Grant Awards

Allan Brasier, Jane Mahoney, Thomas Mackie

“UW-Madison-Based Biomedical Technology “Think Tank” For Public Leadership in Advancing Biotechnology Innovation”

The University of Wisconsin-Madison can play an increasingly vital role in the processes of invention, innovation, and commercialization. However, substantial and largely unappreciated obstacles prevent UW discoveries from efficiently driving innovations in biotechnology and the medical industry. This project advances a model where UW Health and UW Madison develops evidence-based recommendations to facilitate public leadership’s guidance in developing academic-industry biomedical partnerships. We will first hold a one-day Biomedical Technology Symposium to address knowledge gaps between UW System scientists and the medical industry. This information will be used to develop systematic discussion among relevant stakeholders in seeding a “Think Tank” to identify the barriers to biomedical technology start-ups in Wisconsin and develop actionable policies to support start-ups and accelerate biomedical technologies statewide.  The outcome will be a collection of resources, and a consensus that will educate state legislators, medical societies, and UW leadership about actionable policies and develop sustained public leadership.

Michael Ferris

“Werewolf: Scenario Planning for the Wisconsin Energy System of 2050”

Werewolf (Wisconsin Expansion of Renewable Electricity with Optimization under Long-term Forecasts) is an independent, multi-year planning tool that will provide data driven cost and benefit information regarding investments and operation of the Wisconsin energy system of tomorrow.   It engages state of the art computing, data science technology and economic principles to provide cost estimates and scenarios for strategic investments in new energy technologies that will be flexible to the uncertainties of a rapidly changing energy landscape.  Werewolf will be informed by a policy brief, interviews and interactions with the Public Service Commission and other legislative bodies, and data developed using tools from the WID optimization group.  The project is intended to help explore the policy settings to achieve, say, 95% renewable electricity generation, estimate the effects of such policies on the state economy and co-benefits, such as impacts on national or grid security, job creation or public health.

Cynthia Jasper

“Transportation Accessibility for the Disabled in an Aging Population: Moving Wisconsin Forward by Creating a More Inclusive Community.”

 Transportation is fundamental to an individual’s ability to live and work. According to the US Census, in 2018 over 6.4% of Wisconsin’s workforce were classified with an ambulatory disability. With the aging Baby Boomer Generation, the percentage of Wisconsin’s population with an ambulatory disability is likely to grow significantly. When combined with evolving transportation technologies, such as ride hailing and autonomous cars; the result is that Wisconsin’s transportation needs will be changing dramatically over the next decades. Therefore, the overall goal of this study is to create recommendations for policy regarding present and future transportation issues for those facing ambulatory and visual disabilities. This study will be in the form of a cost benefit analysis which will include the identification of issues and will recommend practical solutions for policy makers to use in the future. 

Susan Mcroy

“Empowering People with Cognitive Disabilities to Live Independently by Supporting Their Self-Management of Food and Related Expenses”

In Wisconsin,over 200,000  adults have “Cognitive difficulty” and over 220,000 have “Independent living difficulty.”  These challenges make it difficult for people to balance the essential tasks of money management, shopping, and preparing healthy meals.  As a result, they risk poor diet, worsened health, and threatened independence. This project will help by creating new software for both phone and desktop computers  to allow people to 1) create a shopping budget 2) plan meals and purchases of healthy foods 3) create reminders for locating, obtaining and preparing foods into appealing meals and 4) review past purchases and meal choices and share their ideas with others. The software will keep personal data secure and private. The proposed project will empower those with cognitively impairments to continue to live independently by answering essential life questions, including “What can I eat today?”, “Where is it?”, and “What food should I buy?”

Satomie Shinde

“Improving self-determination of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in Wisconsin”

Existing studies show a correlation between self-determination and post-school outcomes of students with IDD, suggesting that supporting the development of those capacities know to enhance self-determination has the potential to promote independence and a higher quality of life in future. The current study aims to provide general and special education teachers as well as key staff at secondary schools in Wisconsin with a training curriculum on how to effectively support self-determination in the classroom. To evaluate program impact, project staff will assess changes on the part of participating teachers in their knowledge, skills, and attitudes/beliefs supportive of self-determination as well as self-determination capacities and levels of self-determination of secondary students with IDD and those in the transition programs (18-21-year-olds) before and after the teacher trainings. Multiple sources of data will be collected, and findings shared with and disseminated to multiple organizations.

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Faculty Research Grants, 2018-19


David Noyce
“Integrating Autonomous Vehicles into Transit Services for Shared Prosperity”

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are expected to be widely available in a decade if not sooner, with far reaching ramifications. A data-driven, scientific approach to develop policies for integrating AVs into transit services can provide an unprecedented opportunity to build more equitable, healthy, adaptive, resilient, inclusive and sustainable urban systems of the future. This project proposes to examine how transit agencies across Wisconsin can plan and prepare for integrating AVs into their services to improve ridership, level of service, customer and operator safety at the same or smaller operating cost. The research team will engage multiple communities and transit agencies across Wisconsin through meetings and surveys, identify opportunities for new or supplemental transit systems using AVs, and quantify how that service could affect communities’ access to important opportunities such as jobs, schools, health services or healthy food. Potential effects on household transportation costs, property values, and health impacts will also be examined.

Andra Ghent
“Can Second Chances for Inmates Work for Wisconsin?”

