Research Tracks A publication of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Baylor University Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:50:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Get to know Big 12 research: West Virginia University Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:50:48 +0000 Continue reading ]]> After an exciting home game against TCU, the Bears head back out on the road this weekend to take on the Mountaineers of West Virginia University. This week, as part of our “Get to know Big 12 research” series, we’re visiting with Cindy Jarvis, assistant to the director of WVU’s Office of Sponsored Programs.


What are a few of the most exciting research projects going on at WVU?

There are a number of very exciting projects going on at WVU, but to pinpoint just a couple, the ones that come to mind are the Choose to Change project and Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

Choose to Change is a multidisciplinary obesity prevention program that awards mini-grants to community organizations that share a similar mission. Choose to Change, funded by US Department of Agriculture aims to make community environments healthier for young children and their families in Kanawha and Monongalia counties. Community-level change and social support will help families to make lasting improvements in their lifestyles.

The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative was established by President Barack Obama to accelerate the development and application of innovative imaging technologies. The WVU team, with funding from NIH, is developing a wearable, mobile molecular positron emission tomography (PET) imaging device capable of providing unprecedented insight into the metabolism and cellular processes of the brain, all while performing everyday activities, such as walking, playing a piano, or socializing. While traditional imaging techniques require a person being scanned to remain as still as possible, the helmet-like tool is wearable while in motion.

Are there any interesting traditions on your campus that people outside of the WVU community might not know about?

Every October for the past 26 years, our College of Engineering and Mineral Resources has hosted the annual Pumpkin Drop to benefit local charities. They accept 200 entrants whose sole mission is to design the perfect containment for their pumpkin to safely plummet it off the top of the 11 story engineering building and have it hit a target below while remaining intact. Entrants can be individuals or teams and many come from middle and high schools across the region.  [Ed. note: Cindy is somewhat under-selling the awesomeness of the Pumpkin Drop. We would strongly encourage you to watch a few of the great videos of the event available on YouTube.]

Another tradition that has started since joining the Big 12 is that the city of Morgantown has Morgantown’s Goodwill City Ambassadors which are residents, students and fans who have worked to enhance the city’s reputation into a welcoming community with open arms. The ambassadors, who wear T-shirts with the other team’s colors, fan out prior to the games to offer friendly greetings and walking directions to visitors negotiating steep hills while walking to the game. Be sure and look for the ambassadors around the stadium or possibly at your hotel.

In addition, in a fun gesture, the mayor of Morgantown contacted the mayors of other Big 12 cities and issued a challenge: When the Mountaineers faced off against their conference foes, the losing mayor would wear a shirt of the winning school.

What is a typical day in your office like?

The Office of Sponsored Programs at WVU consists of four units: Pre-Award, Contract Negotiation, Award Initiation and Management, and Subcontracting, Reporting and Outreach. There are currently seventeen employees with three vacant positions so we are kept extremely busy.

The Pre-Award unit is always racing to meet the most pressing deadline based on factors outside of their control while all the time having to stop what they are doing to accommodate the arrival of last minute proposals.

Award Initiation and Management unit is currently buried under award files due to staff shortages and the end of the federal fiscal year and fields calls daily from investigators wanting to know where their account numbers are.

In order to deal with the stress, one will frequently be able to find some sort of snacks that someone has brought in to share. We may need to be the ones enrolled in the Choose to Change program!

Many Baylor fans will be visiting Morgantown for the first time this weekend. Are there any lesser-known places on campus or around town that they should plan to see?

Fall is a beautiful time to visit Mountaineer country. West Virginia isn’t called “Wild and Wonderful” for nothing. This weekend the leaves should all be out in their vibrant colors with the ridges coming into town probably being at peak.

WVU has a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system to move students between the three campuses in town and the trip from Downtown to Evansdale provides a very scenic ride along the river. The PRT is open to the public and the trip would provide both a nice view of the Monongahela River as well as the autumn leaves. If you are staying in one of the hotels near downtown, the trip to Medical Center will take you almost to Mountaineer Field at the Milan Puskar Stadium.

About fifteen minutes to the East out of town is Cooper’s Rock State Forest which provides a beautiful view of the Cheat River over a mountain canyon which will be in full color this weekend. There are numerous hiking trails in the forest as well as a nice campground if anyone is bringing their RV.

Thanks to Cindy Jarvis and the WVU Office of Sponsored Programs for participating in our “Get to know Big 12 research” series.  Visit their website at

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Reminder: One week left to apply for special fall URC grants Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:28:29 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The OVPR would like to remind faculty that the deadline to apply for the special fall round of University Research Committee grants is one week away! Fall URC grant applications are due on Oct. 22, 2014 at noon.

