News and Updates for the Social Responsibilities for Researchers (SRR) program

Heather Forrest Fruscalzo creates popular podcast on the health and science of insect-borne diseases

Tv Logo

For her SRR project in Cohort 2 (2016-2017), Heather (Raven) Forrest Fruscalzo, Biology, started a blog and podcast.  The intent was to make available the latest scientific findings, as well as basic science background, on insect-borne communicable diseases – especially those viruses, like Zika, borne by mosquitos.  Raven saw an acute need for this given the widespread fear and confusion that the rise of Zika sparked among much of the public – and the fact that as a researcher in this area, friends and family would turn to her for answers.  She also hoped to give ordinary people a better sense of how science operates, including how it is funded and how scientists work together. In order to ensure that the content would be relevant to the people she was trying to serve, each podcast episode is addressed to answering a single listener-submitted question.  Moreover, it does this by carefully stepping through a published scientific paper. 

That formula has proved successful.  The podcast, Tiny Vampires, has recorded one episode per month for a total of 9 episodes to date, and attracted hundreds of subscribers.   

Besides its home site, the podcast is also available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio, and other places online.  Check it out and feel free to submit a question of your own for Raven to answer in an episode!  The podcast is also available in Spanish.  


Emily Maiden receives 2017 Fulbright and USAID/NDIGD Fellowships to study women’s rights in Malawi

Mponela Site Visit

Emily Maiden, Political Science and Peace Studies, was awarded a USAID/NDIGD Fellowship to support her trip to Malawi where she will conduct research on how to design and implement strategies for combatting child marriage.

She will also continue her SRR project, a survey designed to gauge women’s knowledge and awareness of their legal rights under the Malawian constitution, during her time there.  Emily has undertaken this work in collaboration with the South Bend based group Malawi Matters

Emily was also awarded a Fulbright Study/Research Award in 2017, and the year before that she was named a Mullen Family Fellow.  You can follow Emily’s work in Malawi at her blog,


Kristina Hook receives 2017 USAID/NDIGD Fellowship and other grants to study genocide memory in Ukraine

Kristina Hook, Anthropology and Peace Studies, was awarded a USAID/Notre Dame Global Development Fellowships to support a year of research in Kyiv, Ukraine on the historical memory of the Holodomor, the “man-made” famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1932-3.  During this year she will also pilot her SRR project materials, designed to train students in conducting interviews on traumatic subjects sensitively.

Kristina also received a Society for Applied Anthropology “Human Rights Defender" student conference travel award, as well as a research grant from the University of Alberta's Holodomor Research and Education Consortium at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies.  Last year Kristina was also awarded an NSF-GRFP to support this research.      

This makes two members of SRR’s second cohort who were awarded USAID/NDIGD Fellowships in the 2017-2018 academic year! 


Kristina Krasich to study moral implications of “mind wandering” at Duke Summer Seminars in Neuroscience and Philosophy


Kristina Krasich, Psychology, was accepted to the 2017 Summer Seminars in Neuroscience and Philosophy (SSNAP) program at Duke University, funded by The Templeton Foundation.

Kristina is collaborating with ND Philosophy graduate student Sam Murray to explore philosophical questions around the phenomenon of “mind wandering”.  For example, can we be held responsible for our actions when cognitive controls fail, and should we punish individuals who make mistakes while mind wandering? Kristina credits her experience in SRR for prompting her to recognize the important questions about moral agency that her research on mind wandering and cognitive control raises. 

At the conclusion of the program, Kristina’s and her collaborator’s project to investigate the relationship between mind wandering, prospective memory (remembering to do a future task), and moral agency was funded at $29,000!


Angie Lederach publishes Peace Studies paper on ethics of conducting peace research


Angie Lederach, Anthropology and Peace Studies, has published a paper on the ethical principles that should guide peace researchers whose work is conducted in areas of armed conflict.  After extensive discussion of research ethics in SRR, Angie realized that no such guide or principles yet existed for the field of peace studies despite the obvious ethical risks and ramifications of the work.  The article is entitled “Reflexivity, Responsibility and Reciprocity: Guiding Principles for Ethical Peace Research” and appeared in the 2016 issue of International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution.  

Earlier in 2016, Angie received both a Fulbright Fellowship and a USAID Fellowship to continue her research on youth peace-building movements in Columbia.


Maria Gibbs is improving footbridges in the developing world. 

Maria Gibbs 1b

For the 1 billion people who live in the walking world, impassable rivers can be major obstacles in access to healthcare, education and economic opportunities. Maria Gibbs, Civil Engineering, works with Bridges to Prosperity (B2P; to build footbridges in the developing world. Through the SRR program, Maria sought to improve her communication skills to better engage various stakeholder communities. She successfully lobbied the Technical Advisory Board and Engineering team of Bridges to Prosperity to participate in the development of a design tool which can be used by engineers to design long-span bridges that are safe in the wind. When the tool is complete, B2P will include it in their standardized footbridge design and in the open source footbridge design standard they publish. 


