Heller researchers receive 2018 Provost Research Grants

May 25, 2018

Four Heller researchers have received Brandeis Provost Research Grants on topics ranging from the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the child welfare system, to the use of artificial intelligence to make sense of unstructured data. 

The one-year grants, which start on July 1, are awarded to faculty or research staff across disciplines at Brandeis to support new ideas for scholarly inquiry. There is a research colloquium each fall that features presentations from the previous years’ recipients. 

“These awards reflect the wide range of policy relevant research conducted here at Heller,” says Cindy Thomas, associate dean of research at the Heller School. “Each of these projects has the potential to make a significant contribution to social science and impact on communities.”

The Heller researchers who received funding are:

Scientist Moaven Razavi, MS’06, PhD’11, Schneider Institutes for Health Policy: “Applications of Text Analytics and Natural Language Processing (NLP) in Healthcare Unstructured Big Data.”

From his proposal: “Making sense of unstructured data is perhaps one of the most challenging problems that the artificial intelligence (AI) science is trying to tackle. This pilot project converts unstructured data such as written texts and narratives, speeches, notes, expressions, observations, communications, and other unstructured contents, into meaningful information. This is a pilot to customize and apply open-source and commercial software solutions in text analytics and natural language processing (NLP) into healthcare data.”

Senior Research Associate Margot Davis, PhD’08, Institute for Behavioral Health: “Grandparents as Parents: Unplanned Consequences of the Opioid Epidemic.”

From her proposal: “Parenting is increasingly shifting to grandparents as a consequence of the opioid epidemic. The proposed project will (1) build understanding of the challenges faced by those who are custodians of children whose parents have opioid use disorders (OUDs), and (2) assess the financial, health, and psychological well-being of grandparent care-givers.”

Davis will work with senior scientists Marji Erickson Warfield, PhD’91, Janet Boguslaw and Sharon Reif, PhD’02.

PhD candidate and Research Associate Robyn PowellLurie Institute for Disability Policy: “Barriers and Facilitators to the Application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) within the Child Welfare System: A Qualitative Study.”

From her proposal: “Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination, disabled parents continue to be unjustly treated. This groundbreaking study will document the barriers and facilitators to applying the ADA within the child welfare system through telephone interviews with a national sample of child welfare workers, attorneys, and disabled parents.”

Powell will work with Lurie Institute Interim Director Monika Mitra.

Senior Research Associate Jessica Santos, PhD’15, Institute on Assets and Social Policy: “An Intersectional Analysis of Employment Inequities in Healthcare.”

From her proposal: “Stagnant wages and a lack of career ladders in healthcare prevent many low-wage workers from achieving financial security. We will conduct a sector-specific, mixed-method analysis of employment inequities in healthcare. Findings will elaborate key mechanisms that prevent low wage healthcare workers, women, and people of color from building wealth through work.”

Santos will work with Research Associate Sara Chaganti, PhD'18.