Research, Creative Activities & Innovation > Chicago Connections > Connecting to Chicago Through Research

Connecting to Chicago Through Research

​​​​​Through a variety of initiatives—from volunteer projects, to research partnerships with local organizations and city agencies, to programs and events that integrate service and learning—our Chicago Connections serve as the bridge between the university and it's surrounding communities. In this section, you will find a sampling of projects in four themed areas that reflect our dedication to the city we call home.

Our faculty recognize that collaborating with our Chicago community in research is the foundation of improving both public health and health equity in the Chicago area. DePaul researchers collaborate with local and regional Chicago-based organizations, in addition to national organizations, to prevent disease and promote the health of entire communities through evidence-based practices and innovative programming.

Jason’s NIH-Funded Study Reveals Many Youth Living with Undiagnosed CFS
Many youth living with chronic fatigue syndrome have not been properly diagnosed, according to research from DePaul University and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Leonard A. Jason, a professor of psychology at DePaul, led a seven-year study to screen more than 10,000 children and teenagers in the Chicago area for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with a funding from the National Institutes of Health. Read more.

Simonovich Explores COVID-19 Nursing Practices
With funding from the Illinois Nurse’s Foundation and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society, College of Science and Health’s Shannon Simonovich is conducting an Examination of Nursing Practice during the COVID-19 Pandemic to both describe the experiences of nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic and to conduct a thematic analysis to better understand the long-term impacts of the pandemic on the nursing profession and implications for public health. Read more.

Mazzeo Examines Impacts of COVID-19 on Household Food Security
With funding from DePaul’s University Research Council, Anthropology Professor John Mazzeo is examining the impacts of COVID-19 on household food security, specifically the degree to which ethnic and racial minorities in Chicago are experiencing pandemic-related food insecurity and how impacted households are coping. A better understanding of food insecurity disparities is essential to fully understanding opportunities for effective solutions for at-risk populations.

Technology, computational thinking and data analytics have the potential to transform nearly every field. At DePaul, our faculty researchers in artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and data analytics are agents of change, connecting with the Chicago community to apply their skills to transform our city and promote social good.

Smart Tools to Address Learning Ecosystem
Dr. Sheena Erete’s project, funded by the National Science Foundation, takes a community-driven approach to evaluating the current out-of-school time (OST) learning ecosystem by bringing together key stakeholders and facilitating the conversation using interactive smart tools such as data visualizations and GIS maps, that layer community-based OST program, city, and demographic data. Resulting information from the study is expected to include an actionable framework consisting of policies, practices, funding models, and collaboration structures that support a smart, data-driven method to create equitable out-of-school learning opportunities for youth in resource-constrained communities in the city.

Data Analyses in Support of Housing and Community Development
Dr. Charles Wurtzebach and team are supporting the development of innovative data analyses that will raise awareness of emerging housing and community development challenges in Chicago neighborhoods with funding from the Polk Bros. Foundation. This grant will also support the development of data tools to connect this work to a broad range of housing and community development stakeholders.

DePaul Researchers Support Chicago's Racial Equity Rapid Response Task Force
A team of interdisciplinary researchers from DePaul including Drs. DeMaio, Follett and Smith from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and Drs. Furst, Montague, Raicu and Ustun from the College of Computing and Digital Media are using data analytics to support the City of Chicago's Racial Equity Rapid Response Task Force. The Task Force is an effort to reduce racial inequities in COVID-19 testing, case prevalence and deaths. Read more.

Feedback Tool Targets Patient and Physician Encounters
With funding from the National Science Foundation’s Human-Centered Computing program, Dr. Enid Montague’s team seeks to use technology to create an interactive feedback tool that both patients and care providers can utilize to improve interpersonal interaction during primary care encounters. Her team is working with minority-serving, federally qualified health centers in Chicago and surrounding communities on development of the tool.

Our education researchers couple the power of education, innovation and research to collaborate with public and private school systems and educators to provide innovative programming, professional development services, and research focused on developing and championing urban education, academic engagement and school leadership in our community.

Music Educators Surveyed on Use of IEPs
With funding from DePaul’s University Research Council grant, School of Music faculty member Sara Jones is surveying local music educators to investigate the perceptions of music teachers about their use of individualized education programs (IEPs) in inclusive music classrooms. Understanding how music teachers currently utilize IEPs, will provide for a better understanding of how to best serve students with disabilities and improve both in-service music teacher professional development and pre-service music teacher preparation.

COE Establishes Catholic School Outreach Project
Dr. Donna Kiel and Dr. Melissa Ockerman of the College of Education together with a team of researchers that includes Sr. Mary Paul McCaughey, Dr. Barbara Rieckhoff, Dr. Alexandra Novakovic and Dr. Rebecca Michel, have been awarded a DePaul University-funded AGIF grant to establish a Catholic School Outreach and Resources Program. The program will provide ongoing professional development to Catholic K-12 teachers and school leaders, targeting social emotional learning, trauma-informed teaching, and mental health resources that are essential to supporting a positive school climate and thriving growth. This grant specifically targets assistance to Catholic, low-income, high minority schools in under-resourced communities within the city.

Act & Adapt Initiative Supports CPS
With funding from the Chicago Board of Education, College of Science and Health Professor Antonio Polo trains and supports Chicago Public School (CPS) social workers, school psychologists, and counselors on the delivery of the Act & Adapt program in 44 CPS Schools. Act and Adapt is an innovative, evidence-based program targeting youth depression.

Our faculty aspire to be catalysts for vibrant, interconnected, communities that value equity and social justice as guiding and core principles in our shared work.

Michel’s Project Aids Chicago’s Homeless Population
With funding from PNC Foundation, DePaul University's Career Success Program (CSP), under the direction of College of Education faculty Rebecca Michel, is supporting individuals experiencing the intertwined issues of homelessness and poverty with strengths-based career advising, mental health counseling and social emotional training to effectively prepare them to secure and maintain meaningful employment.

State of Housing for Chicago’s Older Adults
With funding from the RRF Foundation for Aging, College of Business faculty Charles Wurtzebach and his team are conducting an applied research project examining housing implications and policy challenges associated with the changing demographic and economic characteristics of Chicago’s older adults and their communities. The project is expected to build a body of work grounded in the information needs of local practitioners, geared toward informing strategic policy development at the local level.

Zeigler’s Multi-Faith Veteran Support Initiative Engages Veterans
Robert R. McCormick Foundation funded Multi-Faith Veteran Support Initiative (MVI) delivers outreach services to veterans and their families through the creation and maintenance of a network of Chicago- based community sites. Sites in the network work with MVI to develop an awareness and knowledge of veterans’ social, emotional and economic issues while also increasing their skills and capacities to work in tandem with a wide variety of local resources, supporting veterans. Maximizing access to coordinated resources and services improves Chicago-based veterans and their family’s quality of life, and decreases incidence of suicide among the veteran population.

Schober Leads Gun Violence Collaborative
With funding from the Sinai Urban Health Institute, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences‘ Daniel Schober’s Chicago Gun Violence Research Collaborative supports faculty-fellow teams that develop, implement, and disseminate an applied research project related to gun violence in Chicago.


Additional information on community-based research is available here.