Research Tracks

A publication of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Baylor University

January 25, 2016
by Baylor OVPR

Baylor art professor named an emerging artist by Musée Magazine

H. Jennings Sheffield, assistant professor of art, photography in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, was recently named an “emerging artist” by Musée Magazine, an international photography publication. Her work, Tethered, appeared in the magazine’s November 2015 issue as one of 55 emerging artists alongside 39 established master photographers including Rineke Dijkstra, Lorna Simpson, Candida Hofer, The Guerilla Girls and Tina Barney.

H. Jennings Sheffield, 12:00pm-2:00pm (Sept. 29, Oct. 6, Oct. 12, Nov. 19, Feb. 18), 43” x 28" x 4.5", Archival Digital Print on Panel, 2013

H. Jennings Sheffield, 12:00pm-2:00pm (Sept. 29, Oct. 6, Oct. 12, Nov. 19, Feb. 18), 43” x 28″ x 4.5″, Archival Digital Print on Panel, 2013

“The idea that these are some of the top contemporary artists is really exciting,” Sheffield says. “The other artists in the issue are some of the photographers who I teach to students in my classes, so I was thrilled to have my work appear with theirs.”

It is significant that Tethered appears in a special issue of Musée that showcases female photographers. The master artists featured in the magazine provide role models for young female photographers, something Sheffield says was in short supply early in her career.

“I came up in photography when it was a male-dominated field,” she says. “I didn’t have anyone to show me how to have a family, be an artist and teach students. When I went to photography conferences as a student, it was all men.  Now when I take students to those same meetings, there are lots more women.”

H. Jennings Sheffield, 2:00pm-4:00pm (Sept. 10, Oct. 20, Oct. 25, Nov. 23, Feb. 1), 43” x 28" x 4.5", Archival Digital Print on Panel, 2013

H. Jennings Sheffield, 2:00pm-4:00pm (Sept. 10, Oct. 20, Oct. 25, Nov. 23, Feb. 1), 43” x 28″ x 4.5″, Archival Digital Print on Panel, 2013

Tethered is an exploration of the complexities of modern life drawn from Sheffield’s own experience balancing her roles as an artist, teacher, wife, mother and daughter.

“There was a time when it was possible to separate our roles to discrete times of day,” she says. “We went to work in the morning, then spent time with families in the evenings and on weekends. Now, technology has created a tethering effect where our work and family lives become intermingled and confused.”

Sheffield created the images by blending together photographs she took over the course of four months as she performed some of the many roles in her own life. She used software to combine images taken at the same time of day, creating a single image that represents a two-hour block of time.

Viewed at full size, the vertical striping in the images creates a lenticular effect that makes different elements stand out depending on the angle and distance of the observer. The effect underscores Sheffield’s message and reinforces the limitations of trying to represent the complications and connections of modern life using traditional photographic methods.

“I wanted to capture real moments that happen over time,” she explains. “We’re all very tethered and we can’t separate our roles, and I don’t feel that a single image can capture all of those layers.”

A selection of Sheffield’s work is currently on display at Baylor’s Martin Museum of Art as part of the Department of Art’s Faculty Biennial Exhibition, which runs through February 28.

January 22, 2016
by Baylor OVPR

Research opportunities for faculty and doctoral students at DOE’s Jefferson Lab


Jefferson Science Associates, LLC has announced two funding programs to support temporary research appointments for graduate students and faculty members at the Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) in Newport News, Virgina.

For faculty: Sabbatical and Research Leave Support

The Sabbatical and Research Leave Support program provides funding for faculty to conduct full-time research at Jefferson Lab for a period of up to nine months. Applications are due by March 31, 2016. Click here to learn more about the program and application processes.

For graduate students: Graduate Fellowship Program

The Graduate Fellowship Program provides opportunities for doctoral students to work alongside Jefferson Lab researchers on projects related to the lab’s mission. Applications are due by Feb. 29, 2016. Click here for more information on the program and its application procedure.

January 21, 2016
by Baylor OVPR

Social science funding opportunity from the U.S. Department of Defense

United_States_Department_of_Defense_Seal.svgThe U.S. Department of Defense is accepting proposals for social science research on topics related to the nation’s security policy under its Minerva Research Initiative.

Under the current funding announcement, DoD seeks to support projects in the following five areas listed below:

  1. Identity, influence and mobilization; culture, identity and security; influence and mobilization for change
  2. Contributors to societal resilience and change; governance and rule of law; migration and urbanization; populations and demographics; environment and natural resources; economics
  3. Power and deterrence; global order; power projection and diffusion; beyond conventional deterrence; area studies
  4. Analytical methods and metrics for security research
  5. Innovations in national security, conflict and cooperation

Click here to learn more about the program. Contact your academic unit’s assigned OSP coordinator for information on how to apply.

January 20, 2016
by Baylor OVPR

Greater Waco Chamber recognizes BRIC start-up with 2015 Business Innovator Award

John Fitch, founder and owner of Birkeland Current, looks on as a machine assembles components of

John Fitch, founder and owner of Birkeland Current, looks on as a machine assembles components of the company’s automated proximity control system.

