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2021 Grant Recipients

ESRN Partnership Awards

Partnership Development Awards provide funding to support project development where awardees focus on building relationships, identifying key stakeholders, determining research questions that are relevant to the community and how the research can positively impact the community. This award provides an opportunity for awardee's to prepare for future funding applications including the ESRN Pilot Award and other research grants.

  • Inclusive Educational Engagement

    Crystal Sieger, Ph. D., Associate Professor and Coordinator of Music Education, University of Wyoming; Lauren Hulit, Music Teacher, Rawlins Elementary K-1 Campus, Carbon County School District No. 1

    Dr. Sieger and Ms. Hulit will work together with Rawlins/Carbon County community members to present a series of classes designed to provide a more inclusive music education to students with disabilities. These interactive classes will focus on multi-sensory learning and will utilize adaptive music technologies to increase engagement.

    A goal of the research increased understanding within the community, where members are encouraged to be open-minded and to provide input to the researchers regarding their students’ engagement in multi-sensory music learning and the effectiveness of the strategies employed. Researchers hope to develop a model relationship between the UW music education program and school districts to benefit students with disabilities and to prepare future music educators to better serve their needs.

  • Wyoming Disability Oral History Project: Archiving De/institutionalization

    Dr. Erin Bush, Associate Professor, University of Wyoming Division of Communication Disorders;  Dr. Sandy Leotti, Assistant Professor, UW Division of Social Work; Dr. Michelle Jarman, Associate Professor, UW Disability Studies

    Our research project seeks to investigate the long history of Wyoming Life Resource Center, from the early decades as a state training school, through deinstitutionalization, to its current incarnation as a healthcare facility for people with significant disabilities and complex support needs. Through documenting the history of the institution as well as its current transformation we aim to bring the history of deinstitutionalization to light through archival research and contemporary oral histories.

    Through this project, our aim is to develop a partnership not only with the WLRC, but with former residents, families, community members, and other stakeholders in order to document a multilayered history of the institution and its connections to residents, staff members, families, communities, and the state of Wyoming. We hope to identify health and other disparities that have been produced through the process of deinstitutionalization and community reintegration in rural communities.

  • Partnership Development & Needs Assessment to Identify & Address Mental Health Needs of Justice-Involved Juveniles

    Robin Barry, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology; Narina Nuñez, Ph.D, Professor of Psychology; and members of the Albany County Juvenile Services Board

    The goal of this project is to develop a partnership between University of Wyoming Psychology faculty and the Albany County Juvenile Services Board (ACJSB) to enhance the evidence-based mental health services for justice-involved juveniles in Albany County, Wyoming. University of Wyoming Psychology faculty will bring clinical and research expertise to the partnership and members of the ACJSB will provide knowledge of and access to justice-involved juveniles and their families in Albany County. Outcomes of the partnership development will be an assessment and documentation of specific needs of justice-involved juveniles in Albany County and the community-based and legal stakeholders that work with justice-involved juveniles in the county.

ESRN Pilot Awards

Pilot Awards provide funding to support the develop and implementation of innovative research that identifies and addresses community health challenges.

  • Patients with Disabilities Perspectives of Wyoming Healthcare Services

    Dr. Michelle L. Blakely, Assistant Professor of Social & Administrative Pharmacy, University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy; Deb Anderson, CPHIMS, HIT/QI Consultant, Mountain-Pacific Quality Health

    This project will utilize qualitative research methods to assess patients with disabilities perspectives of healthcare services in Wyoming. Potential outcomes include patient perspectives regarding what works, what doesn’t work, as well as the identification of areas where improvements can be made. Barriers and facilitators to healthcare interactions between patients with disabilities and healthcare providers will also be explored. The results of this project will be used in the development of effective strategies to address identified weaknesses/deficiencies and improve the provision of healthcare services in Wyoming for patients with disabilities.

  • Grow Our Own 307

    Darrah Perez-Good Voice Elk, Co-Founder/Executive Director of Wind River Grow Our Own 307; Deneica Barrett, Co-founder of Wind River Grow Our Own 307; Christine Porter, Collaborative Researcher from the University of Wyoming; Melvin Arthur, Collaborative Research Assistant from the University of Wyoming; Dana Hinkle, Grow Our Own Master Gardener; Reno Quiver, Americorps Vista; Conrad Tillman, Americorps Vista

    Grow Our Own started on the Wind River Reservation because of Coronavirus. "We were seeing grocery store shelves go bare," Co-Founder Darrah Perez-Good Voice Elk said. "We had to do something," the other Co-Founder Deneica Barrett said.

    Together these ladies got together with a small group of friends and with social media and technology they stayed in touch with the community. Over time the word got out and with the help of private donors and public funds the organization a year later are awarded the Equality State Research Network grant for health disparities. With the grant money the crew provided the Wind River Reservation community with 75 Earth Boxes to give an introduction to gardening. Majority of Wind River's community are first time gardeners.

    The next steps will be utilizing Researchers Melvin Arthur and Christine Porter to capture individual gardening stories from gardeners of the Wind River Reservation. Through film and media, and with film student Byron Good Voice Elk, the team will develop a storyboard of culture, tradition, and the awakening of ancestral knowledge.

  • Wyoming Voices Project

    Alyssa Wechsler Duba, Powder River Basin Resource Council, Executive Director; Michele Irwin, Powder River Basin Resource Council, Southwest Wyoming Organizer, Project Coordinator; Dr. Rachael Budowle, University of Wyoming Assistant Professor, Community Resilience and Sustainability

    Wyoming Voices is a collaboration between the non-profit organization Powder River Basin Resource Council and University of Wyoming researchers. The project aims to examine digital storytelling as a novel approach to identify and design community-based participatory research (CBPR) interventions for community wellbeing and health. Wyoming communities are experiencing interrelated wellbeing challenges, including the energy transition, COVID-19 pandemic, and economic crisis. Through digital storytelling, we hope to identify patient- or person-centered outcomes and approaches, specifically those related to the health and wellbeing implications of community-wide job loss, economic and energy transition, or other resilience challenges.,,

Ongoing Research

Tele-rehabilitation Through Real-time User Interaction and Motion Tracking in 3D Immersive Virtual Reality

Tele-rehabilitation delivers rehabilitative healthcare remotely to overcome spatial, temporal and economic barriers, helping eliminate health disparities. The emerging effectiveness of telerehabilitation has been seen for patients with orthopedic injuries and survivors from traumatic, degenerative and cardiovascular diseases of the central nerve system (CNS). The current technology for telerehabilitation is limited to audio- or video- based interaction without an objective and accurate measure of motor functions. Such a technological limitation prevents the delivery of precision medicine and largely constrains the efficacy and potential of telerehabilitation.

Dr. Qin Zhu Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health, University of Wyoming is conducting a study building an interactive tele-rehab system that is patient-centered with augmented feedback and tele-presence of therapist to assist rehabilitative exercises in both real and virtual environment. This new paradigm of tele-rehabilitation is expected to increase the patient adherence to therapy and minimize the existing health disparity. 


Currently, we are reaching out to primary care clinicians, staff, early childhood centers, and other community members who would like to be part of this process of inquiry. Please let us know if you are interested in receiving more information about the Equality State Research Network.

Contact us for more information, or if you would like to become a partner with the network.

Project Proposal Submissions for the network

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