The University is proud to announce recipients of the 2016-2017 Ruth S. Holmberg Grants. These grants honor Ruth S. Holmberg, publisher emerita of The Chattanooga Times and former chair and life trustee of the University of Chattanooga Foundation. From helping veterans, US roads, and studying voting data from this year’s election, our faculty will put these grants to good use in innovative research and advancing their respective fields.

Congratulations to the following recipients:


guo-zibin-01Dr. Zibin Guo, UC Foundation Professor of Anthropology, is collaborating with the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of the Tennessee Valley VA Healthcare System in Murfreesboro. Together they will launch a pilot study with a group of veterans with ambulatory and psychological (PTSD) impairments.

“Veterans with physical and psychological impairments face enormous challenges that are unique to this population in managing their personal as well as social life. They are not only more likely to be at risk for higher costs of living and medical care expenses than individuals without disabilities, they are also more likely to have debilitating secondary conditions,” Guo wrote.

This pilot study will explore the therapeutic benefit of Wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan (WTCC) among the group of veterans. Information gathered from this study will be used to develop and prepare for expanded research into WTCC as an innovative intervention program.

“Empowering through Tai Chi on the Wheels-Wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan for Veterans with Ambulatory Disability and PTSD” received an award of $3,000.


prince-angela-02Dr. Angela Prince, Assistant Professor of Exceptional Education, will review and analyze 25 years of litigation related to post-secondary transition requirement for youths with disabilities as outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Currently, youths with disabilities are more likely to experience poor post school outcomes including a higher high school dropout rate, unemployment (or underemployment), and are less likely to pursue secondary education when compared to their peers without disabilities.

Prince wrote, “Considering the level of importance of post school outcomes for students with disabilities, it is essential for school personnel to understand the implications of relevant case law in service delivery to avoid costly legal involvement and ensure all students’ transition needs are met appropriately.”

“Special Education Litigation for Postsecondary Transition: A 25-Year Review” was awarded $4,000.


gbr973Dr. Philip Roundy, UC Foundation Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, began a study of the historical evolution and current functioning of Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial ecosystem last fall. He will continue this research by testing his findings and determining their universality by conducting similar research on another entrepreneurial ecosystem, Youngstown, Ohio.

“Developing an understanding of how entrepreneurial ecosystems emerge and evolve (and mapping a specific evolution) would represent a substantive contribution to theory and practice,” Roundy explained in his application. “A study such as the one outlined above could produce a number of concrete insights to aid in the decision-making of entrepreneurs, academics, policy-makers, and stakeholders involved in the creation of entrepreneurial ecosystems.”

“Understanding Start-up Communities: Mapping the Construction and Evolution of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems” received an award of  $2,500.


endong-wangDr. Endong Wang, Assistant Professor of Engineering Management and Technology, is developing a benchmarking model for reliably evaluating building energy performance in building retrofitting projects for maximum efficiency with Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS).

“As the essential departure point, robust energy evaluation through benchmarking, which compares energy performance of a given building against its peers based on a predefined measuring indicator to quantify its relative performance plays an important role to the sufficient success of energy retrofitting projects,” wrote Wang.

“Robust Building Energy Performance Evaluation through Multi-criteria Benchmarking Approach” was awarded $3,000.


wintersieckphotoDr. Amanda Wintersieck, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Service, will be collecting a nationally representative sample from voters to compare and determine the impact of fact-checking during American political campaigns.

“The 2016 Presidential contest offers a rare opportunity to study fact checking in Presidential elections,” wrote Wintersieck. “Because 2016 is an open election in which there is no incumbent seeking reelection, this allows for the testing of hypotheses from the ‘incumbency effect.’”

Until now, most research on fact-checks has focused on campaigns outside of presidential ones, where there is a much smaller voter turnout. This research has determined that voters using sources such as nonpartisan fact-checking websites have been impacted by the information that they find outside of campaign and media rhetoric.

“Obtaining a National Sample to Evaluate how Fact-Checking Impacts Voter Assessment of Presidential Candidates” received an award of $5,000.


wu-weidongDr. Weidong Wu, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, is studying PolyLEVEL, a polyurethane foam capable of expanding and being used to level concrete slabs. His research will determine PolyLEVEL’s properties and predict its behavior to determine the material’s potential for repairing road damage.

In 2013, US roads received a grade of a D for their poor condition and repairing their conditions is estimated to cost hundreds of billions of dollars.Many states’ departments of transportation are considering PolyLEVEL as a solution.

However, Wu explains in his application, “Like any emerging material, there are many unanswered questions about the viability and suitability of the material as a construction material. Research needs to be conducted to evaluate and monitor the performance of PolyLEVEL.”

“Computer Modeling of PolyLEVEL for Highway Pavement Leveling” was awarded $5,000

Media Relations Contacts: Email UTC Media Relations or call 423-425-5119.

Sarah ’14, ’16 earned an MA in English rhetoric and composition at UTC where she now works as staff writer; she enjoys hiking with her husband and two boys and spending time with her backyard menagerie of goats, chickens and ducks.

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