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Advances in Research


JUNE 2016


UAB Part of Study Showing How Different People Respond to Aspirin –
An Important Cardioprotective Drug

Researchers have learned new information about how different people respond to aspirin, a globally prescribed drug in cardioprotection. The research team, led by scientists at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom and including representatives from UAB and the University of Colorado, identified more than 5,600 lipids – or fats – in blood platelets and gained new insights into how these cells respond to aspirin. The findings, published April 28 in Cell Metabolism, are the first comprehensive lipidomic profile of human platelets in response to stimulation and aspirin treatment.


UAB Researchers Find Potential Breakthrough in Binge-Eating Disorder Treatment

Transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS, has proved effective for binge-eating disorder for the first time, according to researchers at UAB.  tDCS is a type of neuromodulator that delivers constant, low-current electricity to a targeted portion of the brain. While it has been tested and proved effective for many disorders and health issues, including depression, Parkinson’s disease and autism, this UAB study is the first to effectively prove its potential as a treatment in patients with binge-eating disorder, or BED. Approximately 5 percent of the U.S. adult population suffers from a lifetime prevalence of BED, with an additional 1.2 percent with sub-threshold BED and 4.5 percent with binge-eating tendencies.


UAB Researchers Show Rural Children at Risk for Worse Health Outcomes, Higher Health Care Costs

Children in rural areas have high rates of medical complexity and often reside in low-income and medically underserved areas, according to researchers at UAB. A study published in Pediatrics examines the inpatient health care utilization of rural children as compared to non-rural children, specifically the higher cost of hospitalization and increased frequency of readmissions. Investigators looked at patient admissions in 41 freestanding tertiary-care pediatric hospitals across the United States, where rural children account for 12 percent of all admissions.


New Research at UAB Shows Personality May Dictate How Distracted You Are While Driving

Extraverted older adults and conscientious, curious teens may be more likely to engage in risky driving behavior, while agreeable teens are less likely to drive distracted, according to new research from UAB. In the study published online this month in Accident Analysis and Prevention, the research team said certain personality characteristics relate to distracted driving tendencies. Leading the project was Morgan Parr, an undergraduate psychology student in the UAB Translational Research for Injury Prevention (TRIP) Laboratory. Parr worked with Despina Stavrinos, Ph.D., director of the TRIP Lab and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences, and others to uncover these new findings about the link between personality and distracted driving.


UAB Researchers Report Parkinson’s Disease Pathogenesis is Reduced in a Rat Model Using a Cell-Signaling Inhibitor Drug

UAB researchers report the first documentation that suppressing a key cell-signaling pathway in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease reduces pathogenesis. Oral administration of AZD1480 – one of the JAK/STAT path-way inhibitors generally known as Jakinibs – lessened the destructive inflammation and nerve cell degradation in the area of the brain affected by Parkinson’s. At present, there are no therapies available to patients to prevent progression of Parkinson’s disease, the chronic neurodegenerative movement disorder marked by profound loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain.


UAB Approved for $2.5 Million Research Funding Award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

Jeffrey Curtis, M.D., professor at the UAB School of Medicine Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, has been approved for a $2.5 million research award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to study the comparative effectiveness and safety of biologic and newer therapies for a number of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriasis, and vasculitis are relatively common conditions causing a significant source of disability, decreased quality of life and premature mortality.


UAH Art Department Chair Publishes

Art, Art History, & Design Chair Dr. Lillian Joyce has authored a chapter in Icon, Cult, and Context: Sacred Spaces and Objects in the Classical World, published by UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press.


UAH Philosophy Professor Publishes

Dr. Nicholaos Jones, Associate Professor of Philosophy, co-published an article, “A Principles-based Model of Ethical Considerations in Military Decision Making,” which appeared in the Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulations.


UAH Philosophy Chair Publishes Book

Philosophy Chair Dr. Deborah Heikes’ book, Rationality, Representation, and Race, was published by Palgrave MacMillan.


UAH Professors’ Book Chapter Accepted for Publication

Drs. Cynthia Gramm and John Schnell, Professors of Management and Economics, had a book chapter accepted for publication. The chapter is entitled, “Remedy-Seeking Responses to Discrimination: Does Management-Employee Similarity Matter?” It will appear in Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations: Managing and Resolving Workplace Conflict.