The OVPR joined business and community leaders from across Central Texas last month at a luncheon to honor the nominees for the 2015 Business Innovator Award. Presented annually by the Greater Waco Chamber, the award recognizes individuals or organizations that help make Central Texas a hub for creative excellence.

We would like to congratulate Birkeland Current and Pruf Energy Solutions on being named the 2015 Business Innovator Award winner. The two companies are working together to develop a wireless energy monitoring and control system that will bring energy savings through automated proximity controls and solid-state LED lighting technology.

The other nominees for this year’s award were: CollegeChoiceToday, Chariot Innovations, and Birkeland Current/Langerman Foster Engineering.  All four nominees are based in the Baylor Research & Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) and have participated in coaching provided by LAUNCH: The Innovative Business Accelerator.

Dr. Truell Hyde, Baylor’s vice provost for research, says the recognition of these firms is an important validation of the BRIC’s role in driving innovation in Central Texas.

It’s exciting to see the hard work and tireless support of so many in the Waco community coming to fruition in such a tangible fashion.  It’s also wonderful to see this occurring with the BRIC and LAUNCH not yet three years old.  As Baylor, the Chamber and the business community continue to move forward, I feel certain our best days are ahead.

December 10, 2015
by Baylor OVPR

Reminder: Proposals for internal grant programs due Feb. 17

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research provides financial support for research and scholarly activity through a number of internal grant programs. In this post, we present an overview of the programs offered through our office and direct you to the relevant pages on our website for more detailed information and any guidelines that you may need to proceed.

Contact your department’s assigned OSP coordinator to begin an application for any of these programs.  Applications for each of these programs are due by 12:00 noon on Feb. 17, 2015 for funding during fiscal year 2017 (June 1, 2016-May 31, 2017).

Faculty Research Investment Program (FRIP)
FRIP grants provide up to $25,000 in seed money to establish or re-direct research programs to help faculty compete more successfully for external funding. Proposals are peer reviewed by external faculty members with expertise in both the subject matter of the proposal and the funding agency to which the investigator plans to apply. Full-time Baylor faculty members, regardless of academic rank, are eligible to apply for FRIP grants.

Young Investigator Development Program (YIDP)
Similar to the FRIP, the YIDP program also provides up to $25,000 in seed money to establish or re-direct research programs to enhance competitiveness for external grants. These proposals are also externally peer reviewed. Tenure-track faculty members in their first four years at Baylor are eligible to apply for YIDP funding.

University Research Committee Small and Mid-Range Grant Programs (URC)
The University Research Committee distributes funds for the support and development of projects and programs promoting faculty research and scholarship and strengthening efforts to secure external funding. URC Small Grants provide up to $4,500 in funding, while the mid-range grants can provide up to $7,500. Faculty who receive funding under the mid-range grant program are required to apply for external funding following the completion of their URC-funded project. Proposals to the URC programs are peer-reviewed by faculty members who serve on the URC committee.

Dr. Benjamin F. Brown IV Fund for Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Research (Brown Fund)
A funding program that began in FY ’15, the Brown Fund supports curriculum development and research projects on issues of global significance. Brown Fund awards range in amount up to $5,000 per fiscal year based on the needs of the project. The number of available awards will be determined annually based on the available earnings from an endowment created by Dr. Clara M. Lovett in memory of her late husband, Dr. Benjamin Brown IV.

Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement Small Grant Program (URSA)
Through the URSA Small Grant Program, the OVPR seeks to foster collaborative learning relationships between faculty members and students. URSA funds may be used to expand opportunities for research participation by undergraduates in a variety of ways including paying wages for student researchers, purchasing necessary supplies for student projects or supporting student travel to present research results at a conference or meeting.  For the first time this year, URSA also offers faculty travel grants and equipment grants in support of undergraduate research.

Arts and Humanities Faculty Research Program (AHFRP)
AHFRP funds are designed to stimulate research, scholarship and creative activities in the arts, humanities and education, where opportunities for external funding may be limited. While funding amounts are based on the needs of each project, the vast majority of AHFRP grants will be for $2,000 or less.

If you have questions, please contact Blake Thomas at 710-3153.

December 8, 2015
by Baylor OVPR

OVPR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program moving to annual application cycle

october5The Office of the Vice Provost for Research, through the OVPR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, gives doctorate-granting departments the opportunity to apply for funding to support postdoc positions to expand and enhance research capabilities.

Previously, the OVPR Postdoc Fellowship Program accepted applications in odd-numbered years. Beginning in 2016, however, the program will move to an annual application cycle. The next application deadline is Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. Departments who are approved under this round will receive funding for a 12-month fellowship position that runs from June 1, 2017 through May 31, 2018. The award also carries the possibility of a second year extension for fellows who perform successfully in their first year.

Visit the OVPR website for more information, or contact Blake Thomas with any questions.

December 7, 2015
by Baylor OVPR

CFRIP proposal deadline extended

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research has extended the deadline to apply for funding through the Collaborative Research Investment Program (CFRIP).  Applications to the program are now due by Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016.

