Seed Funding 2010

Youth-Nex has awarded funding to five teams of researchers who will study a range of issues from literature training with incarcerated juvenile delinquents to supporting food and exercise counseling for overweight and obese children.

Supporting Food and Exercise Counseling for Overweight and Obese Children

PIs: Stephanie Guerlain, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Systems and Information Engineering & Martha Hellems, M.D., M.S., Associate Professor of Pediatrics and General Pediatrics

We will finalize and evaluate a technical solution to extend the services provided at the University of Virginia (U.Va.) Children’s Fitness Clinic (CFC) via an interactive website that includes health education, health progress and the capability to receive daily text messages from their patients.  The motivation for this automation is three-fold.  We hypothesize that such a system will 1) increase the patients’ interest and drive to consistently and more accurately report their daily food intake, mood and activity, 2) increase the amount of information exchange between the patients and their counselors between CFC visits, 3) shift clinician time during CFC sessions from “data gathering” activities to “counseling” activities, 4) be a feasible and useful alternative to paper logs for at least 25% of patients in the target age group, and 5) lead to longer patient retention in the CFC program.


Eckardt, R., Carwile, E., Cassi, M., Hart, D., Hoffberg, S., Wang, J., & Guerlain, S. (2011). Design of a personalized health record application to support food and exercise counseling for overweight and obese children2011 IEEE Systems and Information Engineering Design Symposium (pp. 1-5). Charlottesville, VA.

Olson, A. J., Bond, M. R., Aspinall, B. S., Williams, B. D., Stoecher, E. K., Wang, J., Hellems, M., & Guerlain, S. (2010). Supporting food and exercise monitoring for overweight and obese children2010 IEEE Systems and Information Engineering Design Symposium (pp. 233-238). Charlottesville, VA.

Improving Nutrition and Exercise Competence in Obese Schoolchildren via SALUD

PIs: Amy Boitnott, Ph.D., Instructor of Nursing, School of Nursing & Mark DeBoer, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

In addition to affecting the health and longevity of the current generation of children, obesity has significant developmental implications for children. Obese children have been found to have a lower level of competency (i.e., expectancy of success) related to physical activity and nutrition compared to normal weight children, and these issues are exacerbated among children of lower socio-economic status (SES). These are significant problems because 32 percent of children nationally and 38 percent of children in the Charlottesville area are overweight (body mass index (BMI) 85-95 percentile) or obese (BMI greater than 95 percentile) — findings that are again more common among children in lower SES, as well as in minority ethnic groups. While it is known that the family unit has critical importance for achieving weight loss in children, it is less clear what the differential roles are of parental and child beliefs and behaviors.

It is our thesis that improvements in childhood overweight/obesity status will be best achieved by targeting the expectancies for success and value toward healthy behaviors of parents and children.

We will undergo a community-based intervention to assess competency for physical activity and nutrition among children in the Southwood Mobile Home Park in the Charlottesville area. We aim to demonstrate efficacy in improved competence and improved weight outcomes in children living in low-income communities.


Charlottesville's CBS channel 19 features SALUD.

Spring 2012 Youth-Nex Works in Progress presentation on preliminary findings (Works in Progress Archive). AUDIO 1 & AUDIO 2 & SLIDES.

Vascular Disease in Adolescent Type 1 Diabetic (DM1) Subjects

PI: Eugene Barrett, M.D., PH.D., Professor of Medicine

Life-limiting atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease begins in children with DM 1 as evidenced by several types of pre-atherosclerotic vascular dysfunction. Hyperglycemia alone is unlikely to account for this accelerated atherosclerosis. It may be that activity is one protective factor that could make a vital difference. This study will pilot test whether dietary and activity behaviors contribute to the risk for early vascular dysfunction in DM1 and to begin to address whether interventions, which can be lifelong, can prevent or reverse early vascular disease.


Study record listing on NIH's Clinical Trials website.

Statutory Rape or ‘Normal’ Teen Love?

PI: N. Dickon Reppucci, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology

The production of legal responses to try to protect youth from sexual predators has spawned vexing legal and social issues related to adolescent relationships. In many cases sexual activity between an adolescent and their near same-age partner could result in classification as a sex offender. There is dire need for illumination about the developmental and social issues that affect and are affected by the intersection of youth and sexuality in this legal context. This support provides an opportunity to being shedding some light on this controversial but important issue. The planned effort seeks to address teens’ and young adults’ comprehension and perception of existing laws; to understand parents’ or guardians’ perceptions and knowledge of statutory rape laws; and adolescents’ competence to consent to sex.


Oudekerk, B. A., Farr, R. H., & Reppucci, N. D. (2013). Is it love or sexual abuse? Young adults' perceptions of statutory rape. Journal of child sexual abuse22(7), 858–877.

