3 UA Studies Are Tackling Some of Society’s Biggest Challenges

Monday, July 11, 2016

Discover how researchers are searching for better answers to problems facing our community.

Can you build affordable housing that’s also easy on the earth? What about reducing health disparities among Hispanics? Researchers at the University of Arizona are actively working to answer these questions and more.

Big Question: How do you build affordable homes that are also environmentally friendly?

A project led by UA College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture’s Drachman Institute is making huge strides toward answering this question. The Barrio Collaboration was born when the city of Tucson sent out a request for housing designs that were affordable, energy efficient and water smart. As part of the process, UA students attended local neighborhood meetings to connect with residents and learn about the social and economic concerns related to affordable housing. Perhaps most impressive, each home’s design was unique and yet researchers were able to keep purchase prices within range for families earning below 80 percent of the area’s median income. The project was recently awarded a SEED award for excellence in public interest design.

Big Question: How do you reduce health disparities among the Hispanic community?

Researchers in the College of Public Health have formed REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) and are working with communities in six states to combat this national issue. The group provides training on nutrition, physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight, while also helping the communities conduct assessments and develop action plans.

Big Question: What barriers do immigrant mothers face when seeking public benefits for their citizen children?

A study coming out of the Southwest Institute for Research on Women will be the first in Arizona to tackle this topic. It’s called the Immigrant Mothers with Citizen Children Pilot Research Project, and the answers it could give researchers are desperately needed as one-third of Arizona’s children have immigrant parents. The project will examine how current laws impact these kids’ access to public programs, if cultural barriers exist to using government benefits and whether social policies need to be revised to better serve this population.