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UW College of Arts and Sciences Funds Interdisciplinary Research

two people studying dig site
Jason Toohey is a member of a UW research group looking into Wyoming’s first coal town, Carbon. (UW Photo)

Research projects on Wyoming’s dual-language immersion programs and the state’s first coal town are among this year’s seed grant recipients from the University of Wyoming’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The annual funding from the dean’s office is awarded to interdisciplinary research or creative activities that involve faculty from two or more A&S departments, schools or programs. A total of 10 proposals were awarded financial backing this year.

Dual-Language Immersion (DLI)

A&S Professors Chelsea Escalante (Department of Modern and Classical Languages) and Cecelia Aragon (School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice; Department of Theatre and Dance) will team with the College of Education’s Cynthia Brock and Jenna Shim to explore one of the most successful educational models in promoting minority languages and closing achievement gaps among students of underrepresented backgrounds. Specifically, they will study pedagogical, curricular and administrative aspects of Wyoming’s Spanish DLI programs housed in school districts in Albany, Campbell, Natrona and Teton counties.

Through interviews, focus groups, questionnaires and classroom observations, they will study school administration and policies, teacher ideologies and language use, and the language varieties represented in curriculum/materials to better understand the dynamics of language and power within the DLI programs.

The results will have important implications not only for the continued development and improvement of Spanish DLI programs in the state and nation, but also will directly influence the development of a DLI program at Arapahoe and St. Stephen’s School on the Wind River Indian Reservation during the 2020-21 academic year.

First Coal Town

The Department of Anthropology’s Jason Toohey and Todd Surovell join the Department of History and American Studies’ Alexandra Kelly to focus on the town of Carbon. Located north of Elk Mountain in Carbon County, the settlement is considered Wyoming’s first coal town. Today, it's a large ghost town of wooden and stone ruins and artifacts on the surface. But, from 1868 until 1902, it was a bustling, multicultural city along the new transcontinental railway.

The group’s historical archaeological research focuses on the lives of the people of Carbon during its one-generation boom: how its ethnically varied citizens organized the community, interacted with one another and engaged with the wider world of the expanding American West. The multidisciplinary research will involve analysis of historical documents for the town as well as archaeological investigation, including drone-mapping, the systematic collection of artifact data from the site's surface and limited excavation in several areas of the site.

This project will focus on the large site of Carbon as a case study in the investigation of American expansion in the West; the multicultural nature of society and labor in the American West; and the beginnings of natural resource use, an industry that remains critical to the West.

woman pointing to information on papers
Cynthia Brock and three other UW professors are studying the state’s dual-language immersion program. (UW Photo)

Here’s a complete list of 2019-2020 A&S seed grant recipients:

Principal investigator: Hakima Bessaih (Mathematics and Statistics)

Co-principal investigators: Victor Ginting (Mathematics and Statistics) and Dario Grana (Geology and Geophysics)

Project: “Probabilistic Methods for Uncertainty Quantification in Subsurface Modeling of Natural Resources”

Chelsea Escalante (Modern and Classical Languages)

Cynthia Brock (College of Education), Cecelia Aragon (School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice/Theatre and Dance) and Jenna Shim (School of Teacher Education)

“Wyoming Dual-Language Immersion”

Scott Freng (Psychology)

Kim Schweitzer (Criminal Justice and Sociology)

“Mapping State-Level Prejudice Toward African Americans: Applying the Two-Dimensional Model”

Kathleen Frye (Visual and Literary Arts)

Andrew Wheelock (Music)

“Authentic Integration in Art and Music Education”

Caleb Hill (Chemistry)

Jifa Tian (Physics and Astronomy)

“Directly Mapping Photocurrents at Heterojunctions between 2D Materials”

Tiger Robison (Music)

Andrew Wheelock (Music), Karen Bartsch Estes (Psychology) and Daniel Fetsco (Criminal Justice and Sociology)

“Making Music with Mothers and Fathers in Prison: A Pilot Action Project”

Lauren Shoemaker (Botany)

Rongsong Liu (Mathematics and Statistics) and Joseph Mihaljevic (School of Informatics, Computing and Cyber Systems at Northern Arizona University)

“Applying Modern Coexistence Theory to Evaluate Human Papillomavirus Coexistence and the Efficacy of Vaccination Regimes”

Jifa Tian (Physics and Astronomy)

Brian Leonard (Chemistry) and John Ackerman (Chemical Engineering)

“Exploring Topological Superconductivity in 2M WS2 for Topological Quantum Computation”

Jason Toohey (Anthropology)

Alexandra Kelly (History and American Studies) and Todd Surovell (Anthropology)

“Late 19th Century Carbon City, Wyo.: An Interdisciplinary Investigation of Land use, Global Expansion and Capitalism in the American West”

Dave Williams (Botany)

Andy Parsekian (Geology and Geophysics) and Shannon Albeke (Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center)

“The Significance of Plant Water Storage in Desert Vegetation: Expanding the ‘puse-reserve’ paradigm”



Contact Us

Institutional Communications
Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2929

Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)