Randall Akee, associate professor of public policy, is among those sharing this year’s research grants totaling more than $1 million from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. The funding is for research relating to inequality’s impact on economic growth and stability. A study of “deaths of despair” among Native Americans, particularly women and girls, will be conducted by three academic researchers and Akee, who is chair of the American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program at UCLA. In their funding proposal, the researchers said they plan to investigate why such deaths are proportionately higher for Native Americans than among other ethnic groups in the United States. Researchers will examine whether the known predictors of a death of despair for white constituents, especially men — joblessness, high rates of unemployment — are different than those for Native American women and girls. The study will also focus on the oil fracking industry and whether fracking in proximity to Native American lands induces more human trafficking activity. This, in turn, might also induce coping behaviors such as increased alcohol and substance use that could lead to higher rates of suicides among Native American women and girls, according to the research proposal. Equitable Growth has seeded more than $8.8 million to nearly 350 scholars through its competitive grants program since its founding in 2013. According to the organization’s news release, this year’s 42 grantees include economists and social scientists who currently serve as faculty or are postdoctoral scholars and Ph.D. students at U.S. colleges and universities, as well as scholars from government research agencies.