity The new flash chromatography systems and microwave synthesizers will drastically improve the productivity of Saint Louis University’s synthetic chemistry labs. With more faculty relying on SLU’s labs for research purposes, it is essential that they have the capacity to manage large-scale experiments required by federal grants and other research opportunities.

Improve Safety Many reactions in synthetic chemistry require constant water cooling, with some reactions taking more than 24 hours to complete. The department’s previous cooling methods consumed large quantities of water and created a flooding risk for reactions left to complete overnight. The new waterless condensers provide the same cooling result with zero water waste, creating a safer lab environment for researchers.

Provide Real-World Training Arnatt’s proposal included an educational component in which undergraduate chemistry students will be trained on the new lab instrumentation. The chemistry department describes this effort as a vital opportunity to train students on the cutting-edge equipment that defines a modern chemistry lab. This is especially important as St. Louis’ Cortex Innovation District continues to expand and raise demand for well-trained chemists in the area.



Redlining, Race and Health Connecting Past Segregation to Present Health

Christopher Prener, Ph.D., has focused his research on the complex intersections of sociology and public health. His award from the Research Growth Fund allowed him to begin a new project to investigate the relationships between 1930s-era redlining practices, racial segregation and contemporary health outcomes. “As a society, we well understand that racism is a problem, but I don’t think we quite know how bad the problem is,” Prener says. “My work seeks to partly answer that question through the lens of public health.” Redlining refers to a series of discriminatory practices that allowed banks to avoid investments in certain areas during the 1960s. Prener’s work will test the notion that these practices in American cities may simultaneously predict present-day segregation and location of health care infrastructure, two factors directly linked to health outcomes in a given neighborhood. Although several studies have addressed racial disparities in other factors of life, Prener’s work in the public health space fills a critical need, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.




Christopher Prener, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology


Accepted proposal for a special issue of the Journal of Applied Geography Built SQL database of historic census data from 1940 through 2000

“With COVID-19, we’re seeing dramatic health disparities in terms of which groups get exposed and infected,” Prener says. “These things follow the same patterns that we see with asthma and cardiac health, so it’s an important area to study as we consider the bigger picture of racism.”

Accepted to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) Health Disparities Research Institute’s 2020 Cohort

Finally, Prener hopes his study will help more cities overcome the racial segregation and disparity that often holds them back. He references St. Louis’ own problematic history with racial violence and expresses his belief that these issues aren’t an inevitability, but that addressing them requires a better understanding of the mechanisms responsible.

Tracking COVID-19 in Missouri, an ongoing effort to collect and present pandemic-related data

“The reality is that where you live is not random,” Prener says. “And where you live has a lot to do with everything from the quality of the air you breathe to the health care you receive.”



Goals Complete Pilot Research

Prener is currently conducting pilot research that includes collecting health outcome data and establishing measures of segregation. He is specifically examining outcomes related to cardiac health and asthma, as they have an existing relationship to a patient’s neighborhood. Prener describes St. Louis as the perfect backdrop for his research, as the city’s history with segregation is well-documented and its modern demographics are reflective of historical redlining practices.

Identify Collaborations Over the last few months, Prener has initiated several collaborations with faculty from the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity. The Institute is home to several studies concerning the broader impacts of redlining on modern society, many of which will be supported by Prener’s findings. Their collaborations will continue to shed new light on minority populations’ present-day experiences and the historical practices that contributed to them.

Apply for Grants Prener is currently applying for a federal grant that will enable him to expand his St. Louis-based study to other American cities. Rust Belt cities, like Detroit and Cleveland, are particularly attractive for Prener, as they possess similar demographic factors. Expanding Prener’s study is key to establishing larger, more nationally representative correlations between redlining and public health.



Fowler-Finn Lab Finding Information Through Vibration

More than 90% of the sounds animals use to communicate vibrates through solid substrata, like plants, leaves and soil. However, ongoing human activity threatens their communication and habitats by introducing new sounds, such as vehicles and construction equipment. Kasey Fowler-Finn, Ph.D., one of SLU’s leading biology researchers, received a substantial award from the Research Growth Fund in order to continue her work investigating the impacts of human activity on individual organisms and ecosystems. “As humans, we’re very quick to introduce new sounds into an environment without really considering their implications,” Fowler-Finn says. “My work examines humanity’s current patterns and projects how they will impact organisms in the future.” More specifically, Fowler-Finn is excited to investigate the multi-faceted factors that shape humanity’s total interactions with the environment. Her study features several collaborators with specialties in food webs, thermal ecology and organism movement. Fowler-Finn says the collaboration will hold greater strength not only in the questions they ask but also the approaches they follow. The applications for Fowler-Finn’s work will become increasingly important over time, as humanity inevitably builds up its cities and introduces new sounds into the environment. She envisions her research will support vital conservation efforts and inform emerging studies of how humans have forever shaped the environment.




Kasey Fowler-Finn, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Biology


Fowler-Finn’s lab has built a sound library of various insect and animal sounds. The lab has also built custom recording devices through consultant services. A paper on sound mechanism productions is scheduled for completion in December 2020. Fowler-Finn has unveiled a new exhibit, Too Hot to Sing, in the Saint Louis University Museum of Art featuring her work on the effects of global warming on insect reproduction.

“What we’re doing here is studying how organisms respond to change, and change is the world’s only constant,” Fowler-Finn says. “So these studies are vital to understanding humanity’s evolving impact on the world around us.”



Goals How Temperature Affects Organisms

Global warming presents several challenges to animals’ abilities to locate and attract suitable mates, as many of the reproductive traits involved in sexual communication are thermally sensitive. Fowler-Finn’s lab is currently studying enchenopa binotata treehoppers to determine individual and genetic variation in how mating behavior varies with temperature, as well as the potential consequences for reproduction.

Noise and Predator/Prey Relationships Fowler-Finn’s lab is also studying how traffic noise affects animals’ movements when introduced into their environment. Primarily referencing spiders and insects, her study examines how changes in an animal’s movement affects its ability to perceive its environment and how that may influence predator-prey relationships. Fowler-Finn’s team is also considering how changing predator-prey relationships may influence broader food webs.

How Different Factors Interact More broadly, Fowler-Finn’s team is studying the cross-effects of humanenvironmental influences. For example, excess light pollution caused by headlights on a highway may have one effect on spiders, only to have another, conflicting effect on beetles. A thorough understanding of these multifaceted factors, and the total impact they have on an ecosystem, will be critical to the real-world applications of Fowler-Finn’s research.



Individual Investment Updates From Additional Research Growth Fund Recipients Since its launch, the Research Growth Fund has enabled dozens of faculty across Saint Louis University to pursue their research passions. The following pages highlight the breadth of research that has been made possible by investing in SLU faculty and believing in their ability to bring original, innovative research to the world.



Bruce O’Neill, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E. Associate Professor, Civil Engineering Director, Water Access, Technology, Environment and Resources (WATER) Institute Cox’s work primarily examines water infrastructure and water-related challenges in public services and resources. The Research Growth Fund enabled her to hire a graduate teaching assistant, thus increasing her research bandwidth. Cox has since focused on her main research project, “Advancing Tools for Engineering Analysis of Reservoirs,” which aims to quantify reservoir sedimentation, model rock spillway scour and generate solutions for reservoir sustainability. “We are eventually going to hit a crisis point when all of our reservoirs exceed their design life,” Cox says of the growing issue of reservoir sustainability and the importance of this research.

With support from the Research Growth Fund, O’Neill was able to complete the necessary research for the initial draft of the manuscript of his upcoming book, Underground Bucharest, which examines class and belonging in post-socialist Romania by studying the city of Bucharest’s vertical expansion instead of its horizontal spread. O’Neill’s ethnographic research includes analysis of underground Metro stations, basements, cellars and parking garages to reveal “novel forms of vertical segmentation” as main squares of the above-ground city are gentrified and these subterranean sites of middle class transit and consumption are buried. O’Neill’s research looks at urban expansion from an entirely new perspective, moving urban studies beyond its predominant focus on horizontal imagery organized around centers and peripheries. Funds awarded by the Research Growth Fund sustained O’Neill’s course buyout and funded the cost of travel to Bucharest for fieldwork. Although O’Neill was forced to postpone some travel and conference participation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he remains on track to complete his research goals. In the past year, O’Neill has had an article published by a peer-reviewed journal, submitted a revised article for publication and currently has a third article under review. FUNDING:


In addition to this project, Cox’s Research Growth Fund award allowed her to submit three research proposals by August 2020 to the following organizations: The National Science Foundation, Geioinformatics (GI) Program; the National Science Foundation, Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering (CDS&E) Program; and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). FUNDING:




Mary Dunn, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Theological Studies The Research Growth Fund has allowed Dunn to pursue the necessary research for her second monograph, Where Paralytics Walk and the Blind See: Narratives of Sickness and Disability in Seventeenth-Century New France. Dunn’s research investigates the notion of living meaningfully with the facts of sickness and disability, offering a profound meditation on the discipline of religious studies. This new manuscript probes representations of embodied difference in distinct seventeenthcentury French-Canadian contexts.

Marvin Meyers, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Chemistry Meyers used the Research Growth Fund to hire a two-year postdoctoral student, Makafui Gasonoo, Ph.D., thus increasing his research bandwidth while adding new support for undergraduate and graduate students and strengthening grant proposals and renewals. Meyers’ research focuses on demonstrating proof-of-concept selectivity of PDE5 inhibitors as drug leads for cryptosporidiosis, a parasite responsible for significant malnutrition and diarrheal disease burden in the developing world. With his findings, Meyers intends to advance lead antiviral compounds for SLU drug discovery collaborations.

As of August 2020, Dunn has successfully completed the full manuscript for Where Paralytics Walk and the Blind See: Narratives of Sickness and Disability in Seventeenth-Century New France and submitted it to Princeton University Press. The manuscript was sent out for peer review in May 2020, and Dunn looks forward to publishing the monograph shortly after responding to each review. The Research Growth Fund also enabled Dunn to complete a scholarly article entitled “Playing with Religion: Delight at the Border of Epistemological Worlds” for publication in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. FUNDING:

As of May 2020, Meyers has made significant progress in completing the milestones laid out in his funding proposal. The synthesis of compounds for his cryptosporidium and antiviral projects is currently in progress, though he lost two months of lab time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meyers and his colleagues are preparing to submit applications for a number of NIH R01 grants. During this lab shutdown, Gasonoo completed a molecular modeling course and developed skills that will allow him to understand how to improve compound design using structure-based drug design. FUNDING:





Maureen Donlin, Ph.D. Research Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Donlin’s research intends to identify novel inhibitors of fungal pathogens as well as new chemical scaffolds that can inhibit one or more fungal species. She used her awarded funds to make three critical hires that will aid her research: a master’s student, a student intern and a part-time student worker. Some funds were also allocated for the purchase of research supplies and professional DNA sequencing services.

Mary Prendergast, Ph.D. Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, SLU Madrid Prendergast intended to use funds from the Research Growth Fund to obtain a course buyout and travel in support of her research project, titled “Building a Better Discipline: Integrating Archaeology, Genetics and Community Engagement in East Africa.” However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her travel plans were significantly reduced. Prendergast was able to meet with her collaborators at Harvard University via Zoom, and she hopes to plan an in-person trip in the near future.

As of August 2020, Donlin’s lab has made significant progress. In October 2019, she established a collaboration with Marvin Meyers, Ph.D., of the chemistry department to screen 50 derivatives of ciclopirox being synthesized in his lab. Other achievements include the completed screening of the 10 hydroxypyridinones and CPO against C. neoformans, C. albians and clinical strains of C. gattii and C. neoformans performed by the hired master’s student; the purchase of two Malassezia strains from the American Type Culture Collection; and planned grant submissions, including a revised R21 based on probe labeling data, with an anticipated revision submission date of October 2020. FUNDING:


In spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic, Prendergast was able to write five high-impact scholarly publications based on research she conducted in 2017. These publications study the demographic impacts of the spread of herding and farming by referencing ancient DNA and genomes found at archaeological sites in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. She also published a paper in Nature as co-corresponding and co-senior author which attracted attention from international media outlets, co-authored four papers now under review at a number of journals, and she and was invited to present her research as keynote speaker at the 25th meeting of Society of Africanist Archaeologists, Oxford. FUNDING:




Nabil Khater, M.S. Associate Professor, Chief Physicist, Department of Radiation Oncology

The Research Growth Fund enabled Khater to jumpstart a project to design, build and test an adaptable headrest prototype for imageguided radiotherapy (IGRT) of head-and-neck cancer. Khater proposes that such a device will improve treatment capabilities for patients of head-and-neck cancer.

Miriam Cherry, J.D. Professor, Law Co-director, William C. Wefel Center for Employment Law

Cherry secured funding through the Research Growth Fund in order to obtain a course buyout, during which she could write a book examining the search for justice online. With topics ranging from the #MeToo movement to online doxxing, Cherry’s research asks if online justice has gone too far and if online participants have evolved from concerned activists to “digilantes.”

As of July 2020, several of the project’s milestones have been completed. The engineering design, drawings and 3D modeling for the device are complete and subject to ongoing design review to refine the device’s functionality. A finite element model of the headrest and one air cell was built using ANSYS 3D-design software. Khater is currently discussing manufacturing capabilities with a supplier and expects to have a commitment by the end of 2020. FUNDING:

Her book will explore these themes in contexts that form three overarching components: whistleblowers online, justice for online workers and responses to online hate speech. Once completed, she intends to submit her manuscript to Cambridge University Press for publication. FUNDING:





Takako Nomi, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Educational Studies

Over the past two decades, the rate of bachelor’s degree attainment has increased for several gender and racial demographics, with the exception of African American males. Nomi’s research examines the trends in Missouri’s gaps in degree attainment by race and gender and investigates what possible factors may explain this pattern. Nomi hopes to aid state policymakers in applying her research in order to mitigate this trend in the future. Nomi used the Research Growth Fund award to obtain a course buyout and hire student workers to assist her in research.

Ryan Teague, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

In addition to her study of degree attainment in African American males, Nomi is also examining the pattern of STEM participation and degree attainment for populations historically underrepresented in STEM-related fields. FUNDING:


Teague’s research seeks an answer to the hypothesis that obesity limits the success of immunotherapy, which is supported by his own research and others’ using animal models. Using new mechanistic studies in animal models and complementary analysis of human tissues from cancer patients, Teague is addressing the controversy surrounding obesity and its effects on patient outcomes while providing new insights for improved treatment options in all patients. Teague received a grant from the Research Growth Fund to hire two graduate students, purchase lab mice and obtain several research supplies needed to conduct his studies and produce new publications. As of September 2020, Teague and his team have produced one publication and a second publication is undergoing revisions for submission. FUNDING:




Thomas Finan, Ph.D. Associate Professor, History

Terra Edwards, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

An award from the Research Growth Fund enabled Edwards to take a research leave and focus on drafting the first few chapters of her upcoming book, Going Tactile: Life at the Limits of Language. Drawing on Edwards’ 30 months of anthropological fieldwork and linguistic analysis, Going Tactile explores life in the United States’ DeafBlind communities, where people are finding new ways to experience the world without their primary, visual sense. The book will extensively cover the protactile movement, which originated in the Seattle DeafBlind community in 2007 and advocates for the idea that senses of sight and hearing are not necessary for successful human interaction and advances the belief that all human activity can be realized via touch.

The Research Growth Fund enabled Finan and the Walter J. Ong, S.J. Center for Digital Humanities (OCDH) to fully implement and utilize one of their core technology projects, the RERUM Annotation Repository. RERUM is an open source, open data API-accessible and standards-based object repository with humanities-specific data interfaces and visualizations that will allow for both the collection and storage of annotations and scholarly discourse. The implementation of the RERUM project will greatly improve standards and practices for scholarly research, student engagement and community development at SLU. Funds from the Research Growth Fund were allocated toward developer hires, staff benefits, interface design expenses and travel costs. FUNDING:

As of September 2020, Edwards has completed two chapters of Going Tactile, which have been presented at the University of Chicago. Additionally, an article by Edwards reporting results from her National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project in linguistics was recently accepted for publication in the Research Articles section of Language, the flagship journal of the Linguistic Society of America. She has also been invited by the Program Officer of the NSF’s Linguistics program to submit a proposal for a RAPID award. FUNDING:





Whitney Postman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Recent studies have shown that childhood speech disorders may be remediated with ultrasound feedback to visualize lingual movements during speech production. However, only one report on the use of such a treatment for an adult acquired speech disorder has been published. Postman’s study will use a research-grade ultrasound visual feedback system in order to address the research gap on the effectiveness of this treatment for adult motor-speech disorders.

