Research and Creative Happenings in the College of Arts and Sciences
The NSF REU Poster Session took place at Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building on July 31, 2014. Chemistry students pictured from right to left are: Joel Reihmer (the presenter), Jason Young, and Nicholas Vishnosky.
John Cumbler and American history’s 238 shades of gray is
an article in LEO Weekly written by Ricky L. Jones, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Dept. of Pan-African Studies
by Tad Hughes
The Parkland Project Safe Neihborhoods federal grant involes the combination of two crime supression models. The first model, focused deterrence, is an innovative tactic used to supress violence. This strategy that narrowly tailors sanctions to specific individuals and/or specific criminal behaviors (for example handgun violence among gang members). Rather than rely upon the general deterrent effect of the traditional criminal justice process, potential offenders are explicitly told that their risk of being sanctioned has increased unless they change their behavior. This model has been used successfully by many jurisdictions around the United States. Additionally, we are working to incorporate restorative justice principles and practices into the focused deterrence model.
The second model, Hot spot policing, involved in the grant focuses upon geography. Research indicates that very small number of very small areas (“Hot Spots”) account for a disproportionately large amount of crime. Our goal in this portion of the project is to identify these areas and treat them with focused policing efforts. Specifically, officers will be directed to randomly attend to hotspots for a short focused patrol. The goal is to have each hotspot “treated” every two hours. Research has shown this practice to be effective in reducing the crime in the hot spot areas.
IPOP Researchers Receive Justice Department Grant to Study Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
Researchers from the UK College of Pharmacy’s Institute for Pharmacy Outcomes and Policy (IPOP) received a two-year, $363,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice to study prescription drug monitoring programs.
Faculty members Karen Blumenschein, Trish Freeman and Jeff Talbert are collaborating with co-investigators Gennaro Vito and George Higgins from the University of Louisville Department of Justice Administration on the project, which is entitled “Optimizing Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs to Support Law Enforcement Activity.”
The research project will evaluate the features and practices of prescription drug monitoring programs and identify those that have the greatest utility for law enforcement investigations and prosecutions.
As part of the research, data will be collected and analyzed from seven state prescription drug monitoring programs. Results from the project are expected to have an important impact, as they will provide evidence-based information on the best practices of prescription drug monitoring programs to support law enforcement activities and provide a contextual framework for future policy and program improvements designed to mitigate the crisis of prescription drug abuse, trafficking and diversion.
Vito and Higgins are responsible for the conduct of focus groups with narcotics officers and prosecutors in the states under analysis. The focus groups will be conducted to determine how the officers and prosecutors make use of the prescription drug monitoring programs to investigate and prosecute drug cases. All of the responses will be anonymous (in that names and positions will be never be listed) and confidential.
The Role of Mindfulness in Predicting Perceived Stress, Health and Positive Adaptation in College Undergraduates (Sephton PI, Salmon Co-I). This study aims to examine how “trait” scores of mindfulness (i.e. relatively constant measures) may predict academic stress levels, measured both by self-report and salivary cortisol. Collected in 2007 and 2008 from 85 undergraduate students, data were gathered from participants at two intervals during a semester, using multiple measures of mindfulness, stress, health behavior and psychological well-being.
iPod-Based Coping Skills for Breast Cancer Patients (Sephton, P.I.; Salmon, Co-I). The efficacy of a mindfulness-based meditation intervention to improve coping efforts, reduce perceptions of distress, and improve circadian rhythms, endocrine, and immune function will be explored among female pre-surgical breast cancer patients. The intervention, which was created and recorded by Dr. Salmon, will be provided to participants via an iPod Nano during the surgical and adjuvant treatment phases, up to 6 months following their surgery. Funded by the University of Louisville Intramural Research Grants, Research Initiation Grant and the Undergraduate Research Grant as well as the Nancy R. Gelman Foundation Seed Grant.
Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for Parkinson's Disease Patients and Caregivers (Salmon, PI; Sephton Co-I). Working in collaboration with the University of Louisville Movement Disorder Clinic, we are conducting a pilot study of the impact of Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on Parkinson’s patients and their primary caregivers. Variables examined in this study include immune function, salivary cortisol, psychophysiological functioning, disease-relevant movement and balance measures, and self-reported physical and psychological functioning.