Proposals may be submitted in either the small (up to $4,500) or mid-range (up to $7,500) categories for projects to be completed by the end of FY 2015 fiscal year (May 31, 2015).  Fall URC funding is offered at the discretion of the URC committee and may or may not be offered in subsequent years.

All standard URC grant guidelines will apply to the fall round, including the leveraging requirement for mid-range grants and the per-investigator limit of four URC awards or $10,000 of total URC funding in a five-year period.  Additionally, faculty who have already received FY 2015 funding from the URC are ineligible to apply for the fall round. Faculty who applied for funding but were declined are encouraged to revise their proposals and consider re-submission.

To be considered for funding, proposals must be complete by the deadline, including electronic routing and approval from the investigator’s chair and dean.  The anticipated start date for funded proposals is Dec. 15, 2014.  Funds from this round must be expended by May 31, 2015.

Click here for more information on the URC grant programs, or contact Blake Thomas in the OVPR with questions.

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Get to know Big 12 research: TCU Fri, 10 Oct 2014 14:20:05 +0000 Continue reading ]]> During this football season, we’re presenting a special series of guest blog posts from research administrators at the other Big 12 institutions.  Today, we help you get ready for Saturday’s top-ten matchup with a Q&A with Linda Freed, the director of TCU’s Office of Sponsored Programs.


What are a few of the fastest-growing research areas at TCU?

Our researchers have delivered exciting results that are helping to find new ways to deliver cancer-curing drugs, uncovering the nature of gender distinctions in history, helping adopted children adjust to a new life, examining diets to alleviate obesity, helping us understand the environmental effects of wind farms, keeping unsafe fish from the food supply, identifying the best ways to prepare math teachers, curing addiction among prison inmates, and doing much, much more.  And, of course, we wouldn’t be TCU without a biologist who studies Texas horned frogs and the impact of habitat change.

What research opportunities are available to undergraduate students? 

Undergraduate research is a hallmark of the TCU student experience.  In addition to a very active Honors program, students in every major can find opportunities to engage in rigorous, publishable research under the tutelage of faculty mentors. In the spring, every college hosts an impressive exhibition of faculty-mentored student research projects.

What’s an interesting element of your campus culture that people outside the TCU community might not know about?

Another hallmark of TCU is adherence to the teacher-scholar model.  It is not teacher or scholar but more like “teacher as scholar” and “scholar as teacher”.  Faculty who choose to spend their careers here walk a tough line.  They must be excellent scholars, active and respected in their disciplines. And they must be excellent teachers, informed by the latest developments in their discipline, and ready mentors to promising student scholars.

What’s a typical day in your office like?

There are only three of us, so we are “lean and mean,” and very busy most of the time. It also means we are juggling multiple tasks and deadlines all the time. I sometimes describe our workdays as “popcorn days” – when there are so many things popping up at once that you can’t possibly catch them all.

In a typical day, any one of us might work with a junior faculty person on their first funding proposal, draft a subaward, work with the research accountants to review project expenditures, edit or submit a proposal, negotiate a corporate research contract, and read and interpret grant guidelines and federal regulations.  The intensity and variety are both challenging and rewarding.

Thanks to Linda Freed and the Office of Sponsored Projects for participating in our “Get to know Big 12 research” series. Visit their website at

Read more about TCU research in their magazine, Endeavors.

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Call for proposals: Allocations on Blue Waters High-Performance Computing System Tue, 07 Oct 2014 13:45:39 +0000 Continue reading ]]> BlueWaters

Blue Waters, housed on the University of Illinois campus, is one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers and the fastest one located at a university.

Because of Baylor’s membership in the Southeastern Universities Research Association, our faculty are eligible to apply for time on the NSF-funded Blue Waters High Performance Computing System. This special program, managed by the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computation, awards time on the Blue Waters system outside the normal NSF allocation process.

The Blue Waters system performs 13 quadrillion calculations per second, making it capable of handling the most arduous data processing and modeling applications. Currently, researchers from around the world are using Blue Waters for analysis related to cosmology, biological sciences, astrophysics, engineering and more.

Short (five-page) proposals are due on Nov. 3, 2014.  Click here to read the full call for proposals.

