Faculty Research Grants

The Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender offers grants to UB faculty to support research and/or curriculum development that exemplifies high quality, innovative scholarship related to women and gender. The Institute is particularly interested in supporting projects that are collaborative and/or interdisciplinary.

The grants can be used for archival research, data collection, fieldwork, research assistance, supplies, books, software, photocopy service, travel integral to the development of the project, and other forms of research support and curriculum development expenses that are allowable under UB guidelines.

Past recipients may reapply three cycles after a successful Gender Institute application.

Application deadline for Faculty Research Awards is December 7, 2021 for awards in spring, summer or fall 2022.
**Due to the COVID-19 budget constraints, granting of awards will be as funds are available.

Applications should be sent to ub-irewg@buffalo.edu and must include:

1. Application cover sheet, available here Download

2. Cover letter with project title, one-paragraph (200-word maximum) abstract, and the name(s), position(s), and department(s) of the applicant(s)

3. Three- to five-page, double-spaced research proposal, including: projected outcomes, timeline for project completion, and budget (include details of planned expenditures)

4. Current CV (short version of no more than three pages)

5. List of previous and upcoming research support (grants, fellowships, leaves) and outcomes.

6. List of external funding sources (secured or targeted), if applicable.

Research grant applications will be evaluated by the Gender Institute’s Fellowship Awards Committee, which represents a cross-section of the university, and will be awarded based on the following criteria:

  • The quality and potential of the proposed research project and its relevance to women and gender
  • The completion record of previous research projects
  • The proposal’s ability to communicate the importance of the project beyond the applicant’s home discipline
  • The applicant’s demonstrated commitment to participation in Institute programs

Research Report: Within one semester after receiving a research grant, recipients must submit a one-page summary of their research along with a description of how the fellowship helped the recipient(s) achieve their research goals.                                               

2019-2020 Awardees

The Gender Institute congratulates the recipients of the 2019-2020 Faculty Research Grant: Katharina A. Azim (Psychology), Laina Bay-Cheng (School of Social Work), Kathleen A. Parks (Psychology), Noelle St. Vil (School of Social Work) and Paola Ugolini (Romance Languages and Literatures).

Katharina A. Azim

Katharina A. Azim.

Katharina A. Azim

College Women's Pelvic Health and Sexuality 

This research project investigates the relationship between women college students’ pelvic health, sexuality, and religiosity. Specifically, we examine the relationship between the prevalence of pelvic pain among female college students based on their sexual conceptualizations and practices, religious self-identification, belief and exposure to religious teachings, and the experiences of sexual shaming and guilt. Considering that 20-34% of young women report chronic pelvic pain, which is generally highly preventable and treatable, we test these potential contributing factors.


Katharina A. Azim is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. Her research focuses on ethnicity and ethnic identity development, as well as acculturation and enculturation processes. She focuses on MENA/Arab/Muslim+ women’s perceptions of ethnic identity at the intersection of geopolitical, sociocultural, religious, and gendered factors. Her second line of research encompasses women’s reproductive health, agency, and rights in the United States.


Laina Bay-Cheng

Laina Bay-Cheng.

Laina Bay-Cheng

Rights on Paper vs. Rights on the Ground: Young Women's Sexual Capabilities in Buffalo

This community-based project uses Nussbaum’s Capabilities Approach (CA) to ask, What sexual rights and resources are low-income adolescent girls of color in Buffalo actually able to use? The question is provoked by the sexual health inequalities faced by marginalized girls in Buffalo, despite their legal rights to comprehensive, confidential sexual health services and the apparent availability of such services. Their sexual vulnerability reveals a gap between the sexual rights and resources that exist for them “on paper” and their sexual capabilities on the ground (i.e., what they are actually able to do). Working with HOPE Buffalo, an interprofessional and intergenerational coalition dedicated to youth sexual health, Bay-Cheng and PhD students at the School of Social Work will use activity-based focus groups with diverse young women to learn what various sexual rights and resources look like from their standpoints. The research team will distill girls’ perspectives into recommendations for service providers and policymakers in order to expand girls’ sexual capabilities and promote their sexual well-being.

Laina Bay-Cheng is a Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Development in the School of Social Work. Bay-Cheng concentrates her research on the imprint of social injustice on young women's sexual lives. She combines empirical and conceptual analyses to shift attention away from individual-focused models of sexual risk and toward the systemic roots of girls' and women's sexual vulnerability: namely, interlocked gender, class, race, and age-based inequalities and the ideologies that perpetuate them.  


Kathleen A. Parks and Noelle St. Vil

Kathleen A. Parks.

Kathleen A. Parks

Noelle St. Vil.

Noelle St. Vil

Adapting a Video Measure of Sexual Assault Risk Perception to be Culturally Specific for Black College Women 

Utilizing focus groups, Black women will critique an existing video measure designed to assess sexual assault risk cues.  Findings will be used to develop a culturally specific sexual assault tool for Black women.


