2015-2016 Grant Recipients

Continuum of Educational Care: High School Curriculum and Youth Development
Rutgers co-director: Radha Jagannathan, Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy and Michael J. Camasso, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Community co-director: John Anzul, New Brunswick Public School District

Students in grades 4–8 who participate in Nurture thru Nature (NtN), a six-year partnership between Rutgers and the New Brunswick Public Schools integrating nature and science exploration into the curriculum, have consistently outperformed peers in science, math, and language arts. To sustain this impact through high school, this research partnership will develop experiential NtN curricula for grades 9–12 that align with the high school science curriculum while integrating school-to-career education. The result of this project will be a fully developed high school science curriculum with the potential to not only improve learning among New Brunswick youth but also encourage their interest in STEM careers.

Improving Safety and Community Access to the Lynch Bridge Bicycle Path
Rutgers co-director: Peter J. Jin, School of Engineering
Community co-director: Glenn Patterson, City of New Brunswick

The Lynch Bridge bike path is a key travel corridor for New Brunswick bicyclists and pedestrians; however, the reconfiguration of Route 18 left the path with a significant “missing link” that compromises its safety and usability. Working with New Brunswick partner agencies, the research team will investigate current site and traffic conditions and develop alternative roadway design concepts. Computer simulation and other traffic impact analyses will be conducted to determine the safety, functionality, and cost-benefit value of these alternatives. This research will contribute to New Brunswick’s strategic planning for bicycle-friendly infrastructure, a component of the city’s master plan.

Healthy Gardening and Healthy Living: Creative Engagement in Food Access and Nutrition
Rutgers co-director: Karen W. Lin, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Community co-director: Jim Zullo, Elijah’s Promise

The guests of Elijah’s Promise Community Kitchen often suffer from illnesses resulting from poor diet and inconsistent access to healthy foods. To better understand the potential for community gardens to improve the health of underserved New Brunswick residents, this research project will engage 12 guests, aged 40 to 65 and with chronic medical conditions, in cultivating and harvesting healthy foods at the Shiloh Community Garden. Over 15 weeks, guests will participate in social, creative, and educational activities related to gardening and healthy eating; the results of periodic health assessments will be evaluated to assess the program’s impact on the mental and physical health of participants.

Designing Optimal Learning Environments for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Assessment
Rutgers co-director: David Shernoff, Center for Math, Science, and Computer Education
Community co-director: John Anzul, New Brunswick Public School District

Middle and high schools have until fall 2016 to be fully compliant with the new state-mandated Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), requiring educators to develop high-level, discovery-based curricula within a short timeframe. This partnership engages teachers in the New Brunswick public schools in a professional development model for adapting, writing, and implementing new NGSS-aligned curricula for grades 6–12. Combining a four-day summer institute with monthly professional learning community meetings, this model is designed to actively involve teachers in the creation of new curricula while providing resources for their success. The project will also evaluate the model for potential replication by districts throughout New Jersey.

Reducing Pest Infestations and Insecticide Residues in Low-Income Housing
Rutgers co-director: Changlu Wang, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Community co-director: John Clarke, New Brunswick Housing and Redevelopment Authority

Low-income communities suffer much higher rates of infestation with bedbugs, cockroaches, and rodents. They reduce the quality of life and cause economic hardships and health problems. Compounding these burdens are the harsh insecticides commonly used to control infestations. This research partnership seeks to reduce indoor pest infestation in one New Brunswick public housing complex through amultipronged strategy of educating residents and staff about pest control methods, introducing an integrated pest management program, and monitoring infested homes over a six- month period. Changes in resident behavior, insecticide use, insecticide residue levels and the number and density of pest infestations will be evaluated to determine the effectiveness of the management strategy.