A documentary delving into the Deaf history of New York City (described in ASL in the above video), a survey of Gallaudet’s Latine students, and a high-tech computer system that can help identify promising cancer drugs will receive funding through two new awards from the Office of Research. Created to support early-stage projects by faculty members and spur them onto results that could lead to external funding, the awards are divided into two categories:

-The Provost Research Excellence Award (between $10,000 and $39,999 for 11 months) focuses on the Gallaudet Promise Imperatives of (1) bilingual mission, (2) belonging and equity, and (3) innovation for impact. Proposals must show how these principles are woven into their research design.

-The President Research Excellence Award (between $40,000 and $50,000 for 11 months) asks for proposals that address grand challenges. This year’s challenge is “creating pathways to success for Gallaudet students and graduates.”

Dr. Tugba Kucukkal, an associate professor of chemistry in the School of Science, Technology, Accessibility, Mathematics, and Public Health, won the President Research Excellence Award for her plan to equip Gallaudet’s Drug Discovery Lab with a GPU-based High-Performance Computing system. Its enhanced mathematical computation capability means it can process massive amounts of data at high speeds. This acquisition is pivotal for the lab’s cancer research. “It will revolutionize the depth and scope of our investigations,” Kucukkal says.

In addition to furthering the lab’s research goals, the technology will provide new opportunities for students and graduates to explore careers in science, computation, and medicine. “Our lab is dedicated to creating a vibrant STEM career pipeline for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) individuals, fostering collaborations, and facilitating hands-on research experiences,” she adds. Exposure to the latest advances helps nurture an interest in these fields, and provides a boost when applying for programs and positions.

Five smiling people (one man and four women) sit at a white circular table.
From left to right, the members of the interdisciplinary team surveying DHH Latine students: Leticia Arellano, Dr. Franklin Torres, Dr. Deborah Schooler, Dr. Pilar Piñar, and Norma Morán.

DHH Latine students constitute 20 percent of Gallaudet’s current population, and the number of DHH Latine students is projected to grow nationwide. These statistics have inspired an examination of this group’s culture, language, and identity, which received one of two Provost Research Excellence Awards. Housed under Nuestra Casa — Gallaudet’s new Center for Latine Deaf Studies — the project is led by an interdisciplinary team including Nuestra Casa’s interim director, Norma Morán, and interim associate director, Leticia Arellano, ’94, as well as faculty members Dr. Franklin Torres, ’00 & G-’02, of the English Program, Dr. Deborah Schooler of the Psychology Program, and Dr. Pilar Piñar of the World Languages and Cultures Program.

The project will dig into DHH Latine students’ relationships with their heritage languages and cultures through an online questionnaire and in-depth interviews probing how their background shapes their identities, social lives and academic choices. These can be especially complex issues for DHH Latine students, who may traverse the borders of multiple cultures while negotiating between multiple signed and spoken languages.

The team’s goal is to generate more interest in research on the history, the linguistic backgrounds, the cultures, and the academic needs of this group of students. Identifying Gallaudet’s curricular assets and gaps pertaining to their diverse backgrounds is an important step toward improving their university experience, increasing their retention, and promoting their success on campus and beyond.

The other Provost Research Excellence Award went to Dr. Brian Greenwald, director of the Drs. John S. & Betty J. Schuchman Deaf Documentary Center, and his colleague Dr. Jannelle Legg, for a project promoting “Deaf City.” The feature-length film will draw from over 40 interviews with Deaf New Yorkers that were collected through research made possible by a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant (Grant ZH-252962).

Through footage of this diverse group of subjects, representing all five boroughs, the Schuchman Center plans to explore the unique benefits and challenges of Deaf urban life. “These cultural narratives offer insight on historic and contemporary community values that are not transmitted within biological families, but in schools, clubs, and places where Deaf people gather,” Greenwald says. “The subways, streets, restaurants, and apartment buildings of New York are embedded with a rich history of Deaf experience, which this documentary will uncover.”

Producing a film requires extensive resources, which is why the Schuchman Center will use the award to develop bilingual materials necessary for “Deaf City” to secure additional grant funding. If successful, this will mark a major breakthrough in documentary broadcasting, Greenwald says.

Recent News

Stay up to date on all the gallaudet happenings, both stories, and initiatives, we are doing with our Signing community!