COVID-19 Research to Action Seed Grant Awards

The Boston University Initiative on Cities (IOC) is proud to announce the recipients of its COVID-19 Urban Research-to-Action call for proposals. Five faculty-led teams will receive seed grant awards to help catalyze new research focused on understanding and addressing the disproportionate impacts the COVID-19 pandemic is having on marginalized urban residents. Selected teams represent the BU College of Arts & Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Public Health, School of Social Work, and Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

Race, Place, and Policing During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Multi-City Study
PI: Jessica T. Simes, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, BU College of Arts & Sciences (CAS)
Co-PI: Jaquelyn L. Jahn; Visiting Scholar, Department of Sociology, CAS

Simes and Jahn will examine if and how COVID-19 has changed low-level policing—which includes enforcement and arrests based on quality-of-life offenses such as disorderly conduct, property damage, unauthorized public gathering, or trespassing—in eight U.S. cities, particularly with regard to the racial inequities in rates of police-initiated interactions. Learn more.

From the Pediatric Frontlines: Basic Needs, Access to COVID19 Supports & Equity Among Families with Young Children in the Boston Area
PI: Megan Sandel, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, BU School of Medicine (BUSM), and  Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Health, BU School of Public Health (SPH)
Co-PI: Deborah A. Frank, MD, Professor in Child Health and Well-Being, Department of Pediatrics, BUSM, and Assistant Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, SPH

Sandel and Frank, in collaboration with Children’s HealthWatch, will study the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on families of young children that seek pediatric care at Boston Medical Center, with a focus on immigrant families and families of color. It will examine if housing insecurity, food insecurity, economic hardships, and poor child and parent health have increased since the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more.

The “Aging Disaster” of COVID19: The Association of Social Isolation and Loneliness to Perceived Health, Psychological Wellbeing, and Material Hardship Among Boston Residents Age 60 and Older
PI: Judith Gonyea, Professor, BU School of Social Work (BUSSW) 
Co-PI: Arden O’Donnell, PhD Student, BUSSW

Gonyea and O’Donnell, in collaboration with the City of Boston’s Age Strong Commission, seek to understand the experiences of Boston residents age 60 and older during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will examine how stay at home directives have impacted elderly residents’ sense of isolation, loneliness, perceived health, psychological wellbeing, and material hardship, as well strategies to maintain social connections. Learn more.

Assessing City Health Care Workers’ SARS-CoV2 Transmission to Families
PI: Diana Ceballos, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health, BU School of Public Health (SPH). 
Co-PIs: Jessica Leibler, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health, SPH; and Jennifer Greif Green, Associate Professor, Special Education Program, BU Wheelock College of Education & Human Development

Cebballos, Leibler, and Green seek to understand whether healthcare workers are inadvertently exposing their families and household members to COVID-19, and if so, how they are exposing them. Surveying healthcare workers at Boston Medical Center, the study will explore differences between higher-income healthcare workers and lower-income workers, such as custodial staff, food service workers, and other hospital support staff. It will also pilot an interactive online training on effective mitigation measures. Learn more.

How Are Cities Responding to the COVID-19 Housing Crisis?
PI: Katherine Levine Einstein, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, BU College of Arts & Sciences (CAS)
Co-PI: Maxwell Palmer, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Sciences, CAS

Einstein and Palmer will examine the patchwork of housing policies created in response to the COVID-19 crisis for the 150 largest cities in the United States and for the 101 member communities of the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. They seek to understand which policies are most successful, what factors predict how and in what ways cities have responded, and who is helped by such programs. Working in partnership with the Citizens’ Housing & Planning Association (CHAPA), they will help disseminate information about available housing assistance to local government agencies and residents in Massachusetts who are most in need. Learn more.