Kathleen A. Parks is a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Psychology. Her research focuses on young women’s alcohol use/abuse and risks for sexual assault. This area of research has evolved through survey and daily process studies, as well as the development of a video vignette risk perception measure designed to assess women’s perception of ambiguous and clear risk cues for alcohol-related sexual assault. 

Noelle St. Vil is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work. St. Vil’s research focuses on black male-female relationships, including the impact of structural racism on these relationships, intimate partner violence, sexually transmitted infections and relationship typologies (monogamous, consensual nonmonogamy and nonconsensual nonmonogamy). 


Paola Ugolini

Paola Ugolini.

Paola Ugolini

Condottiero Father, Cross-Dressing Daughter: On the Portrait of Giacomo Malatesta and His Daughter Leonida (1562)” 

This project focuses on the portrait of the condottiero Giacomo Malatesta and of his daughter Leonida, held in the castle of Gradara (Italy). What makes this portrait intriguing is that the young girl Leonida is dressed in full male attire. Standing next to her father, who dons his full armor, Leonida—already the bearer of a male name, that of her grandfather—is clad in a corset and breeches, carries a small sword, and is portrayed while handing her father his gauntlets. The portrait makes no mystery of Leonida’s cross-dressing, thanks to an inscription that identifies the sitters as “Giacomo Malatesta and His Daughter Leonida, Aged Five.” I intend to investigate the reasons behind Giacomo Malatesta’s decision to have such a portrait of himself and his daughter produced through an exploration of the history of the Malatesta family and by bringing it to bear upon contemporary literary representations of women warriors.


Paola Ugolini is an Associate Professor of Italian in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Her research interests include early modern Italian literature, culture and conduct manuals; Satire; Chivalric poems; Gender studies.


2018-2019 Awardees

The Gender Institute congratulates the recipients of the 2018-2019 Faculty Research Grant: Meredith Conti (Theatre and Dance), Sharonah Fredrick (Romance Languages and Literatures), Ji-Won Son (Learning and Instruction), Mary Nell Trautner (Sociology).

Meredith Conti

Meredith Conti.

Gunpowder Plots: A Cultural History of Firearms and the American Theatre

“Gunpowder Plots: A Cultural History of Firearms and the American Theatre” is the first full length study to examine occurrences of guns and gunplay, both simulated and genuine, in the spaces within and surrounding America’s theatres. This monograph seeks to illuminate the ways in which the theatre—its performances, its history, its literatures, its public policies—bears the imprint of America’s complex relationship with the weapon that helped forge its nationhood. In analyzing playscripts and librettos featuring guns alongside Wild West sharpshooting acts, gunfire-fueled revivals of Shakespearean tragedies, Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and contemporary gun control activist performances, “Gunpowder Plots” appraises the diverse ways the U.S. American theatre has actively participated in the constructing and deconstructing of the nation’s gun culture. In particular, the book endeavors to articulate how notions of gender, race, performativity, and materiality cling to and continually shape manifestations of America’s guns on historical and contemporary stages.

Meredith Conti is an Assistant Professor of Theatre in the Department of Theatre and Dance whose work has been published in Journal of American Drama and TheatreJournal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, and Victorian Medicine and Popular Culture. Her first book Playing Sick: Performances of Illness in the Age of Victorian Medicine was released by Routledge in 2018.


Sharonah Fredrick

Sharonah Fredrick.

Female Mirrors of Piracy in the Americas: The Threat of the Virago, Real and Imagined, in Colonial Latin America and the Caribbean

This project probes the imperial linkage of subaltern identities, the “illegal” and “witch-like” female refugee in the New World, with supposed criminal activity, in the colonial Caribbean of the late 16th century, later extending to Peru’s Pacific port of Callao in the early 17th century. It focuses first on violent female identities of the 16th-18th centuries, such as those of Anne Dieu Le Vieut, who bested the infamous terror of the Caribbean, Captain Laurens de Graaf, and then galvanized his crew. Consequently, it will analyze the portrayals of female (real and imagined) bonds with outlaw culture and Caribbean piracy, as presented in Spanish and Portuguese chronicles of the time. These chronicles afford a fascinating glimpse of how many English speaking female buccaneers, from Garce O’Malley in Elizabethan Ireland, to early 18th century Anne Bonney in the Bahamas, were viewed in the Hispanic world. My research will clarify the nature of the bonds between female “subaltern” history and the social history of the Spanish/Portuguese empires. In social history, piracy figures strongly-as Cuban historian Cesar Garcia del Pino has noted-as one of the few avenues in which women and marginalized groups, including self-emancipated slaves-could aspire to some degree of social mobility.

Sharonah Fredrick is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Latin American Culture and Spanish and Portuguese Languages in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Her scholarly interests include Early Modern Era in the New World, South Asia, Spain, England and Ireland (1492-1799); Mayan, Andean and Southwestern Native Cosmology and Strategies of Resistance in Latin America; Spanish and Portuguese Imperial History in Asia/ Pacific; Judeo-Spanish and Irish Literature and Diasporas in the Colonial Americas Changing Conceptions of Cartography in the Americas and Colonial Asia Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew and English Language and Composition Teaching Teacher and Student Training in Language Teaching.