The CFRIP program supports research involving Baylor University faculty in collaboration with colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine or Baylor Scott & White Health. The goal of the program is to provide seed funding that will enable research teams to develop preliminary results that lead to future external funding opportunities.

More information on the CFRIP program is available on the OVPR website. Contact Blake Thomas in the OVPR with any questions.

December 3, 2015
by Baylor OVPR

Baylor philosopher explores legal issues surrounding religion in new book

beckwithIn a pluralistic society, there is a constant balancing act between the rights of individuals and the need for social order.  These balances are perhaps never quite as tenuous as when they involve a conflict between an individual’s religious faith and a law that would seem to prevent the believer from acting in accordance with the requirements of his or her faith.

Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, a professor of philosophy and church-state studies in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, explores these conflicts in his new book, “Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith,” published this year by Cambridge University Press. In the book, Beckwith examines cultural issues over which religious and nonreligious people may disagree including the rationality of religious belief, religiously motivated legislation, human dignity in bioethics, abortion and embryonic stem cell research, reproductive rights, evolution and marriage.

The problems often stem from a misunderstanding regarding the true nature of religious practices.  The misunderstanding, Beckwith says, often spring from a failure of non-religious individuals to understand the perspective of the believer.

“I believe religion involves obedience, not just belief,” he says. “Observers who aren’t familiar with the tenets of a religion may argue that religious belief is irrational and therefore adherents are not deserving of special protection for their practices. To those who believe, however, religious practices aren’t something they choose to do but something they are obligated to do.”

“Taking Rites Seriously” is available on Amazon.

November 17, 2015
by Baylor OVPR

Reminder: OVPR Proposal Development Seminars

Click the flyer to learn more about the programs and to register.

Don’t forget, there’s still time to register for the 2016 OVPR Proposal Development Seminar series!

This year, we will offer the “Write Winning Grant Proposals” program on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2015.

We will also be presenting two special half-day sessions focused on federal career development grants. The first session, on the morning of Friday, Jan. 8, is focused on STEM awards like the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. The second, on the afternoon of Jan. 8, covers biomedical career development programs like the National Institutes of Health’s Career Development Awards, including the mentored K-awards and the F-series fellowships for pre- and postdoctoral students. Special eligibility requirements apply to the half-day sessions; see the program descriptions below for specific information.

Our speaker for each of the  sessions is Dr. Peg AtKisson of Grant Writers’ Seminars and Workshops.  Dr. AtKisson is a neuroscientist and former director of proposal development in the Office of the Vice Provost at Tufts University.

Click here to register for this year’s proposal development workshops.  Contact Blake Thomas at 254-710-3153 with questions.

Session descriptions: Continue Reading →

November 9, 2015
by Baylor OVPR

Baylor researcher receives grant to study movement of contaminants through the Gulf of Mexico

When a major pollution spill occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, disaster response officials have to make quick decisions about the allocation of resources to prevent damage to coastal areas. Numerical modeling techniques can make predictions about the spread and eventual destination of contaminants, but current models aren’t as accurate as they could be, limiting the effectiveness of disaster prevention and recovery efforts.

Dr. Joe Kuehl, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, is part of a research team that was recently awarded a $285,000 grant from the Texas General Land Office for oceanographic research aimed at improving these models to predict how contaminants spread through the Gulf of Mexico during a spill.

An oil slick spreads in the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.  Dr. Joe Kuehl is part of a team of researchers working to improve current models for predicting the flow of contaminants from similar events. NASA image.

An oil slick spreads in the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. Dr. Joe Kuehl is part of a team of researchers working to improve current models for predicting the flow of contaminants from similar events. NASA image.

The topography of the ocean floor creates a barrier between coastal waters and the open ocean at the shelf break – the point near the shore at which the ocean floor changes from low-slope coastal terrain to the higher-slope that marks the beginning of the open ocean.

While the shelf break largely prevents water from the open ocean from mixing with coastal waters, Kuehl says, the barrier is not completely impenetrable. Underwater currents, circulation patterns and weather phenomena can create pathways that allow water to move across the shelf-break barrier. When these pathways exist, water from the open ocean can flow into coastal areas, potentially bringing pollutants with it.

While mathematical models exist to predict how and where these pathways will form, Kuehl says they are limited by the data on which they are based.

“The standard models are most useful only at shallower depths because we don’t have observational data from the bottom boundary layer – the deepest layer along the ocean floor,” he explains. “So when we apply these standard models to pollutants in the bottom boundary layer, we have to make some assumptions.”

To fill in those gaps in knowledge, Kuehl will deploy newly developed current meters to gather data on the way ocean water circulates in the bottom boundary layers over time. That data will become a part of high-resolution simulations created by Kuehl’s collaborator on the project, Dr. William Anderson of the University of Texas at Dallas.

Ultimately, Kuehl and Anderson hope their research will contribute to better understanding of the way contaminants can flow through the Gulf of Mexico, helping government and business leaders carry out risk assessment and economic planning along the Texas coast.