IRWG announces latest round of Faculty Seed Grant awards


The Institute for Research on Women and Gender has awarded highly competitive Faculty Seed Grants to five U-M faculty members whose diverse projects demonstrate the scope of women and gender studies today.

Recipients and their projects are:

• Rita Chin (history), “On the Rise and Fall of Multiculturalism in Europe.”

Chin, associate professor of history, LSA, will examine the growing consensus in Europe — across the political spectrum — that multiculturalism there is a failure. Chin argues that among the most significant catalysts of this consensus are European perceptions of Muslim gender relations. Current anxiety about Muslim gender relations bespeaks a larger struggle over the very definition of European society. Here historical analysis is crucial: It suggests this struggle is not simply a response to the exceptional events of 9/11, but rather is part of an ongoing debate that has reached a pivotal crossroads with the broad condemnation of multiculturalism.

• Katri Ervamaa (Residential College), “Música Mestiza: A Musical Laboratory Exploring the Idea of ‘Mestizaje.'”

Lecturer and cellist Ervamaa will create a laboratory for the creation of a new musical repertoire inspired by the utopian idea of mestizaje, which suggests that cultures can coexist without one subjugating another. Composer Gabriela Lena Frank will bring together two ensembles of western strings and Andean panpipes to bring the vision to life.

• Yasamin Kusunoki (Institute for Social Research), “Dynamic Patterns of Relationship Violence among Young Women.”

Using newly available unique data from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life study, Kusunoki, an assistant research scientist at the Population Studies Center and the Survey Research Center, will investigate the dynamic patterns of violence within young women’s intimate relationships. The aims are to identify the dynamic patterns of violence within young women’s intimate relationships, and examine how these patterns relate to other characteristics of the relationship.

• Susan J. Pressler  (Nursing), “Vulnerable and Ignored: Symptoms and Quality of Life of Older Women with Heart Failure at Skilled Nursing Facilities.”

Pressler, professor of nursing, seeks to determine the relationship between symptoms and health-related quality of life among older women with heart failure. Older women with heart failure are more likely than men to be admitted to skilled nursing facilities, and heart-failure patients admitted to skilled nursing facilities have a 76 percent increased risk of death.

• Michael R. Woodford (social work), “Centering Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Race in Research, Policy, and Programs to Support LGBTQ College Students through Intersectional Research.”

Woodford, assistant professor of social work, will use innovative statistical techniques to build intersectional understandings of the experiences of LGBTQ college students by centering gender identity, gender expression, and race in analyses that examine campus climate, multilevel protective factors, and health and academic outcomes. Findings will be used to inform policy and program interventions to foster the wellbeing of diverse LGBTQ college students, as well as a future, wide-scale national study of LGBTQ college students.

The Institute for Research on Women and Gender fosters collaboration and furthers the research of all U-M faculty members and graduate students who use the lens of women and gender to pursue their studies.

Faculty Seed Grants support individual activities, such as research assistance, research-related travel or research materials — including books, microfilms or similar items. They also support collaborative projects, such as pilot studies or initial research efforts, study groups, or conference planning and implementation.

Awards range from $500 to $10,000. For additional information and deadlines, go to  



  1. Julia Seng
    on March 20, 2014 at 11:28 am

    This is a wonderful range of topics and types of projects–it speaks to the vibrancy of scholarship on women and gender across the faculty. It’s great that there is steady support from IRWG.

  2. Susan Pressler
    on March 20, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    We are excited to have this grant funded by IRWG. Most studies of people with heart failure include 60-70% men even though heart failure prevelance rates are similar for women and men. This funding will allow us to identify symptoms that impair quality of life among frail older women with heart failure and lay the groundwork for designing interventions specifically for them.

  3. Michael Woodford
    on March 20, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    This grant funding is enabling our team to delve into the role of race, gender, gender expression and other social identities among LGBTQ college students using quantitative research methods. The results will add to the literature and inform policies and programs aiming to support the academic development and health of LGBTQ students.

  4. Brandy Sinco
    on March 26, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    This grant is important to me because it will lead to scholarly analysis to improve the campus environment for lgbt persons, taking into account gender, gender expression, race/ethnicity, disability, and age. This will also help to improve the campus environment for women, because sexism is strongly linked to homophobia.

    When I attended this great university, the bylaws did not mention sexual orientation nor gender identity. In the early 1980’s, there was a campaign to get a presidential policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. A bylaw change seemed beyond reach back in those days.

    I lived on a co-ed floor in Alice Lloyd hall from 1979-1981. My first resident adviser bragged about going to the Rubaiyat (Ann Arbor’s gay bar) to tell those people how disgusting he thought they were. Later that year someone left a threatening message on my door, “You’re too much of a feminist for me. Lift more weights and drink more beer. I’ll lay you one of these days.” Clearly, homophobic attitudes are used to oppress women with non-conventional gender roles.

    During my second year in Alice Lloyd, the resident adviser said that he believed in treating all people with respect, whether they had a different religion, race, or were gay or lesbian. That year, I had no threatening notes
    on my door, and think that was because of the resident adviser’s affirming attitudes towards people who were different from him.

    I sincerely hope that our research will make the campus climate more hospitable and respectable, so that current students will not hear hostile comments from their resident advisers nor find threatening notes on their doors.

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