NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies has announced the recipients of its annual Research and Creative Activity grants. The RCA grant program was created to help support the initial research efforts of SFA faculty members and to help prepare them and their research for submission to national grant programs.

The Division of Academic Affairs and ORGS conduct a university-wide call for proposals, and the deadline for submissions is typically the end of October. The University Research Council conducts a blind peer review of all applications. Grantees are notified early in the spring semester. Projects are funded through the remainder of the fiscal year. 

This year ORGS received seven applications. The council selected four recipients. 

2022 Research and Creative Activity Grants:

Dr. Jaime Flowers – Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership, James I. Perkins College of Education
Development of an Adult Social Skills Rating Scale

Autistic adults are currently an underserved population. Social skills deficits are a common symptom of autism spectrum disorders, known as ASD. Adult social skills are an understudied area. Assessment and intervention research are primarily focused on autistic children. There is a large body of research on children and adolescents’ social skills, covering theory, assessment and intervention. But when looking at adults, the research on social skills falls short. To further treatment for adult social skills deficits, a specific social skills assessment tool for adults is needed. The purpose of this project is to norm the Adults Social Skills Rating Scale and determine if it has adequate validity for research and clinical practice.

Dr. John Brannon Gary – Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Sciences and Mathematics
Developing Design Principles for Reox Noninnocence Ligands using Multireference Computational Techniques

Chemists often use transition metals to catalyze chemical reactions. The metals typically used are expensive and rare, such as platinum, palladium, rhodium and iridium. In contrast, nature uses cheap and abundant metals, such as iron, manganese, copper and zinc, in enzymes to perform similar chemical transformations. In order to use cheap metals, nature uses strategies to pair multiple metal sites to perform complex chemical transformations. This proposal aims to use computer modeling to understand what allows metal sites to cooperate to perform complex chemistry. With this understanding, chemists will have design principles to develop better and cheaper catalysts in the future.

Lauren Selden – School of Art, College of Fine Arts
Breaking Out of Isolation: Attending Residencies to Make New Art

The RCA grant will cover the costs of travel and materials associated with attending two competitive artist residencies, one international and one national. This summer, Lauren Selden will be spending a month at the internationally competitive studio residency program at Fiskars AiR in Fiskars, Finland, where international craftspeople, designers, visual artists, architects, industrial designers, performing artists, composers, musicians, curators, producers, journalists, writers and researchers compete for available research and studio space. Fiskars Village is a historic blacksmithing community that has become a contemporary art village. With Selden's metalworking, sculpture, jewelry and blacksmithing backgrounds, Fiskars provides an ideal location and opportunity to expand her artistic body of work. Alongside 14 mid-career professional artists from across North America, she will also attend a retreat at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. These artists have become a professional network providing creative opportunities similar to that of an arts collective. Travel has served as a critical component to Selden's art practice and is often the creative engine needed for designing, drafting and creating new original works. This grant will provide the necessary time and space to create new work.

Dr. Jianjun Zheng – Department of Computer Science, College of Sciences and Mathematics
Investigation on Security and Privacy Risks of Self-Disclosure on Social Networking Sites during COVID-19 Pandemic

Social networking sites contain a large amount of information that has been self-disclosed by users around the world. Some information is sensitive and private and can be used by hackers to launch social engineering attacks against the user or the company for which the user works. Due to the physical restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, more people turned to social media to stay connected with each other. They spent more time on social media and disclosed much more information than they did before the pandemic. This work develops an automated tool to collect and analyze publicly accessible data from Twitter to investigate the impact of the pandemic on the disclosed sensitive information. This work also studies the potential security risks and privacy concerns brought about by the disclosed information.