Five projects receive 2020 Battelle Endowment awards

The Battelle Engineering, Technology and Human Affairs (BETHA) Endowment annual grant competition supports projects that examine the complex relationship between science and technology on society and cultural issues. Five projects were selected for funding for the 2020 award cycle.

The Call for Proposals for 2021 BETHA projects is now open. A pre-proposal workshop will be offered for those interested in submitting. Find more information here.

The projects selected to receive 2020 funding are:

Can Novel Technologies Promote Social and Ecological Resilience to Novel Disturbances in a Changing Arctic Climate?
Matt Davies (School of Environment and Natural Resources)

The Arctic is the most rapidly warming region on Earth and new types of disturbance, including wildfires, have the potential to further disrupt communities and ecosystems. Wildfire was historically rare in Greenland but large events are becoming more common. Here, wildfire is a novel disturbance and socio-ecological systems may lack resilience. Our interdisciplinary team will work with local stakeholders to evaluate technological solutions for mitigating arctic wildfire risk. To do so requires understanding how stakeholders perceive of, and interact with, technology to ensure tools do not supplant local and traditional knowledge, or negatively impact highly-valued personal and communal autonomy.

The Scientist Next Door: Making STEM Accessible Through Storytelling
Lisa Hall (Chemical Engineering, STEAM Factory)

It is imperative that universities translate scientific expertise into accessible language for a broad audience in a way that creates lasting compelling and personal connections to the research and humanizes the process of science. This project seeks to strengthen the science storytelling capacity within the Ohio State research community via professional development, live performance, video development and public outreach initiatives. Through these activities, this project will significantly benefit participating researchers as well as the general public. This project has the potential to have a substantial ongoing impact by further integrating science storytelling into existing university infrastructure and Columbus community.

Using Hyve-3D Immersive Virtual Environment System to Facilitate Engagement in Public Participation Activities
Sébastien Proulx (Engineering Education)

Relying on the Hyve-3D social virtual reality system, this project will establish a Digital Public Participation Lab, to facilitate lay people engagement in the decision making process. This system provides a visualization and rapid-prototyping medium to support engagement in public participation activities. As such, this research focuses on the potentialities of an emerging technology for social and community development. Through this VR system, our initiative sought to make people capable of envisioning the impacts certain decisions may have on their daily lives. As a prototyping tool, the Hyve-3D also provides a promising democratic and community empowerment mechanism making anyone capable of becoming an active stakeholder in the design decision impacting their daily life.

A Collaborative Digital Gaming Platform for Children with Disabilities Using Human-Centered Technology and Touch
Scott Swearingen (Design)

Families who care for children with disabilities experience more challenges interacting with their children than families with normal children. This increased level of burden results in higher rates of emotional stress and hardship for families. With over 5.5 million children in the United States with physical or cognitive disabilities, our proposal aims to create a collaborative digital gaming platform using human-centered technology that normalizes the experience of play between the fully-abled and disabled to better serve these children, their families and communities. By emphasizing public engagement, our project merges the arts, humanities and technology, exemplifying the Battelle Endowment Mission.

DYI Science at COSI
Laura Wagner (Psychology)

This project will implement and fully assess a novel model of citizen science participation using the Language Sciences Research Lab at COSI. This model will emphasize a do-it-yourself DIY spirit of engagement, involving the general public in decision making at every level of the project, and is expected to improve attitudes towards science and appreciation of science as a process. The best-practices established by this project will be developed into a kit to be exported to other sites for expanded use.