Research Tracks

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

February 9, 2015
by Baylor OVPR
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Baylor professor receives NIH grant to study connection between early-life seizures and autism

Lugo

Dr. Joaquin Lugo, who recently received a grant from the NIH for his research project, “Signaling mechanisms underlying epilepsy and autism comorbidity.”

Dr. Joaquin Lugo, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences, recently received a grant from the National Institutes of Health for research aimed at understanding the link between early-life seizures and autism-like behavioral problems later in life.  The three-year, $415,500 grant was awarded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the NIH.

Children who suffer from epilepsy can carry a range of behavioral and mental problems into adolescence and adulthood, including changes in learning and memory, social difficulties and autism, Lugo says, but the mechanisms underlying these comorbidities is not fully understood.

To shed light on the relationship between these disorders, Lugo and his team will study the effect of seizures at different stages of development on later behavior in mice. They will also examine changes that seizures may cause in the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway – a neurological pathway involved in communication between neurons in the brain.

“We’re looking at the long-term effects of seizures that occur early in life to determine whether they contribute to autism on a molecular level,” Lugo says. “We know that molecular changes to the mTOR signaling pathway in the brain are associated with both epilepsy and autism, so this research will help to determine whether the processes may be related.”

In the longer term, Lugo hopes that understanding the role of the mTOR pathway in both epilepsy and autism could eventually lead to development of new treatments.

“This project is the first of many steps in a continuum of research that will systematically identify the autistic-like behavioral changes and alterations in the mTOR signaling pathway that occur after seizures,” he says. “Ultimately, the research could provide treatments for the behavioral and molecular alterations that occur in individuals with autism and epilepsy.”

Preliminary data for the proposal was gathered with funding from the Young Investigator Development Program, an internal research grant program that provides seed funding to help recently appointed, tenure-track faculty develop competitive proposals for external funding.

Click here to learn more about the research on Lugo’s lab 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.
Continue Reading →

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 →

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.

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

May 7, 2013
by Baylor OVPR
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OVPR announces FY 2014 Faculty Research Investment Program and Young Investigator Development Program grant recipients

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research is pleased to announce this year’s grant awards for the Faculty Research Investment Program and Young Investigator Development Program.  These funding mechanisms provide grants of up to $25,000 to support faculty research projects in any academic area with the objective of helping investigators compete successfully for external research funding.  The FRIP program is open to any full time Baylor faculty member, while the YIDP program is limited to tenure-track faculty members in the first four years of their appointment.

For the 2014 fiscal year, two projects received funding under the FRIP program and one under the YIDP.  The three projects each represent a different college or school, reflecting the breadth of research activity across the university.

Please join the OVPR in congratulating each of this year’s FRIP and YIDP grant recipients!

FY 2014 Faculty Research Investment Program

Dr. Gary Elkins
Professor, Department of Psychology & Neuroscience
College of Arts & Sciences
Hypnosis for Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors
Abstract (PDF)

Dr. David Jack
Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Dr. William Jordan
Professor & Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering
School of Engineering & Computer Science
Characterization of the Fiber Microstructure within a Short-Fiber Injection Molded Composite
Abstract (PDF) 

FY 2014 Young Investigator Development Program

Dr. Renée Umstattd Meyer
Assistant Professor, Department of Health, Human Performance & Recreation
School of Education
Physical activity of Mexican-origin mothers and children in forgotten border colonias: A community-based participatory approach to understanding the landscape
Abstract (PDF)

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)

May 2, 2013
by Baylor OVPR
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URSA honors outstanding posters from 2013 Scholars Week

Top undergraduate research posters from 2013 URSA Scholars Week are on display in the corridor between Moody and Jones Libraries through commencement weekend.

Last month, over 180 Baylor undergrads presented results of their independent research at URSA Scholars Week, a four-day celebration of undergraduate research sponsored by the OVPR and the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) steering committee (click here to read more Research Tracks coverage of the 2013 Scholars Week event).

This week, the departments of anthropology, biology, chemistry & biochemistry, environmental science, physics and psychology & neuroscience have recognized the top Scholars Week posters from their disciplines.

The top posters from these six departments are on display in the corridor between Moody and Jones libraries.  The posters will remain on display through commencement weekend, May 17 and 18, thanks to an arrangement between URSA, the Baylor Libraries, and Baylor Undergraduate Research in Science and Technology (BURST), a student organization dedicated to promoting independent research among undergraduates.  Students and faculty mentors involved with these projects will be honored at an upcoming awards ceremony sponsored by the OVPR and URSA.

Click “Continue Reading” to see the full list of outstanding research posters from these departments.

Continue Reading →

April 15, 2013
by Baylor OVPR
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Baylor faculty member featured on “NIH Research Radio” podcast

Dr. Gary Elkins, a professor in Baylor’s department of psychology and neuroscience, was the featured guest on a recent edition of the National Institutes for Health’s “NIH Research Radio” Podcast.

On the program, he discussed his recently completed study on the use of clinical hypnosis to help postmenopausal women sleep better.  Elkins uses hypnosis to treat symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, increased stress and anxiety or depression, which can cause health problems including difficulty sleeping.

The NIH-funded study revealed a significant reduction in hot flashes and increased quality of sleep for women who received hypnosis sessions and instruction on self-hypnosis.

Click here to listen to the program, or visit the NIH Radio homepage to find information about other NIH podcasts on a wide variety of health topics.