Uthayashanker Ezekiel, Ph.D., MB(ASCP) Associate Professor, Clinical Health Science

Ezekiel is using his Research Growth Fund award in order to study anticancer effects of bioactive compounds such as phytochemicals, which offer alternate therapeutic approaches to cancer chemoprevention, decreased host toxicity and diminished side effects compared to those of current chemotherapeutic agents. His work will primarily focus on signaling pathways and epigenetic mechanisms that give phytochemicals their anticancer qualities.

Postman used her Research Growth Fund award to purchase research infrastructure and support technology, as well as cover costs associated with publishing and presenting her research. She believes her work will address an unmet need for adults living with motor-speech disorders and position SLU as a forerunner of treatment research. FUNDING:


Ezekiel’s funding was allocated toward the purchase of cell structures and media, molecular reagents and small equipment items. His funding will also cover costs associated with calibration maintenance and repair, parts replacement and manuscript publication costs. FUNDING:




David Ford, Ph.D. Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Director, Center of Cardiovascular Research

Jacki Kornbluth, Ph.D. Professor, Pathology

Natural killer (NK) cells are a small subpopulation of circulating white blood cells that act as the first line of defense in the body’s response to tumors. Early results in clinical trials using NK cells for cancer therapies are promising and involve infusing a large number of NK cells into a patient. However, deriving NK cells is extremely expensive and labor intensive, often taking weeks or months to produce a desired amount of cells.

Ford leveraged his funding to facilitate the purchase of an electric cell-substrate impedance sensing (ECIS) 96-well machine that will bolster the work of rising Big Ideas initiatives such as the SLU Sepsis Center and the Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation (SLU-IDBI). Both centers rely on the 96-well format to investigate endothelial and epithelial barrier dysfunction with multiple compounds simultaneously. Since many diseases are either initiated or escalated due to loss of barrier function, the ability to measure changes in barrier function with an ECIS machine is vital to disease and drug discovery research. The machine was installed in early 2020, but COVID-19 restrictions have made it challenging for researchers to use it to its fullest potential. The Sepsis Center and SLU-IDBI are currently collecting data from the machine that will be used for publication and external grant submissions. FUNDING:

Kornbluth and her team have identified an NK-based therapy that circumvents the laborious process of reproducing NK cells. With funding from the Research Growth Fund, Kornbluth hired additional personnel to assist with her research. Her team recently produced and submitted a manuscript to the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles, which indicates that “NK-derived membrane-bound vesicles (EVs) have strong and specific anti-tumor killing activity.” Kornbluth’s team is currently preparing a manuscript on the ability of EVs to prevent or inhibit tumor growth and/or metastasis in vivo. FUNDING:





Phyllis Weliver, D. Phil. Professor, English

Daniel Hawiger, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

The Research Growth Fund enabled Hawiger to pursue his current research project, which explores an antigen delivery method to dendritic cells (DCs). DCs orchestrate most immune responses during infections, cancer and various forms of autoimmunity. This novel delivery method, which Hawiger invented, allows DCs to target immune function-altering molecules in the context of autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Weliver and the Walter J. Ong, S.J. Center for Digital Humanities have collaborated on the design of the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), the industry standard for archival image sharing among cultural heritage institutions, museums and libraries worldwide. However, the IIIF is only a framework and requires intermediary applications in order to be utilized. The Ong Center has designed the first program, named RERUM, that will create image interoperability, build interfaces that amalgamate documents and create traditionallooking exhibits without disrupting the original collection. Funding from the Research Growth Fund supported the hire of a back-end web developer, who will transition the RERUM to a modern iteration and migrate it to Amazon Web Services, a more stable hosting platform. As of September 2020, the RERUM and TPEN transitions are still in progress. Two of the 30 outdated database methods have been updated to accommodate the AWS move and a Github Action CI has been designed and implemented for future RERUM code deployments. FUNDING:


As of September 2020, Hawiger and his team have completed cloning of several recombinant chimeric antibodies. Additionally, they have established and validated a new in vitro expression system for antibody production, allowing for efficient production of several new antibody reagents in large quantities. Hawiger plans to complete the conjugations of different molecules to several antibodies in the coming year and eventually test them in vivo. Positive results from these tests will likely attract several new external funding opportunities. FUNDING:




Jeffrey Scherrer, Ph.D. Associate Professor; Research Director, Family and Community Medicine, Center for Health Outcomes Research

Nancy L. Weaver, Ph.D., M.P.H. Professor, Behavioral Science and Health Education Founding Director, REACH Center Co-Director, Community Engagement Core of the Center for Innovation in Child Maltreatment Policy

As Weaver assumed more responsibility within the Research and Equity in Action for Child Health (REACH) Center and the Center for Innovation in Child Maltreatment (CICM), she was forced to curtail her research efforts. The Research Growth Fund allowed Weaver to hire a research coordinator, who has reinvigorated her nationally recognized research efforts by facilitating manuscript production and grant applications.

Scherrer used his award from the Research Growth Fund to license a data set of five million medical claims from 2008 to 2018. This data will provide researchers with a vast and varied field of medical data necessary for producing high-quality predictive research. Scherrer believes the data will contribute to transformative discoveries in predictive analysis, data science and clinical epidemiology. The data will also foster collaborations within the departments of Health and Clinical Outcomes Research and Family and Community Medicine. Scherrer has identified 13 studies across the University that will incorporate the new data set, including studies involving the opioid epidemic and substance use disorder, racial disparities in health care and depression treatments. As of June 2020, the data has been purchased and is being used by researchers across campus. Additionally, SLU faculty have applied for two external grants with studies involving the data. FUNDING:

In its first year, Weaver’s research team submitted one extramural grant proposal, which was awarded, and submitted four additional proposals. The team also published one manuscript, submitted three for review and are currently preparing an additional three. Throughout the year, members of Weaver’s research team presented work at four conferences: three local and one national. Weaver has also engaged faculty researchers from a variety of disciplines in order to advance her research and forged new partnerships across the St. Louis region. FUNDING:





Fran Sverdrup, Ph.D. Associate Professor; Research Fellow, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Sverdrup’s funding supported the purchase of an Odyssey CLx machine, a state-of-theart near-infrared laser point scanner. This equipment will improve the speed, and more importantly, the accuracy of specific measurement techniques in labs across the School of Medicine. It provides a major advance by enabling accurate quantitation where existing technology is lacking. The use of infrared technology, laser excitation and wide dynamic range provides high sensitivity, reproducibility and reliable signal quantification, setting this machine apart from other imagers.

Getahun Abate, M.D., Ph.D.



Associate Professor, Internal Medicine Abate leveraged his funding to develop 16 potential mycobacteria-fighting compounds. Mycobacteria are groups of bacteria that primarily affect the lungs and cause diseases such as Tuberculosis (TB) and Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC). Currently, drug treatment regimens for TB take approximately six months and at least 18 months for MAC. Furthermore, the failure rate of the MAC treatment is 40%, creating a clear need for more effective treatment options. Abate intends to screen 16 new compounds for TB and MAC treatment, publish the findings and apply for external grants that will enable further research into the therapies. FUNDING:




Duane P. Grandgenett, Ph.D. Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Grandgenett is leading ambitious research into the mechanisms of viral integrase, specifically the HIV-1 integrase, with the goal of reducing development of drug-resistant HIV-1 integrase mutants. The Research Growth Fund allowed Grandgenett to finance an additional associate research professor, Krishan Pandey, Ph.D., and conduct cryo-EM imaging data analysis, an integral step in his research.

Erin Wolf Chambers, Ph.D. Professor, Computer Science

Chambers recently began a rigorous theoretical computer science research project focused on topological measures of similarity, clustering of GIS data and measuring similarity of meshes. In order to aid with this and other research projects, Chambers hired a postdoctoral researcher, Salman Parsa, Ph.D., using an award from the Research Growth Fund.

To date, Pandey has completed training with cryo-EM imaging data analysis, and Grandgenett’s team has successfully used this analysis in research. Grandgenett hopes to eventually obtain an NIH R01 grant to continue the project and publish a series of manuscripts on his findings. FUNDING:

Parsa has been successful in facilitating and expanding theoretical computer science at SLU. Parsa and Chambers submitted a manuscript entitled “How to Morph Graphs on the Torus” to the Symposium on Discrete Algorithms, one of the top conferences in the field. Another manuscript, which is closely related to Parsa’s thesis work, will be submitted to the Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG) in November 2020. Finally, Parsa and Chambers are writing a third paper on the topic of classifying and simplifying curves in three-manifolds, which they plan to submit to SoCG in November. FUNDING:





Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D. Professor, Internal Medicine Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, Allergy and Immunology

Over the last few years, SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development has seen an explosive increase in investment for new research. This demand has grown considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Hoft is now leading several efforts to facilitate groundbreaking research across the CVD.

David Letscher, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science

Letscher’s award assisted in building out the computer science department’s research equipment infrastructure. Computation plays a critical role in SLU’s computer science research; the computer science department has previously been successful in obtaining computation-oriented research grants for necessary and costly computational nodes. However, the equipment needed to utilize these nodes is highly specialized, and funding agencies often expect that applicants already have a robust network of specialized computational nodes when choosing grant winners. Letscher’s award from the Research Growth Fund provided the necessary infrastructure and computing nodes to support the next five years of grant applications from the computer science department. FUNDING:

The Research Growth Fund provided Hoft with the funding needed to hire Rachel Edwards, Ph.D., a Project Manager for the CVD, to help manage its ever-growing research portfolio. Edwards performs key tasks, such as planning progress reports, assisting with funding applications, managing manuscript submissions and aiding in data analysis. This strategic hire has made a significant impact on the amount of research conducted, the quality of manuscripts produced and the number of external grant applications submitted. In 2020, Edwards provided crucial support as the Center for Vaccine Development began a number of high-profile COVID-19 studies. FUNDING:





Collective Strength Groundbreaking research begins with outstanding researchers. Part of the Research Institute’s mission is to support Saint Louis University in attracting, supporting and retaining research faculty of the highest caliber. The Research Institute Fellows program is a new initiative that fosters collaboration between the University and the Research Institute in hiring new faculty whose work will make long-term impacts on SLU’s research portfolio.

2019–2020 RESEARCH INSTITUTE FELLOWS Cameron Anglum, Ph.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Education and Equity Abby Stylianou, Ph.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Computer Science Denise Cote-Arsenault, Ph.D., RN, RN, Irene Riddle Endowed Professor of Nursing Edwin Antony, Ph.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Jim Edwards, Ph.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Chemistry Yi Li, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Nutrition and Dietetics

The Selection Process The process for selecting Research Institute Fellows supplements the University’s standard procedure for faculty hires. A Research Institute Fellows Committee has been formed to review submissions from deans and make recommendations to the Provost and Vice President for Research and Partnerships to invest funds from the Research Institute in support of hiring qualified candidates.





Cameron Anglum, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Education Policy and Equity

In addition to his responsibilities at Saint Louis University, Anglum is a faculty member at SLU’s Policy Research in Missouri Education (PRiME) and an Emerging Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Urban Research. In 2018, Anglum was a recipient of a National Academy of Education/ Spencer Dissertation Fellowship and the Association for Education Finance and Policy New Scholar Award.

Anglum’s research concentrates on the economics of education policy and education finance, work which is centered on the study of policy and program effects witnessed by disadvantaged students and the school districts and governments that serve them. In particular, he examines how government policy at the local, state and federal levels affect the distribution of investments in inputs to K-12 public education, the largest public expenditure at the state and local levels.


Prior to being named a Research Institute Fellow, Anglum’s work examined equity and adequacy considerations in school finance reforms, technology integration in urban schools and reforms to school discipline policies. His dissertation research examines school district debt issuance, credit constraints and their relationships with school capital investments, investments which have been shown to improve a range of important public policy outcomes. In addition to his outstanding academic credentials, he previously worked in the Philadelphia mayor’s office, learning how to connect academic research to school policy.


Students participating in one of Anglum’s educational studies classes

Current Research “The Effect of the Four-Day School Week on Students, Teachers, Parents and Communities: Evidence from Missouri” ROLE:

Principal Investigator FUNDING:


Recent Publications Anglum, J. C. (2020, July 14). Public education cuts can inflict long-term damage. St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial. Steinberg, M., Quinn, R. & Anglum, J. C. (2020). Education finance reform and the Great Recession: Did state policy and fiscal federalism improve education spending, school resources and student achievement in Pennsylvania? Journal of Education Finance, 45(4), 427-458.


Saint Louis University Beaumont Scholarship Research Award Program TIMELINE:

May 2020 – May 2021

“Evaluation of the Consortium Partnership Network in Saint Louis Public Schools” ROLE:

Co-Principal Investigator with G. Ritter, E. Rhinesmith and J. Nichols FUNDING:

$100,000 SPONSOR:

Saint Louis Public Schools TIMELINE:

September 2019 – December 2022

Anglum, J. C., Desimone, L. & Hill, K. (2020). Integrating computer-based curricula in the classroom: Lessons from a blended learning intervention. Teachers College Record. 122(1).

Recent Speaking Engagements League of Women Voters of Metropolitan St. Louis, Education Committee and Social Justice Task Force; August 2020 April 2020: National Education Finance Academy (NEFA) 10th Annual Conference; April 2020 Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) 45th Annual Conference; March 2020 University of Missouri Truman School of Public Affairs; March 2020



Abby Stylianou, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Computer Science

Upon arriving at Saint Louis University, Stylianou became an immediate asset to the Geospatial Institute (GeoSLU) and its partnership with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. In January 2020, Stylianou was featured in an installment of the GeoSLU Speaker Series, where she discussed her project funded by the National Institute of Justice that aims to develop image search capabilities to help combat human trafficking.

Stylianou is a computer scientist with a background in geosciences and remote sensing. Her work focuses on deep machine learning for improved image processing and analysis and building large datasets of images and their metadata. Stylianou is particularly interested in how motivated communities of non-experts can participate in the collection of these datasets and what challenges are introduced by capturing data from such diverse populations.


Victims of human trafficking are often photographed in hotel rooms, and recognizing those hotels is an important part of the cases made against traffickers. Stylianou has worked with collaborators at Temple University and George Washington University to develop machine learning-based approaches to hotel recognition, producing an image search tool that has been deployed at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The image search is supported by images uploaded to the TraffickCam smartphone application by over 250,000 users around the world who upload photos of their hotel room when they travel.


Current Research “Transforming Cleft Speech Assessment and Care Through Online Crowdsourcing” ROLE:

Co-Principal Investigator with A. Lin FUNDING:



Plastic Surgery Foundation TIMELINE:

2020 – 2021

“Explainable AI for Bioenergy Crop Phenotyping and Precision Agriculture” ROLE:

Principal Investigator in collaboration with Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, University of Arizona and George Washington University FUNDING:

$295,286 SPONSOR:

U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy TIMELINE:

2019 – 2021

“An Object-Centric Approach for Image Analysis to Combat Human Trafficking” ROLE:

Principal Investigator in collaboration with Temple University and George Washington University FUNDING:

$357,999 SPONSOR:

National Institute of Justice TIMELINE:

2019 – 2021



Denise Cote-Arsenault, Ph.D., RN Hemak Endowed Professor of Maternal Child Nursing

Cote-Arsenault’s extensive research and publication record seeks to provide an evidence base that will support health care services for this population, ensuring that providers have data about parents’ experiences, needs and responses. She combines qualitative and quantitative methodologies, connecting medical science with anthropological observations.

Cote-Arsenault is a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded investigator who studies lethal fetal diagnosis (LFD), a complication in approximately 2% of pregnancies, translating to 125,000 mothers per year in the U.S. alone. The diagnosis points to several conditions that make it unlikely or impossible for the fetus to survive outside the uterus. Unfortunately, health care providers have few evidence-based resources on how to provide support to parents and caregivers, and the reasons for the LFDs are not well understood.


Cote-Arsenault was recruited by the School of Nursing for an endowed chair designed to increase the output of the school’s high-quality research and restore its competitiveness for NIH funding. In September 2019, just months after arriving at SLU, Cote-Arsenault was awarded a prestigious Fulbright scholarship.