Psychological Distress and Immune Disruption in Women Newly Diagnosed with Breast Cancer (Sephton PI, Co-I’s Dhabhar (Stanford), Chagpar (Yale), Psych Dept dissertation of Liz Cash, Ph.D). Examines the associations of proinflammatory immune markers in the systemic circulation with distress and circadian disruption in a sample of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, and examines the relationship between whole blood activation induced immunoprotective T helper (Th)-1 versus pro-inflammatory, anti-inflammatory, and Th-2 cytokine responses with distress and circadian disruption. (Funded by the Stanford Cancer Center Developmental Cancer Research Award in Translational Science).
LAB WEBSITE http://louisville.edu/psychology/sephton/biobehavioral
by Yongzhi Xu
My current research is focused on inverse scattering problems and mathematical model of breast cancer.
Inverse scattering problems
Scattering theory is concerned with the effect an inhomogeneity has on an incident wave or particle. The inverse scattering problem is to determine the unknown inhomogeneity from the knowledge of the incident wave and the measured scattered wave. Its applications include medical imaging, underwater imaging and underground imaging.
Currently I am cooperating with Professor Jun Zou of Chinese University of Hong Kong and Professor Dinghua Xu of Zhejiang University of Technology on developing effective numerical algorithms for computer simulations. We developed a parallel radial bisection algorithm and a direct sampling method for the inverse scattering problems, which greatly improved the existing methods.
Mathematical modeling of cancer
I continue my research on cancer modeling, analysis and computation. Developing mathematical models of tumor growth is an emerging field and has attracted much research in recent years. Some models have been studied by biomathematicians. Assuming that a tumor consists of a continuum of live and dead cells, we can describe local volume changes and cell movement due to cell growth and death by a system of partial differential equations. Hence we are able to capture the early growth and developing spatial composition of the tumor.
I have been studying a special kind of cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), in order to investigate possible procedures to connect free boundary model of DCIS with clinical data. The study focuses on a class of free boundary value problem models of DCIS and their comparisons with clinical data. In particular, we formulate a number of inverse problems for the well-posed free boundary valued problem related to clinical diagnose of cancer. To the best of my knowledge, there is no publication on this kind of inverse free boundary valued problems.
This research focuses on a central issue of computational bio-mathematics, which meshes well with UofL’s efforts in cancer research. A computational model of tumor growth enables scientists to use computers to study the effects of different factors related to tumor growth. It can help to find new strategies to enhance inhibitors of tumor growth.
submitted by Robert Kebric
Professor Robert Kebric’s standard work on Greek History entitled Greek People was translated into Chinese and published in Beijing in March, 2013. The publication was featured on the front page of Douban, China’s most prominent website for intellectuals. The first printing of 5,000 copes sold out in a few weeks, requiring a second printing. The translation of the companion volume, Roman People, is due by the end of the year and is expected to be equally popular.
Kebric also hopes to finish soon a work about a remarkable 19th century woman, Phillis Goggs Seal, who became known as the “Whaling Woman of Hobart Town,” and at one time owned the largest whaling fleet in Australia. The epic scope of the project relates not only to Australian/Tasmanian and English History, but also to Women’s History, Pacific Whaling, Business History, Transportation History, and Brazilian History. Her life as a pioneer in helping establish with her husband, Charles, the infrastructure for modern Australia has been all but forgotten. Her path connects to England’s first prime minister; Horatio Lord Nelson; Emperor Dom Pedro of Brazil; Australia’s first major contact with Japan; and to the novels of Charles Dickens. After her husband’s death, she and her sons would establish the family as one of the leaders in the Victorian gold rush at Ballarat, where she would die in 1877. The story is a virtual mini-series.
Kebric is also writing in cooperation with Tom Ecker (one of the founders), the first major history of the Mason–Dixon Games, which put Kentucky on the athletic map in the early sixties with one of the premiere Indoor Track and Field Meets in the world—a distinction for the State that will finally receive its proper recognition.
