Research Tracks

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

March 2, 2015
by Baylor OVPR
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Baylor scholar’s new book sheds light on Muslim-Christian relations

Defending Christian FaityChristianity and Islam, the world’s two largest religions, have been engaged throughout history and interconnected for thousands of years. The relationship between the two faiths has historically been marked by conflict, but despite differences, there have also been many successful attempts at peace, mutual understanding and harmony. Dr. Abjar Bahkou in Baylor’s department of modern language and cultures highlights these examples in his book, Defending Christian Faith: The Fifth Part of the Christian Apology of Gerasimus.

“Muslim-Christian relations have been subject to startling waves of events in history,” Bahkou said. “We can learn a lot and get ample food for thought and reflection when we look back at the past and examine the way Muslims and Christians lived and looked at each other. This book is a testimony of such interaction.”

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December 3, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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Baylor research helps provide resolution to families of missing immigrants found near the border

Stevie Hope, a 2014 Baylor anthropology graduate, and Cole Lindeberg, a senior anthropology major, work to exhume an unmarked grave at a cemetery in South Texas.

Stevie Hope, a 2014 Baylor anthropology graduate, and Cole Lindeberg, a senior anthropology major, work to exhume an unmarked grave at a cemetery in South Texas.

Every year hundreds of immigrants attempt to cross over the United States’ southern border; the road is long and arduous and for many it proves to be fatal. Many of the deceased do not bare any pieces of identification, so when they are discovered, the authorities have now way to return their remains to their families; consequently, the bodies are buried in unmarked graves. These disappearances unfortunately leave many families with questions and without resolution as to whether or not their loved one died crossing. For a select group of Baylor of students, led by Associate Professor of Anthropology Dr. Lori Baker, the opportunity to meet a humanitarian need while doing research for their field of study is highly appreciated. With that need in mind, every year Baker and her students travel to locations near the border in South Texas to recover and identify the bodies of those who died crossing over, so that their remains may be returned to their families.

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September 30, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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Baylor professor’s new book documents rise of ‘do-it-yourself’ memorials

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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.

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September 15, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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Baylor students get back to nature in the fight against antibiotic-resistant pathogens

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Michael Cotten (left), a graduate student in biology, looks on as undergraduates Shelby Armstrong and Shanze Zar examine a petri dish containing isolates found in soil samples.

For most patients, hospitals are very safe environments in which to receive treatment and recover. However, despite hospitals’ best efforts, some patients, especially those with compromised immune systems, may be at risk of contracting dangerous infections. A particular group of germs called E.S.K.A.P.E. pathogens — named for the Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumonia, Acinetobacter baumanii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter bacteria — has become a growing concern for health care providers, because the pathogens have adapted to develop a resistance to current antibiotics. According to the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, 19,000 patients die every year from an infection caused by an E.S.K.A.P.E. pathogen. The problem of today’s antibiotics failing to combat pathogens that have grown a resistance to them is a serious one and one that a group of Baylor undergraduate students and their faculty mentors have devoted time and effort toward solving. Continue Reading →

April 22, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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Baylor undergraduate conducts research to improve on a natural tumor-fighter

Cassie Robertson displayed a poster of her research at the 2014 URSA Scholars Week.

Cassie Robertson displayed a poster of her research at the 2014 URSA Scholars Week.

Many times when we think of modern medicine, we think of synthesized chemicals, complex laboratories and doctors in white coats. In this mindset, we often forget where medicine at its most basic form is found: nature.

Senior Business Fellow and pre-med major Cassie Robertson, under the advisement of Dr. Kevin Pinney, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has employed this simple philosophy in her investigation of the cancer fighting ability of a compound found in the African Bush Willow Tree.

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March 27, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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Scholars Week Preview: Baylor student steps outside of the classroom to take a deeper look at Job

This is the third in a series of Scholars Week preview articles by Caleb Barfield, a student worker in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.  Caleb is a freshman from Denton majoring in journalism, new media and public relations.

Click here to check out more previews of the great research Baylor students will present at URSA Scholars Week 2014, March 31-April 4.

Questions surrounding the existence of suffering and pain in the world have plagued philosophers and scholars for generations. Although many of these questions will never have definitive answers, many philosophers and scholars look to religious texts for guidance.

Katherine Ellis will present her research on the Book of Job at URSA Scholars Week. Photo by Caleb Barfield.

Katherine Ellis will present her research on the Book of Job at URSA Scholars Week. Photo by Caleb Barfield.

Katherine Ellis, a junior religion major, has followed their example in her investigation into the Divine Speeches found in the Book of Job.

