An aerial view of the VCU Student Commons Plaza with people walking across it. In the middle of the plaza is a circle made of yellow and black bricks. The yellow bricks spell out the letters \"VCU.\"
Now in its third year, the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Fund has invested more than $300,000 to support and expand arts and humanities research on campus. (File photo)

10 innovative research projects earn latest funding from VCU’s Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Fund

Faculty are exploring an expansive collection of topics that delve into social and cultural identity as well as practical applications.

Share this story

Faculty-led projects that touch on a range of topics – from sculpture and swimwear to pediatric medical care and theater – are among the 2024 grant recipients from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Fund.

Now in its third year, the AHSS Fund has invested more than $300,000 to support and expand arts and humanities research on campus. In 2022, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation partnered to create the fund, which supports projects that expand imagination, innovation, self-reflection, and understanding of social and cultural identity.

AHSS grants are awarded through a peer-review process, and projects at any stage of development, presentation, performance and publication are eligible. Recommendations from the panel are presented to the Provost and OVPRI for final decisions.

“All of these projects in the fields of arts, humanities and social sciences have the potential to broadly impact VCU and the communities we serve,” said P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D., vice president for research and innovation. “This collaboration between the OVPRI and the Office of the Provost gives these teams the foundation to jump-start their research in areas that are frequently overlooked. This award perfectly encapsulates the goals of the One VCU Research Strategic Priorities Plan and the overall campuswide research and innovation enterprise by advancing both scholarship and overall improvement of the human condition. I’m so excited to see what the 2024 recipients will accomplish.”

“When we say that ‘Every Ram’s a Researcher,’ we mean it,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “In supporting creative and innovative research in arts, humanities and social sciences, we reaffirm our commitment to advancing scholarship across VCU’s entire academic enterprise. The projects chosen for these awards show exciting promise to promote hands-on learning for our students, foster creativity and collaboration, and enhance creative thinking and problem-solving skills. And along the way, they may just help us gain perspective on who we are as a people.”

To qualify for funding, projects must align with the One VCU Research Strategic Priorities Plan as a pillar of the institutional strategic plan, Quest 2028: One VCU Together We Transform. Eligible projects are categorized into at least one of the four key initiatives of the research strategy plan: enriching the human experience, achieving a just and equitable society, optimizing health, and supporting sustainable energy and environments.

Here are the 2024 grant recipients/principal investigators from the VCU Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Fund and the titles of their research projects:

  • Daniel Cannone, D.O., (PI) assistant professor, pediatrics, School of Medicine; Jenny Fox, M.D., (co-PI) associate professor, pediatrics, School of Medicine; Aaron Anderson, Ph.D., (co-PI) professor, theatre, School of the Arts

            Advancing a Clinical Communication Training Pilot Collaborative between Undergraduate Theatre Program and Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Trainees

  • Caitlin Cherry, (PI) assistant professor, painting and printmaking, School of the Arts

            Accommodations Platform for Working with Neurodivergent Artists

  • Jeannine Diego, (PI) assistant professor, fashion design and merchandising, School of the Arts

            “A Wardrobe, An Island”

  • Rebecca Gibson, Ph.D., (PI) assistant professor, School of World Studies, College of Humanities and Sciences

            Well Heeled: A Bioarchaeology of the Shoe

  • Richard Hammack, Ph.D., (PI) professor, mathematical sciences, College of Humanities and Sciences

            Pop-Up Book of the Hypercube

  • Renee Lamb, (PI) assistant professor, fashion design and merchandising, School of the Arts; Jacqueline Mullins (co-PI) academic advisor, fashion design and merchandising; Jennie Cook (co-PI) assistant professor, fashion design and merchandising

            Swim Motifs: An Exploration of Swimwear Design Practices and Implications for Future Applications for Swimmer Confidence and Performance

  • Massa Lemu, Ph.D., (PI) associate professor, sculpture, School of the Arts

            Chewanese Cinema as Metonym of Disenclosure

            “Twelve Earths”

            Constructing a Portable Light Stage for High-Resolution Scanning of Mesoscopic Facial Structures for Computer-Generated Digital Doubles

  • Kamden Strunk, Ph.D., (PI) associate professor, SOE Foundations Department, School of Education

            Examining Measures of Racism in Social Sciences Using Meta-Analytic Confirmatory Factor Analysis

To learn more about the VCU Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Fund as well as additional internal funding opportunities under the One VCU Research Strategic Priorities Plan, visit the plan website.

To find external funding supporting knowledge creation in and across all disciplines, visit the OVPRI funding page.