Ji-Won Son

Ji-Won Son.

Promoting Equitable Mathematical Experience for Underrepresented Girls

The goal of the project is to develop and provide a Summer Math Program for rising 5th7th grade urban African American girls, to improve their mathematical thinking and reasoning about fractions and fraction operations. Research on fractions and fraction operations reveals that students tend to have procedural knowledge of fraction concepts but are often unable to apply these concepts in real-world situations. One novel way to address these concerns is project-based learning (PBL), a student-centered instructional approach that engages students in investigating and exploring a complex problem in a real-world context. Participating students will not only learn how to calculate with fractional numbers, but also learn why the computational algorithms work and when to use each operation. More importantly, they will apply these concepts to make valid arguments about real-life situations. By providing project-based learning, I intend to examine how participating students expand their mathematical knowledge and develop STEM identities and agency within and beyond their participation in the Summer Math Program.

Ji-Won Son, Associate Professor of Learning and Instruction in the Graduate School of Education, is an expert on mathematics education. She researches how factors such as textbooks, curriculum and teachers’ ability to interpret and respond to students’ thinking influence how kids learn math. She also conducts international comparative studies that seek to understand how math is taught in different countries. To address achievement gaps in mathematics learning, Son’s research has looked for ways to improve students’ understanding and teachers’ instructional practices, especially for underrepresented girls, in the field.


Mary Nell Trautner

Mary Nell Trautner.

Gender and Prosecution Decisions in Children’s Accidental Fatalities

On average, 40 children in the U.S. die each year from heatstroke after being accidentally left in cars. Children, especially babies, often fall asleep in their rear-facing child safety seats, becoming quiet and unobtrusive. When parents experience a change in their daily routine, and/or are stressed, fatigued, or distracted, they sometimes forget their child is in the car with them. This project examines the aftermath of these tragedies to understand the decisions that prosecutors (and juries) make about whether parents are to blame for their child’s accidental death. Specifically, the project examines how gender, race, and social class intersect so that some deaths are seen as accidental and no charges are filed, while other parents are prosecuted as criminals. Are mothers more likely or less likely than fathers to be prosecuted? How do race and social class impact those prosecution decisions? These questions are analyzed using a unique dataset of over 875 accidental heatstroke deaths from 1990-2018.

Mary Nell Trautner is an Associate Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Sociology. Her research focuses on intersections of social inequality and social justice. She asks how law, culture, and organizational practices shape the ways in which inequality is created, perpetuated, and/or experienced.


2017-2018 Awardees

Megan Holland

Megan Holland.

Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy.

Caring Too Much or Just Enough? Gendered Experiences of School Counselors

In the spring of 2018, I conducted 20 interviews with high school counselors in and around a mid-sized city. I was interested in understanding how women and men school counselors experience their professional identity, the emotional labor involved in their work, and the role of the ideal worker image in a women-dominated helping profession. My preliminary findings suggest that women and men school counselors have similar ideas about their professional identities: they thought of themselves as the “go-to” person in a high school and as a student advocate, and emphasized the importance of relationships and helping others. However, women and men differed in how they talked about what they wanted more of in their professional work: women wanted recognition for all the work they did that was outside of their job descriptions, while men wanted more autonomy.    


Ruth Mack

Ruth Mack.

Associate Professor, Department of English.

Working-Class Craft: The Poetry of Mary Collier and Elizabeth Hands

In May 2018 I used my faculty research award from the Gender Institute to travel to London for five days to research a project called “Working-Class Craft: The Poetry of Mary Collier and Elizabeth Hands.” The research will form the core of the final book chapter for Social Craft: Theories of Society in Enlightenment Britain. My research focused on two kinds of cultural texts that will inform my discussion of the eighteenth-century poetry of these laboring women: guides for servants and recipe books. Both sets of texts proved valuable for investigating the philosophical tenor of the poetry of Collier and Hands.


Maria Fernanda Negrete

Maria Fernanda Negrete.

Assistant Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Symptom and Sensation: Clinical Aesthetics in Experimental Literature and Art

With the Gender Institute Faculty Award I was able to travel to New York City to explore artworks or texts by two of the six women featured in my first book, for which I was completing the manuscript last year. The Aesthetic Clinic: Feminine Sublimation in Contemporary Writing, Psychoanalysis, and Art has now been accepted for publication by SUNY Press and its publication is expected for 2020. On my research trip I also visited Dia:Beacon, a museum dedicated to housing contemporary artworks whose format doesn’t exactly fit the typical gallery space. Louise Bourgeois is best known for her huge iron Spider sculptures, and Dia Beacon has one of them in its collection, in addition to several other works in sculpture. This visit was also fruitful in inspiring me to develop a new graduate seminar for Fall 2019, on ecological art and speculative thought around ecology and autofiction. I expect this topic to eventually become a new book project.