OVPR, NCID award eight grants to advance anti-racism research, scholarship

Article by Kelsey Keeves


The Office of the Vice President for Research, in partnership with the National Center for Institutional Diversity, has awarded nearly $500,000 in grants to eight research teams from across the University of Michigan to explore complex societal racial inequalities that ultimately inform actions to achieve equity and justice.

This is the first cohort of researchers to receive the OVPR Anti-Racism Grants, which launched last spring in partnership with the NCID Anti-Racism Collaborative. Both were developed in accordance with the Provost’s Anti-Racism Initiative and a university-wide campaign that aims to strengthen community engagement and capacity around work that addresses racial inequality, equity and justice in society.

“Despite considerable evidence of deep systemic and interpersonal racism throughout society, there is a lot more we can learn about its processes and manifestations and scholarship and data can shine a light on the path forward to improvement and aid in measurement of where we are and where we will be next ,” said Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine.

“These new anti-racism grants can help fill that knowledge gap, and the research and scholarship generated from these projects can play an important role in supporting a society that is humane, equitable and just. And as a leader in social science research, the University of Michigan is well positioned to advance research and scholarship around this important topic.”

The grants will support a wide variety of projects that cover topics ranging from data-driven surveillance systems to residential energy consumption.

“The grantees represent diversity across disciplines, fields and units, and the project teams illuminate the potential power of interdisciplinary, scholarly collaborations to inform and address complex and persistent racial inequalities within the United States and globally,” said Tabbye Chavous, NCID director, professor of psychology and education, and associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

OVPR Anti-Racism Grant Recipient Projects

  • Whose War? Whose Peace?: Quantifying Racial Inequality in the Impacts of the WWII G.I. Bill
    • Team Leads: J. Trent Alexander, Amber Bryant and David Bleckley (ISR), Katie Genadek (U.S. Census Bureau
    • Goal: The research team utilizes the G.I. Bill’s mortgage guarantee program administrative records to analyze racial equity in the program’s implementation and the impact of unequal implementation on Black veterans and communities.
  • The ARC Towards Justice Project: A pilot project for developing anti-racist public health departments
    • Team Leads: Melissa Creary, Paul Fleming, and Whitney Peoples (SPH)
    • Goal: The team will partner with the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) to implement a collaborative research project to identify key opportunities and limits on anti-racist institutional transformation within local health departments.
  • Surveillance Tech and the Racial Divide: Using Videovoice to Capture Black Experiences of Policing among Eastside Detroiters
    • Team Leads: Tawanna Dillahunt (School of Information and CoE), Mark Ackerman (School of Information, CoE and Medical School), John Cheney-Lippold (LSA)
    • Goal: The research team will investigate how individuals and communities, especially the Black communities that have been disproportionately targeted by police, perceive and interact with data-driven surveillance systems and how to bring the community’s perspectives into the policymaking process.
  • Racial Code-Switching: Unmasking the Psychological, Cognitive, and Physiological Implications
    • Team Leads: Myles Durkee (LSA) and Margaret Hicken (ISR)
    • Goal: The research team will experimentally examine how racial code-switching (i.e., changing one’s speech and behavior to gain inclusion or acceptance) affects cardiovascular health and mental processes among Black college students. This project seeks to establish causal links for how social pressure to engage in racial code-switching is associated with psychological, cognitive, and physiological implications.
  • Grassroots Role Models: Anti-racism through Generative STEM
    • Team Leads: Ron Eglash (School of Information), Audrey Bennett (Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design), Lionel Robert (School of Information)
    • Goal: By collaborating with Black, Latinx and Native-owned enterprises in Detroit on innovations for their products and services, the research team will examine how STEM can directly benefit communities. Bringing these grassroots role models into K-12 classrooms, they will then examine how local innovators might offer more authentic youth learning experiences in STEM.
  • Addressing intersectional racism and transphobia through legal gender affirmation for BIPOC transgender women
    • Team Leads: Kristi Gamarel, Laura Jadwin-Cakmak, Racquelle Trammell, and Gary Harper (SPH)
    • Goal: The research team will partner with the Trans Sistas of Color Project, Fair Michigan Foundation, and Corktown Health Center to develop and implement an efficient medical-legal partnership within a community health center designed with and for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and other people of color) trans women to address the consequences of intersectional racism and transphobia.
  • Enhanced Energy Monitoring For Energy Justice in Detroit
    • Team Leads: Johanna Mathieu (CoE), Tony Reames (SEAS), Carina Gronlund (ISR), and Marie O’Neill (SPH)
    • Goal: The research team is leading a project that aims to increase the understanding of residential energy consumption in three majority African American and Hispanic neighborhoods in Detroit, focusing on low and moderate-income households.
  • Promoting racial equity in newborn drug testing: A justice-informed, participatory mixed methods study
    • Team Leads: Justine Wu, Lauren Oshman, Paul Chandanabhumma, Murphy Van Sparrentak, Ananda Sen (Medical School)
    • Goal: The team will conduct a mixed-methods, community-engaged, and justice-informed study to determine trends in newborn drug testing (NDT) by race and ethnicity, and describe patient-provider perspectives regarding NDT at Michigan Medicine.