Recent Publications Denney-Kolesch, E., & Côté-Arsenault, D. (Eds.) (2020). Perinatal Palliative Care: A Clinical Guide. Côté-Arsenault, D., & Hubbard, L.J. (in press). Improving care through theory application. MCN American Journal of Maternal-Child Nursing. Côté-Arsenault, D., Denney-Koelsch, E., McCoy, T. & Kavanaugh, K. (in press). African American And Latino Bereaved Parent Health Outcomes after Receiving Perinatal Palliative Care: A Comparative Mixed Methods Case Study. Applied Nursing Research. Côté-Arsenault, D., Leerkes, E. & Zhou, N. (2019). Individual Differences in Maternal, Marital, Parenting and Child Outcomes Following Perinatal Loss: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology. Côté-Arsenault, D., & Denney-Koelsch, E. (2018). “Love is a Choice” Couple Responses to Continuing Pregnancy with a Lethal Fetal Diagnosis. Illness, Crisis and Loss, 26(1), 5–22. DOI: 10.1177/1054137317740798 Moore, S., & Côté-Arsenault, D. (2018). Navigating an uncertain journey of pregnancy after perinatal loss. Illness, Crisis, & Loss, 26(1), 58–74. DOI: 10.1177/1054137317740802

Recent Speaking Engagements Evidence-based Care for Families Facing Fetal Diagnosis and Perinatal Loss, OB/ GYN Grand Rounds; Saint Louis University School of Medicine; SLUCare; September 2020



Edwin Antony, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Currently, Antony’s work focuses on enzymes that function in two distinct biological phenomena: DNA Repair and Recombination and Electron Transfer. Antony’s research is highly funded and has increased SLU’s overall research portfolio with two R01 grants totaling more than $600K per year, with new projects still in the pipeline.

Antony came to Saint Louis University from Marquette University, where he was an enzymologist and a rising star in the field of DNA metabolism and repair. His research broadly aims at understanding the mechanism of action of enzymes. He uses a combination of pre-steady state kinetics, single molecule methods, structural and biophysical approaches to build quantitative models of enzyme activity to understand how they function in the cell.


As of August 2020, Antony has pending submissions for a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Instrumentation Grant and a Mallinckrodt Foundation Scholar Grant. He plans to submit several major proposals to a variety of funding organizations between October 2020 and March 2021.


Recently Funded Grants Mechanisms of DNA Hand-Off During Lesion Repair in BER and NER R01 GM130746, ending January 2023 Mechanisms of RPA, Recombinases, and Mediators in Homologous Recombination R01 GM133967, ending August 2023 U.S. Department of Energy Grant Ending July 2021 NIH Supplement: $9,848 UG Summer Research, 2020 NIH Supplement: $71,307 Fluorometer, 2020

Recent Publications Elevated expression of a functional Suf pathway in Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) enhances recombinant production of an iron-sulfur-containing protein. Corless E., Mettert E., Kiley P. and Antony E. J. Bacteriology. 2020. 15;202(3)e00496-19 Substrate recognition induces sequential electron transfer across subunits in the nitrogenase-like DPOR complex. Corless E., Bennett B. and Antony E. J. Biological Chemistry. 2020. Accepted – In Press. Generation of fluorescent version of Saccharomyces cerevisiae RPA to study the conformational dynamics of its ssDNA-binding domains. Kuppa S., Pokhrel N., Corless E., Origanti S. and Antony E. 2020. In Press. Methods in Molecular Biology.



Jim Edwards, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Chemistry

Edwards is an analytical chemist whose research focuses on the development of novel separation (LC and CE) and mass spectrometry methods to investigate diabetic complications. He is a widely regarded expert on the use of mass spectrometry methods for metabolomics. His research area of liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, metabolomics and studying diabetic complications is growing increasingly popular among scientists. Edwards is recognized as an international expert, with leaders in the field recognizing him as on the cutting edge of its development.



Recently Funded Grants Universal Metabolite Tagging: $2,403,425 NIH R01, awarded September 2019 Applying Ion-Exchange Chromatography and Supercritical Fluid Chromatography to Small Molecule Analysis (Collaboration): $451,068 NSF CHE-DRP, awarded July 2019



Yi Li, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Nutrition and Dietetics

Li joined SLU from Texas A&M Kingsville. His research focuses on using cellular and molecular techniques to investigate the influence of nutritional factors including glucose, lipids, amino acids and antioxidants on epigenetic mechanisms involved in the development of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. His planned projects will focus on identifying epigenetic biomarkers associated with obesity by using human blood samples, cultured animal cells and mouse models.


Li has received National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, where he currently uses nutritional genomics approaches to investigate gene regulation mediated by epigenetic modifications in adipocytes and muscle cells during onset of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Nutritional genomics is a new interdisciplinary research area that studies “hidden” influences on the genes that are not a part of the DNA structure. This new line of inquiry has the potential to resolve questions in chronic diseases such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. In 2019, Li became a full member of Sigma XI: The Scientific Research Honor Society and an editorial board member of the Open Biochemistry Journal. His research has been cited online nearly 700 times. Li’s exceptional research background made him a strong fit for the Doisy College of Health Sciences, which set research growth as a strategic priority and sought to attract NIH-funded investigators with a strong laboratory focus.


Proposed Grants Inheritable Epigenetic Biomarkers in Development of Childhood Obesity NIH R01 proposal, February 2019 Inheritable MicroRNA Biomarkers of Obesity Collaboration with Washington University, Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences Just-in-Time Core Usage Program Proposal, March 2020 Quinine Supplementation to Prevent Coronavirus Infection Saint Louis University COVID-19 Proposal, April 2020 Involvement of Epigenetic Modifications in Adipogenesis NSF CAREER Proposal, August 2020



Every Big Idea. Every Bright Scholar. Every Breakthrough Discovery.

Begins with




Your gift to Saint Louis University will flourish into a gift for all humanity. Over the last few years, SLU has built incredible momentum toward becoming a world-class destination for life-changing research. We invite you to join us and keep the momentum going well into the future. Whatever your passions may be, there is a place in SLU’s research portfolio where your gift will serve a higher purpose and seek the greater good.


Sheila Manion Vice President, Development (314) 977-2306 | sheila.manion@slu.edu



Researchers Supported by the Research Institute BIG IDEAS

Vasit Sagan, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Director, Geospatial Institute at SLU Enbal Shacham, Ph.D. Professor, Public Health; Associate Director, Geospatial Institute at SLU Henning Lohse-Busch, Ph.D. Director of Business Development and Outreach Geospatial Institute at SLU Ness Sandoval, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology; Associate Director, Geospatial Institute at SLU (GeoSLU) Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E. Associate Professor, Civil Engineering; Executive Director, WATER Institute Rachel Rimmerman, MBA Administrative Director, WATER Institute Elizabeth Hasenmueller, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Associate Director, WATER Institute Craig Adams, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE Oliver L. Parks Endowed Chair, Professor, Civil Engineering; Primary Investigator, WATER Institute Ruqaiijah Yearby, J.D., M.P.H. Professor, Law; Co-Founder and Executive Director, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity (IHJE)


Amber Johnson, Ph.D.

Katie Sniffen

Associate Professor, Communication; Co-Founder, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity

Program Coordinator, AHEAD Institute John Tavis, Ph.D.

Keon Gilbert, DrPH

Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology; SLU-IDBI Leadership Team

Associate Professor, Behavioral Science and Health Education; Co-Founder, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity Michelle Rolfsmeyer Program Coordinator, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity Kira Hudson Banks, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Psychology; Co-Founder, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D. Professor, Infectious Diseases, Director of the Center for Vaccine Development Leslie Hinyard, Ph.D., MSW Chair and Associate Professor, Health and Clinical Outcomes Research; Director, AHEAD Institute Jeffrey Scherrer, Ph.D.

Marvin Meyers, Ph.D. Professor, Chemistry; SLU-IDBI Leadership Team Jack Kennell, Ph.D. Professor and Chair, Biology; SLU-IDBI Leadership Team R. Scott Martin, Ph.D. Professor and Chair, Chemistry; SLU-CAM Leadership Team Scott Sell, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering; SLU-CAM Leadership Team Andre Castiaux, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Researcher, Chemistry, SLU-CAM Andrew Hall, D.Sc

Professor, Family and Community Medicine; Associate Director of Research, AHEAD Institute

Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering; SLU-CAM Leadership Team

Timothy Wiemken, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Political Science, Director, SLU/YouGov Poll

Associate Professor, Health and Clinical Outcomes Research; Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases Paula Buchanan, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Health and Clinical Outcomes Research; Operations Manager, AHEAD Institute Consulting Practice Richard Grucza, Ph.D. Professor, Family and Community Medicine; Professor of Health and Clinical Outcomes Research


Steve Rogers, Ph.D.

Kenneth Warren, Ph.D. Professor, Political Science; Associate Director, SLU/YouGov Poll Evan Rhinesmith, Ph.D. Director, Research and Evaluation, SLU PRiME Center Jenna Gorlewicz, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering; PATH @ SLU Leadership Team

APPENDIX Flavio Esposito, Ph.D.

Kate Moran, Ph.D.

Sidney D. Watson, J.D.

Assistant Professor, Computer Science; PATH @ SLU Leadership Team; Co-Investigator, AI @ SLU

Associate Professor, American Studies; Co-Investigator, Center for Global Jesuit Studies

Jane and Bruce Robert Professor, Center for Health Law Studies; Co-Investigator, Health Policy Research in Action Network

Filippo Marsili, Ph.D.

Mary Prendergast, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, History; Co-Investigator, Center for Global Jesuit Studies

Associate Professor, Anthropology, SLU Madrid; Co-Investigator, Resilience Laboratory

Terra Edwards, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology; PATH @ SLU Leadership Team Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D. Professor, Pharmacology and Physiology; Director, the Henry and Amelia Nasrallah Center for Neuroscience Takako Nomi, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Educational Studies; Co-Investigator, SLU-UEPEG/PRiME Center Gary Ritter, Ph.D. Dean and Professor, School of Education; Co-Investigator, SLU-UEPEG/PRiME Center Michael Podgursky, Ph.D. Director, Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research; Co-Investigator, SLU-UEPEG/PRiME Center Heather Bednarek, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Economics; Co-Investigator, SLU-UEPEG/PRiME Center; Co-Investigator, Health Policy Research in Action Network Tricia Austin Ph.D. Associate Professor, Department Chair, Physical Therapy and Athletic Training; Co-Investigator, Center for Healthy Living Gretchen Salsich, Ph.D. Professor, Physical Therapy and Athletic Training; Co-Investigator, Center for Healthy Living Jeremiah Weinstock, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Psychology; Co-Investigator, Center for Healthy Living Paul Lynch, Ph.D. Associate Professor, English; Co-Investigator, Center for Global Jesuit Studies

Charles Parker, Ph.D. Professor, History; Co-Investigator, Center for Global Jesuit Studies Randall Rosenberg, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Systematic Theology; Co-Investigator, Center for Global Jesuit Studies David Suwalsky, S.J.

Katherine C. MacKinnon, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology; Co-Investigator, Resilience Laboratory Monica Eppinger, Ph.D., J.D. Associate Professor, Law; Co-Investigator, Resilience Laboratory Elena Bray Speth, Ph.D.

Vice President for Mission and Identity; Co-Investigator of the Center for Global Jesuit Studies

Assistant Professor, Biology; Co-Investigator, ARISE @ SLU

Mamoun Benmamoun, Ph.D.

Paul Bracher, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, International Business; Co-Investigator, AI @ SLU

Assistant Professor, Chemistry; Co-Investigator, ARISE @ SLU

Michael Goldwasser, Ph.D.

Brenda A Kirchoff, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Computer Science; Co-Investigator, AI @ SLU

Associate Professor, Psychology and Neuroscience; Co-Investigator, ARISE @ SLU

Srikanth Guruajan, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Engineering; Co-Investigator, AI @ SLU Steven Smart, M.D. Internal Medicine, Cardiology; Co-Investigator, AI @ SLU Ellen Barnidge, Ph.D., M.P.H. Associate Professor, Public Health; Co-Investigator, Health Policy Research in Action Network Elizabeth Pendo, J.D.

Chris Carroll, Ph.D. P.E. Assistant Professor, Program Coordinator, Civil Engineering; Co-Investigator, ARISE @ SLU Mike May, S.J. Associate Professor, Mathematics; Co-Investigator, ARISE @ SLU David Ford, Ph.D. Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Co-Investigator, SLU Sepsis Center Blythe Janowiak Mulligan, Ph.D.

Joseph J. Simeone Professor of Law, Center for Health Law Studies; Co-Investigator, Health Policy Research in Action Network

Assistant Professor, Biology; Co-Investigator, SLU Sepsis Center

Fred Rottnek, M.D.

Jane McHowat, Ph.D.

Professor, Family and Community Medicine; Co-Investigator, Health Policy Research in Action Network

Professor, Pathology; Co-Investigator, SLU Sepsis Center



Researchers Supported by the Research Institute continued



Nabil Khater, M.S., DABR, DABMP. Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology; Chief Physicist, Department of Radiation Oncology

Cameron Anglum, Ph.D.

Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E.

Assistant Professor, Educational Policy and Equity

Associate Professor, Civil Engineering; Executive Director, WATER Institute

Edwin Antony, Ph.D.

Debra Taylor Cashion, Ph.D. MLIS

Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Digital Humanities Librarian; Principal Investigator, METAscripta

Ryan Bailey, Ph.D.

Christopher Arnatt, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy

Associate Professor, Chemistry

Denise Cote-Arsenault, Ph.D.

Christopher Prener, Ph.D.

Irene Riddle Endowed Professor of Nursing

Assisant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology; PATH @ SLU Leadership Team

Kasey Fowler-Finn, Ph.D.

Thomas Finan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Biology

Associate Professor, History

Bruce O’Neill, Ph.D.

Uthayashanker Ezekiel, Ph.D., MB(ASCP)

Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Associate Professor, Clinical Health Sciences

Marvin Meyers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders

James Edwards, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Chemisty Yi Li, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Nutrition and Dietetics Abby Stylianou, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Computer Science Robert Cardillo Distinguished Geospatial Fellow Richard Grucza, Ph.D. Professor, Family and Community Medicine; Professor, Health and Clinical Outcomes Research

Professor, Chemistry; SLU-IDBI Leadership Team Mary Dunn, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Theological Studies Mary Prendergast, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Anthropology, SLU Madrid; Co-Investigator, Resilience Laboratory

Associate Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Takako Nomi, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Educational Studies; Co-Investigator, SLU-UEPEG/PRiME Center Terra Edwards, Ph.D.

Whitney Postman, Ph.D.

Jacki Kornbluth, Ph.D.. Professor, Pathology David Ford, Ph.D. Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Co-Investigator, SLU Sepsis Center Daniel Hawiger, M.D., Ph.D.

Maureen Donlin, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Research Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Phyllis Weliver, D.Phil

Miriam Cherry, J.D. Professor, Law; Co-Director, William C. Wefel Center for Employment Law


Ryan Teague, Ph.D.


Professor, English


Nancy L. Weaver, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Enbal Shacham, Ph.D.

Andrew Hall, D.Sc

Professor, Behavioral Science and Health Education

Professor, Public Health; Associate Director, Geospatial Institute at SLU

Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering; SLU-CAM Leadership Team

Jeffrey Scherrer, Ph.D.

Flavio Esposito, Ph.D.

Mitzi Brammer, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Professor, Family and Community Medicine; Associate Director of Research, AHEAD Institute

Assistant Professor, Computer Science; PATH @ SLU Leadership Team

Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Timothy Wiemken, Ph.D.

Susana Gonzalo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Health and Clinical Outcomes Research; Associate Professor, Infectious Diseases

Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Getahun Abate, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor, Internal Medicine Fran Sverdrup, Ph.D.

Roberto Coral

Karen Moore, DNP Associate Professor, Nursing

Associate Professor and Research Fellow, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Research Assistant, Computer Science

Erin Wolf Chambers, Ph.D.

Stephen Scroggins

Professor, Computer Science

Doctoral Student, Public Health

Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Duane P. Grandgenett, Ph.D.

Jeremiah Weinstock, Ph.D.

Jason Taylor, M.D.

Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Associate Professor, Psychology; Co-Investigator, Center for Healthy Living

Associate Professor, Internal Medicine

David Letscher, Ph.D.

Dapeng Zhang, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science

Assistant Professor, Biology

Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D. Professor, Infectious Diseases; Director, Center for Vaccine Development


Jianguo Liu Professor, Infectious Diseases Monica Eppinger, J.D. Director, Center for International and Comparative Law

Whitney Postman, Ph.D.

Candice Thomas, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Psychology Jason Werner, M.D. Associate Professor, Pediatrics William Wold, Ph.D. Chairman, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Helen Lach, Ph.D. Professor, Nursing

Jennifer Ohs, Ph.D.

Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Communication

Professor, Infectious Diseases

Ranjit Ray, Ph.D.

Marla Berg-Werger, Ph.D.

Professor, Infectious Diseases

Professor, Social Work



Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research

Using Big Data to Support Urban Economic Development in St. Louis BY: JEFF FOWLER

When Michael Podgursky, Ph.D., begins talking about the use of big data to improve educational outcomes and workforce development in St. Louis, you can feel the excitement in his voice. “What’s the bottom line? We want to help St. Louis,” he said. As the director of the Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research, Podgursky’s goal is to use big data from a multitude of sources to improve the lives of people in St. Louis; especially school children in the City of St. Louis. “We want these kids to do well, wherever they go,” Podgursky said. “How are these kids moving through the educational pipeline? And where are they encountering problems? Big data will help inform possible interventions that can improve outcomes.” During its first year of existence, Podgursky and his team, along with colleagues from a number of colleges and schools at SLU, already have signed agreements to get educational and jobs data from the State of Missouri. Podgursky also has plans to get other geospatial data, census data and utility data. The more data, the better, he said.