UAH Finance Professor Has Manuscript Accepted for Publication

Dr. John Burnett, Associate Professor of Finance, had his manuscript, “Liquidity and Investor Confidence in the Turn-of-the-month Regularity,” accepted for publication in Applied Economics Letters.


UAH Assistant Professor has Manuscript Accepted for Publication

Dr. Hank Alewine, Assistant Professor of Accounting, had a manuscript entitled, “The Joint Influence of Evaluation Mode and Benchmark Signal on Environmental Accounting-Relevant Decisions” accepted for publication in Social and Environmental Accountability Journal.


UAH Associate Professor has Publication Accepted

Dr. Sophia Marinova, Associate Professor of Management, had a publication accepted at the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, a respected management journal with leadership specialization. 


UAH Instructor has Manuscript Published

Dr. J.P. Ballenger, Instructor of Management Science, and co-authors had their manuscript entitled, “A principles-based model of ethical considerations in military decision making,” published in the Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation.


UAH College of Education and UA Team Awarded Collaborative Research Grant

Two faculty members from the UAH Department of Kinesiology, Dr. Jeremy Elliott and Mr. David Kyle, in collaboration with two faculty members from the University of Alabama, have been awarded a $2,500 research grant from the UA System Collaborative Research Initiation Program. The grant title is “Promoting Successful Integration: Socialization and Identity Formation among University Athletic Coaches.”

UAH Rise School Receives $50,000 Grant

The College of Education’s outreach unit, the UAH Rise School, received a grant totaling $50,000 from the Daniel Foundation of Alabama. The grant money will be used to purchase books and adapted books for the school’s library, and technology to promote literacy. Additionally, the funds will enable the UAH Rise School to host parent training classes.


UAH Engineering Faculty Awards

  • Dr. Dawn Utley from Industrial and Systems Engineering and Engineering Management was awarded $87,437 from Torch Technologies for Missile Science and Technology Strategic Systems research.
  • Dr. Phil Farrington from Industrial and Systems Engineering and Engineering Management was awarded $56,000 from NASA – MSFC for System Discipline Engineering Research.
  • Dr. Sampson Gholston from Industrial and Systems Engineering and Engineering Management was awarded $220,528 from the Alabama Department of Transportation to continue his Mentor-Protégé Program educating and matching Disadvantage Business Enterprises with funding opportunities.
  • Dr. Tommy Morris, director of the Cybersecurity Research and Engineering and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was awarded $60,000 from DOC – NIST to support the National Cyber Summit.
  • Dr. Robert Frederick from Mechanical Engineering was awarded $577,253 from DOD – Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to investigate Game-Changing Kill Vehicle/Interceptor Technology.
  • Dr. Babak Shotorban from Mechanical Engineering was awarded $72,973 from the USDA – Research Forester, Forest Service to study Fire Behaviors in Southern Pine Forests.
  • Dr. Judy Schneider from Mechanical Engineering was awarded $30,926 from NASA – MSFC to Develop an Ultrasonic Stir Weld Process.
  • Dr. Jennifer English from Electrical and Computer Engineering was awarded $40,852 from the National Security Agency to host a UAH Cyber-Charged Summer Camp.
  • Dr. Sherri Messimer from Industrial and Systems Engineering and Engineering Management was awarded $12,500 from the DOD – Army/AMRDEC to study Credit Card Assembly.


UAH Dean of Nursing Published 

Dr. Marsha Adams, Dean of Nursing at UAH, published “Lifelong learning and academic progress” for Nursing Education.


UAH Assistant Professor of Nursing Co-Published

Dr. Azita Amiri, Assistant Professor of Nursing at UAH, published “Maternal factors that influence child blood pressure in preschool children: An exploratory study” for Applied Nursing Research.


UAH Associate Professor of Nursing Published

Dr. Brenda Talley, Associate Professor of Nursing at UAH, published “Transformational Leadership: From Expert Clinician to Influential Leader (2nd ed.)” for Finance and Economics in Elaine S. Marshall & Marion E. Broome (Eds.).


