UF-City of Gainesville research award winners announced

UF announces more than $300,000 in UF-City of Gainesville research awards 

The University of Florida’s Office of the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer has announced it will award more than $300,000 in research awards to seven UF-City of Gainesville research projects.

As part of UF’s Strategic Development Plan, UF Senior Vice President and COO Charlie Lane in February announced a call for proposals that utilize the UF campus and greater Gainesville community as a living laboratory to address real-world problems in the local community.

“A distinct goal of the Strategic Development Plan is to increase collaboration between the university and the city, and to connect UF’s talent and resources to Gainesville in a way that can make improvements in a number of areas,” Lane said.

Lane’s office received 62 proposals from about 40 departments and centers throughout UF in just over a month. The proposals covered a broad range of topics, including health and wellness, smart cities, economic development and equity.

“The response to our call for proposals was impressive,” Lane said. “Narrowing it down to the final recipients was extremely tough. Originally, we intended to select five winners but we were able to expand the list to seven, thanks to Shands CEO Ed Jimenez and Gainesville Regional Utilities general manager Ed Bielarski contributing to the award pool.”

Lane also acknowledged the valuable input he received from Gainesville City Manager Anthony Lyons and his staff as well as other community leaders and faculty, in narrowing down the list of recipients.

Lane said after seeing such an enthusiastic response he would like to be able to fund additional research projects in the future.

“There are a lot of great ideas and talented researchers here at UF, and I’m very pleased that my office can play a role in connecting these individuals to important issues in the Gainesville community,” Lane said.

The University of Florida’s Strategic Development Plan seeks to shape the university and surrounding community’s future over the next 40 to 50 years and establish the framework for the “New American City.” Find out more about the plan at www.strategicdevelopment.ufl.edu.

The total amount currently being awarded is $312,760.

Below is the complete list of award winners and the research projects they proposed. 

Data-centric Modeling and Support of the Lifecycle of Gainesville Businesses
PI – Jose Fortes, Ph.D.
Co-PIs – Christopher McCarty, Ph.D.; Renato Figueiredo, Ph.D.; Erik Bredfeldt ,Ph.D.; and Lila Stewart 

This project utilizes urban informatics and data-centric information systems to support local decision-making and improve the lives of Gainesville’s citizens. It builds on partnerships involving university expertise from two colleges working together with City staff to gain a better understanding of Gainesville business life-cycles and how the City can optimize support of business enterprise. By enabling access and analysis of business-related data to researchers and the public, the project will contribute to making UF and Gainesville a living laboratory for urban informatics. Students will be involved through a hack-a-thon and other means. The proposal touches on themes of strong economy, innovation, and citizen-centered focus found in the City and UF strategic plans.

Neighborhoods as Community Assets: Preparing for the Future While Protecting Neighborhoods
PI – Kathryn Frank, Ph.D.
Co-PIs Kristin Larsen, Ph.D.; Laura Dedenbach, Ph.D.; and Tyeshia Redden 

By addressing a critical nexus between urban redevelopment, neighborhood preservation, and gentrification, this project proposes to develop and implement a pilot citizen-participatory process to understand these issues within the Porters neighborhood near campus. The process will be scalable and could be applied in other Gainesville neighborhoods as well. Students will be involved through graduate assistantship, employment, and coursework. The project directly relates to UF strategic development plan initiatives for strong neighborhoods and urban proximity, while supporting the City’s themes of equity and planning for a better future, as well as the housing and families initiatives of GNV4ALL.









Public Acceptance of Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Technology
PI – Lily Elefteriadou, Ph.D.
Co-PI Nithin Agarwal, Ph.D.

This project builds on existing partnerships between UF, the City of Gainesville, and the Florida Department of Transportation to be leaders in the emerging field of autonomous vehicles. Understanding public acceptance of such technologies is critical to its deployment and actualizes the UF strategic development plan’s vision to transform the community into a living laboratory. Students are involved through project-based employment performing extensive data collection and analysis. The work advances UF initiatives for the New American City and transportation connections that support urban redevelopment and strong neighborhoods. It also supports the City’s goals for becoming a community model of best practices and the GNV4ALL transportation initiatives.

Building a Partnership Between Early Head Start and the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies to Benefit Young Children and Families in East Gainesville
PI – Herman Knopf, Ph.D.
Co-PI Maureen Conroy, Ph.D.

This project builds on existing partnerships between the community and the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence, expanding a national outreach model to address the research-to-practice gap in early child and education services. It proposes transferring science-informed solutions to service providers in the Gainesville community who make real-life differences to children and their families. Extensive student involvement is provided through project-based service learning and internships. By providing professional development and supporting Gainesville families, the project positions UF and the City to be community models while supporting themes of strong economy, strong neighborhoods, equity, jobs, education and families as found in the plans of UF, the City and GNV4ALL.

The Gainesville Entrepreneurship and Adversity Program
PI – Michael Morris, Ph.D.
Co-PI Jamie Kraft, Ph.D.

Entrepreneurship is approached as a vehicle for poverty alleviation. Gainesville demonstrates higher poverty rates than the nation, with 38.1% of the population living below the poverty line, and 21% below 50% of the poverty level. The initiative seeks to foster start up activity among economically and otherwise disadvantaged citizens, and help existing ventures become sustainable and grow. It consists of six key components: entrepreneurial training, one-on-one consulting, mentoring, connecting entrepreneurs to community and other resources, planning for a microcredit fund, and a research agenda. The research component will assess what works and does not and develop a model of community-focused entrepreneurship that can be transferred to other communities.

Community Resource Paramedicine: An Innovative Approach to Meeting the Needs of Gainesville’s Most Vulnerable Populations
PI – Lisa Chacko, M.D., MPH
Co-PIs Laura Guyer, Ph.D., and David Sutton

Expertise from two colleges combine in a strong partnership with Gainesville Fire Rescue to reduce Emergency Department visits, reduce 911 call volumes, and improve quality of life for Gainesville’s most vulnerable citizens by expanding the Community Resource Paramedic program beyond its current pilot phase. Students will be involved through project-based and service learning internships. The project positions Gainesville as a community model utilizing Gainesville as a living laboratory for the benefit of its citizens as suggested in the New American City initiative. It supports the City’s strategic themes of equity and planning for a better future.

Urban Energy Model for Smart City Informatics
PI – Ravi Srinivasan, Ph.D.

This project provides sophisticated analysis to aid local decision-making and energy management using extensive data to be analyzed using UF’s HiPerGator high-performance computing resource. It is a clear opportunity to bring UF expertise to solve local problems and position the City as a community model. This living laboratory and urban informatics approach is consistent with the New American City initiative while the project’s energy focus supports principles of the Stewardship initiative. Project funds will be used to employ graduate students from two colleges.