“My goal is to make SLU the go-to spot on urban economic development issues in the city,” he said. “And when we walk into a meeting, we’ll have more and better data than anyone else.”


The Sinquefield Center was launched with funding from a $50 million gift from Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield that created the Saint Louis University Research Institute. The Center reports to Vice President for Research Ken Olliff and is overseen by an executive committee made up of three deans: Tom Burroughs, Ph.D., dean of the College for Public Health and Social Justice; Gary Ritter, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education; and Scott Duellman, Ph.D., interim dean of the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business. “As a university-wide center, the Sinquefield Center is mobilizing the expertise of faculty from across SLU to tackle some of the most challenging issues facing our region and our nation,” said Olliff, who also serves as director of the SLU Research Institute. “Dr. Podgursky has had an illustrious career at the University of Missouri as department chair and now Chancellor’s Professor of Economics, and I’m grateful that he’s focusing his considerable talents on leading this important initiative at SLU and in St. Louis.” Already, the Sinquefield Center is collaborating with many top SLU researchers. Takako Nomi, Ph.D., associate professor of educational studies, works closely with Podgursky to obtain detailed educational data from the state for her research on inequities and disparities in high school-to-college outcomes from the many school districts across the region. “As far as we know, no one in St. Louis is doing this,” Nomi said. “It’s very exciting, I’ve been waiting for this. To deal with issues facing our educational system, we have to have the data.”



For Enbal Shacham, Ph.D., professor of behavioral science and health education in the College for Public Health and Social Justice, the big data acquisitions from the Sinquefield Center are not only assisting with her research on how various economic and educational factors impact health outcomes in the region, but, she said, it is bringing together researchers from across the University to use big data collaboratively and have an even bigger impact.

Thus, Podgursky said he aims to answer two key questions: “Where are these people trained? And what buttons can we push to help stimulate development in the city in this sector?”

“We’re at a moment in time in St. Louis where we can collaborate and know more if we connect all of our data in a meaningful way, and the center has allowed us to do that,” Shacham said. “The center is allowing for cross-disciplinary work that hadn’t been occurring.”

All of this is with one goal in mind: “We want to do good research,” Podgursky said. “Research that helps people.”

Soon, Podgursky plans to hire up to four post-doctoral students to work on research projects with the data, and to submit geospatial research proposals to the National Science Foundation, among other funding agencies.

Podgursky also wants to focus attention on the $1.7 billion new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters being built in north St. Louis. Working with the NGA and GeoSLU, he wants to reverse engineer NGA data to find out where its employees come from and what can be done to ensure St. Louis students have the right skill sets for jobs at the NGA.



COVID-19 Seed Fund Stories New Study from SLU Psychologist Examines Gambling Addiction During COVID-19 BY: MARYCAIT DOL AN

While matters of physical health are frequently covered in the time of COVID-19, one researcher at Saint Louis University is studying the unique impacts of the pandemic on mental health, specifically among those with addiction and gambling disorders. As stay-at-home orders took effect across the country and nonessential businesses closed their doors to the public, Jeremiah Weinstock, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at SLU, wanted to know the long-term effects of social isolation on those suffering from addiction to gambling, clinically known as gambling disorder. Weinstock, who has previously published numerous articles on the subject of addiction, partnered with Carla J. Rash, Ph.D., of the University of Connecticut Health Center in order to study the potential outcomes of this unprecedented situation. Weinstock and Rush devised a survey-based longitudinal study entitled “Changes in Gambling Behavior Due to COVID19.” Weinstock hopes this study will provide insight into the various behaviors and coping mechanisms that those affected by gambling disorder might turn to as they are forced to stay home from casinos and other gambling venues. “It’s unclear what happens to [those suffering from gambling disorder] during a forced period of abstinence,” Weinstock explained. “It’s a moment that will allow some people, not everybody, to pause and engage in reflection while other people will be very distraught by the fact that they can’t gamble because it’s a primary means by which they cope and deal with the world.” Some gamblers, Weinstock says, may be able to use this time as an opportunity to quit gambling. Others, however, may turn to other addictions such as alcohol or tobacco use to fill the void, while others still may turn to other forms of gambling online.

providers, among other relevant communities, in creating policy to support those with gambling disorder and help them receive the treatment they need. The study received funding from the SLU Research Institute’s Rapid Response COVID-19 Seed Fund, which was established in Spring 2020 to empower and support researchers as they seek to answer important questions that arise in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Weinstock and Rush also received support through the University of Connecticut’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP). Typically, those with gambling disorder are also affected by other psychiatric problems such as depression and anxiety. Weinstock and Rush hope to determine trends of potential longterm implications of extended periods of forced abstinence on the well-being and mental health of survey participants. “The Jesuit mission of social justice and caring for all directly applies to people suffering from addiction,” said Weinstock. Gambling addiction is often associated with a great deal of shame and stigma and is often something that those affected by it try to hide from their families and other loved ones. The stigma that surrounds gambling disorder, he added, often prevents those affected from seeking treatment. “Nobody

chooses to have a gambling problem, to go wreck their lives financially and to lose the trust of their family members,” Weinstock said. “Nobody willingly decides to go do that. There’s something else driving this behavior and I want to understand that and to help other people understand that. I want to make lasting and meaningful changes.”

Weinstock hopes that the dissemination of data collected from this research will be useful to future policymakers and treatment




SLU Researchers Develop App to Track COVID-19 Symptoms BY: CL AIRE CREEDON

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic when COVID-19 was a new and emerging infectious disease spreading across the world. WHO urged countries to brace themselves for the impacts of COVID-19 on their population. How was COVID-19 spreading so quickly and to so many people? There is still a need to understand the individual and community transmission risks and rates, particularly as cases begin to rise once again. To address this, SLU researchers Enbal Shacham, Ph.D., professor of public health and associate director of the SLU Geospatial Institute (GeoSLU), Flavio Esposito, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science, and Roberto Coral, a research assistant in computer science, developed an app to monitor real-time symptoms and the location of symptomatic individuals (https://cs.slu.edu/projects/covid19/). The app helps to track the spread of COVID-19 at an individual level and enables contact tracing. Users can go onto the app multiple times a day to track if you are experiencing any of the symptoms that the CDC has documented for COVID-19. Shacham has been interested in using geospatial technology to grow, inform and improve public health. “Public health is related to everything, and location determines opportunity and outcomes,” said Shacham. COVID-19 is a great example of how location drives health and health outcomes. “We have the ability to recognize in real-time when people are feeling sick, where they are sick, and how we can get them resources as quickly as possible,” Shacham said of this new app.

The app is now available to everyone. As of right now, the team is trying to promote the app to employers for their employees to use the app as they start returning to their workplaces. With cases once again rising, there is a greater responsibility to create a safe place for employees and customers alike. While the team feels this app is a step in the right direction, Shacham emphasizes that more efforts to use available data during this pandemic be taken to inform better public health. “We cannot say this one app is going to solve all of our problems, but rather, this app in concert with other data points should support systems that should be working together.” Shacham believes that communities need to work together to stop the spread of the virus, and it is important that everyone does their part. The more people that use this app on a daily basis, the greater public health officials’ knowledge of where the virus is spreading and where best to address the crisis. The app is available for download here: https://cs.slu.edu/projects/covid19/ More information on efforts at SLU to track COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.slu.edu/research/coronavirus/ tracking-covid19.php

The app was first designed for airport staff that would be routinely exposed to COVID-19, but that changed when the crisis began to spread among communities. With support from the SLU Research Institute’s Rapid Response COVID-19 Seed Fund, the team had an opportunity to broaden the scope of their project to focus on a wider population and create an app that could be a crucial resource for businesses, schools, governments and other organizations looking to create a comfortable and safe environment. “[The Seed Fund] allowed us to start focusing on our efforts and develop a truly useful app,” said Shacham.



COVID-19 Seed Fund Stories continued

SLU Researchers Develop Custom PPE for Frontline Healthcare Workers BY: RYAN L AWLESS

At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, there were immediate outcries from the medical field regarding a lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Within the first few weeks, N-95 masks for hospital workers were in extremely low supply, and people began worrying that some hospitals might run out of masks entirely. A national survey of hospital PPE supply conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), in late March found that nearly half (48%) of all hospitals were out of or nearly out of respirators. SLU researchers Andrew Hall, D.Sc., associate professor of biomedical engineering, Keith Pereira M.D., SLUCare physician, and Andre Castiaux, Ph.D., Chemistry Post-Doc, along with Charles Wolfersberger, an engineer with Bayer, responded by creating a project that would provide a safety net for local St. Louis hospitals in the event that they encounter a severe shortage of N-95 masks. “Using an optical face scan and a CAD program, we design [N-95] masks that are customized to an individual … that we can successfully, quantitatively fit-test on the user,” Hall explains. Two of the researchers, Hall and Castiaux, made up part of the team that recently established the SLU Center for Additive Manufacturing (SLU-CAM), a 3D printing-focused center that will allow researchers and students access to state-of-the-art printers for applications ranging from class projects to realworld prototyping. “SLU’s Center for Additive Manufacturing allows our faculty and students to not only think of big ideas, but also to design and build solutions to some of society’s greatest challenges,” said Michelle Sabick, Ph.D, dean of Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology. Hall and the team of researchers took advantage of Parks College’s newly acquired optical scanner, as well as a new highend computer, to create detailed facial scans of 15 SSM hospital workers. The masks were then 3D printed and subjected to an industry standard quantitative fit test. 14 of the 15 masks passed this test, and the failed mask is being redesigned and retested.


Pereira successfully applied to the SSM Institutional Review Board (IRB) which allows 3D printed masks to be used in the hospital in the case that they run out of commercial masks. The team is also working with the FDA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to gain an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to make the masks available outside the SSM SLU hospital. The study received funding from the SLU Research Institute’s Rapid Response COVID-19 Seed Fund, which was established in Spring 2020 to empower and support researchers as they seek to answer important questions that arise in the way of the COVID-19 pandemic. The high-end computer used in the study was provided through this funding. Hall was encouraged to take on this project due to novel discoveries from his previous research with medical imaging. “In medical imaging, usually you’re concerned with things within the body, but it turns out that if you have a CT or an MR of a patient and look at the image the right way, you can see their face - you have a 3D image of the face surface. We had done a little bit of early work with incorporating faces from medical imaging into things that we had 3D printed, so that combination led us to believe we could do something here.” In line with the University’s Jesuit mission, Hall says the goal was to serve those on the frontlines of this crisis. “That was the motivation - just to try and help.” When asked about what it was like to work on the project, Hall remarked, “You know, in a standard research project you’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done before so that you can publish it and maybe get a grant etc., but this was really about ‘What’s the fastest way to deliver this solution to healthcare workers?’ - with little thought to anything else.”



SLU Communication Professor Studies Credibility of COVID-19 Information, Impact on Health Behaviors BY: MARYCAIT DOL AN

Since the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the United States, staying up to date with reliable information has become an essential part of many Americans’ daily routine. To analyze trends in news and information consumption amidst the pandemic and with support from the SLU Research Institute’s Rapid Response COVID-19 Seed Fund, Jennifer Ohs, Ph.D., associate professor of communication, has launched a new study entitled “Health Misinformation, Media Exposure, Uncertainty, and Anxiety during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Ohs, in collaboration with Amber Hinsley, Ph.D, Texas State University; Ilwoo Ju, Ph.D., of Purdue University; and Taehwhan Park, Ph.D., of St. John’s University, will examine various factors’ influence on how Americans seek out and absorb health-related information. “Our study examines how people weigh the credibility of COVID-19 related information and sources, and how those judgments affect their decisions about health behaviors to protect against contracting the disease,” Ohs said. “The knowledge gained from this work can be used by public health officials and other emergency managers to design more effective messages in the fight against COVID-19.” Among other things, the study will analyze participants’ anxiety about COVID-19 information alongside their perceived susceptibility to the virus and the potential severity of illness. The study will examine how these factors may change the ways in which participants search for and verify information. Ohs brings extensive expertise in interpersonal and health communication to the study, focusing on the influence of interpersonal social networks and age on information-seeking and preventative behaviors.

from mediated sources, family members, and friends. The team was able to implement their research by recruiting study subjects through the Seed Fund. Subjects were then surveyed in order to investigate psychological and behavioral aspects of protective health decisions in the context of COVID-19. The researchers plan to expand the findings of this study with future opportunities to apply for extramural funding. In addition to Ohs, Hinsley will examine users’ perceived credibility of COVID-19 information on social media, while Ju and Park will study the influence of mass mediated sources on decisions to engage in protective behaviors during COVID-19 and the role of optimistic bias in practicing preventive health behaviors during the pandemic. In conducting this research, Ohs and her team were mindful of the importance of SLU’s Jesuit mission of serving others in the time of COVID-19.

“Making health decisions based on the benefits to our collective society has been a central feature of public health messages about COVID-19,” Ohs said. “This study examines the extent to which such messaging helps to motivate the public in their health decisions and behaviors.” This is a part of a series of stories from the Office of the Vice President for Research highlighting SLU’s Rapid Response COVID-19 Seed Fund Program. MaryCait Dolan/Office of the Vice President for Research.

“We would expect, for example, that older adults may be more likely than younger adults to have an increased trust in a physician and seek information from medical professionals about the pandemic,” Ohs explained. In contrast, she said, younger adults may be seeking pandemic-related information



Center for Vaccine Development: Recent and Ongoing Trials COVID-19 •

COVID-19 vaccine trial, phase III, Moderna

Leukapheresis study for those who have tested positive to COVID-19

vaccination strategy including a H3N2 M2SR prime followed by a seasonal quadrivalent inactivated vaccine boost in a pediatric population 9-17 years old •

Adaptive COVID-19 treatment trial (ACTT1, ACTT2, and ACTT3)



Phase I trial to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of quadrivalent (Fluzone® and Flublok®) influenza vaccines in healthy U.S. adults with and without adjuvant A controlled human infection study of influenza A/Bethesda/MM2/ H1N1 virus (A/California/04/2009/ H1N1-like) in healthy subjects to assess the effect of pre-existing immunity on symptomatic influenza virus infections A phase II study to assess the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of a single dose of 2017 A/H7N9 inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) administered intramuscularly with or without AS03 adjuvant in 2013 A/H7N9 IIV primed or A/H7 IIV naïve subjects

A phase IA/IB trial to evaluate the safety, tolerance, and immunogenicity of MAS-1-adjuvanted seasonal inactivated influenza vaccine (MER4101) with hemagglutinin dose escalation compared to non-adjuvanted comparator inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) standard dose (SD) in healthy adults and high does (HD) IIV in ambulatory elderly subjects A phase II, double-blind, multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled trial to assess the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of two doses of multimeric-001 (M-001) followed by seasonal quadrivalent influenza vaccine


Performance evaluation of the VIDAS® TB-IGRA assay - precision study

A phase II study in healthy adults 18-64 years old to assess the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of a Seqirus A/H7N9 inactivated influenza vaccine administered intramuscularly with or without MF59® adjuvant

Performance evaluation of the VIDAS® TB-IGRA assay - low risk for TB study

Phase I, open-label dose escalation trial for the development of a human BCG challenge model for assessment of TB immunity

A phase I trial to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of an influenza

Expression signatures of TB-specific memory responses within the human lung


A phase I, open-label, single-dose study to evaluate the pharmacokinetics and safety of Pretomanid in subjects with renal impairment compared to subjects with normal renal function

A phase I, single dose, open-label, sequential group study comparing the pharmacokinetics and safety of Pretomanid in subjects with mild, moderate, and severe hepatic impairment to matched, non-hepatically impaired subjects

A phase I, double-blind, randomized clinical trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the single-vial lyophilized ID93 + GLA-SE vaccine administered intramuscularly in healthy adult subjects [IDRI-TBVPX-120]

Collection and storage of biological samples obtained by leukapheresis for the future study of immune responses induced by two BCG vaccinations in BCG-naïve healthy adults in the US

Use of PET/CT scan to detect in vivo dissemination of a BCG challenge strain


A randomized, double-blind, multicenter phase III trial to evaluate immunogenicity and safety of three consecutive production lots of a freeze-dried formulation of MVA-BN® smallpox vaccine in healthy, vaccinia-naïve subjects [POX-MVA-031]





Phase I, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled dose de-escalation study to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of alum adjuvanted zika virus purified inactivated vaccines (ZPIV) administered by the intramuscular route in adult subjects who reside in a flavivirus endemic area