Victoria Makuru hosts a STEM boot camp in Tanzania.

Victoria Mukula 3

Victoria Makuru, Biology, organized a STEM boot camp in Tanzania in collaboration with ProjektInspire ( that aims to raise career awareness in youth and provide career consultancy. The boot camp lasted 4 days, from January 5-9, 2016 with 51 students in attendance, their ages ranging from 13 to 21. “As an organizer in the first boot camp,” Victoria explained, “I played part in forming the curriculum for the boot camp and facilitating other presenters and workshop leaders."

Students were divided into four groups. The biology group had an introduction to DNA and genetics and performed DNA extraction in the lab using readily available material. The chemistry group made soap and recycled paper. The engineering group designed a solar oven as well as assembled a drone. The technology group got an introduction to programming and mobile app creation.

In late 2016, Victoria recieved a Lisle Global Seed Grant in the amount of $3,000 to support this work, as well as an additional $500 from the Graduate School's Professional Development group.  


Josh Mason and Andrew Schranck

Josh Mason, co-founder of the Science Policy Initiative at Notre Dame

Josh Mason, biology, co-founded the Science Policy Initiative at Notre Dame, a student group working at the interface of science and public policy. “There is oftentimes a disconnect between scientists, the general public, and policy-makers, particularly in their inability to interact and communicate,” he says.  To bridge this gap, members of the Science Policy Initiation met with a local Congresswoman and Congressman from IN-8 and with an Indiana Senator’s staff. They sponsored a societal impact prize at the Northern Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair and participated in the National Science Policy Group Congressional Visits Day in Washington, DC in April 2016. 


Andrew Schranck engages high school chemistry students with engineering. 

Andrew Schranck, civil engineering, brought innovative engineering research topics to a high school chemistry class at the Career Academy South Bend using both lectures and a project based learning approach. “The project has been largely successful,” says Andrew. “It increased science literacy and interest in STEM. It also promoted the broader impacts of my research while raising awareness about global wastewater and energy issues.” During the five-part series students were challenged to learn complex science and engineering concepts presented in a way that was relevant to material of their existing curriculum. 


Rodolfo Capdevilla awarded Ganey Graduate Stipend



Rodolfo Capdevilla, a physics PhD student in the first SRR cohort, was awarded a Ganey Community-Based Research Graduate Stipend for the work associated with his SRR project. What began as a simple plan to build educational demonstrations of quantum physics has, through a partnership with QuarkNet, grown into a substantial outreach effort that also serves as STEM career recruitment.  The project will be delivered at three area high schools, and the materials disseminated nationally.  Accompanying assessments will track learning, engagement with STEM subjects and future career choices.  Don Howard, the PI of SRR, served as Rodolfo's mentor for this project.  


Maria Gibbs takes MAGS 3MT Championship

Follwing her wins at the university and local levels, Maria has now taken First Place at the regional Midwest Association of Graduate School (MAGS) 3MT competition!   Way to go, Maria! 

Multiple NSF GRFP winners from both cohorts of SRR

Francisco Pancho Fields

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is among the most prestigous awards NSF makes to graduate students.  The oldest fellowship of its kind, the award includes a substantial annual stipend as well as a tuition allowance.  NSF Fellows are expected to become experts who contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering. 

In the current SRR cohort, Francisco (Pancho) Fields of Biology has been awarded an NSF GRFP (pictured at right).  Andrew Schranck of Civil Engineering also received an Honorable Mention in the competition.  In the upcoming 2016 SRR cohort, Kristina Hook of Anthropology and Peace Studies and Heather Forrest-Fruscalzo of Biology have each been awarded NSF GRFPs!   Paige Ambord of Sociology also received an Honorable Mention. Read more about the award and see the complete list of ND awardees here. Congratulations to all!

Angie Lederach wins Fulbright Student Award

2015 SRR Cohort member Angie Lederach has been awarded a Fulbright Student Award for her dissertation research in Colombia.  Angie will research the role of intergenerational solidarity in a nonviolent peace movement — the Peaceful Movement of the Alta Montaña (Movimiento Pacífico de la Alta Montaña) — in Colombia.  Congratulations Angie!  

Maria Gibbs is ND 3MT Champion!


We are pleased to announce that 2015 SRR Cohort member Maria Gibbs has won the Notre Dame 3 Minute Thesis Finals Championship!  Maria will now represent Notre Dame in future rounds of the 3MT series competition.  In 3MT, doctoral students are given three minutes to give a compelling and concise yet informative presentation on their dissertation research.  Maria’s research concerns how to accurately model the aeroelasticity of footbridges in the developing world.  Her SRR project focused on how to share the results of this research with diverse stakeholders.  

Like all SRR students, Maria received training in communication and social impacts of research in SRR.  Fellow 2015 SRR Cohort member Josh Mason assisted in bringing the 3MT competition to Notre Dame.