Research Tracks

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

June 12, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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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.

June 3, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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CUR seeks applications for biology mentor award

Council on Undergraduate ResearchThe biology division of the Council on Undergraduate Research is currently accepting applications for their annual awards honoring biology faculty mentors for their long-term efforts in supervising undergraduate researchers.

The awards are presented to one faculty member in each of three divisions — early career, mid-career and mature career. Each honoree will receive a cash award from CUR’s biology division. Faculty who mentor interdisciplinary research projects are eligible as long as the projects involve a significant biology component.

The deadline to apply for this opportunity is Saturday, June 14 at 7:00 p.m. CDT. For more information on applying for this award, visit the CUR website.

February 18, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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Graduate student wins award from industry group for her engineering research

A Baylor graduate student recently earned a scholarship award from the Society of Plastics Engineers for her research on nondestructive testing methods for fiber-reinforced, laminate composites.

Sarah Stair discusses her research with Dr. David Jack, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in Baylor's School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Sarah Stair discusses composite materials research with Dr. David Jack in the mechanical engineering department’s lab at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC).

Sarah Stair, a second-year graduate student in mechanical engineering, was one of three students selected by the organizing committee for the SPE Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) for the group’s annual SPE ACCE Scholarship Awards for the 2013-2014 academic year.  The award was based on her research project, “Non-Destructive Characterization of Ply Orientation and Ply Type of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Laminates.”

Stair says advanced composite parts are composed of many layers or “plys,” which are lined up in a particular way so that the finished part has the strength and rigidity necessary to accomplish its function.  While engineers can make predictions about the final part’s strength based on its design, imperfections in the final manufactured product can create sections with unknown properties.

That’s where Stair’s research comes in.

“When manufacturing composite products, the manufactured parts don’t always meet as-designed specs,” says Stair, who earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Baylor in 2012. “For example, during molding, a ply might slip and rotate from its designated orientation, which could affect the properties of the manufactured part. My research will determine the ‘as-manufactured’ orientation of each lamina in a fiber-reinforced part and the failure envelope associated with the manufactured part.”

Stair’s long-term plan is to develop a hand-held device that technicians can use to determine the failure envelope of an installed part without having to remove it from the car or airplane where it is in use.  Such a device could be extremely helpful to automotive or aerospace repair technicians, as well as to quality-control personnel working for companies that manufacture composite parts.

The SPE scholarship is the latest in a long line of awards Stair has earned for her research.  She was a top-four finalist in the best paper/presentation category at the American Society for Composites’ Annual Technical Conference.  She also earned a prestigious graduate travel grant from the National Science Foundation to present her work at the American Society for Mechanical Engineering’s International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition.  Stair was one of only 45 students to receive the NSF award from a pool of 750 applicants.

Dr. David Jack, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, is Stair’s research mentor.   He says that because of the high quality of Stair’s research and her advanced presentation skills, awards like these are anything but surprising.

“Sarah is working on her master’s degree, but she routinely wins awards where she’s competing against doctoral students,” says Jack.  “At conferences, people who hear her presentations always ask me if she’s a doctoral student or post-doctoral researcher.  She’s a great ambassador for our graduate program.”

January 21, 2014
by Baylor OVPR
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Baylor professor wins award for book on spirituality and nature

The Spirit of the Appalachian Trail CoverDr. Susan Bratton’s book, The Spirit of the Appalachian Trail: Community, Environment, and Belief on a Long-Distance Hiking Path (University of Tennessee Press, 2012) recently was recognized as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 by Choice, an academic periodical of the Association of College & Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association. Only about ten percent of reviewed publications are selected for recognition.

The book relates Bratton’s experiences hiking the 2,180-mile-long trail, but primarily presents the results of her systematic study of the spiritual, religious or quasi-religious experiences hikers often claim to undergo while on the trail. Over 200 hikers participated in the study.

“Some hikers have very intense religious experiences on the Trail,” Bratton says. “About a third of the hikers reported experiencing God in nature, or the trail as a spiritual environment. “

Bratton is a professor of environmental science at Baylor University. She holds PhD degrees from the University of Texas at Dallas and Cornell University, a master of arts from Fuller Seminary, and graduate certification in environmental ethics from the University of Georgia.