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Upcoming event: Texas American College of Sports Medicine Fall Lecture Tour with Dr. Patricia Painter Mon, 06 Oct 2014 12:30:09 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Painter Flyer

Baylor’s College of Health & Human Science and the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation will present a lecture by Dr. Patricia Painter of the University of Utah this month as part of the Texas American College of Sports Medicine Fall Lecture Tour. Painter is an internationally-recognized researcher in chronic kidney disease. Her presentation, “Implementation of Exercise in Populations with Chronic Disease: Translation of Science into Practice” should have broad interest to those in the health sciences.

The event takes place Thursday, Oct. 16th at 12:30 p.m. in the Baylor Sciences Building, room D.110. Admission is free and open to the public.

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Get to know Big 12 research: University of Texas at Austin Fri, 03 Oct 2014 14:50:51 +0000 Continue reading ]]> This fall, we’re bringing you a special series of guest posts from staff members in our counterpart offices at the other universities in the Big 12 Conference.  In anticipation of tomorrow’s football matchup between Baylor and the University of Texas, we hear from Kathy Thatcher, senior grants and contracts specialist in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies in UT’s College of Liberal Arts.


What are some of the most interesting research projects being conducted by College Of Liberal Arts faculty?

The College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin is home to 25 departments, 20 centers, 9 institutes, and 12 programs. Our researchers are active and dynamic and their interests include a wide range of topics in the social sciences and humanities. Two examples come to mind.

One of our faculty members in the Department of Geography and the Environment is participating in a collaborative National Science Foundation funded project. This team of researchers is investigating how geology, biology and climate interact in shaping species distribution and biodiversity in the Amazon/Andean forest (Click here to read more about the project in Life and Letters, the College of Liberal Arts magazine).

A College of Liberal Arts English professor’s research into the novels of Jane Austen has resulted in an online reconstruction of an art exhibit that Jane Austen herself attended in 1813. The combined efforts of this professor, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services and the Texas Advanced Computing Center resulted in a dynamic e-gallery that features 141 paintings by British portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds, a replica of the exhibition at the British Institution in Pall Mall, London (Click here to read more in Life and Letters).

Are there challenges associated with working in research administration specifically for liberal arts as opposed to STEM fields?

One of our ongoing missions is to find better ways to serve the needs of our humanities faculty and graduate students.  We also face the challenge of finding new sources of funding for our researchers, after humanities and social science funders at the federal level have had their budgets cut in recent years.

When developing grant proposals we sometimes find that the types of projects we work with require special handling to fit the policies for sponsored research. One of our specialties is helping researches who travel to remote locations internationally to develop proposals and proposal budgets that comply with federal and institutional regulations.

What services does your office provide to graduate students?

We assist graduate students with grant submissions the same way we work with faculty members. We strongly believe that graduate school should provide training for future employment needs. Regardless of whether graduate students find themselves working in academia or in other professional jobs outside of academia, they may need to find funding for their work,  be able to write clear and concise proposals and other documents, and prepare budgets. We strive to assist with training in these areas as we work with graduate students individually and in workshops about finding funding sources, grant writing, and budget preparation.

Lots of Baylor fans will be making the trip to Austin for the game this weekend.  Are there any lesser-known attractions in the area they should make sure not to miss?

There are lots of great things to do on campus, including the visiting the exhibits at the Blanton Museum of Art, the Harry Ransom Center, and the Texas Memorial Museum. Zilker Park offers a wide range of activities. Visit the Garden Center, hike on the green belt trails, rent a canoe to paddle on Lady Bird Lake, tour the dinosaur garden, and more.

Thanks to Kathy Thatcher and the Office of Research and Graduate Studies at UT College of Liberal Arts for participating in our “Get to know Big 12 research” series. Visit their website at

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CUR announces call for session presenters, posters for 2015 URPD Conference Thu, 02 Oct 2014 19:10:48 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Council on Undergraduate ResearchThe Council on Undergraduate Research has requested proposals for session presentations and posters to be included in the 2015 Undergraduate Research Programs Development conference, taking place June 23-25, 2015 at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

The conference targets university faculty and administrators with an interest in promoting and improving undergraduate research through discussion and sharing of best practices.  Sessions will include 90-minute panel discussions, 75-minute interactive sessions and 10-minute short presentations, as well as a poster session and networking lunch.

The deadline to submit proposals for interactive sessions and short presentations is Nov. 14, 2014.  The deadline to submit poster proposals is Feb. 27, 2015.  Submissions should focus on one of the conference’s four themes: “High-impact Learning,” “Ensuring Access for All,” “Administrative Nuts and Bolts,” and “Assessment.”

