Transformative Knowledge by Design: Influencing Change through Knowledge Mobilization

The ASU Graduate College continually
improves the resources we provide to our graduate students and postdoctoral
fellows, so that they have the knowledge, dispositions and skills required to
succeed in the 21st century. The ASU Graduate College strives to equip
graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with transferable skills that
are needed in today's career markets. We are concerned with this "so what?" question
about researchers labor and the knowledge they produce. Why would or
should people outside the Academy think that research findings matter? What
difference is research making in people's lives or in reducing problems
or challenges of social significance? Knowledge mobilization is concerned with
making the insights and solutions discovered by researchers accessible and
usable. How can we document that such knowledge made an impact on the lives of
these people? The stories you are about to see illustrate what knowledge mobilization
looks like in real life. The problem that we try to tackle with
our work is how can we improve fishing sustainability and also improve or at
least maintain the livelihoods of fishermen. Small-scale fisheries are
poorly regulated. They incur a lot of what is called bycatch, and bycatch is
any animal that gets caught in a fishing net that wasn't intended to be captured.
And in Baja where I work a lot of the bycatch includes endangered species such
as sea turtles, sharks, whales. What really inspired this work for me was when I was
a master student at the University of Florida. I was studying sea turtle
biology and I was tracking the movements of sea turtles. You have to look into the
eyes of a sea turtle. There's something so spiritual about it. This is an animal,
it's been around for 200 million years. Over the course of a two-week span, I ended up tracking countless turtles to their deaths and these turtles were
ending up drowning in fishing nets. One day a fisherman came and brought me a turtle that we had been tracking and I know he could have sold that and gotten
a lot of money for that, but instead wanted it to bring it to me. And so I looked at that as an opportunity to engage fishermen and bring them into my
research project and make them essentially become part of our team and
help us design different solutions that can protect turtles, but also that can
improve their livelihoods. And so one day I was out, we were out catching sea
turtles and tracking sea turtles. Middle of the day, and I saw a sea turtle swim
right up to a net, notice the net and turned right around. And so that led to
my idea to place lights on fishing nets. The LEDs illuminate the net at night and
so it provides a visual cue for the sea turtle to see that net and then avoid
becoming entangled in the net. Simply by putting these lights on fishing nets, we caught 50% fewer sea turtles and 95% fewer sharks. What I found though from my PhD research was the batteries only lasted one to two
weeks. And so for the average fisherman, that would have been two to four hundred
double-A batteries potentially per week. So what i did was i teamed up with ASU
engineers who specialized in solar power and
kinetic energy. And i basically asked them how can we develop a solution to
power these lights with renewable energy? That has really helped me mobilize my
knowledge because if I was at a smaller school or a school that didn't advocate
for interdisciplinary research like ASU, it would be much harder to do this work. This is the future of fisheries. In 50 years from now, I can imagine every
coastal community on this planet fishing with solar-powered nets. Given my background of kinesiology, I
learned a lot about exercise and exercise physiology and the importance
of being active in order to maintain health and reduce your risk for diabetes. Energy in equals energy out and so you look at a problem like obesity and
diabetes and just think man why can't they exercise more and eat less this
would solve the problem. The problem that we address with our research is diabetes risk in Latino youth and families. Not a whole lot of work has been done around
diabetes prevention for the family specifically for Latino families. Latino youth are disproportionately burdened by diabetes. They are the most insulin
resistant subgroup. Early in 2012 we had actually started partnering with the YMCA to test this intervention. It was a diabetes prevention intervention for Latino adolescents. This was a rigorous clinical trial and so a very controlled
environment. But we did find that the program did lead to significant
improvements in diabetes risk. Our work is really important in that we take our diabetes prevention programs and we adapt it to the culture. Out of our 160 participants, over 50% of them were coming from Maryville. As soon as you step
into Maryville, you feel the culture. It's still a close-knit connected community
where the Hispanic Latino culture is prevalent and one of the critical values
for that culture is family. And so we really saw this need to take this
program sort of out of the confines of this rigor and this clinical trial and
move it to the community where it's needed. So Viva Maryville is a family
centered diabetes prevention program for Latino families in Maryville, Arizona and
it is conducted in partnership with some wonderful community folks here in the
valley starting with the Valley of the Sun YMCA who really lends their
expertise in Fitness instruction and they serve as the site for the project. Patients are identified and enrolled into the program. They participate in a
pre intervention assessment which is led by our team here at ASU and then they
enter this 12-week lifestyle intervention where they go to nutrition
education class for one time a week for 60 minutes and the
parents must attend. And there they learn things about fats and carbs and they set family goals. And then three times a week they go to a physical activity session which is led by trained physical activity instructors at the YMCA. And then once the 12-week program is done we send them back to the medical provider
so that they can see their results, talk about their progress through the program
and establish a future plan of care. I think our knowledge exchange with our
participants is bi-directional, that feedback is critical for guiding the
development of the intervention. We've seen significant reductions in diabetes
risk in our adults. For our youth we've also seen significant reductions in their body composition and then as a whole we've seen this improvement in
quality of life. We know that there are other vulnerable communities like Maryville and we know that the need for diabetes prevention is also statewide. So our vision is that we can reach these communities in other areas throughout the state. To me knowledge mobilization means taking the knowledge and the research that is generated here in the academic institution, taking it out to
the community. For us the power and our knowledge mobilization is through partnership and so partnering with the other organizations and community
stakeholders who can help us get this knowledge to the folks get it from the
research to the ground and to the folks where they are going to use it.

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