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    Methods and the Messsage: Studing the Role of Communication in Stopping Pandemics , redirect

    Julie Gerdes, who specializes in the intersection of technical communication and global public health, believes communication is key in stopping the spread of infectious diseases. She has been inspired to use her skills to tackle COVID-19 through a research project, supported by the Council on Vibrant Virginia, with co-funding from ISCE and Virginia Cooperative Extension, that examines vaccine hesitancy among Latinx communities. While communication is an important tool in ending pandemics, Gerdes warned it can create larger problems if not used responsibly, such as pitting people against each other. She said it is important to think about the terms used to describe the vaccine. Not listening to concerns, Gerdes said, creates distrust and negatively affects population health.

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    Presentation by Social Science Research Council President Focuses on Research Landscape of Social and Behavioral Science , redirect

    The Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment hosted the president of the Social Science Research Council, Anna Harvey, as part of Virginia Tech’s Sesquicentennial celebration and in recognition of the institute’s 15-year anniversary on March 31st. The Social Science Research Council is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. focused on promoting social science research and the role social scientists play in solving pressing contemporary problems. Harvey presented on the current landscape of social and behavioral science research and strategies that both funders and universities can adopt to increase the production of policy-based evidence of impact at scale. Read more about this event in the preview article published in the Virginia Tech Daily News.

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    Middle school students learn the importance of heat resilience in communities , redirect

    Theo Lim, an affiliate with the Global Change Center, whose work is supported by both the Fralin Life Sciences Institute and the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment, focuses on green infrastructure planning, urban hydrology, water resource planning, and the linkages between land, water, infrastructure, and people. He is interested in studying these topics to help communities become more sustainable given limited natural resources and more resilient in the face of social and environmental change. This summer, Lim worked with Roanoke City Public Schools to develop a two-week intensive science-action curriculum focused on collecting urban temperature and thermal comfort data, and making proposals for cooling exceptionally hot areas of the city.

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    Data-Driven Research Accelerator Workshop jump-starts social science research , redirect

    The Policy Destination Area and University Libraries collaborated to offer a research accelerator workshop in July to help social scientists refocus their research efforts after a year affected by the pandemic. The workshop, a week-long event held July 12-16, provided dedicated time for faculty to focus on their own research, along with a supportive peer network and assistance with analytic tools, data visualization and more from experts at Virginia Tech. The event featured the COVID-19 Influences and Impacts Database of Databases, a collaboration of the Policy Destination Area and University Libraries DataBridge, which provides researchers with one-stop access to a variety of social, behavioral, health, and environmental data for research.

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    Six interdisciplinary research teams announced as 2022 ISCE Scholars , redirect

    Supporting social science research, broadly defined, is at the heart of what the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment does. One of its primary goals is to prepare social science faculty to compete for external funds to support their research. This aim is achieved, in part, through ISCE's signature Scholars Program. Scholars, who are awarded up to $30,000 for a period of a year, typically work in interdisciplinary teams and conduct pilot studies or other preparatory research so that they are ready to apply to external funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, or private foundations as as the William T. Grant Foundation. Six new research teams will begin work in summer or fall 2021.

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    New STEP Program Bridges the Gap between Science and Decision-Making , redirect

    The Virginia Tech Policy Destination Area launched its interdisciplinary graduate certificate program, Science, Technology and Engineering in Policy (STEP), in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. While launching the certificate under current conditions has had its challenges, COVID-19 is also making clear just how important such a certificate is for science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and health (STEM-H) students who are looking to work at the interface of science and policy. As part of the certificate launch and to promote conversations within the Virginia Tech community, the inaugural STEP seminar, held on April 27th to an audience of over 90 faculty and students, featured Lynn Scarlett, chief external affairs officer at The Nature Conservancy.

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    Center for Gerontology researchers receive $2.14 million to study extended family caregivers of people with dementia , redirect

    Karen Roberto and Tina Savla, both faculty members of Virginia Tech’s Center for Gerontology, are leading a five-year, $2.14 million NIA study that examines the role of extended family caregivers for a relative with dementia and their service use, needs, and challenges. While most of the caregiving literature to date has focused on close kin, such as adult children and spouses, this study turns the spotlight on other family caregivers, such as grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews, and step-kin. The research team will compare extended family caregivers with adult children and spouse caregivers in their study, which they have named “CareEx.”

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    What Can Stream Quality Tell Us About Quality of Life? Researchers Find Relationship Between Ecosystem Health and Human Well-being , redirect

    As the source of most of the water we drink and a place where we often go to recreate and enjoy nature, streams represent a crucial point-of-contact between human beings and the environment. Virginia Tech researchers are now using stream quality data to find new insights into the interactions between the health of our natural spaces and human well-being. Their findings, published in the journal Ecological Indicators, reveal that demographics such as race and population density, as well as health indices such as cancer rates and food insecurity, show strong correlations with water quality across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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    Policy Destination Area team develops COVID-19 database to spur policy and social science research , redirect

    As leaders of the Virginia Tech Policy Destination Area wondered how they could harness their resources to better understand policy decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic, they conceived of the idea to develop a 'database of databases.' This resource, available on the web, would be populated with policies related to the pandemic with direct links to data for researchers to use. Their hope was that this new tool would facilitate research on possible and actual policy changes in response to the pandemic, or on their ramifications, considering the pandemic as a ‘natural experiment.

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    National Science Foundation Funds Research on the Social Implications of COVID-19 , redirect

    Three research teams at Virginia Tech were awarded RAPID grants from the the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences directorate of the National Science Foundation to spur the development of social science–oriented research related to COVID-19. The teams, all of whom have received prior support from ISCE for related research, represent a range of departments and disciplines, highlighting the often diverse and interdisciplinary nature of social science research.

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    Dementia Caregiving During the "Stay-at-Home" Phase of COVID-19 Pandemic , redirect

    Tina Savla and her team examined how the stay-at-home phase of COVID-19 affected caregivers of persons with dementia living in rural Virginia and their use of available home- and community-based services and informal support to assist them with their care responsibilities. To read this article and learn which caregivers have been most affected, as well as read other articles, visit the ISCE COVID-19 Repository.

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    ISCE to Feature Faculty COVID-19 Scholarship and Research , redirect

    ISCE is maintaining a repository of COVID-19 related research and scholarship of faculty and Centers affiliated with the Institute, as well as members of the Virginia Tech community who are engaged in research focusing on the social, psychological, and policy impact of the coronavirus on people and places. The repository highlights nonmedical-oriented research and scholarship taking place at Virginia Tech during this historic and far-reaching pandemic. Send us your publications so they can be included!

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    Resilience Test of the North American Food System , redirect

    ISCE’s Global Issues Initiative (GII) has contributed to the discussion of the economic effects of COVID-19 in two papers. GII Director David Orden assesses challenges in the North American food system. GII Senior Research Fellow Caesar Cororaton and co-authors at De La Salle University use their model of the Philippine economy to evaluate consequences of lockdown policies. Visit the ISCE COVID-19 repository to read both articles and others.