Click here for more information on the conference and submission instructions.


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Baylor professor’s new book documents rise of ‘do-it-yourself’ memorials Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:55:26 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Dr. Candi Cann

Globally and cross culturally, when a member of society dies, it is customary for the community to care for, uplift, and provide support to the family grieving the loss of a loved one. Traditionally, religion has played a key role in the grieving process, but in recent years, many families and individuals are seeking alternative forms of memorializing their loved ones.

Dr. Candi Cann, assistant professor in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, asserts that this shift toward alternative memorialization processes has not been directly caused by a lack of faith or animosity toward religion, but rather the church’s lack of rituals and practices that adequately meet the needs of families and individuals who are grieving.

“In today’s society, people who are not embedded in a church tradition or do not have a formal way to memorialize their loved ones who have died, still need some form of ritual,” Cann stated. “This is where the ‘do-it-yourself’ memorialization process originated from.”

Over the years, Cann has acquired a background in the subjects of religion and social studies, which give her perspective on both the theological and social elements that influence the grieving process. Her interest in the topic began while researching martyrs who were not officially recognized by the Catholic Church for her PhD dissertation. Cann interviewed the families, friends, and fellow church members of these martyrs, and discovered that their loved ones practiced the same memorialization process that the martyrs would have had if recognized by the Church. It was the discovery of these alternative memorialization practices that inspired Cann to write her book.

“I wrote my book, Grieving the Dead in the Twenty-first Century: Virtual Afterlives, partially because of my interest in these new forms of memorialization, but mostly because I felt these people who did not have a formal religious way of memorialization need a voice and to need be recognized,” Cann explained.

Dr. Cann's new book documents alternative methods of mourning the dead.

Dr. Cann’s new book documents alternative methods of mourning the dead.

She hopes that by giving survivors a voice, she will draw the attention of sociologists, anthropologists, religion scholars and seminarians to the need for families and individuals to memorialize a loved one. Cann hopes that practitioners and academics in these fields will be inspired by her book to start a genuine conversation about the memorialization of those who precede us in death.

In her book, Cann addresses these alternative methods of memorialization as elements of our cultural shift toward secularism. Cann believes that families have turned to alternative methods of memorialization because they are no longer a part of the process of dealing with death. Cann says that the modern industrialization of the death process, where most deaths occur in a hospital, has left families seeking other outlets for their grief. For many, a ‘do-it-yourself’ alternative memorial helps to provide just such an outlet.

In her book, Cann describes hundreds of different and creative ways used to memorialize people today. Some common practices include memorial tattoos, car decals and t-shirts, but she also found more unusual practices, such as shooting the cremated remains of the dead off in fireworks, or compressing carbon from the remains into diamond jewelry.

Cann has also observed some of these new forms of memorializing loved ones in her own life and believes that they can bring about a healthy blending of culture.

“I had a good friend who died recently and her family was split between a Christian and Hare Krishna faith background,” Cann said. “Her family found common ground in the ‘do-it-yourself’ memorial by letting her young children paint a cardboard coffin, and in it put her remains and messages to their mother. They then scattered her ashes. This process met the needs of a multi-faith family that I do not believe one single religion would have been able to meet.”

Through her research into case studies and from her own observations experiences, Cann has come to the conclusion that the ‘do-it-yourself’ alternative is a progressive process that in certain instances, can be the best option. For families that have opposing religious views or those that are not connected to any religion, these alternative processes give the whole family a healthy way to come together to grieve that satisfies everyone’s needs.

Despite these practices’ tendency to exclude religion, Cann believes that the two are not mutually exclusive. In her opinion, these alternative practices do not replace all the benefits that religion has to offer the grieving. She believes that religion uniquely can provide good counsel and a network of support for the grieving in their time of need.

“I believe religion has a place to re-insert itself in memorials and funerals, but I think the reason people are starting to move away from religion in these processes is because they do not feel that religion is serving their needs,” Cann explained. “I think instinctively, humans have a need to memorialize the dead in a ritualized process and I believe that currently the church, for many, is not satisfying that need. If the church can provide those forms of expression, I believe it will naturally fall back into its place in the memorialization process.”

To Cann, the transition to the ‘do-it-yourself’ memorial process has not been perfect, but it is a move in the right direction toward what she would like to see from society — greater openness and acceptance of death.

“After going through this research process and learning all that I have, I would really like to see society break down the barriers and euphemisms surrounding death,” Cann said. “I want people to feel comfortable talking about death, so that we can support one another and express grief in a healthy way.”

