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Source: David Procter, 785-532-6868,
Web sites:
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-6415,

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010


MANHATTAN -- Projects involving economic development, public health, increasing science education and preserving local histories are receiving Engagement Incentive Grants from Kansas State University's Center for Engagement and Community Development.

"The seven projects receiving grants are outstanding examples of our campus and Extension professionals working collaboratively with community partners to address significant issues facing Kansans," said David Procter, director of the Center for Engagement and Community Development. "Principal investigators for these grants represent the colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, Human Ecology, Education and Arts and Sciences, as well as K-State Research and Extension."

The projects include:

* "Why buy rural when I can get it on the way home" is a study on the perceptions of consumers regarding the purchase of grocery items from their rural grocery store, as opposed to picking up their fare from a large, one-stop-shop box chain store. The project will specifically look at why consumers do or do not choose to buy locally rather than stopping at a big chain grocery store as they travel home from an urban area. Principal investigators are Marcus Ashlock, assistant professor of communications; Christopher Lavergne, instructor of communications; and Ben Champion, director of sustainability at K-State.

* "Partnering with K-State Research and Extension to develop and disseminate a cognitive-behavioral program for physical activity" is a project to address the public health epidemic of obesity and preventable chronic disease through behavior modification programs for Kansas residents. A long-term goal of the project is to develop and empirically test two physical activity programs -- standard care vs. enhanced -- and disseminate the standard of care program to state residents through K-State Research and Extension family and consumer science agents. Principal investigators are Elizabeth Fallon, assistant professor of kinesiology; Sharolyn Fleming Jackson, instructor/Extension specialist, Northeast Area Extension Office; and Brandonn Harris, assistant professor of special education, counseling and student affairs.

* "Building community awareness and support for the Morland grocery project" involves K-State Research and Extension in Graham County in partnership with the Morland Community Foundation and the K-State department of agricultural economics on a research project to determine consumer attitudes toward the formation of a new community-owned grocery store in the Kansas community of Morland, which has a population of 150. Principal investigators are Chris Petty, Graham County Extension Office, and Leah Tsoodle, Extension associate in agricultural economics.

* "Increasing acceptance of food assistance Vision Cards among rural Kansas grocers" seeks to increase the use of food assistance by rural Kansans as well as acceptance of the Vision Card by grocers to improve the health of rural residents and increase the economic viability and sustainability of rural grocery stores. Principal investigator is Sandy Procter, assistant professor of human nutrition.

* "A probabilistic and network-based approach for the development of efficient epidemic-mitigation strategies for the city of Chanute" will use complex networks to model and analyze the spreading of an epidemic in the greater Chanute area, with special emphasis on the study of graph characteristics and dynamics, and their impact on the speed and direction of the epidemic. The research should provide policymakers with information to help them create better policies for mitigating outbreaks of infectious diseases. Principal investigators are Caterina Scoglio, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Pietro Poggi-Corradini, professor of mathematics; and Walter Schumm, professor of family studies and human services.

* "Filling the larder, feeding our families: A Chapman Center for Rural Studies' History is Now Project" is a collaborative effort to bring together student historians, food writing, local historical societies and residents of several small rural communities to document the cultural history of grocers and cooks from 1895-1945 in a book-length popular audience draft publication and a digital archive. Principal investigators include Bonnie Lynn Sherow, associate professor of history; M.J. Morgan, adjunct professor of history; and Jane Marshall, assistant instructor, department of hospitality management and dietetics.

* "Earthworms across Kansas: A citizen science approach to an invasive species survey" will involve community members as citizen scientists in a large-scale survey of earthworms throughout Kansas. The project's goal is assessing the geographic extent of an invasive species of earthworms. Science students and teachers at the middle school and high school levels will be recruited and trained as scientists for the study. The earthworms will be identified and the specimen identifications will be posted on a publicly accessible Web site. Principal investigator is Bruce Snyder, instructor of biology.