Research Tracks

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

September 16, 2014
by Baylor OVPR

Baylor research finds customers may share the blame for bad service


Dr. Emily Hunter

Most people, when they encounter poor service while dining out, will chalk up the problem to inexperience or ineptitude on the part of their server.  A new Baylor study suggests, however, that when a waiter forgets an order or leaves a beverage unfilled, it may be not be an oversight at all.  An inattentive or hostile waiter may be exhibiting an intentional response to stress brought on by their job, according to research by Dr. Emily Hunter, an assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business.

“Customer service jobs have lots of emotional demands, but managers expect their employees to always have a good attitude,” said Hunter. “We know from prior research that those competing demands create emotional labor; this research shows that labor can cause employees to lash out at customers in response.”

While it has been well established that workers often react to stress by acting inappropriately, most prior research on the subject looked at employees’ behavior toward members of their own organization, not toward customers or other outsiders. Hunter says that studying customer-facing behavior and the motivations behind it is important to help improve management practices in a wide range of industries.

“This research is intended to help managers understand the pressures inherent in customer service so they can take steps to help their employees manage stress and prevent counterproductive behaviors,” Hunter said. “The service industry is a huge part of the economy, but most jobs have a customer service component of some kind, even if the ‘customer’ is another person in the same company.”

Hunter, along with a collaborator at the University of Houston, surveyed over 400 foodservice workers for the study, which was recently published in the journal Human Performance.

Click the links below to read more coverage of this research from news outlets around the world:

September 15, 2014
by Baylor OVPR

Baylor students get back to nature in the fight against antibiotic-resistant pathogens


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 →

August 6, 2014
by Baylor OVPR

On the Research@Baylor website: Great Texts professor awarded Humboldt fellowship


Dr. William Weaver

Dr. William Weaver, professor in Baylor’s Honors College, was recently named a recipient of a research fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.  The foundation awards fellowships to experienced researchers worldwide for 6- to 18-month research stays in Germany hosted by sponsoring and collaborating German academic institutions.

During his 18 months in Europe, Weaver will devote himself to researching and producing a critical edition of the rhetorical writings of Philip Melanchthon, a 16th Century professor and theologian who labored alongside Martin Luther to bring about the Protestant Reformation. It is Melanchthon who is credited with writing the Augsburg Confession, regarded by scholars as the Reformation’s seminal statement of faith.

Click here to read the full story on the Research@Baylor website.

July 30, 2014
by Baylor OVPR

Baylor research in the news: Dinosaurs may have fallen victim to historically bad timing

Dinosaurs might have escaped extinction if the massive, prehistoric astroid strike that killed them had occurred at an earlier or later point in time, according to new research by a Baylor geologist working with an international team of scientists.

Dr. Daniel Peppe, an assistant professor of geology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Scientists, was part of a team of experts from the United States, Canada and Great Britain who found that the six-mile-wide astroid that wiped out the dinosaurs occurred at a time when the huge creatures were already facing disruptions in their food chain due to sea level changes, volcanic activity and temperature variations. These changes in the period leading up to the astroid strike left dinosaurs especially vulnerable to the tsunamis, earthquakes and other events caused by the astroid.

The study, published in the journal Biological Reviews, has been covered by a number of major news outlets.  Click the links below to read more about this research.

June 12, 2014
by Baylor OVPR

Baylor music professor earns international award for tuba recording

Dr. Kent Eshelman

Dr. Kent Eshelman

"Flavors" features previously unrecorded works for tuba as well as transcriptions of works written for other instruments.

“Flavors” features previously unrecorded works for tuba as well as transcriptions of works written for other instruments.

Dr. Kent Eshelman, an assistant professor of instrumental studies in Baylor’s School of Music, has earned a prestigious international award for his recent album of tuba solos.

Eshelman received the International Tuba-Euphonium Association’s Roger Bobo Award for Excellence in Recording for the album “Flavors.” The recording, released in June 2013, was supported in part by a grant from the University Research Committee.

As its title suggests, “Flavors” showcases a diverse collection of music with varying styles and moods.  Some of the compositions were written specifically for Eshelman by prominent brass composers, while others are works which were written for other instruments and adapted for tuba by Eshelman.

Eshelman says the process of expanding the tuba’s repertoire through composition, performance and recording parallels the investigation, research and publication undertaken by faculty in science fields.

“For those in the performing arts, performing is research,” he explains. “Like other researchers, performers invest their time and energy exploring various aspects of their discipline and attain unique results that must be shared with peers and students.  In many ways, recording provides the ideal format for performance from both an academic and artistic standpoint.  It allows for wider dissemination than a live performance and it offers the possibility for the performance to be studied and consulted as a reference.”

Click here to read more about Eshelman’s award on the Baylor Media Communications website.

May 5, 2014
by Baylor OVPR

Baylor English professor’s forthcoming book explores influence of oral storytelling in works of great southern authors

Ford_CoverIn her upcoming book, Tracing Southern Storytelling in Black and White, Baylor associate professor of English Dr. Sarah Ford digs deep into the rich literary mother lode of such diverse southern writers as Mark Twain and Alice Walker to uncover their artful use of oral storytelling in creating some of America’s most treasured stories and characters.

Ford uses each chapter of the 200-page work to detail the connections to and adaptations of southern storytelling common to a different pair of authors, one black, one white. It is a topic and an approach that already is gathering a trove of positive reviews and has many anticipating the book’s release by the University of Alabama Press in August.

More information on Tracing Southern Storytelling in Black and White can be found at the Amazon pre-release listing by clicking here.

Ford earned her Ph.D. at Tulane University, and also serves as director of undergraduate studies at Baylor.

April 29, 2014
by Baylor OVPR

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 →

April 22, 2014
by Baylor OVPR

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.

Continue Reading →

April 16, 2014
by Baylor OVPR

Baylor faculty receive federal grant for research aimed at developing safer industrial chemicals

Dr. Bryan Brooks (Baylor University Photography)

Dr. Bryan Brooks (Baylor University Photography)

Dr. Bryan Brooks, a professor of environmental science and biomedical studies in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences will lead a team of scientists from four universities collaborating to make industrial chemicals that are less toxic to humans and the environment.

Brooks, along with Dr. Spencer Williams, a research assistant professor in Baylor’s Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research (CRASR), will team with faculty at Yale University, George Washington University and the University of Washington on the four-year, $4.4 million dollar project, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The four-university research team, known as the  Molecular Design Research Network (MoDRN), will conduct research to develop computer models to help predict whether molecules will cause toxicity. Alongside the research, education and outreach efforts will help high school students, undergraduates, teachers and practitioners connect with the concepts being studied.

Click here to read more about the project.

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.