Research Tracks

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

November 6, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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Baylor researchers release free iPhone app to screen for pediatric eye cancer

screen568x568 (1)screen568x568Two Baylor faculty members have collaborated to create a new smartphone app that allows users to screen their children for retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer, just by taking a picture.

Dr. Bryan Shaw, an assistant professor of chemistry in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, has a personal connection to the topic: his son Noah lost his right eye to retinoblastoma.  Noah was diagnosed at three months of age, but signs of the disease showed up much sooner.  In photos taken in the first few weeks of Noah’s life, Shaw and his wife noticed that his right eye had a white glow that was very different from the red-eye effect commonly seen in photographs of children.  The white-eye effect can be a normal photography artifact, but can also indicate serious eye diseases including retinoblastoma.

Shaw teamed with Dr. Greg Hamerly, an associate professor of computer science in Baylor’s School of Engineering & Computer Science, to develop the app.  Hamerly and several of his graduate students used machine learning techniques to develop software that could distinguish between images of a normal eye and those that may show signs of disease.  The app can scan existing photos on the user’s phone to look for images that may show cause for concern, or it can be used to take new photographs for evaluation.

The app, called CRADLE (ComputeR Assisted Detector of LEukocoria), is available free for iOS devices on the Apple iTunes store. More information about Shaw’s research is available on his laboratory’s website.

April 29, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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URSA honors top student research from 2014 Scholars Week

The 2014 edition of Scholars Week was one of the largest ever, with 165 students presenting the results of their independent research and scholarly activities.  The event included two days of platform presentations and two days of poster sessions where students had the chance to present their research findings to their peers.  The OVPR thanks the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) Steering Committee as well as students involved in Baylor Undergraduate Research in Science & Technology (BURST) for all their hard work.

This year, for the first time, the URSA Steering Committee and Baylor University Libraries presented awards for the most outstanding platform presentations.  Library staff attended each presentation and selected the most outstanding student research in four divisions: Arts and humanities, nursing, social science and STEM.

As in previous years, the top research posters in a number of departments were recognized by faculty with outstanding poster designations.  The anthropology, biology, environmental science, geology, physics and psychology & neuroscience departments, along with the Louise Herrington School of Nursing, recognized top posters presented by students mentored by their faculty.  These posters are currently on display in the walkway between the Moody and Jones libraries.  The exhibition will continue through commencement weekend, May 16 and 17.

Click “Continue Reading” to see a full list of outstanding platform presentations and posters from Scholars Week 2014.
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April 28, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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URSA presents 2014 Awards in Excellence and Service

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Dr. Truell Hyde, Baylor University’s vice provost for research, presents the URSA Exceptional Service Award to Dr. Elizabeth Davis, Baylor University’s executive vice president and provost.

Last week, the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) Steering Committee, along with the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, presented the 2014 URSA Awards in Excellence and Service.  The awards recognize faculty, students and administrators who have made meaningful contributions to undergraduate research at Baylor.

At a special ceremony in the Bill Daniel Student Center, URSA presented the Exceptional Service Award, Mentors of the Year Awards and the Leadership Award in Undergraduate Research.  In addition to presenting these awards, the committee also presented certificates to students who presented the most outstanding platform presentations and posters at Scholars Week 2014 (Click here to check out more pictures from the event on the OVPR Facebook page).

Please join the OVPR and URSA in congratulating these award recipients and thanking them for their service to Baylor!
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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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April 2, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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Baylor faculty member earns NSF CAREER award

Dr. Bryan shaw is an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in Baylor University's College of Arts & Sciences.

Dr. Bryan Shaw is an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in Baylor University’s College of Arts & Sciences.

Baylor biochemist Dr. Bryan Shaw has received a prestigious “CAREER” award grant from the National Science Foundation.

The NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program awards grants to junior faculty who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

Shaw received the five-year, $405,000 award to further his group’s current research in precisely determining—and ultimately modifying—the net electrical charge of proteins, especially those containing metal ions, or “metalloproteins.” A metalloprotein’s net charge remains one of most difficult properties to measure, but is suspected to play a central role in its chemistry and perhaps in its toxicity. Shaw hypothesizes that altering the charge of some metalloproteins may prove to be an effective way to prevent or even to reverse the clumping together of certain proteins that characterizes such devastating disorders as ALS—Lou Gehrig’s Disease—and Alzheimer’s.

Part of the award also will expand one of Shaw’s current outreach projects: a collaboration with school districts across Texas in which 3D printing is used to make atomically accurate models of proteins. The models are used to convey the dynamic structure of proteins to blind and visually disabled students who face great challenges in learning and conceptualizing structural biology.

In 2009, Dr. Lorin Swint Matthews, an astrophysicist in Baylor’s Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER) was recognized with a five-year CAREER award, supporting her research into the aggregation of cosmic dust, a process thought to be crucial to the formation of planets.

March 17, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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OVPR announces recipients of FY 2015 URSA Small Grants

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Undergraduate Research & Scholarly Achievement (URSA) Steering Committee have announced the recipients of the FY 2015 URSA Small Grants program.  The grants are intended to provide opportunities for faculty-student interaction through mentored research experiences.  Students who work on URSA-funded projects also develop presentation skills through participation in URSA Scholars Week. Continue Reading →

Video: Baylor and Harvard Medical School research shows how digital photography can make a rare pediatric eye cancer easier to detect

November 18, 2013 by Baylor OVPR | 1 Comment

New research by Dr. Bryan Shaw, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences, suggests that digital photography can help parents and doctors detect a rare form of pediatric cancer.