Role of senescent T cells in Alzheimer’s disease (Peng - NIA)

Selection of vaccine antigens for protection from hepatitis C virus infection (Ray - NIDDK)

Hepatitis C virus infection and mechanism of liver disease and progression (Ray - NIDDK)

Rapid research response to zika virus infections: humoral and cellular responses after infection in US residents

Targeting T cell senescence and dysfunction for anti-tumor immunity (Peng - NCI)

Metabolic control of innate and adaptive immunity in breast cancer (Peng - NCI)

Universal influenza T cell targeted mucosal vaccines (Hoft - DOD)

Universal T cell targeted influenza vaccine (Hoft – NIH, R01)

Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit (VTEU) renewal (Hoft - NIH)



A phase I, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the safety, reactogenicity, and immunogenicity of MVA-BN yellow fever vaccine with and without Montanide ISA 720 adjuvant in 18-45 year old healthy adults

A phase I, two arm, open label trial to evaluate the safety, immunogenicity and preliminary efficacy of genetically-attenuated p52-/p36/sap1- Plasmodium falciparum parasites (GAP3KO) administered via the bite of infected Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes to malaria naïve adults living in the United States

A phase II, multicenter, double-blind, randomized trial comparing the safety and immunogenicity of a Francisella tularensis live vaccine strain (LVS) vaccine produced by DynPort Vaccine Company (DVC-LVS) to a LVS vaccine in use by the United States Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID-LVS)



A phase II, long-term immunogenicity follow-up trial of adult and elderly subjects who have previously received an intramuscular injection of norovirus GI.1/GII.4 bivalent virus-like particle vaccine

Randomized phase I/II study of the safety and immunogenicity of a single dose of the recombinant live-attenuated respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines RSV ΔNS2/ Δ1313/I1314L, RSV 6120/ ΔNS2/1030s, RSV 276 or placebo, delivered as nose drops to RSV-seronegative children 6-24 months of age [IMPAACT 2021]



The Geospatial Institute

New Grants and Contracts









Vasit Sagan

The Department of Defense/NGA




Vasit Sagan

1932569 NSF/USDA




Training the workforce with Geoinformatics and Geospatial Data Science CPS: TTP Option: Medium: DATAg: FieldDock: an Integrated Smart Farm Platform for Real Time Agronomic Optimization and Accelerated Crop Breeding

United Soybean Board




Seed composition estimation from in-season standing crop and terminal seed yield using non-invasive imaging

Vasit Sagan

DE-FOA-0001211 Department of Energy




A reference phenotyping system for energy sorghum

Enbal Shacham

Active: 1355406 St. Louis City Department of Health and Human Services


03/01/2019 – 02/28/2021


St. Louis Region HIV Planning Council Support Office


05/1/2019 to 04/30/2021


State-level evaluation of HIV prevention and treatment plan

Vasit Sagan

Enbal Shacham


Active: Health Services Initiative/Missouri Department of Health and Human Services










Abby Stylianou

Active: National Institute of Justice

9/1/2019 12/31/2021


An Object-Centric Approach for Image Analysis to Combat Human Trafficking

Abby Stylianou

Active: Department of Energy/ ARPA-E

9/24/2019 12/31/2021


Explainable AI for bioenergy crop phenotyping and precision agriculture

Vasit Sagan

Active: P120A160064 - 18A U.S. Department of Education


10/01/2018 to 09/30/2020


Increasing Underrepresented Populations in Sustainability and Urban Ecology

Vasit Sagan

Active: The Missouri Wine Marketing and Research Council


07/01/2019 – 6/30/2020


Early Detection of Grapevine Viral Diseases Using Proximal and Remote Sensing Observations

Vasit Sagan

Active: 18- NASA/ Missouri Space Grant Consortium


09/01/2016 – 4/30/2020


Enhancing Remote Sensing Research and Education in Missouri through Workshops and Augmented Reality Developments

Flavio Esposito

Active, NSF 1908574


CNS Core: Small: Collaborative Research: HEECMA: A Hybrid Elastic Edge-Cloud Application Management Architecture

09/16/2019– 9/15/2022


Sagan, V., Peterson, K.T., Maimaitijiang, M., Sidike, P., Sloan, J., Greeling, B.A., Maalouf, S., Adams, C. (2020). Monitoring inland water quality using remote sensing: potential and limitations of spectral indices, biooptical simulations, machine learning, and cloud computing. Earth-Science Reviews, 205: 103187. doi: 10.1016/j. earscirev.2020.103187. Peterson, K.T., Sagan, V., John Sloan. (2020). Deep learning-based water quality estimation and anomaly detection using Landsat-8/ Sentinel-2 virtual constellation and

cloud computing. GIScience & Remote Sensing, 57(4): 510-525. doi: 0.1080/15481603.2020.1738061. Maimaitijiang, M., Sagan, V., Sidike, P., Hartling, S., Esposito, F., Fritschi, F. (2020). Unmanned Aerial System (UAS)-based crop yield prediction using multi-sensor data fusion and deep learning. Remote Sensing of Environment, 237:111537. doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2019.111599. Maimaitijiang, M., Sagan, V., Erkbol, H., Adrian, J., Newcomb, M., LeBauer, D., Pauli, D., Shakoor, N., Mockler, T. (2020). UAV-based sorghum growth

monitoring: a comparative analysis of LiDAR and photogrammetry. ISPRS Ann. Photogramm. Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci., V-3-2020, 489–496. doi: 10.5194/isprsannals-V-3-2020-489-2020. Maimaitiyiming, M., Sagan, V., Sidike, P., Maimaitijiang, M., Miller, A.J., Kwasniewski, M. (2020). Leveraging very high spatial resolution hyperspectral and thermal UAV imageries for characterizing diurnal grapevine physiology. Remote Sens., 12(19), 3216. doi: 10.3390/rs12193216.



The Geospatial Institute continued

PUBLICATIONS CONTINUED Bhadra, S., Sagan, V., Maimaitijiang, M., Maimaitiyiming, M., Newcomb, M., Shakoor, N., Mockler, T.. (2020). Quantifying leaf chlorophyll concentration of sorghum from hyperspectral data using derivative calculus and machine learning. Remote Sensing, 12(13), 2082. doi: 10.3390/ rs12132082. ​Maimaitijiang, M., Sagan, V., Sidike, P., Daloye, A., Erkbol, H., Fritschi, F. (2020). Crop monitoring using Satellite/ UAV data fusion and machine learning. Remote Sensing, 12(9), 1357. doi: 10.3390/rs12091357 ​ Vilbig, J.M., Sagan, V., and Bodine, C. (2020). Archaeological surveying with LiDAR and photogrammetry: A comparative analysis at Cahokia Mounds. major revision. Journal of Archaeological Sciences: Reports (33): 102509. doi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102509 ​ uhammad, W., Esposito, F., M Maimaitijiang, M., Sagan, V., and Bonaiuti, E. (2020). Polly: a tool for rapid data integration and analysis in support of agricultural research and education. Internet of Things, 9: 100141. doi: 10.1016/j.iot.2019.100141 Sagan, V., Maimaitijiang, M., Sidike, P., Eblimit, K., Peterson, K.T., Hartling, S., Esposito, F., Khanal, K., Newcomb, M., Pauli, D., Ward, R., Fritschi, F., Shakoor, N., Mockler, T. (2019). UAVBased high resolution thermal imaging for vegetation monitoring, and plant phenotyping using ICI 8640 P, FLIR Vue Pro R 640 and thermoMap Cameras. Remote Sensing, 11(3), 330; doi: 10.3390/rs11030330 214

Sagan, V., Maimaitijiang, M., Sidike, P., Maimaitiyiming, M., Erkbol, H., Hartling, S., Peterson, K.T., Peterson, J., Burken, J., ​Fritschi, F. (2019). UAV/ Satellite multiscale data fusion for crop monitoring and early stress detection. The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, XLII-2/ W13 (Best Paper Award). PDF Sidike, P., Sagan, V., Maimaitijiang, M., Maimaitiyiming, M., Shakoor, N., Burken, J., Mockler, T., Fritschi, F. (2019). dPEN: deep Progressively Expanded Network for mapping of heterogeneous agricultural landscape using WorldView-3 imagery. Remote Sensing of Environment, 221: 756-772. ​Maimaitijiang, M., Sagan, V., Sidike, P., Maimaitiyiming, M., Hartling, S., Peterson, K.T., Maw, M., Shakoor, N., Mockler, Todd, Fritschi, F. (2019). Vegetation Index Weighted Canopy Volume Model (CVMVI) for soybean biomass estimation from Unmanned Aerial System-based RGB Imagery. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 151:27-41. Gosselin, N., Sagan, V., Maimaitiyiming, M., Fishman, J., Belina, K., Podleski, A., Maimaitijiang, M., Bashir, A., Balakrishna, J., and Dixon, A. (2019). Using visual ozone damage scores and spectroscopy to quantify soybean responses to background ozone. Remote Sensing, 12(1), 93; doi: 10.3390/ rs12010093 Manley, P., Sagan, V., Fritschi, F.B., Burken, J.G. (2019). Remote sensing


of explosives-induced stress in plants: Hyperspectral imaging analysis for remote detection of threats. Remote Sensing, 11(15), 1827; doi: 10.3390/ rs11151827. Peterson, K.T., Sagan, V., Sidike, P., Hasenmueller, E., Sloan, J., Knouft, J. (2019). Machine learning based ensemble prediction of water quality variables with proximal remote sensing using feature-level and decision-level fusion. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 85(4): 269–280. Hartling, H., Sagan, V., Sidike, P., Maimaitijiang, M., Carron, J. (2019). Urban tree species classification using a WorldView-2/3 and LiDAR data fusion approach and deep learning. Sensors, 19(6), 1284; doi: 10.3390/s19061284. Maimaitiyiming, M., Sagan, V., Sidike, P., Kwasniewski, M. (2019). Dual activation function based Extreme Learning Machine (ELM) for estimating grapevine berry yield and quality. Remote Sensing, 11(7), 740; doi: 10.3390/rs11070740 Babaeian, E., Sidike, P., Newcomb1, M.S., Maimaitijiang, M., White, S.A., Demieville, J., Ward, R.W., Sadeghi, M., LeBauer, D.S., Jones, S.B., Sagan, V., and Tuller, M. (2019). A new optical remote sensing technique for high-resolution mapping of soil moisture. Frontiers in Big Data, 2. doi: 10.3389/ fdata.2019.00037 Flavio, E., Gururajan, S., Luna, R., Sagan, V. (2019). Improving Disaster Preparedness via (Cutting) Edge Computing and Analytics.

APPENDIX Geospatial Informatics IX, part of SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing, http:// spie.org/SI115.​ ​Wang, D., Sagan, V., and Guillevic, P.C. (2019). Quantitative Remote Sensing of Land Surface Variables: Progress and Perspective. Remote Sens. 2019, 11(18), 2150; doi: 10.3390/rs11182150. Sagan, V., Maimaitiyiming, M., Fishman, J. (2018). Effects of ambient ozone on soybean biophysical variables and mineral nutrient accumulation. Remote Sens., 10(4), 562; doi:10.3390/ rs10040562 Sagan, V., Pasken, R., Zarauz, J., Krotkov, N. (2018). Monitoring SO2 trajectories in a complex terrain environment using CALIPUFF, OMI and MODIS data. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 69: 99-109. Peterson, K.T., Sagan, V., Sidike, P., Cox, A.L., Martinez, M. (2018). Suspended sediment concentration estimation from Landsat imagery along the lower Missouri and middle Mississippi Rivers using extreme learning machine. Remote Sens., 10(10), 1503; doi: 10.3390/ rs10101503 Sidike, P., Asari, V., Sagan, V. (2018). Progressively Expanded Neural Network (PEN Net) for hyperspectral image classification: a new neural network paradigm for remote sensing image analysis. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 146: 161-181. Albalooshi, F., Sidike, P., Sagan, V., Albastaki Y., and Asari, V. (2018). Deep Belief Active Contours (DBAC) with Its Application to Oil Spill Segmentation from Remotely Sensed Aerial Imagery. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 84(7): 451-458. Sidike, P., Sagan, V., Qumsiyeh, M., Maimaitijiang, M., Essa, A., and Asari, V. (2018). Adaptive Trigonometric Transformation Function with Image Contrast and Color Enhancement: Application to Unmanned Aerial System Imagery. IEEE Geoscience and Remote

Sensing Letters, 15(3): 404-408. ​Loesch, E. & Sagan, V. (2018). SBAS Analysis of Induced Ground Surface Deformation from Wastewater Injection in East Central Oklahoma, USA. Remote Sens., 10(2), 283; doi:10.3390/ rs10020283. Nurmemet, I., Sagan, V., Ding, J-L., Halik, Ü., Abliz, A., Yakup, Z. (2018). A WFS-SVM model for Soil Salinity Mapping in Keriya Oasis, NW China using polarimetric decomposition and fully PolSAR data. Remote Sens., 10(4), 598; doi:10.3390/rs10040598. Ding, J., Yang, A., Wang, J., Sagan, V. and Yu, D. (2018). Machine learning based quantitative estimation of soil organic carbon content by VIS/NIR spectroscopy. PeerJ 6: e5714, doi: 10.7717/peerj.5714 Dawson, T., Onésimo, J.S., Sagan, V., Crawford, T. (2018). A Spatial Analysis of the Relationship between Vegetation and Poverty. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 7(3), 83; doi: 10.3390/ijgi7030083 Sidike, P., Mohammad, A., and Sagan, V. (2018). Robust pattern recognition via joint transform correlation. In Advances in Pattern Recognition, pp. 81-99. New York: Nova Science Publishers. -level fusion. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 85(4): 269–280. Smith, Tara, A., and J.S. Onésimo Sandoval. 2020. “An Exploratory Spatial Analysis of the Urban Crime Environment Around the Next National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency West Development.” The Geographical Bulletin. 61(1) 37-53 Smith, Tara, A., and J.S. Onésimo Sandoval. 2019. “Examining the Local Spatial Variability of Robberies in Saint Louis Using a Multi-Scale Methodology.” Social Science, 8(2). Mueller, E. D., Sandoval, J.S. Onésimo., Mudigonda, S. P., & Elliott, M. B. 2019. “Extending cluster-based ensemble learning through synthetic population generation for modeling disparities

in health insurance coverage across Missouri.” Journal of Computational Social Science, 2, 271–291. Mueller, Erik, Sandoval, J.S. Onésimo, Mudigonda, Srikanth and Elliott, Michael. 2019. “A cluster-based machine learning ensemble approach for geospatial data: Estimation of health insurance status in Missouri.” International Journal of Geo-Information. 8 (13): 1-15. Smith, Tara, A., and J.S. Onésimo Sandoval. 2018. “A Spatial Analysis of Homicides in Saint Louis: The Importance of Scale.” Spatial Demography. 6 (14): 1-26. Dawson, Teddy, Sandoval, J.S. Onésimo, Vasit Sagan, and Tomas Crawford. 2018 “A Spatial Analysis of the Relationship between Vegetation and Poverty.” International Journal of GeoInformation. 7 (83): 1-26. Sandoval, J.S. Onésimo. 2018. “A Demographic Portrait of the Latino Barrios in Chicago.” Diálago. 1 (21): 7-16. Wiemken TL, Shacham E. (2020) Identifying potential undocumented COVID-19 using publicly reported influenza-like-illness and laboratoryconfirmed influenza disease in the United States: An approach to syndromic surveillance? American Journal of Infection Control. In Press. Scroggins S, Shacham E. (2020). What a difference a drink makes: determining associations between alcohol use patterns and condom utilization among adolescents. Alcohol and Alcoholism. Scroggins S, Shacham E, Montera N. Integrating Mental Health Care Services Into HIV Comprehensive Care. American Journal of Managed Care. 2020;26(8). Scroggins S, Ellis, Nagendra, S, Shacham E (2020). Identifying risk inequity among same-sex households during COVID-19 mitigation. Annals of LGBTQ Public and Population Health. In press.



The Geospatial Institute continued

PUBLICATIONS CONTINUED Wang HL, Sun J, Qian ZM, Gong, Zhong JB, Yang RD, Wan CL, Zhang SQ, Ning ZM, Xian H, Chang JJ, Wang CJ, Shacham, E, Wang JQ, Lin HL. Association between Air Pollution and Atopic Dermatitis in Guangzhou, China: Modification by Age and Season. British Journal of Dermatology. 2020. In press.

Politi MC, Shacham E, Barker A, George N, Mir N, Philpott S, Liu JE, Peters E. A Comparison Between Subjective and Objective methods of predicting Health Care Expenses to Support Consumers’ health Insurance Plan Choice. Medical Decision Making Policy& Practice. 2018 Jan-Jun 3(1).