UAH Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing Published

Dr. Joan Wofford, Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing at UAH, published “Virtual Simulation: Advanced Health Assessment Integration” for National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties 42 Annual Meeting: Crossing Boundaries in NP Education.


UAH Dean of Nursing Awarded Grant

Dr. Marsha Adams, Dean of Nursing at UAH, was awarded grant funding for $30,000 for The College of Nursing to promote Telehealth: Preparing Nursing Students for the Future from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation.


UAH Assistant Professor of Nursing Awarded Grant

Lenora Smith, Assistant Professor of Nursing at UAH, was awarded the New Faculty Research Grant $9,915 for “There’s an App for That? Exploring the Potential of Interactive Apps to improve Cognitive Decline for the Individuals with Dementia and their Caregivers.”

UAH College of Science Professor Receives NASA Award

Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science, Dr. Phillip Bitzer, was the recipient of the prestigious NASA New Investigator Program (NIP) in Earth Science Award for his proposal on Detection and Applications of Continuing Current in Lightning Using LIS and GLM.

UAH College of Science Professors Receive Award from the National Science Foundation

Department of Space Science professors Nikolai Pogorelov and Jacob Heerikhuisen were awarded $20,087 accompanied by a 3.26 million node-hours of computing time on Blue Waters by the NSF Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure. The cost of the awarded computing time is $2.45 million. The grant and supercomputer time allocation will allow UAH faculty, researchers, and students to perform high resolution analysis of the solar wind flow and its interaction with the interstellar medium.


UAH College of Science Assistant Professor Wins Two Grants

Computer Science Assistant Professor Dr. Chao Peng has been awarded $519,088 from the Army Research Lab (ARL) for “3D Virtual Data Visualization”, which intends to use virtual reality and gaming techniques to create immersive environment for users to interact with imagery collections.  Dr. Peng was also awarded $174,996 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for “GPU-Accelerated, Multi-Display Applications for Large CAD Model Visualization on a Commodity Desktop.”


UAH College of Science Professor Publishes in Nature

Physics Professor Dr. Richard Miller and collaborators published evidence in the highly prestigious journal Nature that the Moon tilted over about 3.5 billion years ago, yielding a shift in the north and south lunar poles.


UAH’s Calibrates Advanced Neutron Spectrometer at TRIUMF Cyclotron in Vancouver

CSPAR Research Engineer, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and MSFC Astrophysicist, Mark Christl, conducted calibration of the Advanced Neutron Spectrometer (ANS) at the high energy proton beam at the TRIUMF particle accelerator. The ANS instrument is sponsored by AES NASA program and is scheduled for deployment on the International Space Station in 2016 for neutron radiation monitoring.


UAH Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center Director Co-authors Paper

Mr. David Arterburn from the UAH Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center was co-author on a paper titled, “A New Approach to Hazard Analysis for Rotorcraft,” presented at the American Helicopter Society Technical Specialists Meeting on the Airworthiness of Complex Systems.


UA Researcher Studies Cuba’s Coastal Forests in Anticipation of Tourism Increase

With the 1960 trade embargo on Cuba expected to be weakened if not lifted, the large Caribbean island is preparing for an influx of American tourists. There’s little doubt that a surge of U.S. tourists would benefit the island economically, but there is some concern about the potential impact that an inpouring of people would have on the island’s ecosystems. In October 2015, Dr. Michael Steinberg, a UA associate professor in New College and geography, visited the island as part of the College of Arts and Sciences Cuba Initiative. Steinberg approached a Cuban Park official, whom he had met two years earlier at a scientific conference, and suggested they partner to examine and map the coastal habitat of two of Cuba’s national parks.


UA’s Insurance Research Center Produced Tornado Preparedness Guide

Five years ago, more than 200 people lost their lives and more than 2,000 injuries were reported from the April 27 tornado outbreak that swept across the state of Alabama. On that day, 35 of 67 Alabama counties suffered damage and 23,552 homes were damaged or destroyed. Since then, the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research at the UA Culverhouse College of Commerce has partnered with the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, the Alabama Department of Insurance and Smart Home America to produce the 2016 Tornado Preparedness Guide & Insurance Tips for the state of Alabama. The guide not only shares how state residents can prepare ahead of time for storms but also how they can work with insurance companies in the recovery process.


