Research Wire: July 2018

Odis Johnson, associate professor of education and of sociology, both in Arts & Sciences, has been awarded a two-year grant of nearly $300,000 to explore how national datasets can be used to promote broader participation of underrepresented race-gender groups in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

Supported by the National Science Foundation’s Education and Human Resources Directorate Core Research Program, the grant will investigate whether policies and practices regarding safety, discipline, school crime and suspensions within charter and traditional public schools contribute to the loss of large numbers of underrepresented students from the STEM pipeline.

Joaquin Barnoya, MD, associate professor of surgery at the School of Medicine, has received a four-year, $328,000 grant from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the project “Electronic cigarettes in Latin America: Evaluation of impacts and policy options.” Barnoya, a co-principal investigator, will evaluate how electronic cigarettes are impacting Mexico and Guatemala and how to lower smoking rates through both policy change and appropriate interventions.

An international research collaboration including engineers from Washington University in St. Louis have discovered a protein sequence mechanism that triggers phase separation deep within a single cell. Their findings, published in Cell, could provide insights into age-related diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and some cancers. Read more on the engineering website.

Jordan McCall, assistant professor of anesthesiology at the School of Medicine, is one of 36 junior faculty members to receive a research grant from Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). Each recipient will receive $5,000 in seed money from ORAU for the 2018-19 academic year and a matching $5,000 from each recipient’s institution. McCall plans to lead a multidisciplinary research program aimed at understanding the neural mechanisms underlying the emotional distress associated with stress, chronic pain and addiction.

Spencer Lake, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the School of Engineering & Applied Science, is conducting research on baseball pitchers’ elbow injuries with a three-year, $388,541 grant from the National Science Foundation. Lake plans to develop a bioinspired imaging technique to study how damage accumulates in the ulnar collateral ligament during loading, or the stress of activating the ligament. Learn more on the engineering website.

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