The discovery of Graphene – an atomically thin layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice – received the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for isolating a single atomic layer of this material. The unusual electronic properties of Graphene, spurred the search for other two-dimensional materials. Dr. Humberto Gutierrez, a Tenure-Track Assistant Professor in Physics and Astronomy, is considered a leader in this emerging field of two-dimensional materials. He has done pioneering work in the synthesis and characterizations of a new class of two-dimensional materials called Transition Metal dichalcogenides (TMDs). When a single layer of this material is isolated from the rest, new physical properties arise, including highly efficient light absorption and emission, making these materials very attractive for utilizing them in the next generation of opto-electronic devices (light emitters, photo-detectors and photovoltaics) that are not only flexible and light-weight but also energy efficient and portable. Dr. Gutierrez’s research focuses on tailoring the physical properties of these atomically thin TMD based sheets by controlling their chemical composition, electronic doping and strain fields. He is also developing new methods to locally modify the properties of these materials and synthesize in-plane hetero-structures that could eventually lead to a paradigm shift in the fabrication of opto-electronic devices. He is actively collaborating with Professor Jayanthi and the rest of the Condensed Matter Theory group to provide an integrated approach of theory and experiments for a better understanding of the physics underpinning the properties of these 2D materials.
For more information, visit the website: http://www.physics.louisville.edu/gutierrez/
Here's a link to the cover of the journal Nano Letters (August issue) where one of my articles was highlighted:
Humberto Rodríguez Gutiérrez, Assistant Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy
by Garry Sparks
As a result of archival research this past summer in Guatemala, I have been translating sixteenth-century highland Mayan notarial manuscripts—such as land deeds, wills, and court petitions—in K’iche’ and Kaqchikel Maya with particular attention on the explicit and implicit use of religious (Mayan or Catholic) language, motifs, or rationale. On one hand, these types of documents and nominally non-religious genres are overlooked and undervalued by scholars of religion. On the other hand, the highland Maya were among the first Native American groups to learn the missionary alphabet and produce their own texts in their own indigenous languages for their own purposes often for their own primary audiences of other indigenous elites (with the Spanish Crown or Church officials as a secondary or later audience). While these texts focus on highly local concerns, agendas, and strategies, the extent to which they draw from both pre-Hispanic Mayan religious traditions and pre-Reformations Hispano-Catholicism I refer to this domain as “hyperlocal” theological production. Based on these documents and other sources I construct an ethnohistorical context (a context from the indigenous perspective and sources rather than the dominant Spanish accounts alone); I then align these Mayan texts with contemporaneous texts by Catholic mendicant missioaries who learned and wrote in Mayan languages. This intertextual analysis—the earliest possible in the history of Christianity—helps me re-examine the period of first contact between indigenous Mesoamericans and Europeans as well as reconstruct the first documented inter-religious dialogue as the highland Maya elites pulled from (accommodated, corrected, rejected, etc.) mendicant concepts and claims, and mendicant missionaries pulled from (accommodated, corrected, rejected, etc.) Mayan religious narratives and symbols.
In November 2013 I will present my findings on an intertextual analysis between the first Christian theology written in the Americas (the Theologia Indorum (“Theology of the Indians”) of 1553) and the oldest written Native American myth, the Popol Vuh (ca. 1554-8) – both written in K’iche’ Maya – at the American Academy of Religion in Baltimore, Maryland. This paper is to be a new chapter in a manuscript that I am completing on the Theologia Indorum and its principal author, Friar Domingo de Vico, O.P., for submission by later next year 2014.
In February 2014 I will present a paper at a conference at Arizona State University on Mayan moral and religious discourse as it appears in both these sixteenth-century notorial texts that I am translating and in current Mayan ceremonial and ritual practices (based on my fieldwork among the highland Maya since 1995) demonstrating such discourse as the basis for current Mayan consuetudinary law (aka customary or traditional law). This paper will be an invited contribution in new anthology on current moral voices in 21-century Latin America.
I am also working on a selected volume of English translations of these 16th-century Mayan and Dominican texts for an academic publisher that aims to increase the availability of such primary sources to undergraduate college students. I hope to have this volume submitted to the publisher for review by 2015.
