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The Post Research Groundbreakers: Spotlighting Haun, McCrain and the WIRED Global Center for their research work at the U

Research Groundbreakers: Spotlighting Haun, McCrain and the WIRED Global Center for their research work at the U

The University of Utah has a rich research history. Thanks to its students, faculty, staff and shareholders, research at the U will only continue to grow, bringing innovations and discoveries to our society.

With this in mind, the Office of the Vice President for Research (VPR) and Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) are showcasing different researchers to spotlight our university’s studies and potential breakthroughs. Here are some of the U’s Research Groundbreakers.

Dr. Jolie Haun — Multi-Principal Investigator on the Department of Defense Focused Program Award, Improving Healthcare Engagement and Access to Optimize Long-Term Outcomes: Supporting Veteran and Service Members with TBI Morbidity (I-HEAL) 

Dr. Jolie HaunDr. Jolie Haun, Adjunct Associate Professor, with the Division of Epidemiology, Department of Internal Medicine, is advancing implementation science on a recently awarded Department of Defense, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). CDMRP fosters novel approaches to biomedical research in response to the expressed needs of its stakeholders – the American public, the military, and Congress. Dr. Haun collaborated as the lead implementation scientist on the I-HEAL grant application to improve access to care for individuals with traumatic brain injury (PI: Nakase-Richardson; MPI: Moore). The overarching objectives of I-HEAL are to adapt existing interventions to promote uptake; engage stakeholder communities; promote knowledge translation; facilitate research and implementation to enhance access to healthcare for persons TBI; and foster development of early/mid-career researchers in advancing implementation science research on access to care for persons with TBI. 

“My approach to implementation science focuses on using an engaged Human Centered Design, partnered approach, and multi-level theoretical modeling to strategically examine the determinants, strategies, mechanisms, and outcomes throughout the implementation pipeline. Understanding partners needs and mapping relevant implementation factors across the implementation pipeline will improve access to care for diverse patient populations, and inform learning health systems through knowledge translation,” said Haun about her work. “I look forward to learning from this collaborative award to inform the interdisciplinary implementation capacity building within and outside the College to advance this critical field of science.” 

Dr. Joshua McCrain – Research and Evaluation on Policing Practices, Accountability Mechanisms, and Alternatives – National Institute of Justice 

Dr. Joshua McCrain (PI) and a multi-university team of interdisciplinary researchers was recently awarded $972K by the National Institute of Justice to study “Policing Leadership and Accountability: Harnessing Big Data and Causal Inference for Evaluating Police Reform Practices”. As the host institution, the grant provides the University of Utah substantial funding for hosting workshops and hiring research assistants, graduate students, and a post-doctoral fellow towards starting the Policing Accountability and Policy Evaluation Research (PAPER) Lab. 

“This grant will kickoff an important series of projects towards studying policing accountability in the United States, with the aim of providing policymakers and practitioners concrete recommendations for effective policy changes,” said McCrain. “The team will collect unique, nationwide data on the prevalence of civilian oversight institutions, the presence of artificial intelligence technology within police departments, and contextual information on police departments, sheriffs, and their leadership. Using modern advances in machine learning and econometrics, we will study what drives law enforcement agencies to adopt these policies and technologies, and how they affect downstream outcomes such as officer misconduct and use of force.” 

WIRED Global Center Secures Nearly $9 Million in Grants to Fortify Western Interconnected Grid Against Weather-Related Disturbances 

The U.S.-Canada Center on Climate-Resilient Western Interconnected Grid (WIRED Global Center), co-led by the University of Utah (the U) and the University of Calgary, is established through a competitive grant application to the Global Center program, and is jointly funded with nearly $9 million in grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). This international center strives to address vulnerabilities of the Western Interconnected Grid to extreme weather events, which serves nearly 80 million people across 11 Western U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.  WIRED Global Center aims to enhance cross-border data sharing, mitigate climate-driven disturbances, empower communities, and transform ideas into market-ready solutions.  

The interdisciplinary approach includes faculty expertise from 11 universities across the Western U.S. and Canada, spanning power engineering, climate science, forestry, data analysis, policy, and social sciences. Masood Parvania, Roger P. Webb Endowed Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the PI and co-director of the WIRED Global Center. The center includes collaborators from across the U, including Valerio Pascucci and Manish Parashar of Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute and Kahlert School of Computing, William Andregg and John Lin of the Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy, Divya Chandrasekhar of the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning, John Hore of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Jairo Giraldo of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Tabitha Benney of the Department of Political Science. In addition to the U, the center involves University of California San Diego, University of New Mexico and Deseret Research Institute in the U.S. and University of Calgary, University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Regina, Thompson Rivers University, University of British Columbia at Okanagan and University of Saskatchewan in Canada.

The University of Utah community is invited to get involved with WIRED Global Center in shaping a resilient future for the power grid by joining the mailing list to receive center updates, explore career and training opportunities, and learn about future events and activities.