Lopez JD, Shacham E, Brown TM. Suicidal Ideation Persists Among Individuals Engaged in HIV Care in the Era of Antiretroviral Therapy. AIDS and Behavior. 2018. 22(3) 800-805.

Shacham E, Loux T, Barnidge E K, Pappaterra L. Determinants of Organ Donation Registration. American Journal of Transplantation. 2018 18(11) 2798-2803.

Shacham E, Lopez JD, Brown TM, Tippit K, Ritz A. Enhancing Adherence to Care in the HIV Care Continuum: The Barrier Elimination and Care Navigation (BEACON) Project Evaluation. AIDS and Behavior. 2018 22(1) 258-264.

Shacham E, Lew D, Xiao T, Lopez J, Trull T, Presti R. (2019) Testing the Feasibility of Using Ecological Momentary Assessment to Collect RealTime Behavior and Mood to Predict Technology-Measured HIV Medication Adherence. AIDS and Behavior. In press.

Sebert- Kuhlmann A, Peters Bergquist E, Quiang Fu, Shacham E, Foggia J, Sierra M. Uptake of HIV testing during antenatal care in Honduras. International Journal of STD & AIDS. 2018 May 29(6) 526-530.

McClure S, Shacham E, Gillespe E (2019) Multiple normative inputs and role performance demands as factors in physical activity engagement among African American women. Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice. In press.

Lopez J, Shacham E, Gilliland J, Szopiak E. (2018) Urban Farming: Innovative Interventions to Enhance Engagement in Care. International Journal of STD & AIDS. 2018. (29) 623-625. Lopez J, Shacham E, Brown TM. The Impact of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Medical Case Management Program on HIV Management: A Longitudinal Study. AIDS and Behavior. 2018 Sept;22(9) 3091-3099.


Loux T, Nelson E, Arnold L, Shacham E, Schootman M. (2019). Using multilevel regression with poststratification to obtain regional health estimates from a Facebook-recruited sample. Annals of Epidemiology. In press. “Hard negative examples are hard, but useful”, (Hong Xuan, Abby Stylianou, Xiaotong Liu, Robert Pless), to be


presented at the 2020 European Conference on Computer Vision “Improved embeddings with easy positive triplet mining”, (Hong Xuan, Abby Stylianou, Robert Pless), presented at the 2020 Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision “Visualizing deep similarity networks”, (Abby Stylianou, Richard Souvenir, Robert Pless), presented at the 2019 Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision “Hotels-50k: A global hotel recognition dataset”, (Abby Stylianou, Hong Xuan, Maya Shende, Jon Brandt, Richard Souvenir, Robert Pless), presented at the 2019 AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence



COVID-19 Return to school planning, Living in St Louis, Nine Network, April 2020

11. After coronavirus reaches St. Louis, businesses cancel travel, prep employees — and scrub, May 2020

20. COVID-19 with us for at least another year: Doctors, September 2020, WBIR


This Expert’s Advice for Waiting out the Winter, St Louis Public Radio, September 2020

12. Bayer closing Creve Coeur campus over concerns employee may have coronavirus, May 2020

21. Geospatial sector growth in the region, April 2019, St Louis Business Journal


St Louis Region Surpasses 1,500 Covid Deaths, St Louis Public Radio September 2020

22. Geospatial Science and Application, April 2019, KMOV


St Louis Business Journal, How Saint Louis University Researchers are Addressing COVID-19, July 2020 St Louis Post Dispatch, multiple articles throughout MarchSeptember 2020

13. On the job: professor’s research seeks to shine light on health behaviors and access to care, St Louis Post Dispatch, July 2019


Hospitalizations for COVID-19 hit record spike in St. Louis area, June 2020


Missouri sees record-high number of new COVID-19 cases. Again. May 2020


Missouri’s testing rate trails Illinois, but reflects different strategy, reality, May 2020

8. As communities push to reopen, questions loom about second wave of infections, May 2020 9.

St. Louis researchers mobilize on new coronavirus, seeking treatments, answers, April 2020

23. Geo-Resolution Conference, KMOV, April 2019

14. How professors from SLU’s geospatial institute are turning their focus to COVID-19, Saint Louis Business Journal, April 2020 15. How long will social distancing last? Is it working?, KSDK March 2020 16. Was the St. Louis region prepared for a pandemic?, KSDK April 2020 17. As COVID cases soared in Missouri, more from southwest IL went to visit, data shows, August, 2020 Belleville News-Democrat 18. https://www.healthcaredive. com/news/dire-warnings-soundover-hospital-capacity-as-novelcoronavirus-spreads/574049/ 19. Geospatial Health and COVID-19, April, 2020/October 2020 thestl.com

10. As officials weather criticism, hospitals launch drive-thru coronavirus testing, online evaluations, April 2020



The Geospatial Institute continued

Packed House Attends NGA Geospatial Conference at SLU BY: NANCY SOLOMON

Geo-Resolution 2019 was co-sponsored by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and Saint Louis University, which also hosted the event.

Sharp called the construction of the NGA’s new campus and partnership with academia and industry a “game changer” for the community.

Geospatial science touches on fields that include artificial intelligence, biosecurity, health, education, environment, food security and economic development.

“I couldn’t be more excited about what we are doing here in St. Louis,” Sharp said of the NGA. “It starts with people and partnerships, and a great example is the partnership we have with Saint Louis University. We’re excited about tapping into the great minds you have here to do cooperative research and development.”

Vice Admiral Robert Sharp, who assumed leadership of the NGA in February, and SLU President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., kicked off the day with a moderated discussion on the future of St. Louis. Benefiting from the federal government’s decision to expand the NGA’s presence in the city and a vibrant innovation community, St. Louis is poised to become a regional powerhouse in the field of geospatial technology, they agreed. “The NGA has been an important part of this community for a long time. But you’re literally undergoing a transformation that I think is going to continue to accelerate the growth and dynamism of our region,” Pestello said. “As many of you might know, there’s $8 billion of investment taking place in St. Louis right now, just in this midtown area, well over $1 billion. We’re seeing the area transform.” Partnerships between institutions of higher learning, the government and business are accelerating how we apply new knowledge and fuels the economy, he said.

“We’re talking about 10,000 jobs directly related to the NGA and organizations as part of that, a total probably of 27,000 when you get the complete ripple effect. That’s an enormous impact on our economy,” Pestello said.


As part of the conference, students from SLU, Washington University in St. Louis, Lindenwood University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Southeast Missouri State, Harris-Stowe State University and University of Missouri met with leadership from the geospatial community during a mentoring lunch. Students also presented posters of their research and were recruited by local industry and government employers during a special career fair. Nearly two dozen speakers from across the country shared their insights on myriad geospatial topics including artificial intelligence, analyzing data, emerging technologies and trends, public/private partnerships, entrepreneurship and changing patterns of where people live. Conference sessions and informal networking emphasized that the 21st century geospatial ecosystem will require the combined efforts of government, industry and academia to provide the data and services needed for informed decision-making, to increase knowledge of the world and to improve quality of life and societal conditions. In January, Saint Louis University and the NGA signed an agreement establishing a special relationship that positioned the university and NGA as collaborators on geospatial research, training and innovation initiatives.


APPENDIX The Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, in partnership with the Justice Collaborative Institute and Data for Progress, issued the following report in September 2020.

Racism is a Public Health Crisis. Here’s how to Respond. BY: RUQAIIJAH YEARBY, CRYSTAL N. LEWIS, KEON L. GILBERT, AND KIRA BANKS

Executive Summary Racial disparities in health and wellbeing are well documented. In 2003, the Institute of Medicineissued the landmark report Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare, which connected racism in mortgage lending, access to housing, employment, and criminal justice to racial health disparities. This report and the World Health Organization’s 2008 report on health equity led to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Social Determinants of Health Framework (SDOH), which recognized that racial health disparities are a result of inequalities in education, employment, healthcare, housing, and law enforcement. Ten years after the SDOH framework was published, racial health disparities persist and have a significant impact on healthcare costs and lost life. For example: •

Between 2007 and 2016, Black, Native, and Alaska Native women were two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women—and this disparity increases with age.

Black people had higher death rates than white people for all-cause mortality in all age groups <65 years between 1999 and 2015.

Black, Native, Alaska Native, and Latina women were more often diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer than white and Asian or Pacific Islander women, which was tied to a lack of health insurance.

Racial health disparities are estimated to cost the United States $175 billion in lost life years (3.5 million lost years at $50,000 per life year) and $135 billion per year in excess healthcare costs and untapped productivity.

In the past, most governments attributed racial health disparities only to specific instances of racism, such as redlining or residential segregation. But the COVID-19 pandemic and recent police violence have laid bare a system of racism that drives inequality in all aspects of American life, including education, employment, healthcare, housing, and law enforcement. Racism in the United States can be traced back over 400 years to the arrival of the first slave ships and remains deeply embedded in the structure of American culture and society. It has led to recent public health crises like the Flint water crisis and the opioid epidemic, which have had a devastating and disproportionate effect on communities of color, particularly Black communities.1 Antidiscrimination laws, such as the Civil Rights of Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, prohibit institutional and some interpersonal racism, as defined below, but are too narrow in scope to fully combat the systemic racism that causes racial health disparities. They focus on individual perpetrators and victims, not the system as a whole. Across the country, some jurisdictions have started to formally recognize the connection between racism and the SDOH, mostly in response to police violence against Black people and nationwide demands for racial justice. Between March andJuly 2020, 84 cities and towns as well as 42 counties declared racism a public health crisis. Only four cities and two counties passed the same laws between January 2019 and February 2020.Two state governors have issued executive orders and several federal bills have been proposed, including the Anti-Racism and Public Health Act of 2020, sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Ayanna Pressley, which would house a national public health response to racism within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

1. Ruqaiijah Yearby, Structural Racism and Health Disparities: Reconfiguring the Social Determinants of Health Framework to Include the Root Cause, 48 J. of L. Med. & Ethics 518-526 (September 2020)




Declaring racism as a public health crisis is an important first step. Doing so acknowledges that racism exists and that government has a duty to dismantle the system of racism, instead of leaving the burden on individual victims of racism to file lawsuits. This is a critical shift in how to see racism and craft solutions to address it. Yet a declaration, without more, is not enough. Building on our past work, the health justice framework, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation process, we suggest that laws and policies declaring racism a public health crisis: 1.

Define racism as a system that impacts all the key areas of the SDOH, which must be dismantled to achieve racial equity, thereby ending the public health crisis;


Provide material, institutional, and social supports to redress the historical and current practices of racism that have harmed racial and ethnic minorities;


Require the use of a racial equity tool to determine whether government laws, policies, and practices reinforce racism;


Give racial and ethnic minorities the power to participate in the decision-making process as well as craft laws, policies, and practices that will address their current needs and redress past harms; and


Incorporate a healing process, such as a Truth and Reconciliation process, to address the trauma of experiencing racism.

are deemed inferior. In the United States, this hierarchy is reinforced by social norms and institutional practices. The system of racism includes four different types of racism. Structural racism is the way key areas (education, employment, healthcare, housing, and law enforcement) are structured to advantage the group in power and disadvantage racial and ethnic minorities.2 Law is one of the tools used to structure key areas in this manner. Institutional racism operates through institutions’ “neutral” practices and policies that establish separate and independent barriers for racial and ethnic minorities. These barriers not only impose substantial material harm, but also reinforce the racial hierarchy that racial and ethnic minorities are inferior to white people. Interpersonal racism operates through individual interactions, where an individual’s conscious (explicit) and/or unconscious (implicit) racial prejudice restricts equal access to the key areas of the SDOH. Intrapersonal or internalized racism is when racial and ethnic minorities accept stereotypes about themselves and those who share the same racial identities, while believing that members of other racial groups are superior, which can be harmful to the psychological wellbeing and physical health of racial and ethnic minorities. Shown in Figure 1, the system of racism causes racial inequalities in the key areas of the SDOH (education, employment, healthcare, housing, and law enforcement), which are associated with racial health disparities. Examples of how different types of racism impact each of the key areas of SDOH are discussed below.

While some governments (state and local) have included definitions of racism, funding to address racism, and evaluation of community engagement measures, none of the current laws and policies include all these best practices.

Racism as a System Our inability to adequately address racism in American society is due in part to our failure to accurately define and conceptualize it. Racism is a byproduct of the social construction of what we know as “race.” It is a social system where a racial group in power creates a racial hierarchy in which other racial groups

2. Ruqaiijah Yearby, Structural Racism and Health Disparities: Reconfiguring the Social Determinants of Health Framework to Include the Root Cause, 48 J. of L. Med. & Ethics 518-526 (September 2020).




Racism in Education

Racism in Healthcare

Funding education through property taxes is an example of structural racism because it is tied to the historical practices of redlining and over-valuing white residential property and neighborhoods. And even when racial and ethnic minorities pay more property taxes than white people, they still receive fewer public services, including educational funding. Institutional racism in education includes the seemingly “neutral” zero tolerance policies that have been disproportionately applied to racial and ethnic minority children. As a result, Latinx, Native, and Black children—especially Black girls—are more often expelled from school or receive more out of school suspensions compared to white children. Although the policies are, on the face of it, race “neutral,” disparate enforcement reinforces the narrative that racial minorities are inferior because they cannot comply with school policies. Interpersonal racism is illustrated by the drawing of school district boundaries to keep out racial and ethnic minority students. Even after Brown v. Board of Education, racial segregation in education is perpetuated by, among other things, wealthy white communities hat intentionally separate from larger, racially diverse school districts.

Structural racism is seen in the provision of healthcare based primarily on a patient’s ability to pay, rather than on medical needs. Racial and ethnic minorities, who are disproportionately poor, have less access to affordable healthcare and health insurance. Unable to also afford the full cost of, or pay upfront for, healthcare, these individuals often forego needed treatment, resulting in racial disparities in mortality. According to law professor Vernellia R. Randall, institutional racism in healthcare “manifests itself in (1) the adoption, administration, and implementation of policies that restrict admission; (2) the closure, relocation, or privatization of hospitals that primarily serve racially disadvantaged communities; and (3) the continued transfer of unwanted patients (known as “patient dumping”) by hospitals and institutions to underfunded and overburdened public care facilities. Such practices have a disproportionate effect on racially disadvantaged groups; banishing them to distinctly substandard institutions or to no care at all.”3 These “neutral” policies and practices reinforce the racial hierarchy that Black lives do not matter. Interpersonal racism in healthcare is illustrated by research showing that physicians provide less than the recommended care to Black people, including being less likely to refer Black patients compared to white patients to specialists and high quality hospitals. Black men who experience racism and internalize it have shorter telomeres, which is linked to accelerated aging and is an example of intrapersonal racism.

Racism in Employment In employment, structural racism is illustrated by Jim Crow era (1875-1964) laws that expanded collective bargaining rights while either explicitly excluding racial and ethnic minorities or allowing unions to discriminate. This disproportionately excluded racial and ethnic minority workers from paid sick leave, forcing them to work even when they were sick, a problem that today has caused racial disparities in COVID-19 infections and deaths. Institutional racism includes the “neutral” decision to use salary history to determine wages, even though it results in racial and ethnic minorities being paid less than white men who do the same work. This process, while neutral on its face, reinforces the racial hierarchy because competency and work ethic are associated with pay. Interpersonal racism is at work when Black employees are penalized for negotiating their pay rate. A 2018 study found that Black “job seekers are expected to negotiate less than their white counterparts and are penalized in negotiations with lower salary outcomes when this expectation is violated.” Hence, an individual’s conscious and/ or unconscious prejudice limited racial and ethnic minorities’ pay, even when they tried to negotiate an equal salary. Research shows that experiencing racism at work has also been linked to lower psychological wellbeing for Black women, including “higher job stress and posttraumatic stress symptoms,” in part because of internalizing the feelings of inferiority. Workplace discrimination and harassment combined with Intrapersonal racism has also been linked to problem drinking, including alcoholism and drinking to intoxication, and substance abuse in racial and ethnic minorities.

Racism in Housing In the housing arena, steering Black and Latinx borrowers to subprime loans is an example of structural racism. From 2004 to 2009, some banks disproportionately steered Black people and Latinxs into subprime loans when they qualified for conventional loans, leading to racial inequalities in foreclosures during the mortgage crisis. Institutional racism affects many communities where race “neutral” zoning laws were passed to prohibit affordable housing and keep property values high, disproportionately shutting out Black residents. Moreover, current research shows that landlords are still less likely to rent to applicants with Black-sounding names, and a recent investigation found that real estate agents steer Black home buyers into integrated neighborhoods and away from white neighborhoods, both examples of interpersonal racism. As a result of racism, housing segregation persists and predominantlyBlack neighborhoods continue to have substandard housing, poor schools, few job prospects, lack access to healthy foods, and unsafe streets.