Garry Sparks, PhD
Assist. Prof. in Humanities of Global Studies of Christianity
by Steve Yanoviak (submitted on 11/5/13)
1) The Ecology of Lightning in Forests from Michigan to Peru
In collaboration with lightning scientists (Hugh Christian and Phillip Bitzer, University of Alabama at Huntsville), landscape ecologists (Greg Asner, Carnegie Institute), forest ecologists (Walter Carson, University of Pittsburgh), and materials engineers (Fuqian Yang, University of Kentucky), my lab currently is exploring the ecological role of lightning in forests from Michigan to the Peruvian Amazon. We are testing the hypothesis that vines serve as natural lightning rods for trees by virtue of their narrow, emergent, highly conductive stems. We are also testing the hypothesis that certain trees in tropical and temperate forests have physiological or structural traits that resist lightning strike damage. Preliminary results from Panama, Michigan and Kentucky show that vine stems have lower electrical resistivity than tree branches over a similar size range. This summer we implemented the northernmost portion of the project in Michigan with funding from the Huron Mountain Wildlife Foundation. Those results will be presented by my students at the Kentucky Academy of Science meeting next week. Over the longer term, we will quantify the effects of lightning strikes on arboreal flora and fauna (e.g., epiphytes and canopy ants), and will focus on predicting the ecological effects of increased lightning activity in forest canopies of a warmer world.
2) Biodiversity in the Tropical Rainforest Canopy
One major research objective of my lab is to measure the effects of liana (woody vine) abundance on canopy ant diversity in Panama. We focus on ants and lianas because they are superabundant in the tropics, ecologically relevant, easily observed, and experimentally tractable. Moreover, lianas are the one forest component that seems to be most sensitive to climate change. This work is funded by a new NSF CAREER Award, which is supporting one of my PhD students (Max Adams) and providing field research experience in Panama for UofL undergraduates and Louisville K-12 teachers. Our main objectives are twofold. First, we are conducting a large-scale liana removal experiment (in collaboration with Dr. Stefan Schnitzer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) to determine how tree-to-tree connections provided by lianas maintain ant diversity in individual tree crowns. Second, we are exploring how ants behave on different types of plant stems in the forest. Specifically, we are testing the hypothesis that ants use lianas as highways for foraging in the forest canopy, and that the roughness or smoothness of stems determines which ants can use them. To test this, we are collaborating with two geographers/engineers (John Van Stan, Georgia Southern University and Del Levia, University of Delaware) to measure the surface properties of plant stems at microscopic scales using the latest laser scanning technologies. My students spend a large amount of time each summer climbing tall tropical trees and collecting ants 100' above the ground.
3) Exciting Ant Behaviors
My lab is responsible for two amazing discoveries about ants that live in trees. First, canopy-dwelling ants can glide back to their home tree trunk (like Superman) during a fall. This ongoing research includes three main collaborators: Robert Dudley (University of California-Berkeley), Michael Kaspari (University of Oklahoma), and Yonatan Munk (University of Washington), and has received significant international media attention, including Discover, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Animal Planet, The BBC, The New York Times, and others. While working on gliding ants, we also discovered that many tropical canopy ants are expert swimmers -- they efficiently paddle their way across the water surface of flooded forests and escape on emergent plant stems. This research is in progress and will soon be submitted for publication. The results will be presented by UofL post-bac Marilyn Feil at the Entomological Society of America meeting in Austin, Texas next week.
by Peter Morrin
On October 4th, the Center for Arts and Culture Partnerships of the College of Arts and Sciences hosted an all-day symposium on Film and Filmmaking in Kentucky.
Funded by the Liberal Studies Project, the Kentucky Arts Council, Department of Fine Arts, the Commonwealth Center for Humanities and Society, and Eleanor Bingham Miller, the conference drew 84 attendees. The audience was made up of students, faculty, film and video workers, investors and interested members of the general public. The University Club hosted the gathering.
John Ferré, Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, opened the conference, asserting that “the College of Arts and Sciences wants to help create a stronger regional cinema culture, and this is only one of many endeavors to that end.” He was followed by Kentucky’s First Lady, Jane Beshear, who encouraged attendees to lobby legislators to extend Kentucky’s incentives for filmmakers that expire in 2014. (Initiated in 2009, the incentive for filmmaking in Kentucky provides reimbursement for 20% of production expenditures with budgets over $500,000). Ms. Beshear stressed the warmth of Kentucky’s welcome to film projects, stressing the Commonweath’s hospitable willingness to accommodate the needs of movie makers.
