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2024 Social Impact Awards for Research and Outreach winners unveiled by Zimpleman College of Business 

Friday, March 29th, 2024

The 2024 winners of the Social Impact Research and Outreach Awards were announced today by Drake University’s Zimpleman College of Business. This annual program recognizes college faculty and staff who tackle pressing issues facing society through their scholarship, and work in the community and around the globe. Each of the five winning submissions will receive an award made possible by Larry and Kathi Zimpleman—valued at $5,000—for their contributions to addressing one or more of a range of social and environmental topics.

“These awards serve as a catalyst for our college to work on some of the biggest challenges we face as a society in our communities, in our environment, and online,” said Alejandro Hernandez, dean of the Zimpleman College of Business. “This year’s recognition of our faculty’s positive societal impact is an important aspect to our commitment to equipping students to do well by doing good.”

The winners and their work include:

Social impact research

Royce Fichtner and Troy Strader: Recommendations to improve equitable and inclusive internet usage—Professor Fichtner and Professor Strader examined a suite of recent ADA-related e-commerce lawsuits to devise a set of recommendations to improve equitable and inclusive internet usage. This research has implications for a large number of disabled internet users. Their scholarship was published in a highly regarded academic journal, Universal Access in the Information Society.

Wiranthe Herath

Wiranthe Herath: Statistical model to improve accuracy of macroeconomic indicators that impact society—Professor Herath and his coauthor developed and applied a novel statistical model to improve forecast accuracy for macroeconomic indicators that impact all of society. This research has a direct link to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 8:decent work and economic growth. This research was published in the Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, a high-quality academic journal.

Amy Vaughan

Amy Vaughan: Examination of EPA’s clean water allocation regulations—Professor Vaughan collaborated with Jerry Anderson, dean of the Drake Law School, to examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act disparate administration of penalties. This research, which addresses issues related to UN SDG 6: clean water and sanitation, was published in the prestigious Stanford Environmental Law Journal.

Social impact outreach

Doug Bujakowski

Doug Bujakowski: Formation of insurance captive to help farmers get insurance in light of severe weather events—Professor Bujakowski led a series of meetings between the heads of Iowa’s Agricultural Insurance Cooperatives to address the increasing challenge of procuring insurance due to more frequent severe weather events brought on by climate change. These discussions led to the formation of an insurance captive, which will benefit both the insurance cooperatives and the farmers who are a part of those cooperatives. 

Claire Muselman

Claire Muselman: Self-care workshops to support social workers—Professor Muselman created a series of self-care workshops geared toward supporting social workers’ well-being and professional development. The initiative benefits Broadlawns Medical Center social workers and specifically addresses reducing burnout, enhancing emotional intelligence, increasing self-reported resilience, and promoting professional efficacy.

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