Racism in Law Enforcement Structural racism in law enforcement leads to different types of policing in different neighborhoods. While the police protect white neighborhoods, their approach in Black and Brown communities is to dominate. Racialized police violence is an example of institutional racism as it utilizes racially “neutral” statistics about crime, poverty, and health to surveil communities that have been marginalized by racial residential segregation and have limited or no access to education and employment opportunities. Interpersonal racism is illustrated by racial profiling, which leads to racially skewed and inflated crime data, thereby supporting policing that targets poor, Black, and Latinx neighborhoods. Living in over-policed neighborhoods results in higher rates of chronic conditions for racial and ethnic minorities. Experiences of police brutality are also associated with a lack of trust in healthcare facilities. The spillover effects of these acts of violence have gendered consequences: Black men are more likely to be incarcerated and removed from neighborhoods, while Black women are more likely to remain in these neighborhoods and be subjected to police sexual violence, which increases stress and their risk for obesity and heart disease.

RACISM IS A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS Given that systemic racism drives the racial inequalities that cause racial health disparities, racism should be defined—and responded to—as a public health crisis. The current public health (SDOH framework) and legal (anti-discrimination laws)4 responses are inadequate because they focus only on a specific action or perpetrator rather than the system of racism.5 This legitimizes the existing social system of racism, leaving in place a racial hierarchy that is reinforced by social norms and institutional practices. To achieve racial equity—to achieve, that is, a new reality where race can no longer predict life outcomes and where outcomes for all groups are improved—governments must dismantle the system of racism. They must provide support, consistently

evaluate whether government actions reinforce racism, partner with racial and ethnic minorities to craft solutions, and incorporate a healing process to address the trauma of experiencing racism.

Current Laws and Policies Laws recognizing racism as a public health crisis have been enacted or introduced at the local, state, and federal levels. As of July 30, 2020, 88 cities and towns and 44 counties across the United States had policies recognizing racism as a public health crisis, with most adopted after recent episodes of police violence (see Appendices A and B). These declarations have been enacted through local government legislation, such as city council resolutions, and mayors in 10 cities have issued executive orders acknowledging that racism is a public health crisis. County policies have typically passed through county commissioner and/or County Board of Health resolutions. State leaders have also recognized racism as a public health crisis. In 2017, the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Wisconsin Public Health Association held a convening of grassroots groups, community-based organizations, government agencies, and academic leaders. Participants were urged to acknowledge the deep impact of racism on health disparities and the community’s role in addressing it. One year later, the Wisconsin Public Health Association passed a resolution declaring that racism is a public health crisis and committed to taking action. This created a domino effect for other community partners to join the declaration and provided a model for the city, town, and county resolutions being enacted today. On August 5, 2020, Michigan became the first state to declare racism as a public health crisis.6 Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order declared racism a public health crisis, mandated a state advisory council centered around Black leadership, and required the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that all state employees complete implicit bias training in an effort to “make health equity a major

3. Vernellia R. Randall, Race, Health Care and the Law Regulating Racial Discrimination in Health Care, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development Conference Paper, Sept. 2001, at 6. 4. Alan David Freeman, Legitimizing Racial Discrimination Through Antidiscrimination Law: A Critical Review of Supreme Court Doctrine, 62 Minn. L. Rev. 1049-1053 (1978). 5. Ruqaiijah Yearby, Structural Racism and Health Disparities: Reconfiguring the Social Determinants of Health Framework to Include the Root Cause, 48 J. of L. Med. & Ethics 518-526 (September 2020).



APPENDIX goal.” That same day, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed an executive proclamation declaring racism a public health crisis, and highlighting racial inequality in mental health services, education, and career opportunities.

physiological harm. Defining racism as a system not only moves beyond the current limited conceptions of racism in the SDOH framework and law, it also ensures that solutions crafted to end racism change the system.

Currently, there is state-wide legislation pending in five other states (see Appendix C).

Although no law or policy has defined racism as a system, 22 of the localities listed in Appendix A have policies that include definitions of racism that go beyond institutional and interpersonal racism. For example, the resolution passed in Manchester, Connecticut, notes that “race has no biological basis” and that racism is defined as “a social construct” covering individual racism, interpersonal racism, internalized racism, systemic racism, and institutional racism and “affords opportunity and assigns a person’s value based on the social interpretation of how one looks.” And Durham County, North Carolina, defines both racism and white supremacy. Its resolution references the American Association of Pediatrics’ definition of racism as “a socially transmitted disease passed down through generations, leading to the inequities observed in our population today,” and defines white supremacy from the socioeconomic context, which “refers to a system in which white people enjoy a structural advantage (privilege) over other ethnic groups, on both a collective and individual level.”

At the federal level, several bills are pending in Congress. In July 2020, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Connecticut Representative Jahana Hayes, and several of their colleagues introduced a bicameral resolution to declare racism a public health crisis, require the United States to recognize its racist history, and establish a nationwide strategy to address racial health disparities. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Ayanna Pressley are sponsoring the Anti-Racism and Public Health Act of 2020, which will create a National Center on Anti-Racism and Health at the CDC and a law enforcement violence prevention program. Among other things, the center would declare racism a public health crisis, research the impact of racism on health and wellbeing, and develop interventions to dismantle structural racism. It would also direct funds to state and local governments for research and anti-racism efforts. Crucially, the bill defines key concepts necessary to understanding and addressing the problem including “structural racism,” “antiracism,” and “anti-racist.” These definitions are imperative for a shared understanding of what these words mean to us as a society and how we plan to fix the problem.

Recommendations By declaring racism a public health crisis, governments acknowledge they have a responsibility to put an end to the system of racism. Some of the current and proposed laws have gone further than acknowledgment providing funding to research racism specifically through a public health lens, for example, and collaborating with impacted communities. Yet, there are still gaps in the laws and policies. Below are recommendations for governments interested in enacting laws declaring racism a public health crisis, including examples of measures that have already passed. First, the laws and policies must identify racism as a system that causes racial inequalities in housing, healthcare, education, employment, and law enforcement, resulting in physical and

Second, research in 2016 showed that if economic trends continued, it would take 228 years on average for a Black family and 84 years for a Latinx family to accumulate the same wealth as a white family. During the COVID-19 pandemic, economic conditions have worsened disproportionately for Black and Latinx people compared to white people. Thus, because racism limits equal opportunities for wealth, education, employment, and housing over multiple generations, the harms from this racism cannot be justly and fully rectified without providing material, institutional, and social support. In Asheville, North Carolina, for example, the city council in July unanimously approved a reparations policy for its Black residents. Instead of focusing on the traditional meaning behind reparations, Asheville created a Community Reparations Commission to draft a report on “increasing minority homeownership and access to other affordable housing, increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities, strategies to grow equity and generational wealth, closing the gaps in healthcare, education, employment and pay, neighborhood safety and fairness within criminal justice.” City leaders said, “the goal is to help create generational wealth for

6. Reports show that Wisconsin was the first state to issue a law declaring racism as a public health crisis, however, we were unable to find evidence beyond a statement at this time. Thus, we noted that Michigan was the first state to issue a law or policy declaring racism as a public health crisis.




Black people, who have been hurt by income, educational, and healthcare disparities.” In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh said he would reallocate $3 million (1%) of the police department’s overtime budget to addressing racism and public health because “racism [negatively] shapes lives and hurts communities.” Walsh also proposed an additional $9 million from the police department’s overtime budget be used to fund initiatives around housing, counseling, and supporting minority-owned businesses. This funding ensures that the declaration is more than mere ceremony. In Michigan, Washtenaw County’s resolution outlines several ways the county plans to address health disparities, including increasing the budget for the county’s health department and racial equity office as well as enacting universal paid leave for employees (including, but not limited to, paid parental leave). Third, governments must use racial equity tools in their decision-making processes to anticipate and mitigate any racially disproportionate harms. Many local governments, including Asheville, North Carolina; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Seattle; and Alameda County, California, are already using racial equity tools to organize their governmental response to address structural racism.7 These tools can be used to engage communities and evaluate if and how proposed policies disproportionately affect different racial and ethnic minorities. Specifically, the Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative, a city-wide effort to eliminate racial disparities, follows six steps “to guide the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies, initiatives, programs, and budget issues to address the impacts on racial equity.” These include: set outcomes for racial equity; involve community stakeholders and analyze the data; determine the benefits and/or burdens on racial equity; develop strategies to create greater racial equity or minimize harms; track impacts on racial equity with the involvement of the community; and share information to resolve any issues. As a result, a majority of city employees have received racial justice training and between 2009 to 2011 the city increased money to minority-owned businesses from $11 million to $34 million.

Fourth, dismantling systemic racism requires collaboration with marginalized communities. The system of racism is about hierarchy and power, and those in power have made decisions that harm those without power, especially racial and ethnic minorities. Consequently, laws and policies to address racism as a public health crisis must engage community members, which includes true collaboration with shared decision making, building alliances, and community involvement throughout the entire process, not merely for completing certain tasks. Additionally, racial and ethnic minorities must be given equal power in crafting laws, policies, and practices that will address their current needs and redress past harms. For instance, the Washtenaw County, Michigan, resolution requires community engagement and dedicates resources to work in solidarity with social movements for racial justice and in partnership with community members. Fifth, and finally, racism will not be addressed without healing. As the W.K. Kellogg Foundation notes, transformational and sustainable change must include “ways for all of us to heal from the wounds of the past, to build mutually respectful relationships across racial and ethnic lines that honor and value each person’s humanity, and to build trusting intergenerational and diverse community relationships that better reflect our common humanity.” Providence, Rhode Island, put this into practice with a truth telling and reparations process. The process began with the mayor and a group of advisers meeting to develop “a plan for sharing the state’s role throughout history in the institution of slavery, genocide of Indigenous people, forced assimilation and seizure of land,” followed by city leaders reviewing laws and policies that resulted in discrimination against Black and Native people. Finally, the city plans to engage the community in a discussion about the “state’s history and the ways in which historical injustices and systemic racism continue to affect society today,” and then decide what form reparations will take.

7. Sidney Watson, Katherine Stamatakis, Ruqaiijah Yearby, Keon Gilbert, and Charysse Gibson, Cities and Counties Using Racial Equity Tools to Dismantle Structural Racism and Improve Health (forthcoming 2020).




Conclusion Some governments have taken the first step in acknowledging that they have a responsibility to put an end to the system of racism. But these problems will not be solved overnight. It will take a concerted long-term effort to achieve racial equity and eradicate the harms caused by 400 years of racism. Governments at all levels (federal, state, and local) must aggressively work to ensure that racial and ethnic minorities are not only treated equally, but also receive the material support they need to overcome harms they have already suffered. Only then can we truly begin to work towards improving the health and wellbeing of racial and ethnic minorities, so that we can achieve racial health equity. We will continue to track and update the current laws and policies declaring racism as a public health crisis on our website for The Institute for Healing Justice and Equity at Saint Louis University. Ruqaiijah Yearby Professor of Law and Executive Director,

Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, Saint Louis University Crystal N. Lewis Health Equity and Policy Fellow,

Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, Saint Louis University Keon L. Gilbert Associate Professor of Behavioral Science and Health Education

and Co-Director, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, Saint Louis University Kira Banks Associate Professor of Psychology and Co-Director,

Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, Saint Louis University

This report has been modified from its original format. The original may be viewed on the Institute’s website at slu.edu. All report appendices can be found at tjcinstitute.com.



Scholarship Research Council Scholarship Opportunity Fund AUGUST 2020 SUMMARY REPORT

Program Overview: The Scholarship Opportunity Fund was created by the Scholarship Research Council in the late spring of 2019 to fund “high-impact, low-cost” research needs in SRC units. It has a maximum award of $5000, requires some amount of matching funds, and has a performance period of one year. The original fund was set at $50,000, and an additional $50,000 was approved by the Research Growth Committee in spring of 2020. The only semester for which the performance period has ended and reporting is complete is Spring 2019. Those reports are summarized here. There was a decrease in applications in Spring 2020 and several requests for extensions of the performance period for awards made in Summer/Fall of ’19 related to the pandemic. The data for Summer/Fall 2020 reflect a rebound in the number of pending applications and amounts requested.

















Spring ‘19









Summer/Fall ‘19









Spring ‘20









Summer/Fall ‘20




















Awards Summary:


Seven awards made to faculty in five departments in spring 2019 were performed in AY 19-20. Projects Performed in AY ’19-’20 were:

Summary/Excerpts of Awardees’ Reports: BLAKE:

Elizabeth Blake, Recalling Captivity in Dostoevsky’s Siberia

Thomas Finan, The Rock of Lough Key Excavations

Nathaniel Millett, The Forum on European and Global Interaction’s (FEEGI) biannual conference

Kate Moran, An Imperial Church: Catholic Founding Fathers and America’s Civilizing Empire

Jennifer Popiel, Heroic Hearts: Sentiment, Religion, a nd Authority in Nineteenth-Century France

Travel to Paris where I worked in a few archives/libraries in order to gather information about nineteenth-century Slavic émigrés who settled in the region. I was successful in obtaining useful information about the former Siberian exiles on whom I was working for my second monograph. The research has been worked into a detailed outline, and I have made some progress on writing and organizing the monograph this semester with a chapter completed and two partial chapters in progress.

Nathaniel Rivers, Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute

Daniel Smith, Following Israel into the Desert: Wilderness Traditions in Second Temple Jewish and Christian Literature

Excerpts from their submitted reports are in the Appendix below.

Research Outcomes Summary: Funds awarded totaled $27,375, which leveraged matching funds of $43,700 in primarily external funding. Data on actual expenditures is not available. However, scholars awarded SOF funding achieved the following in whole or in part with SOF funding: •

Two completed university-press monographs

Four additional monographs in research or writing

One completed scholarly article

One edited volume

Two academic conferences/workshops organized

Ten external grant applications submitted

Two external grants awarded (totaling $41,500)

One archaeological excavation season and report

One national magazine cover

Analysis: The SOF program has seen sustained popularity and produced strong research outcomes relative to the funds invested for a broad spectrum of faculty researchers, and there remains a steady level of high-quality proposals. Even despite the circumstances of the pandemic, it is expected as performance periods end and reports are submitted for awards currently in progress that similarly strong results will continue.

FINAN: The excavations on the Rock of Lough Key, County Roscommon, Ireland in the Summer of 2019 yielded an incredible amount of important data and information about Gaelic medieval Ireland. The four week excavations, jointly funded with this grant and additional funding from the University of Minnesota Morris with colleague Dr. James Schryver, focused on the interior of an enclosure on the Rock of Lough Key. There are several ways to measure success for this excavation. First, a collection of over 80 artifacts were discovered in the course of the excavation. Second, at least three buildings and an additional fortification were discovered, each in sequence. Third, a collection of over five thousand animal bones were recovered from the medieval layers, all butchered and consumed on the island. This collection, the largest discovered within a Gaelic medieval setting, is yet to be analyzed. And finally, the project was featured on the cover of Archaeology Magazine, the leading archaeological magazine in the United States. At present, we are completing the annual excavation report for the National Monuments Service of Ireland. The funds from the Scholarship Opportunity Fund were used by me for my airfare and ground transportation on site. It was also used to supplement funds for housing and lab space for the excavation. MILLET: Allowed the university to make a deeply positive impression on nearly 70 scholars from around the world. We correctly presented SLU has the home of vibrant intellectual community and as an institution committed to facilitating scholarly exchange and dialogue on a global scale.




MORAN: Support the publication of my first book, The Imperial Church: Catholic Founding Fathers and United States Empire. The book is currently in print, released by Cornell University Press in April 2020. I dedicated time saved by the subvention to the development of a second research project. As a result, over the past year I have secured two outside grants in support of my second project, “California Magdalens: Catholicism, the State, and the History of Women’s Incarceration, 1850-1940.” These grants are: - A Sabbatical Grant for Researchers from the Louisville Institute, Louisville, Kentucky ($40,000) - A Mother Theodore Guerin Research Travel Grant from the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame ($1,500) POPIEL:

The research that I was able to conduct, particularly with connections to a new (private) archive in Nantes and in the national library’s warehouse in Paris, not only completed my argument for this book but also gave me new material that started me on a new project. RIVERS: Participation in the Rhetoric Society of America 2019 Summer Institute. I participated as a workshop leader. Leading the workshop entailed arranging readings, guiding discussions, and reading and responding to the scholarship of workshop participants, which included a mix of advanced graduate students and faculty. The workshop informed a collaborative publication with my fellow workshop leader Casey Boyle at the University of Texas-Austin. Our recently published article “Ambient Captioning” (Amodern 9). SMITH:

Travel to France to complete research on my book project (Heroic Hearts: Sentiment, Authority, and Religion in Modern France.) I conducted research in Paris, Lyon, Nantes, and Strasbourg. While in France, I found important sources for the book – nearly all the images in the book will come from this trip – and reinforced the book’s argument.