Panel discussions during the day covered “Making Feature Films in Kentucky,” “Teaching and Writing About Film,” “The Business of Film,” and “Documentary Film in Kentucky.” The keynote address by Stephen Prince, professor of Cinema Studies at Virginia Tech, was on “Realism and Cinema in the Digital Age.” Prince explicated ways in which digital and analog film differed, and how the sense of “perceptual realism” evolves with shifts in technology. Prince concluded that the evidential authority of all kinds of photography was ultimately more a matter of ethics than of technique or technicality.
In the session on feature films, Jane Beshear’s stress on Kentuckians’ eagerness to work with filmmakers was echoed by former Louisvillian, Kimberly Levin. Her feature, “Cantuckee,” is now in post-production. She praised Henry County administrators and volunteers who assisted with a scene demanding the use of emergency vehicles. Levin opined, “in Kentucky the community becomes part of the film.” Producer Milan Chakraborty also cited Kentucky’s friendliness as a positive factor, but thought the state needed to do more to brand itself as a location.
The panel discussion on teaching and writing about film was moderated by Lawrence Cooper, the first tenure-track faculty member at the University who is solely a teacher of cinema studies. The panel reflected a wide variety of perspectives: film critic Anthony Kaufman stressed the challenges of getting his readers to think about film as an art form – and go to see screenings of serious works. Matthieu Dalle, professor in the French Section of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages, recounted his success in getting funding from the French government for a French film festival, and his belief that film studies are a crucial component of language and cultural studies. Gregory Waller, professor in the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University, characterized his remarks as “the strongest possible pitch for the academic discipline of film studies,” noting that film was “a primary way to think about American life in the 20th and 21st centuries.” Kaufman, Dalle, Waller and moderator Cooper all deplored the rise of individual film viewing on portable media devices, noting that film, like other performance media, helped build community as a shared experience, one heightened if the film director is in attendance to explain his or her creative art.
The discussion on the business of film brought very different perspectives. Chaired by Steven Schardt, a Louisville-based producer, the discussants included Mike Fitzer, also a Louisville-based producer, Kent Sevener with Showtime Networks in New York, and Michael Mangeot, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism (which oversees the promotion of film in Kentucky). An emerging key issue was how scattered information is at present on film activities in Kentucky. There is no central clearing house to register film projects in the Commonwealth, no active directory of skilled film and video crew members, no easy access to incentive program information, potential film investors, or a directory of sources for facilities and equipment. Mike Fitzer remarked, “it’s important to connect all the pieces. It’s pretty disjunctive at present.” Steven Schardt pointed to the Northwest Film Alliance as a model of active collaboration between filmmakers and other segments of the film industry in Seattle, resulting in a healthy and vibrant industry.
The final session of the day brought together two legendary Kentucky documentarians, Mimi Pickering of Appalshop in Whitesburg, and Tom Thurman of KET. Pickering’s 1975 documentary, The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man, was named to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry of 25 “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant motion pictures.” Pickering observed that Appalshop had been making films for forty years, and that “when you start building the film community you create a succession of generations of talented people.” Pickering noted that community screenings, especially in localities in which the film had been made, was a key part of the Appalshop program. She also observed that documentary film was one of the most effective means to combat the stereotyping of Appalachian people.
Pickering was followed by KET’s Tom Thurman, whose body of work includes several movies about actors, writers and directors including writers Harry Crews and Hunter S. Thompson; actors Nick Nolte and Ben Johnson; and, directors John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, and Tod Browning. Thurman’s discussion of his “movies about movies” brought the discussion back full circle to Dean Ferré’s introductory assertion that “concerns of art and aesthetics, narration and all of our academic tools of analysis come into play when considering the cinema.” Evaluation is now underway to assess whether there is sufficient interest to make a conference on filmmaking an annual fixture in the Center for Arts and Culture Partnerships’ calendar of activities.