Fall 2011 Youth-Nex Works in Progress presentation on preliminary findings (Works in Progress Archive). AUDIO 1 & AUDIO 2 & SLIDES

Motivating Youth Through the Humanities

PIs: Andrew D. Kaufman, Ph.D., Lecturer and Academic Community Engagement Faculty Fellow, Julian Connolly, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Slavic Languages and Literatures, & Roger C. Burket, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Chief, Developmental Disorders Section and Director, Child and Family Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences

The humanities have been slow to respond to growing skepticism in recent decades about their value in post-secondary education. “Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature, and Community Leadership” is an innovative, 12-month-old, format of humanities education that places undergraduates from U.Va. to work through literature training with incarcerated juvenile delinquents. Because of its unique format and approach, Books Behind Bars is challenging literature students at U.Va. to learn and grow in ways that are unusual for most literature courses, and it is thought to support positive development of the college students in a number of areas:

(1) Students gain a deeper more holistic understanding of literary texts.
(2) Students recognize that their acquisition of knowledge and skills has practical, “real-world” application.
(3) Students have a greater perception that the literature and learning activities are relevant to their own lives.
(4) Students are more engaged in the class and are therefore more motivated to do well in their studies.
(5) Students have a heightened sense of civic responsibility and as a result of this class are more likely to choose
courses and careers that have a community service component.
(6) Students feel a closer connection to their peers and to the residents at the partner sites, leading, in turn, to greater appreciation of the value of human connectedness in their other professional and personal relationships.

Funds will be used to conduct a pilot study of the Books Behind Bars program and will lay the necessary groundwork for funding applications seeking support for the larger-scale program and its evaluation in the near future. 


The Katie Couric Show featured the Youth-Nex seed-funded project. The show featured two segments (watch here).

The Washington Post: "Crime and Punishment: Juvenile offenders study Russian literature"

Richmond Times Dispatch: "From Russia, (and U.Va.), With Books"

The Daily Progress: "UVA Professor, in New Book, Encourages Giving 'War and Peace' a Chance"

With Good Reason: Listen to "Behind Bars"

Spring 2012 Youth-Nex Works in Progress presentation on preliminary findings (Works in Progress Archive). AUDIO (partial) & SLIDES.

Fall 2014 Youth-Nex Works in Profress presentation (Works in Progress Archive). AUDIO.

Past Seed Funding Projects

  • 2018

    See more details about the projects here.
    Press release about funded studies.

    Roots and Wings: Promoting Positive Youth Development and Educational Equity in Charlottesville Middle Schools through Integrated Music Programming
    PIs: Emily Morrison & Jessika Bottiani

    Engaging Conflict-affected Youth in Thailand’s Deep South for the Promotion of Peace and Wellbeing
    PI: Amanda Nguyen

    The Voice Project: Facilitating Youth Voice & Critical Social Analysis Among Black Boys in their Transition to High School
    PIs: Chauncey Smith & Daniel Fairley

    Evaluating the Impact of Youth-Police Dialogues on Police: A Seed Funding Proposal for Survey Development
    PIs: Rachel Wahl & Jessika Bottiani

  • 2012

    See more details about the projects and results here.
    Press release about funded studies on UVA Today and Curry's website.
    Original RFP.

    Impact of School Architecture on School Practices and Healthy Eating
    PIs: Matthew Trowbridge & Terry T-K Huang

    Promoting Positive Youth Development Through Homegrown Video Production
    PIs: Michael J. Kennedy & Dewey G. Cornell

    Engaging Students in Environmental Service: Development and Early Phase Research on a Community Service Learning Intervention
    PI: Sara E. Rimm-Kaufman Co-Investigator: Eileen Merritt

    Understanding and Supporting Safe Driving of ADHD Teenagers with Auditory Feedback
    PI: Nathan Ka Ching Lau Co-PI: Daniel J. Cox

  • 2011

    See more details about the projects and results here.
    Press release about funded studies.
    Original RFP.

    Reducing Risky Behaviors Associated With 21st Birthdays
    PI: Ellen J. Bass Co-PIs: Susan E. Bruce & Erik W. Gunderson

    The Role Executive Function Plays in the Driving-specific Risk Behaviors of Novice Drivers
    PI: Daniel J. Cox Co-Investigator: Ronald E. Reeve, Joseph P. Allen, John Sirard, Richard Warren, & Arthur L. Weltman

    Languages Across Borders (LAB): Building Positive Cross-Linguistic and Cross-Cultural Networks in High Schools
    PIs: Amanda K. Kibler, Allison Atteberry, Christine N. Hardigree, & April S. Salerno

    Reproductive Health Among Sexual Minority Youth
    PI: Charlotte J. Patterson

    A Study of Positive Youth Development Among High School Students
    PI: Joanna Lee Williams

  • 2010

    See more details about the projects and results here
    Press release about funded studies.

    Supporting Food and Exercise Counseling for Overweight and Obese Children
    PIs: Stephanie Guerlain & Martha Hellems

    Improving Nutrition and Exercise Competence in Obese Schoolchildren via SALUD
    PIs: Amy Boitnott & Mark DeBoer

    Vascular Disease in Adolescent Type 1 Diabetic (DM1) Subjects
    PI: Eugene Barrett

    Statutory Rape or ‘Normal’ Teen Love?
    PI: N. Dickon Reppucci

    Motivating Youth Through the Humanities
    PIs: Andrew D. Kaufman, Julian Connolly, & Roger C. Burket