Penn Global Research & Engagement Grant Program, Global Grants Penn Global Awards Over $1 Million to Advance Global Faculty Research Initiatives at Penn

April 5, 2022
By Penn Global Initiatives

Penn Global is delighted to announce it will support 21 new faculty-led research and engagement projects at a total funding level of $1.2 million. The Penn Global Research and Engagement Grant Program prioritizes projects that bring together leading scholars and practitioners across the University community and beyond to develop new insight on significant global issues in key countries and regions around the world, a core pillar of Penn’s global strategic framework. Launching these projects this year is also integral to the University’s commitment to reengage a post-pandemic world.  

Of the 21 projects, eleven will receive support from the new Holman Africa Research and Engagement Fund (HAREF). The fund was created in 2021 as part of the Holman Africa Initiative following a $5 million gift from Wendy Holman, W’97 and Wayne Holman to expand financial aid for students and advance actionable research and partnership opportunities in Africa. These eleven projects will support a broad range of activities across the region, including a new fellowship for international development scholars from sub-Saharan Africa; a book that explores West African communities’ perception of India and its cultures; and a research project that addresses the health and environmental benefits of clean cookstoves in East Africa.  

“The range and reach of this first cohort of HAREF projects are impressive,” says Ezekiel Emanuel, vice provost for global initiatives. “Penn faculty have long been doing critical work in and on Africa. The Holmans’ gift enables Penn to consolidate and advance these efforts under a single University-wide initiative. This is an important first step toward making Penn the leading university in the United States for impactful engagement with Africa.”

Projects will also engage India, China, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and beyond, with several projects simultaneously engaging multiple parts of the world. Projects’ disciplinary foci span the humanities, social sciences, and natural and applied sciences, and over a third examine dimensions of climate change or climate justice in a global context. Additional topics explored include sustainable agriculture models, livestock health and wellbeing, labor market participation and behavior, vaccine attitudes, school leadership and capacity building, and artificial intelligence.

“These awards represent Penn’s commitment to global engagement as a critical part of the University’s research, teaching, and service missions,” says Penn Global’s Director of Strategic Initiatives Scott Moore, who oversees the grant program. “We are especially excited to support several multi-region projects, which will help Penn enhance its contributions to understanding and addressing critical global issues, including climate change, public health, and emerging technologies.”

Faculty awardees are primarily affiliated with eight of Penn’s 12 Schools, with over half based in the School of Arts and Sciences. Remaining Penn Schools represented include Dental, Design, Education, Engineering, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, and Wharton.

Penn Global relaunched its competitive research and engagement grant program in Fall 2021, after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Penn Global welcomed proposals from Penn faculty across all disciplines and fields of study, with an optional special focus on climate change and climate justice in a global context. The grant program consists of the Global Engagement Fund, China and India Research and Engagement Funds, and the new Holman Africa Research and Engagement Fund. Penn Global will host a symposium on April 27th at Perry World House to introduce the new projects supported by the grant program.

The following projects were selected for support from a Penn Global Research and Engagement Grant in 2022:


  1. Enchanted Geography: India in the West African Popular Imagination
    David Amponsah, School of Arts & Sciences

  2. Global Lives of Medicines: Materials, Markets, and Healing Practices across Asia
    Hsiao-Wen Cheng, School of Arts & Sciences

  3. Sighting Black Girlhood in Philadelphia, Jamaica, and South Africa
    Deborah Thomas, School of Arts & Sciences

  4. Migrant Associations in Sicily: Growing Capacity for Co-Development
    Domenic Vitiello, Weitzman School of Design 

  5. Mega-Eco: Best Practice for Implementing Large-scale Nature-based Solutions
    Richard Weller, Weitzman School of Design


  1. PENN/UNILAG Collaboration on Racial Disparities in Ameloblastoma Recurrence
    Sunday Akintoye, School of Dental Medicine

  2. Local Histories of Climate Change in the Horn of Africa
    Lee Cassanelli, School of Arts and Sciences

  3. Penn Development Research Institute (PDRI) Fellowship for African scholars
    Guy Grossman, School of Arts & Sciences

  4. Gambia Goat Dairy: A One-Health Teaching and Research Initiative
    Tom Parsons / Brianna Parsons, School of Veterinary Medicine

  5. African Dark Earths: Climate Mitigation and Sustainable Agriculture
    Alain Plante, School of Arts & Sciences

  6. Health and Environmental Benefits of Improved Cookstoves
    Susanna Berkouwer, The Wharton School

  7. Leveraging Early Adolescence for Development (LEAP) in Ghana
    Sharon Wolf, Graduate School of Education


  1. Computational Social Listening of Vaccine Attitudes in India to Increase Provider Efficacy
    Sharath Chandra Guntuku, School of Engineering and Applied Science

  2. Using Computer Vision to Improve Sustainability of Chinese Pig Farmers
    Tom Parsons, School of Veterinary Medicine

  3. Building the Habit of Regular Labor Supply in the Informal Market
    Heather Schofield, The Wharton School / Perelman School of Medicine

  4. Kerala Maritime Communities Project
    Thomas Tartaron, School of Arts & Sciences

  5. Understanding India’s Urban Future
    Tariq Thachil, School of Arts & Sciences / Center for the Advanced Study of India

  6. Climate, Schooling and Learning in Rural India: A Mixed Method Study
    Amrit Thapa, Graduate School of Education


  1. Pivoting a Profession: School Leadership Formation Across the Americas 
    Michael Johanek, Graduate School of Education

  2. Water Rights at the interface of New Constitutionalism, Climate Change, and Extractivism in Latin America
    Kristina Lyons, School of Arts & Sciences

  3. Galapagos Climate Change Adaptation Americas
    Michael Weisberg, School of Arts & Sciences / Perry World House

Learn more about the 2022 cohort of projects supported by the Penn Global Research and Engagement Grant Program.

Penn Global Research & Engagement Grant Program
2022 Launch Symposium

On Wednesday, April 27, 2022 at Perry World House, join Penn Global for its annual symposium to learn about the projects supported by the Penn Global Research and Engagement Grant Program. The program will run from 1-5 PM, followed by a reception. All members of the University community are welcome to attend. Advance registration is strongly encouraged.

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