UA Engineering Assisted NASA with Test of Spin-Off Technology

Engineers with NASA used a lab at UA to help develop a spin-off technology aimed at girding structures against earthquakes. NASA engineers and researchers in the UA College of Engineering recently demonstrated testing of the technology in the Large Scale Structures Lab, LSSL, in the South Engineering Research Center. NASA was testing what’s called a Disruptive Tuned Mass, or DTM, technology to demonstrate the new technology’s capabilities to mitigate a building’s response to earthquakes. Originally developed to solve a severe vibration issue on a rocket, NASA’s new DTM technology has potential for applications across multiple industries. Civil structures are a natural fit. As steels get stronger and construction techniques make buildings lighter, vibration control will be needed on more buildings.


UA Study Shows Population Grew in Most Alabama Metro Areas in 2015

Alabama’s metro area population continued to grow, increasing by 14,754 people, or 0.4 percent, from July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015, according to the population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Population in non-metro areas of the state continued declining by 0.2 percent or by 2,186 people. More people were moving in than moving out in half of the state’s metro areas and births outnumbered deaths in most metro areas, said Viktoria Riiman, a socioeconomic analyst for the UA Culverhouse College of Commerce’s Center for Business and Economic Research. Most metropolitan statistical areas saw an increase in their population, but some areas saw a decline. The largest increase of 4,028 people (0.9 percent) occurred in Huntsville while Daphne-Fairhope-Foley saw the largest percentage increase of 2.0 percent or 3,996 people in 2015.


UA Researcher’s Paper Looked for Leads in Bee Population Decline

Domesticating bees for agricultural pollination may present a greater risk for transmitting the kinds of pathogens that are threatening wild bumble bee populations as a whole, a paper co-written by a UA biologist says. The paper, “A test of the invasive pathogen hypothesis of bumble bee decline in North America,” appeared recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Jeffrey Lozier, UA assistant professor of biological sciences at UA, is a co-author, along with Drs. Sydney A. Cameron (lead author), Haw Chuan Lim, Michelle A. Duennes and Robbin W. Thorp. Lozier and his colleagues used genetic markers to detect species-threatening fungal pathogen Nosema bombi in thousands of specimens from declining bumble bee (Bombus) species in U.S. museums from 1980 onward.


UA, South African Researchers Spoke at Indigenous Education Symposium

National and international education researchers discussed the importance and impact of indigenous education at the “Symposium on Indigenous Education: Philosophies and Practices” recently at UA. The event, hosted by UA’s College of Education, was open and free to the public. Drs. Chris Reddy and Lesley Le Grange, professors at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, were among the presenters. Le Grange’s discussion addressed the integration of “Ubuntu,” an indigenous philosophy of kindness in South Africa, into education practices, like curriculum and instruction, to make public education more relevant to the population. Dr. John Petrovic, professor of educational leadership and foundations of education at UA, discussed “Heritage Language Education in the U.S.” at the symposium.


UA Study Detailed Brazilians’ Lack of Desire for Children, Marriage

Fewer men and women in Brazil value marriage and having offspring when selecting a mate, according to a UA psychologist. Instead, financial prospects, appearance and social status rank higher, according a study led by Dr. Andre Souza, UA assistant professor of psychology. Souza’s study, “Mate preference in Brazil: Evolved desires and cultural evolution over three decades,” was recently published in Personality and Individual Differences. The study, which compared a survey conducted in 2014 with results of Brazilians’ mate preferences in 1984, noted that male and female preferences for mutual attraction, love, kindness and intelligence have remained the same over the last 30 years. However, the expansion of the Brazilian population and economy and drastic shifts in culture have influenced a decline in the desire to have children.


Graduate Students Showcased Research at Education Symposium Hosted by UA

More than 100 graduate students presented research papers and posters at the eighth annual Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology and Counseling Graduate Research Symposium at UA. UA graduate students presented 25 research papers and 40 posters this year and represented UA’s College of Education, Culverhouse College of Commerce, College of Human Environmental Sciences, College of  Arts and Sciences and School of Social Work.