Research Tracks

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

January 25, 2016
by Baylor OVPR

Baylor art professor named an emerging artist by Musée Magazine

H. Jennings Sheffield, assistant professor of art, photography in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, was recently named an “emerging artist” by Musée Magazine, an international photography publication. Her work, Tethered, appeared in the magazine’s November 2015 issue as one of 55 emerging artists alongside 39 established master photographers including Rineke Dijkstra, Lorna Simpson, Candida Hofer, The Guerilla Girls and Tina Barney.

H. Jennings Sheffield, 12:00pm-2:00pm (Sept. 29, Oct. 6, Oct. 12, Nov. 19, Feb. 18), 43” x 28" x 4.5", Archival Digital Print on Panel, 2013

H. Jennings Sheffield, 12:00pm-2:00pm (Sept. 29, Oct. 6, Oct. 12, Nov. 19, Feb. 18), 43” x 28″ x 4.5″, Archival Digital Print on Panel, 2013

“The idea that these are some of the top contemporary artists is really exciting,” Sheffield says. “The other artists in the issue are some of the photographers who I teach to students in my classes, so I was thrilled to have my work appear with theirs.”

It is significant that Tethered appears in a special issue of Musée that showcases female photographers. The master artists featured in the magazine provide role models for young female photographers, something Sheffield says was in short supply early in her career.

“I came up in photography when it was a male-dominated field,” she says. “I didn’t have anyone to show me how to have a family, be an artist and teach students. When I went to photography conferences as a student, it was all men.  Now when I take students to those same meetings, there are lots more women.”

H. Jennings Sheffield, 2:00pm-4:00pm (Sept. 10, Oct. 20, Oct. 25, Nov. 23, Feb. 1), 43” x 28" x 4.5", Archival Digital Print on Panel, 2013

H. Jennings Sheffield, 2:00pm-4:00pm (Sept. 10, Oct. 20, Oct. 25, Nov. 23, Feb. 1), 43” x 28″ x 4.5″, Archival Digital Print on Panel, 2013

Tethered is an exploration of the complexities of modern life drawn from Sheffield’s own experience balancing her roles as an artist, teacher, wife, mother and daughter.

“There was a time when it was possible to separate our roles to discrete times of day,” she says. “We went to work in the morning, then spent time with families in the evenings and on weekends. Now, technology has created a tethering effect where our work and family lives become intermingled and confused.”

Sheffield created the images by blending together photographs she took over the course of four months as she performed some of the many roles in her own life. She used software to combine images taken at the same time of day, creating a single image that represents a two-hour block of time.

Viewed at full size, the vertical striping in the images creates a lenticular effect that makes different elements stand out depending on the angle and distance of the observer. The effect underscores Sheffield’s message and reinforces the limitations of trying to represent the complications and connections of modern life using traditional photographic methods.

“I wanted to capture real moments that happen over time,” she explains. “We’re all very tethered and we can’t separate our roles, and I don’t feel that a single image can capture all of those layers.”

A selection of Sheffield’s work is currently on display at Baylor’s Martin Museum of Art as part of the Department of Art’s Faculty Biennial Exhibition, which runs through February 28.

April 20, 2015
by Baylor OVPR

URSA recognizes support of undergraduate research with annual Awards in Excellence and Service

The Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) Steering Committee, along with the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, have announced the recipients of the 2015 URSA Awards in Excellence and Service. The awards are presented annually to faculty, students and administrators whose hard work has helped to enhance and expand the research opportunities available to Baylor undergraduate students.

The award recipients will be recognized at URSA’s annual award ceremony on Wednesday at 12:00 noon.  The winners of this year’s outstanding Scholars Week presentations and posters will also be honored at the event.

Please join the OVPR and URSA in congratulating these award recipients and thanking them for their service to Baylor! Continue Reading →

February 9, 2015
by Baylor OVPR

Baylor professor receives NIH grant to study connection between early-life seizures and autism


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.

December 3, 2014
by Baylor OVPR

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.

Continue Reading →

November 14, 2014
by Baylor OVPR

Upcoming event: Dr. Thure E. Cerling to present lecture on the environmental context of human evolution in East Africa

Thure CerlingBaylor’s Geology Department, the College of Arts & Sciences and the Office of the Provost present a special lecture by Dr. Thure E. Cerling, a distinguished professor of biology and a distinguished professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah.

A member of the National Academy of Science, Cerling’s work primarily concerns the use of isotopes to study biological and geological processes occurring near the Earth’s surface. These studies include cosmic-ray produced isotopes to study geomorphology, the chemistry of lakes and lake sediments, stable isotope studies of diet and of soils, isotope forensics and studies of early hominin environments in Africa. He served for nine years on the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.

Friday, Nov. 21
3:00 p.m.

Baylor Sciences Building, room E.231

The event is free and open to the public.

November 6, 2014
by Baylor OVPR

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.

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 →

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.

Baylor anthropologists make first positive identification of remains in Brooks County

June 11, 2014 by Baylor OVPR | 0 comments

In this report from KSAT-TV San Antonio, Baylor anthropologist Dr. Lori Baker discusses the work she and a team of students have undertaken to identify the bodies of undocumented immigrants in Brooks County, Texas.  Baker, an associate professor of anthropology in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences, leads Reuniting Families, an organization she started with the goal of recovering and identifying the remains of immigrants who died while attempting to cross into the United States.

Baker and her team recently made their first positive identification in Brooks County, determining the identity of a female from Honduras who was buried in a cemetery in Falfurrias, Texas, a small town approximately 160 miles south of San Antonio.

Learn more about this research:

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.