“I have always been fascinated with the Book of Job,” Ellis said. “The questions it raises and topics it brings up intrigue me, such as theodicy, suffering and how humanity and God meet in those moments. After studying the Book of Job in Dr. Bellinger’s class, I wanted to understand the book at a deeper level, and I became interested specifically in the Divine Speeches (Yahweh Speeches), which record God’s response to Job and come near the close of the book in chapters 38-41.”

The project started as a class assignment for Ellis and turned into something far greater once Dr. Bill Bellinger, professor and chair of the religion department, took notice of the insightfulness of her research paper.

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March 26, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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Scholars Week Preview: Increased exposure to toxicants may pose threat to Central American crocodiles

This is the second in a series of Scholars Week preview articles by Caleb Barfield, a student worker in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.  Caleb is a freshman from Denton majoring in journalism, new media and public relations.

Click here to check out more previews of the great research Baylor students will present at URSA Scholars Week 2014, March 31-April 4.

In recent years, scientists and law enforcement officials have documented increases in illegal dumping and hazardous waste pollution in Central America. This has led environmental scientists to question if an increase in exposure to these toxicants may be threatening Belizean and Costa Rican crocodile populations.

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Derek Newberger examines crocodile scutes, the spiny scales found on the crocodile’s tail. Photos by Caleb Barfield.

Senior biology major Derek Newberger and the chair of the Environmental Science department, Dr. George Cobb, are studying crocodile scutes (external scales on the crocodile’s tail) to determine if there has been a measurable increase in exposure to toxicants.

“Currently, I’m searching for the bioaccumulation of mercury and transition metals in American crocodile scutes from Belize and Costa Rica,” Newberger said.

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March 18, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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Scholars Week Preview: Baylor students study Roman coins

This is the first in a series of Scholars Week preview articles by Caleb Barfield, a student worker in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.  Caleb is a freshman from Denton majoring in journalism, new media and public relations.

Click here to check out more previews of the great research Baylor students will present at Scholars Week 2014, March 31-April 4.

As of Nerva struck at Rome, AD 97. Obverse: bust right of Nerva with imperial titles.  Reverse: Aequitas standing left holding cornucopia and scales, AEQVITAS AVGVST.

Copper as of Nerva struck at Rome, AD 97. Obverse: bust right of Nerva with imperial titles. Reverse: Aequitas standing left holding cornucopia and scales, AEQVITAS AVGVST. Image credit: NAC AG 51, no. 39

Sestertius of Nerva struck at Rome, AD 96.  Obverse: bust right of Nerva with imperial titles. Reverse: Libertas standing left holding scepter and the cap of a freed slave, LIBERTAS PVBLICA.

Bronze sestertius of Nerva struck at Rome, AD 96. Obverse: bust right of Nerva with imperial titles. Reverse: Libertas standing left holding scepter and the cap of a freed slave, LIBERTAS PVBLICA. Image courtesy of Dr. Nathan Elkins.

Sestertius of Nerva struck at Rome, AD 97. Obverse: bust right of Nerva with imperial titles.  Reverse: Two mules grazing  with a shaft and harnesses behind them, VEHICVLATIONE ITALIAE REMISSA.  The reverse type celebrates the forgiveness of the tax for the imperial post in Italy. Images courtesy of Dr. Nathan Elkins.

Bronze sestertius of Nerva struck at Rome, AD 97. Obverse: bust right of Nerva with imperial titles. Reverse: Two mules grazing with a shaft and harnesses behind them, VEHICVLATIONE ITALIAE REMISSA. The reverse type celebrates the forgiveness of the tax for the imperial post in Italy. Image credit: NAC AG 54, no. 39.

Looking back into Roman history, the reign of an emperor is often judged by the monuments he built, the battles he won or the impact he made on Roman society. While these contributions are important, many times the legacies emperors left in other areas are overlooked.  One such example is the coinage produced by Emperor Nerva.  Historically, Nerva is often considered merely a placeholder between better-known Domitian and Trajan. His brief reign lasted only from 96-98 CE.

The iconography and messaging displayed on Nerva’s coins is the subject of a research project by Dr. Nathan Elkins, assistant professor of art history in the College of Arts & Sciences, and two undergraduate students, Xander Gardere and Amy Welch.

“This started as Dr. Elkins’ project,” Welch said. “He wanted to see if Nerva’s coins had elements of propaganda; if he put images on the coins to convey a certain message to the populus. If so, then it could be attributed to the fact that in his 16 months of being in office he couldn’t accomplish many of the things emperors before him had, but he could leave a legacy through the release of money.”

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