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Identifying Challenges and Opportunities for Designing Culturally Relevant Behavioral mHealth Interventions for Hopi Youth

$5K over one year

In this project, we will work with the Hopi Youth Opportunity Initiative to employ a Participatory Action Research approach to answer the following research questions: (i) How are behavioral mHealth apps perceived by Hopi youth and community stakeholders with respect to cultural relevance? and (ii) How do existing mHealth apps align with or deviate from Hopi values? We will start by conducting a series of focus groups and interviews with Hopi youth and community stakeholders centered on participants’ perspectives on and experiences with existing behavioral mHealth apps. In particular, we will focus on having participants discuss how existing behavioral mHealth interventions align with, deviate from, or ignore their cultural values. We will use a grounded theory approach to identify common themes surrounding Hopi perspectives on the design of behavioral mHealth apps. Using the common themes as a framework, we will survey existing behavioral mHealth apps and identify how they succeed or fail to be culturally relevant to NA youth and their larger support networks. Importantly, this survey will enable future interdisciplinary teams to co-design more effective mHealth interventions.

Maxwell-Lutz Community Impact Research Award

PuebloConnect: Expanding Internet Access and Content Relevance in Tribal Communities

$2M over three years


The project is a collaboration led by Elizabeth Belding (UC Santa Barbara) and in partnership with Marisa Duarte (Arizona State),  Ellen Zegura (Georgia Tech) and Jennifer Nevarez (Community Learning Network). 


The project addresses the dual goal of improving Internet access through innovative network architectures designed for underserved or technologically and economically marginalized communities, while also creating social structures to build local capacity toward regular digital content creation.  The work will support Internet connectivity and education for Native American communities in Northern New Mexico, which have some of the lowest Internet access and usage rates amongst all U.S. ethnic groups.  To solve Internet access and content relevance challenges in these communities, PuebloConnect re-envisions Internet deployment and provisioning through the combination, interaction, and innovation of middle and last mile technologies.  As a part of this project, the team will work with local partners to deploy, measure, and study TV white space spectrum access links to points within the communities.  To ensure the relevance and success of innovative technical solutions, the team will use iterative participatory action research, in which community members are engaged in the planning, implementation, and dissemination of the work.

ARORA: Using Augmented Reality to Gamify a Universal Social Learning Intervention

$60K over two years

Based on recent research that investigates scalable behavioral health interventions and therapeutic best practices for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth and adolescents, we propose ARORA, a mobile phone application that guides users through activities that are designed to develop resiliency through coping skills, social skills, and a sense of strength. The activities used in ARORA are introduced to users as part of a game where users interact with each other, their physical environment, and augmented reality objects—computer sounds and graphics that appear as if they are present with users in the real world[1]. Importantly, we will work with a community advisory board (CAB) of AI/AN behavioral health professionals, educators, and community leaders to ensure that the activities and the visualizations for the pilot version of ARORA are culturally relevant and appropriate. In order to ensure that ARORA is usable even in communities that have poor or no Internet access, we also plan to develop a prototype of a community hosted version of the ARORA software that can operate over a local area WiFi or cellular network (i.e., 5G or small-scale LTE). 

Southwestern Health Equity Research Collaborative Pilot Project Program

Deploying Small-scale LTE for Last-mile Internet Access in the Colorado Plateau

$40K over one year

This project is in collaboration with Mural Net, a non-profit NGO that seeks to bridge the homework gap in rural communities through the deployment of easy-to-manage, ready-to-deploy small-scale LTE ​networks that operate over the 2.5 GHz EBS spectrum. Dr. Vigil-Hayes has partnered with Mural Net to function as a point of presence for demonstrating a live version of the network, evaluating the learnability of system deployment and management, and for staging equipment used in proof-of-concept demonstrations. 

CC Regional: Sun Corridor Network – Arizona Community College Research Expansion

$690,708 over 2 years


The project is a collaboration between the Arizona Tri-state Universities led by Steven Burrell (Northern Arizona University).


The grant will address the planning, designing, and implementation of a campus research network to help Tribal Nations in regards to leveraging E-rate resources, closing the homework gap for students, healthcare, and research. NAU will work closely with Navajo Technical University (NTU) to expand wireless services and establish a sustainability model for regional and tribal campuses and propose to plan and create a dedicated network to support STEM and research via the development of a Science DMZ. Dr. Vigil-Hayes will be supporting this work by bringing her experience in deploying and evaluating wireless first-mile networks.

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