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Valpo Faculty Members Awarded 2020–2021 Wheat Ridge Ministries–O.P. Kretzmann Fund Research Grants

Four Valparaiso University professors will advance various areas related to physical, spiritual and mental health through innovative research in the upcoming academic year. Christina Cavinder ’14 DNP, John Fantuzzo, Ph.D., Danielle Orozco-Nunnelly ’07, Ph.D., and Jeff Pruet, Ph.D., are recipients of the 2020–2021 Wheat Ridge Ministries–O.P. Kretzmann Fund grants for Research in the Healing Arts and Sciences. Each project is awarded a $10,000 grant, providing Cavinder, Fantuzzo and Orozco-Nunnelly and Pruet the opportunity to conduct research and projects that will significantly contribute to society.

Cavinder, assistant professor of nursing, will evaluate if establishing low-stress care for premature infants can reduce changes in their DNA that cause long-term outcomes similar to those of PTSD. Cavinder is partnering with other nursing faculty to institute new, low-stress caring behaviors in multiple Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) in Northwest Indiana. Nursing students will also be given the opportunity to engage with the research as an example of the impact of evolving healthcare practices.

Fantuzzo, assistant professor of education, will continue his research in equality of opportunity through the lens of prison education. Fantuzzo’s research aims to design a prison education program that provides opportunity to better oneself without the stigmatization of incarceration or lack of previous education. This project will be in collaboration with the Indiana Department of Corrections to further develop the University’s commitment to regional engagement and educational advancement.

Orozco-Nunnelly, assistant professor of biology, and Pruet, assistant professor of chemistry, will work jointly on a project to explore innovative and alternative pathways that could serve as treatments for or protection from infectious diseases or cancers. The project will analyze plant-derived therapeutics as well as rational drug design to develop new molecules. This research will feature collaboration between the biology and chemistry departments, encouraging and strengthening Valpo’s value of interdisciplinary engagement.

The Wheat Ridge Ministries–O.P. Kretzmann Memorial Fund for Research in the Healing Arts and Sciences supports research that has practical applicability to physical, spiritual and mental health issues. Research proposals must demonstrate an analysis, diagnosis, or cure to their proposed issue while upholding the University’s core values and mission to prepare all students for lives of leadership, service and generosity.