Our project will evaluate the effects of the Second Chance Pell pilot program on the outcomes of Wisconsin inmates. The US Department of Education announced the Second Chance Pell pilot program on July 7, 2015. The program, now in its third year of operation, permits inmates to pursue postsecondary education from behind bars. Milwaukee Area Technical College is one of a select group of institutions invited by the Department of Education to participate in the Second Chance Pell experiment. To control for non-random selection into postsecondary education by inmates, we will use difference-in-difference and regression discontinuity methodologies to assess how the program affects the release dates and recidivism rates.

Junjie Guo
“Jobs. Skills and the Prison-to-Work Transition”

20% of Wisconsin inmates released in 2015 recidivated and returned to prison in 2016. The high rate of recidivism not only raises the prison costs but also reduces the size of the civilian labor force. To inform policies that reduce recidivism and increase employment, this project attempts to answer two questions: (1) what kind of jobs are most effective in reducing recidivism and increasing employment for ex-prisoners? And (2) what kind of skills do ex-prisoners need to improve to secure and succeed in those jobs? We will analyze three datasets on skills, occupations and incarceration and review the literature evaluating the effectiveness of labor market programs in improving different skills. The ultimate goal is to identify the set of jobs that are most effective for a successful prison-to-work transition and the set of skills required by those jobs that ex-prisoners can acquire at a low cost.

Cynthia Jasper
“Future Employee Transportation Planning for the Foxconn Development Site”

This study is an examination into consumer and employee issues and future needs of passenger transportation planning for the Foxconn plant, located in Mount Pleasant, for Foxconn employees and other businesses that may develop around the Foxconn site. It encompasses the cost-benefits of options across the complete spectrum that include transportation options ranging from private automobiles, commuter rail, bus transit, van pools, car pool matches, and employer operated vans and buses. It will also include a recommendation of how Wisconsin can prepare for these transportation changes with an emphasis on increasing public transit to the Foxconn site.

This study will also include workers with disabilities and workers from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds and will lend insights into their transportation needs. This work will serve as a model to spur economic development by looking for the right mix of innovations and community development in order to spur continued economic development in Wisconsin.

Thomas LeBel and Tina Freiburger
“An Assessment of a Vocational Training Program to Prepare Wisconsin’s Prison Population for Skilled Employment”

Correctional rehabilitation, as a professional practice and a scientific study, has been plagued with the belief that it is difficult or impossible to improve the life chances of returning prisoners. Although little empirical evidence exists on the efficacy of employment programs for incarcerated persons, there are a number of promising programs/interventions that are preparing returning prisoners for employment. Our project will include a process and outcome evaluation of two Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining technical education certificate programs for incarcerated individuals in Wisconsin to assess their efficacy and impact on the employment outcomes and recidivism for participants. These programs have the potential to expand the skilled workforce in Wisconsin and enhance public safety by decreasing recidivism rates of returning prisoners. Furthermore, results of these evaluations will be used to develop “best practices” in improving existing programs and to provide concrete information for policy-makers, practitioners, and applied researchers here in Wisconsin.

David Pate
“The Milwaukee Reentry Alliance Project”

The objective of this exploratory audit design phase of the Milwaukee Reentry Alliance Project is to educate and mobilize stakeholders who affect returning incarcerated citizens’ transitions back to their community by exploring the delivery mechanisms, policies, and systems that impact the quality of life of these individuals and their ability to achieve self-sufficiency. Under the guidance of a Principal Investigator, the Alliance will disseminate, collect, and process evaluative surveys from reentry service providers related to programing, capacity, impact, and how these are influenced by funding.  The goal is to use this data to drive the realignment of the existing reentry services landscape so that it is at scale with the risk-need responsivity of Milwaukee’s returning population.

Michael Wagner, Kathy Cramer, Lew Friedland, Karl Rohe, Bill Sethares, Dhavan Shah, and Chris Wells
“Leadership, Communication Ecologies, Political Contention and Democratic Renewal Across Four Issues in Wisconsin”

Wisconsin politics have been a microcosm of divisions around the nation. Our project seeks to assemble, model, and analyze a comprehensive communication ecology of a regional socio-political geography for the first time — in our case, Wisconsin.  We are examining ways in which leaders can stimulate openness and willingness to compromise across lines of partisan difference on four key important issues: prison-to-work initiatives, transportation reform, education and health care. In the spring of 2019, we will conduct a major public opinion survey of Wisconsin adults to tap attitudes about the above issues, pay for graduate student research assistance and convene a bi-partisan board of advisors.

Jie Yu
“Connecting Wisconsin of Tomorrow: Methods to Improve Public Mobility under Future Social, Economic and Technological Changes”

Major demographic and societal economic changes are likely to have significant effects on the mobility needs of Wisconsin citizens in the next two decades. At the same time, future technological breakthroughs may help overcome many of the obstacles to seamless mobility. This project addresses the critical challenges facing many cities and communities in Wisconsin: how to leverage the technological breakthroughs to re-think and re-design future mobility services and enable smart and connected communities. We envision an ambitious “Wisconsin Mobility as a Service” (WMaaS) platform and examine its feasibility in realizing the envisioned WMaaS. Specifically, we will analyze existing mobility integration projects to gain insights and identify key elements that lead to successful integration; examine how emerging data on travel patterns, user preferences, and activity-travel constraints can be used to improve system efficiency of transport operators; and finally explores how WMaaS could affect mainstream transportation in Wisconsin.