I completed a draft of material related to my planned chapter 2 of the monograph “Following Israel into the Desert,”. I presented this draft as a Research Report, entitled “Eschatic Manna in John, Paul, and Revelation,” at the Annual Meeting of the Catholic Biblical Association. I also used the SOF award to purchase books relevant to my research: important monographs, key commentaries, as well as various primary sources.

I also completed eight grant applications after my return: an ACLS, a Guggenheim, a Kingdon, one for the National Humanities Center, the Institute of Advanced Studies (Princeton), Stanford’s Humanities Center, Notre Dame’s Humanities Center, and one for Cornell’s Humanities Center.

I was invited to participate in a workshop, “Word Became Flesh: The Question of Performance Criticism as Method,” at Loyola University Chicago in October 2019 and invited to participate on a panel on the Gospel of Luke at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston in November 2019.

I completed an entire draft of the manuscript, which I then sent to the University of Nebraska Press. It was approved by the press in March and the final draft went to them in June. It will be published in early 2021.

I also spent part of August 2019 wrapping up a major editing project: Testing and Temptation in Second Temple Jewish and Early Christian Texts published







In our SLU/YouGov Poll we went beyond asking questions about just the U.S. presidential and Missouri gubernatorial races. We asked likely voters several other questions pertaining to politics. We were quite interested in the level of approval Missouri gave Trump, Parson, and our political institutions. We found that Missouri voters were almost equally divided on Trump’s job performance with 18% approving and 32% strongly approving, but with 5% disapproving and 43% strongly disapproving. Since we found that Trump would carry Missouri by 7% if the election were held today, evidently a small percentage of voters who disapprove of Trump’s job performance would vote for him anyway. Our poll showed that voters were also split on Governor Parson’s job performance with 33% approving and 14% strongly approving and with 21% disapproving and 22% strongly disapproving. Our SLU/YouGov Poll found that slightly fewer voters would vote for Parson, 41%, than approve of his performance, 47%, meaning that his approval ratings are somewhat “soft”. Of all elected officials we surveyed, U.S. Senator Blunt had the weakest approval ratings. Only 8% of Missouri voters said they strongly approved of his job performance, while another 30% approved. Just over 21% disapproved, with 28% strongly disapproving of his job performance. A relatively high percentage, 13%, said they were not sure. U.S. Senator Josh Hawley fared better with 21% approving and 26% strongly approving for a total approval score of 47%, 9% points higher than Blunt’s total approval score. Yet 39% disapproved of Hawley’s job performance with 10% disapproving and 29% strongly disapproving. It is noteworthy that not any elected political official we interviewed received a majority approval rating from Missouri voters, but this is not that unusual given the “negative” times that we live in with elected officials usually receiving approval ratings below 50%, often way below 50%.


Missouri voters gave very negative approval ratings to the U.S. Congress’s job performance. Just less than 15% gave the U.S. Congress a positive approval with 14% saying they approve and only 1% saying they strongly approve, while 48.5% disapproved and 26.5% strongly disapproved with 10% not sure. This finding is consistent with national ratings of Congress’ job performance. In recent years pollsters have frequently found congressional approval ratings in the teens. For example, a July 8, 2020 Economist/YouGov poll found Congressional approval at 17%. The Missouri state legislature fared much better with 40% approving and 3% strongly approving of its job performance, although 23% disapproved and another 21.5% strongly disapproved with 12% not sure. Yet, still slightly more disapproved of the Missouri legislature’s performance, 44.5%, than approved, 43%. We also asked respondents in the SLU/YouGov Poll what should be Missouri’s top issue priority. Not unexpectedly, voters ranked the economy first, 43%, followed by health care, 28%, education, 13.5%, infrastructure, 10.5%, and other, 5%. Given the impact of Covid-19 on our economies, it was expected to see respondents in our poll rank the U.S. and Missouri economies negatively. Only 4% ranked the U.S. economy as excellent, 23% good, 34% fair, and 37% poor. Only 2% were not sure. Similarly, only 3.5% of Missouri voters ranked Missouri’s economy as excellent with 25% saying good, 40.5% fair, 27.5% poor, with 3% not sure. We also wanted to find out how Missouri voters perceived race relations in their community. Only 12% said excellent, followed by 33% saying good, 31% fair, and 19% poor with 5% not sure. Respondents gave mixed reviews to the crime problem in their community with 8% saying excellent, 31% good, 38% fair, 21% poor, with 2% not sure.



Respondents to our SLU/YouGov Poll rated roads and infrastructure in Missouri very negatively with over four of five respondents ranking Missouri’s roads and infrastructure as fair, 41%, or poor, 39%, with only 17% saying fair and just a minuscule percentage, 2%, saying excellent. In our SLU/YouGov Poll we asked respondents whether they agreed with the following (the percent who agreed is indicated beside the item). •

The U.S. is on the right track and headed in a good direction: 33%

Missouri is on the right track and headed in a good direction: 38%

Missouri state government should prohibit abortions after 8 weeks of pregnancy: 45%

Missouri should require background checks for all firearm sales: 66%

Missouri state government should spend more money to aid the poor: 45%




Between June 23 and July 1, 2020, we worked with YouGov to interview 900 likely voters from the state of Missouri. Along with questions on preferred presidential and governor candidates, we asked about the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected their lives. We found that Missourians are fairly split when it comes to National and State officials’ responses, but are generally pleased with how their local officials have responded. Our results show a strong partisan divide with strong disapproval from Democrats towards Republican leadership. We also find that voters, especially those with children, approve of how their local schools have handled the pandemic. Looking toward the coming school year, we find that voters favor of face-to-face instruction, a result likely due to home learning and its impacts on day-to-day life.

While most Independents in Missouri said they would likely vote for President Trump in the Fall, 61% of Independents said they disapprove of how he has handled the pandemic. Although President Trump holds a 7 point lead over former Vice President Joe Biden, if Independent voters’ disapproval of the pandemic bleeds over into the election, the President’s lead could continue to shrink.

Missouri Voters

Support for local government was not party specific, though a higher percentage of Democratic voters expressed disapproval than did their Republican counterparts (37% vs. 17%). These results also were similar across urban and rural parts of the state.

As part of the first SLU/YouGov Poll, Missourians were asked a variety of questions pertaining to the national, state, and local responses to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Likely voters in Missouri expressed disapproval of how President Trump has handled the pandemic, while there was more ambiguity regarding Governor Parson’s approach. Conversely, Missourians were generally pleased with how their local government officials (i.e. mayors, county executives, etc.) have done in responding to the health crisis, with 64% saying they approve. These outcomes for Parson and Trump are heavily influenced by voters’ party identification.

Party Line Differences? While just under half of respondents approved of the President and Governor’s responses to COVID-19, there is a clear party line division. Among likely Missouri voters who identify as Democrat, 95% disapprove of how President Trump has handled the pandemic with 87% saying they “Strongly Disapprove”. These results are nearly reversed when examining results for Republican voters. Ninety-one percent of Republicans expressed approval of the President’s handling of the pandemic.


Local Support Among those surveyed for the poll, there was high support for local officials handling the pandemic. Roughly two-thirds (64%) said they approve of how their local government leaders have handled the pandemic, 27% disapprove of their local response, while only 10% were undecided.

Voter Education Level? We also examined whether there was a relationship between voters’ education level and perceptions of our leaders’ handling of the COVID pandemic. We find that Missourians with higher levels of education typically disapprove (and even strongly disapprove) of how President Trump has handled the pandemic. Among voters with a Bachelor’s degree or higher, 61% strongly disapprove of the president’s handling of COVID. Conversely, among voters with a high school degree or less, 64% Approve or Strongly Approve of how the president has handled the pandemic. Governor Parson’s handling of the pandemic elicits similar approval patterns (but to a lesser degree) from Missourians. While Governor Parson prompts fewer responses of strong approval or disapprovals than does President Trump. Governor Parson also received more positive responses from Missourians with lower levels of education.



With regard to the performance of local government officials to COVID-19, as shown above, Missourians generally approve. While support was highest among respondents with the highest education levels, support was strong (greater than 60%) in each of the three groups. More Missourians were unsure of their government’s approach than the president or governor.

We also asked how respondents would “grade” their schools on a range from Poor to Excellent. Among respondents who rated their schools as Good or Excellent, 69% said they agree schools should re-open in the fall. Among respondents who rated their school as Fair or Poor, 57% said they agree schools should reopen this fall.

COVID-19 and Schools

Conclusions & Lessons

As a result of the COVID pandemic, schools across the country shifted to home learning. This decision not only impacted students and teachers, but heavily impacted the home and work lives of families across Missouri. Our poll finds that Missourians approve of the approach school leaders took towards the pandemic. Among our sample of voters, 65% approve of how their school local school district handled the pandemic, 14% disapprove, and 21% were undecided. Approval of local school leaders and districts’ handling of the pandemic was consistent across party lines, as well as voters of all ages. Approval for school leaders was more pronounced among residents in rural Missouri, with 28% strongly approving.

In our poll of likely Missouri voters, we learned party alignment is strongly related to views on how government officials have responded to the COVID pandemic. Republican voters generally approve of how President Trump and Governor Parson have handled the crisis. However, Democrats not only disapprove but were more likely to state they “Strongly Disapprove”. With regard to local officials and school leaders, there were no clear connections to political party. We found that Missourians generally approve of how their local officials and school leaders have handled the pandemic, regardless of party affiliation.

Voters with school-age children expressed their approval of schools’ handling of the pandemic. Seventy-two percent of the subsample who said they have school-age children approve of how their school is handling the pandemic thus far. We also asked whether voters approve of how school leaders handled the pandemic, we asked whether voters thought schools should resume face-to-face instruction in the fall. Overall, 59% of Missourians interviewed believe school should be in-person. Among those voters with school-age children, 63% said they agree with having in-person school this fall.

Voters with school-age children were especially supportive of how school leaders have approached COVID. One of the most notable disruptions resulting from COVID has been the need for home learning. We found that a majority (59%) of Missourians have expressed a desire to return to some form of normal when it comes to school. The support was strongest among Republican voters (79%) and among those who rated their local schools as good or excellent (69%). Overall, these party differences are not too surprising. What remains to be seen is how voters will respond to decisions from leaders going forward as the COVID crisis continues across Missouri and the rest of the county.

Much like overall approval of how government leaders have handled the pandemic, going back to school is clearly a partisan issue. Among respondents identified as Republicans, 79% agree with going back to in-person learning in the fall. Conversely, only 38% of Democrats agree with the statement. There was little difference in opinion for urban and rural families on whether school should be face-to-face in the fall.



Missouri School Ratings and COVID’s Impact on Families BY: EVAN RHINESMITH, PH.D. & J. CAMERON ANGLUM, PH.D.

Between June 23 and July 1, 2020, we worked with YouGov to interview 900 likely voters from the state of Missouri. Along with a host of election and policy-related questions, we asked Missourians to rate schools in their communities and across the state. We also asked respondents to indicate how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their daily lives and their child’s schooling. Like national trends, Missourians reported they believe their local schools are better than schools across the state. It is important to note that few Missourians rate their local schools or Missouri’s schools as excellent, with most rating their schools as good or fair. Respondents with school-aged children reported they’ve been impacted by COVID more than those without. Additionally, female voters are more likely to have been adversely impacted by homeschooling as a result of the COVID pandemic.

Missourians’ Priorities The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted an enormous impact on nearly every aspect of Missourians’ lives. Amid these circumstances, our poll asked Missourians to choose what they believe the top priority should be for the state government. While the economy was the most popular option, there was a clear partisan divide. Among Republican voters, 62% rated the economy as the top priority, followed by health care (13%), infrastructure (12%), and education (10%). Conversely, Democrats rated health care as the most important (51%), followed by the economy (20%), education (16%), and infrastructure (9%). The economy and health care are closely intertwined with the COVID pandemic, so it comes as no surprise that these two issues stand out above the rest. However, education and schooling have also been impacted by the COVID shutdown.

COVID’s Impact on Families In mid-March, schools began to close voluntarily to slow the spread of the virus. On March 21, the state ordered all schools remain closed. Our poll found that most Missourians (65%) approved of the way their school district leaders responded to


the pandemic. However, we also found that 59% of likely voters agreed with the statement that Missouri’s schools should have face-to-face instruction in the fall. This was likely due to the level of disruption families experienced as a result of the pandemic. To better understand Missourians’ lives amid the pandemic, we asked a series of questions about daily life under the shutdown, including questions concerning education. Voters with school-age children were more likely to report they have been impacted by the pandemic than those without, as 58% of voters with school-age children reported they implemented some sort of homeschooling due to the pandemic. Respondents with children were more likely to state they were now working from home (30% vs. 14%), working fewer hours (22% vs. 12%), and were less likely to state their lives were unaffected by the pandemic (28% vs. 44%). Additionally, respondents with children were more likely to state they were working less in order to provide childcare (34% vs. 7%). Among likely voters with children, the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women. This is especially true regarding the implementation of home learning programs. A quarter of likely voters identified as female stated they are alternating work hours due to home learning, compared to 17% of men. Women also were more likely to report they have been working outside of normal business hours. Unsurprisingly, men were more likely to state that a family member or friend is taking care of their children (25% versus 14%). Given the overall impact of the pandemic and ensuing shutdown on daily life in Missouri, it comes as little surprise that so many voters would like to return to in-person schooling.

Rating Missouri’s Schools Missourians were asked to rate the condition of schools in their community and across the state. Most Missourians rated their local schools as good (35%) or fair (32%) and few would rate their schools as excellent (13%) or poor (16%). The most popular rating for schools across the state was fair, as 46% rated the



state’s schools as such. Just over a quarter (28%) of respondents rated the state’s schools as good, 17% rated Missouri’s schools as poor, and only 2% rated schools as excellent. Recent national polling paints an inconsistent picture of public opinion on local schools. For example, in the 2019 iteration of the EducationNext2 poll, 60% of survey respondents gave their local schools an A or B rating. Conversely, Missourians perceptions of their local schools are more in-tune with the most recent Phi Delta Kappan3 poll, which found only 44% of respondents graded their local schools an A or B. However, 76% of respondents to the Phi Delta Kappan poll gave the school where their child is enrolled an A or B.

Differing Opinions on Schools While Missourians are generally less than enthusiastic about their local schools, they still rate them higher than schools statewide. However, this finding is not consistent among all voters. Whereas half of white Missourians rated their local school as good or excellent, only 39% of nonwhite respondents rated their local schools similarly. The remaining 33% rated their local schools as fair and 14% rated as poor. Only 14% of white voters rated their local schools as poor. This pattern was similar for statewide school ratings. Nonwhite voters tend to have a more negative view of schools in Missouri, with 53% of respondents rating Missouri’s schools as fair and 22% poor. Though white voters’ statewide ratings were less negative, 45% rated the schools as fair and 16% as poor. Much like opinions regarding other issues in the state, Missouri’s school ratings also are divided along partisan lines. Over half of Republican likely voters (56%) rated their local schools as good or excellent, while only 43% of Democrats reported the same. Republicans are less supportive of schools across the state than their local schools, with 45% rating the state’s schools as good or excellent. Democrats expressed a much bleaker view, with 71% rating the state’s schools as fair or poor.

While families with school-age children are likely to be more in touch with their schools, we observe similar ratings for local schools among families with children as those without children. Conversely, voters without children have a less positive view of schools across the state. Thirty-seven percent of voters with children rated the state’s schools as good or excellent, while just 26% of voters without children rated the state’s schools as such. Similar percentages of voters with and without children rated the state’s schools as poor (16% vs. 18%).

Conclusions & Lessons In our poll of likely Missouri voters, we learned Missourians think their local schools are better than schools across the state, but are as likely to rate local schools as fair or poor as they are to rate schools as good or excellent. We also found that school ratings vary by respondents’ race. Nearly one-third (32%) of nonwhite voters rated their local schools as poor, while only 14% of white voters rated schools similarly. White voters also have a more positive view of schools statewide than do their nonwhite peers. We also learned more about how the pandemic and the resulting shutdown impacted families. Likely voters with school-age children, especially women, were more likely to report they have been impacted by the pandemic. Over half of respondents with children indicated they implemented some sort of home learning because of the shutdown. Overall, we found that Missourians think their schools could be doing better. As schools prepare to resume, many in a virtual or hybrid capacity, it will be interesting to see if voters’ opinions of schools improve or worsen. Voters with children, especially female voters, have felt the impacts of the pandemic in their everyday lives. If these pandemic-induced disruptions continue to affect schools and families with school-age children, education could become a more important issue across Missouri.



Igniting Discovery, Transforming Lives SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY RESEARCH INSTITUTE slu.edu/research