In the video above, Shaw explains how he and his wife noticed early in their son Noah’s life that in some pictures, his right eye glowed white instead of red — a condition called leukocoria or “white eye.”  Noah would later be diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer.  Leukocoria has long been known as a marker of advanced retinoblastoma, but Shaw and his wife had noticed the effect in some of their earliest baby pictures, beginning when Noah was just 12 days old.  The discovery made Shaw curious as to whether white eye in an infant’s pictures might indicate retinoblastoma early enough to improve treatment options for children with the disease.

In collaboration with Noah’s doctors at Harvard Medical School, Shaw analyzed thousands of photographs of Noah and other retinoblastoma patients.  Their research revealed that the white glow can show up in pictures earlier in the disease’s progression than was previously believed, and that the degree of leukocoria correlates with the size of tumors present.  The discovery may help parents seek diagnosis sooner and improve the prognosis for children afflicted with this serious form of cancer.

Shaw’s research, published recently in the journal PLOS ONE, has been covered in a variety of media outlets.  Click the links below to learn more.

May 16, 2013
by Baylor OVPR
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URSA ceremony honors contributions to undergraduate research

The OVPR and the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) steering committee sponsored the first-ever URSA awards ceremony this month. Dr. Truell Hyde, vice provost for research, presented plaques and certificates honoring administrators, faculty and students who have contributed to the growth of undergraduate research at Baylor.

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May 14, 2013
by Baylor OVPR
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University Research Committee announces recipients of FY 2014 small and mid-range grants

The OVPR and the University Research Committee are proud to announce the results of the 2014 URC Small and Mid-Range Grant Programs.  These grants are intended to expand Baylor faculty members’ research capacity by providing support for research or creative activities in any academic area.

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May 3, 2013
by Baylor OVPR
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OVPR announces URSA Small Grant Program awards for FY 2014

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Undergraduate Research & Scholarly Achievement Steering Committee are proud to announce the results of the FY 2014 URSA Small Grants program. URSA Small Grants provide funding to faculty mentors who support undergraduate students conducting independent research or scholarship in their field.

Undergraduate students Josh Flores, Gabrielle Leonard, Rachel Calhoun, and Chris Gerac field questions from the audience following their presentation at the 2013 Scholars Week event.

Students who participate in URSA-funded research have the opportunity to work alongside graduate students and faculty on research projects that expand knowledge and help to solve real-world problems. Through exposure to research, students develop skills in critical thinking, problem solving and data analysis that make them better prepared to pursue graduate, medical or professional education after college. URSA-funded students also have the chance to hone their communication and presentation skills by participating in URSA Scholars Week, an annual campus-wide celebration of undergraduate scholarship (click here to read more Research Tracks coverage from the 2013 Scholars Week).

Please join the OVPR in congratulating each of this year’s URSA Small Grant recipients!

FY 2014 Undergraduate Research & Scholarly Achievement Small Grants Program

Dr. Tamarah Adair
Senior Lecturer, Department of Biology
College of Arts & Sciences
Variation of the effect of blue light on different strains of Staphylococus aureus
Abstract (PDF)

Dr. Lori Baker
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
College of Arts & Sciences
Morphometric and Biogeochemical Skeletal Analysis of Deceased Undocumented Border Crossers
Abstract (PDF)

Dr. Donna Burnett
Assistant Professor, Department of Family & Consumer Sciences
College of Arts & Sciences
Why College Students Gain Weight: A Qualitative Investigation
Abstract (PDF)

Dr. Clay Butler
Senior Lecturer, English Department
College of Arts & Sciences
Managing Conflict Talk
Abstract (PDF)

Dr. Pat Danley
Assistant Professor, Biology Department
College of Arts & Sciences
The Genetic Basis of Conspecific Aggression in Lake Malawi Cichlid Fishes
Abstract (PDF)

Dr. Nathan Elkins
Assistant Professor, Department of Art, Art History
College of Arts & Sciences
Coinage and Power in the Reign of Nerva (AD 96-97)
Abstract (PDF)

Dr. Shelby Garner
Lecturer, Louise Herrington School of Nursing
Picture This! The Use of Photovoice to Illuminate Perceived Challenges and Rewards of Nursing Identified by Future Nurses in Bangaluru, India
Abstract (PDF)

Dr. Karol Hardin
Assistant Professor, Department of Modern Foreign Languges
College of Arts & Sciences
An Analysis of Spanish Language and Culture Education for Health Care Personnel
Abstract (PDF)

Dr. Bill Hockaday
Assistant Professor, Geology Department
College of Arts & Sciences
An Analysis of Sampling Techniques for Particulate Organic Matter and Implications for Understanding River Carbon Cycling
Abstract (PDF)

Dr. Bob Kane
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
College of Arts & Sciences
Characterization of Islet Surface Modification Chemistry
Abstract (PDF)

Dr. Joaquin Lugo
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology & Neuroscience
College of Arts & Sciences
Pharmacological Optimization of Learning and Memory
Abstract (PDF)

Dr. Kevin Pinney
Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
College of Arts & Sciences
Structure Activity Relationship Studies Related to Small-Molecule Tubulin Binding Analogues
Abstract (PDF)