This story is part of a series of research highlights by Caleb Barfield, a student worker in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.  Caleb is a sophomore from Denton majoring in journalism, new media and public relations.  Click here to read more of his work.

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NSF offers Q&A webinars for prospective SBIR/STTR applicants Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:00:29 +0000 Continue reading ]]> SBIRThis fall, the NSF will host a series of  informational webinars for individuals who are interested in applying for funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Translation (STTR) programs.  The free online sessions will help prospective applicants navigate the proposal process and get started on their applications.

In addition to information on the webinars, the NSF’s website also offers links to YouTube videos about the SBIR/STTR program and user guides for developing and submitting applications.

Click here for more information or to register for an upcoming webinar.

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Get to know Big 12 research: Iowa State University Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:00:21 +0000 Continue reading ]]> If you’re like many members of the OVPR’s staff, you’re planning to spend the next several Saturdays watching Baylor’s football team defend their 2013 Big 12 championship. Of course, there’s more to the universities in our conference than just athletics — Big 12 schools are also leaders in research and scholarship.

Leading up to the Bears’ conference games this fall, we’ll be bringing you Q&A with staff members in our counterpart offices to help you learn more about the great research being conducted on their campuses. This week, we hear from Sandy Clarke, communications specialist in Iowa State University’s Office of the Vice President for Research.


What are some of the most exciting research projects going on at ISU?

One area creating excitement is Iowa State’s work at the intersection of several traditional ISU strengths: plant breeding, crop genetics/genomics, bioinformatics/statistics and biosystems engineering. Researchers are collaborating across disciplines to create better, stronger plant species for food and for fuel grown under more extreme weather conditions. In the area of plant genomics, new ways of “editing” genetics of plants—an innovation created by a team that included ISU researchers—have made it possible to create plants that can be more efficiently and sustainably processed for fuel production. With innovations like this, Iowa State has achieved national prominence in plant sciences, biofuels and bioenergy. ISU’s Bioeconomy Institute and Plant Sciences Institute coordinate much of this research.

Also high on our list of exciting projects and facilities, Iowa State University’s College of Engineering has a Tornado Simulator that helps engineers answer questions about how tornadoes interact with homes and buildings, among other studies, and the simulator produces some spectacular effects, as you might imagine. The most exciting part, though has to be the potential for saving lives and property from the devastating effects of violent storms.  Click here to see a photo of the simulator in action. 

What’s an area of research strength at Iowa State that people outside the ISU community might not be aware of?

Folks outside of the Iowa State community might not be aware of the university’s research in health and clinical medicine. For example, an interdisciplinary team working on a nanovaccine initiative aims to deliver vaccines and other drugs in the body using biodegradable polymer nanoparticles. The nanoparticles the researchers are producing are tiny—smaller than typical bacteria. The research brings together nanotechnology, materials science, immunology, clinical science, and social science to focus on tackling four areas that are major threats to world health: respiratory infections, tropical diseases, neural disorders, and cancer. Click here to read more about the initiative.

For Baylor fans who might be traveling to Ames, what are some favorite local attractions or restaurants you’d recommend?

Reiman Gardens is a beautiful spot to soak in the glory of a fall day. Located near Jack Trice Stadium on 14 acres, it has three rose gardens, a conservatory, a children’s garden, and the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing, where you can take in the full spectrum of butterfly species from all over the world. Learn more at Art lovers might like to take in one of several museums. See

Ames also has a thriving downtown scene with several restaurants, art galleries, coffee shops, boutiques and unique businesses that might pique the interest of Baylor fans. Campustown offers food and other attractions. Check all of the restaurant and shopping options at

What’s the history behind the Iowa-Iowa State Cy-Hawk Series?

The athletics departments at Iowa State University and the University of Iowa have staged an annual all-sports competition since 2004-05. The Cy-Hawk Series has been staged 10 times, and each school has won the competition five times. Iowa State won last year’s competition, 14-11. The current sports included in the series are men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, football, women’s gymnastics, women’s soccer, women’s softball, women’s swimming and diving, women’s tennis, volleyball and wrestling.

The winner of the football game each year earns three points. All of the other sport count for two points. Each school can also win one point if its student-athletes have a higher graduation rate than the school’s undergraduate students. Iowa State currently leads the competition, and Iowa State won this year’s football matchup. See the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series website for the latest standings:

Thanks to Sandy Clarke and the ISU OVPR for participating in our “Get to know Big 12 research” series.  Visit their website at

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