Shelia Cotten Named Trifecta Director & CFIR Interim Dir.

Posted on: July 22, 2014

Shelia Cotten main 2Shelia Cotten, Professor of Media and Information, has been named the first Director of Trifecta as well as Interim Director of the MSU-Sparrow Center for Innovation and Research (CFIR). As Director of Trifecta, Cotten will lead the Trifecta Intellectual Leaders (TIL), a group of faculty members leading the effort. She also will guide efforts to expand the reach and impact of Trifecta.

The Trifecta initiative connects researchers in three MSU colleges - Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Nursing - with the goal of maximizing research innovation and collaboration to advance the delivery of health services to underserved communities.

The three colleges have joined forces to focus on the use of new communication and engineering technologies to deliver nursing and health services.

The TIL consists of nine faculty members, three from each college, who are working toward maximizing the full potential for interdisciplinary research at MSU. Cotten, who came to MSU in fall 2013, is a founding member of the TIL.

"Shelia Cotten has a strong track record of leadership in working with interdisciplinary teams of researchers and students," said Maria Lapinski, CAS Associate Dean for Research. "We are excited to have her lead the Trifecta initiative."

At the MSU-Sparrow Center for Innovation and Research, Cotten will replace Barbara Given, University Distinguished Professor of Nursing, who was appointed Interim Director of the center when it was first created in 2012.

The Center for Innovation and Research was created through a formal partnership agreement between Sparrow Health System and Michigan State University. Together, MSU's intellectual capital and Sparrow's community-based clinicians work collaboratively to develop innovative approaches to high-quality, safe healthcare. The center aims to transform the delivery of healthcare through the implementation and evaluation of research that improves patient outcomes and lowers costs.

Cotten's own research focuses on technology use across the lifecourse and the social, educational and health impacts of that use. She conducts large-scale community based intervention studies designed to use technology to enhance various aspects of quality of life.

One of her more recent research projects examined the relationship between Internet use and depression of thousands of retired older Americans across six years and found that Internet use among these older adults reduced the chances of depression by more than 30 percent.

Cotten sees overlap between Trifecta and CFIR, "There is substantial synergy in the goals of these two organizations. By leading both these organizations, I believe we will be better poised to do even greater research and outreach to improve the lives of people in Michigan and around the world."

Cotten's appointments as Director of Trifecta and Interim Director for the CFIR start August 16, 2014.

Trifecta is holding a kickoff event for the 2014-2015 academic year on Tuesday, Aug. 26, from 10 a.m.  to 1 p.m. The event is focused on facilitating new research collaboration relationships. It will include brief presentations of Trifecta-related research interests, a speed-networking poster session, and a networking lunch. For more information, email

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