Award Winners

ERSS T. GrillosTara Grillosis an assistant professor in the department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts.  

Professor Grillos has received the 2018 Exploratory Research in the Social Sciences for her project "Does Participation in Group Decision-Making Increase Investment in Public Goods?"  

Stakeholder participation in decision-making is widely encouraged in international development policy. The World Bank alone has invested billions of dollars in participatory development programs, and several national constitutions formally require public participation in decision-making. One hypothesized effect of deliberative decision-making is that participants are more likely to value outcomes of the decision-making, and thereby more likely to invest in, maintain or comply with those outcomes. If the outcomes in question relate to a public good, then these effects have the potential to mitigate the free rider problem, encouraging individuals to contribute time, effort, and/or money to that public good. This project will use laboratory experiments to examine the hypothesis that when individuals are engaged in group decision-making regarding the creation of a public good, they will be more willing to invest in that good over the long-run. 


ERSS Brian KellyBrian Kelly, is an associate professor in the department of Sociology in the College of Liberal Arts.   

Professor Kelly has received the 2018 Exploratory Research in the Social Sciences for his project "Cross-Substance Policy Influences on Trajectories of Youth Marijuana and Tobacco Use"  

The goal of this study is to appraise the existence of cross-substance policy effects – i.e. the effect of a policy targeting one substance on the use of another. While considerable research has examined the influence of policies on use of the targeted substance, no research has assessed the potential for “spillover” effects – either direct or indirect – on the use of other substances. We will empirically test for the existence of cross-substance policy effects using the case of tobacco and marijuana use among young people. We will do so by testing for cross-substance policy effects on substance use trajectories (initiation, duration, prevalence, frequency, problem use, and cessation) over time within a cohort of youth as they age from adolescence into adulthood. We will also assess whether cross-substance policy effects occur via direct or indirect pathways. Lastly, since policies do not necessarily achieve equal outcomes across society, we will examine the interaction of personal characteristics to assess whether policy implementation may produce health disparities if its effects are not achieved as quickly or equitably among all citizens.


ERSS Stacy LindshieldStacy Lindshield is an assistant professor in the department of Anthropology.  

Professor Lindshield has received the 2018 Exploratory Research in the Social Sciences for her project "Reconsidering Female Chimpanzees:  Nutritional and Political Motives to Hunt and Share Food"  

Chimpanzee behaviors inform hypotheses on the significance of hunting, meat-eating, and meat-sharing to human evolution. These foraging behaviors can be sexually dimorphic in chimpanzees, and the theoretical foundations of this disparity involve differences in reproductive strategy and parental investment among males and females. Dr. Stacy Lindshield’s research tests the robustness of these claims through investigating hunting, meat-eating, and meat-sharing behaviors in savanna chimpanzees in Senegal, where females and males commonly hunt small mammals with tools. The specific research aims include evaluating the nutritional significance of foods procured through hunting, and intensifying the search for new evidence of hunting in female savanna chimpanzees. This research will illuminate the social and political lives of those females who actively provide meat to members of their group.


ERSS Otarola-CastilloErik Otarola-Castillo, is the assistant professor in the department of Anthropology.   

Professor Otarola-Castillo has received the 2018 Exploratory Research in the Social Sciences for his project "Estimating Food Security Risk Management Behavior of Early North American Foragers and Farmers"

The socio-ecological patterns and environmental features of hunter-gatherer (foragers) and subsistence farmers’ surroundings strongly influence their dietary strategies. For today’s foragers and subsistence farmers, environmental and climatic attributes, such as mean annual temperature, annual precipitation, and their respective seasonal patterns, have significant effects on their subsistence and risk management strategies. How will impending climate-change affect subsistence farming communities? One way to find out is by learning lessons from the past. The goal of this project is to estimate the effect of climate change on the subsistence behavior and food security risk management of prehistoric North American forager and early farmer societies. To achieve this goal, there are four key objectives: 1) to gather archaeological data on the dietary remains of North American foragers and early farmers, 2) to estimate prehistoric resource availability, 3) to reconstruct prehistoric climate variables and 4) to test hypotheses using statistical analyses. Although there is a plethora of archaeological dietary data related to this topic (objective 1), the statistical and computational methods required to complete objectives 2, 3 and 4 are not customary in the anthropological toolkit. I am able to overcome this problem by drawing on the results of my previous research, in which I estimated the effects of climate change on the subsistence economy of early foragers in the North American Great Plains between 14,000 and 9,000 years ago. The proposed pilot study will expand the geographic extent of this research to include parts of the Midwest and Rocky Mountains. Temporally, the project will include the early farming periods of the project area dating to approximately 4,000 years ago. This study will survey the appropriate literature and databases to gather the necessary data. Food security risk will be quantified using a “dietary portfolio” approach. 

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