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UCRCA Abstracts from Awarded Faculty Proposals 2010-2011

The University Committee on Research and Creative Activity (UCRCA) encourages research and creative activity by UNO faculty. The committee places special emphasis on seed grant funding for projects potentially leading to external funding, and on grants to new faculty to help them establish programs of research/creative activity.


Genetic Analysis of Parkinsonism/Dementia and Multiple Sclerosis

Bruce Chase , Biology

Parkinson's disease (PD) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are chronic, progressive neurological diseases whose causes include genetic factors. Familial forms of PD result from different single-gene mutations, while familial clustering ofMS results from shared genetic risk factors that increase susceptibility to environmental triggers. The long-term aim of this research is to understand the mechanism by which genetic factors contribute to PD and MS in a unique, large kindred where both diseases are found. UCRCA funding will be used to identify the gene causing PD and assess MS-risk factors in this kindred.

Barriers to Faith-Based HIV Prevention

Jason Coleman, Health, Physical Education and Recreation

This proposal seeks to identify barriers to conducting HIV prevention interventions in African American faith-based organizations (FBOs), including churches and other houses of worship, in Omaha. Research will be conducted using qualitative methods, including interviewing African American religious leaders followed by data analysis using a grounded theory approach. The investigator will assemble an advisory committee of key stakeholders to identify and recruit participants. Results of this study will be used to provide preliminary data for an application to the National Institutes of Health for further research into faith-based HIV prevention.

Microscopy of Aerosol Particles

Joshua Darr, Chemistry

Aerosols are solid particles or liquid droplets suspended in a gas. Aerosols have important implications for health, pollution, and climate. In order to carry out experiments on aerosols, the type of particle under investigation needs to be characterized for properties such as particle size distribution and shape. A technique that is commonly used in characterizing these properties is scanning electron microscopy. This proposal involves preliminary work focused on determining the best means of preparing aerosol samples for analysis using scanning electron microscopy.

The Jump Off

Wanda Ewing, Art and Art History

Society regularly objectifies the female form. In mainstream entertainment, it’s ever present in Hip Hop culture. Scantly clad women perform in rap music videos exuding sexuality. In this industry, are women being taken advantage of or is it the women who are in control? Does it matter? I’ll explore this subject by creating a wall mural depicting the interior of a nightclub with erotic dancers. Relief printed pieces of canvas will be sewn together, making an image measuring 10’ x 15’. Areas of the mural will be adorned with glass beads and stuffed with cotton batting, making the surface threedimensional.

Animal-Assisted Reading Programs with Grade-School Children

Lisa Kelly-Vance and Rosemary Strasser, Psychology

The purpose of this study is to introduce Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) into a summer reading program with students who are at-risk for reading difficulties. The program involves reading to dogs and learning about how to care for them. The impact of the program will be assessed by a measure of reading fluency and a scale to determine change in children’s knowledge of, attitude towards, and behavior with dogs. We will also assess the effect therapy dogs have on children’s stress level while reading by collecting salivary cortisol levels in children before and after interaction with a therapy dog.

How to be a Sage King: The Form and Content of Political Philosophy in Traditional Neo-Confucian Korea

Halla Kim, Philosophy

Korea has long been recognized as one of the most Confucian countries in the world. This study will make an assessment of the Neo-Confucian state ideology underlying the traditional Korean political system with an emphasis on the ideal of a sage king. Forming the initial stage of a process that will lead to a book-length manuscript, the project is a presentation of a full history and interpretation of the origin, reception, and development of the ideal of political authenticity under the guise of a sage king and its cultural impact in the traditional Korean society.

Investigation of a possible Devonian metamorphic core complex in Svalbard Norway

Harmon Maher, Geography/Geology

Based on reconnaissance work a research team I belong to believes that an unrecognized, large scale and distinctive geologic feature called a metamorphic core complex exists on Svalbard, Norway, possibly an uncommon or new variant. Core complexes form where an upper and tapered crustal slab is pulled off lower hotter rocks that respond to form, essentially, a giant blister. UCRCA funding would allow studying of the Svalbard feature in enough detail to publish and inform the geologic community of its existence and type. Understanding of a disputed plate motion history and of crustal dynamics will also be improved.

Harry Duncan, The Cummington Press and Abattoir Editions at the Criss Library

Marvel Maring and Rene Erlandson, Criss Library

From 1972-1985, Harry Duncan was the resident fine press printer on the UNO campus and the proprietor of The Cummington Press and Abattoir Editions. Responsible for printing Robert Lowell's first book of poetry, Duncan also worked with William Carlos Williams, Tennessee Williams, Wallace Stevens and others. With a world- class reputation, his legacy is a goldmine for literary and book history researchers. Currently, this work remains largely unexplored in the depths of Special Collections. Our aim is to curate an exhibition with an online and print catalog of Duncan's fine press work while highlighting a unique aspect of UNO's past.

Comparison of Clinical Measures of Posture, Strength, Balance, and Landing Mechanics in ACL

Melanie McGrath, Health, Physical Education and Recreation

Injuries to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) are one of the most debilitating of athletic injuries, and lead to significant long-term health risks. Athletes that participate in soccer, basketball, and football are at the greatest risk of injury. Recent evidence suggests that undergoing ACL reconstruction places these athletes at even greater risk of injury, but little research has examined the differences between ACL reconstructed athletes and healthy controls. Our aim is to examine multiple measures of posture, balance, strength, and landing mechanics in ACL reconstructed athletes, to determine risk factors for future ACL re-injury and the development of osteoarthrtis.

Hybrid vs. Traditional Learning in Beginning Language Classes: A Pilot Study

Anita Saalfeld, Foreign Languages and Literature

Most current research indicates that students enrolled in blended classrooms (classrooms using online and face-to-face instruction) for foreign languages perform as well as students in face-to-face classes, however, one study indicated lower writing proficiency for students in hybrid classes. The present study investigates various aspects of language proficiency, including grammatical proficiency, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, writing, and speaking, in order to assess the efficacy of hybrid courses being piloted in AY2010-2011. Participants will be students enrolled in Spanish 1110 in Fall 2010, and Spanish 1120 in Spring 2011. A subset of participants will be recruited for assessing writing and speaking.

International Guest Conductor and Conducting and Repertoire Master Class Presentation

James Saker, Music

James R. Saker has been invited to serve as a guest conductor with the Jazeps Medins Riga Music School Wind Orchestra from Latvia in a performance and informational presentation for the Forum of Wind Orchestra and Ensemble Conductors presented by the Cultural Ministry of the Republic of Latvia and held at the Latvian Academy of Music. Guest conductors from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Holland, Lithuania, Slovenia and Latvia will collaborate on conducting techniques and interpretation of Wind Orchestra repertoire of the Baltic States and Scandinavian Composers. A series of conducting masterclasses with students and faculty from the Latvian Academy of Music with several of the guest conductors will be presented during which score analysis and interpretation, conducting technique, and performance practices will be exchanged. In the week following the formal program Saker will consult with conductors at the Latvian Music Academy, the University of Latvia, and Latvian Intermediate Level Music School to observe rehearsals and conducting lessons and exchange information about the preparation of wind orchestra conductors. He also will visit Latvian Community and School music programs to observe and conduct their Wind and Symphony Orchestra rehearsals.

Impact of Recovery Environment on Cold Induced Muscle Adaptation

Dustin Slivka, Health, Physical Education and Recreation

The primary purpose of this project is to determine the effects that post exercise environmental temperature has on human muscle adaptive response after acute exercise in the cold. Previous research by the primary investigator has demonstrated that cold exposure during exercise when followed by cold exposure during recovery can stimulate an enhanced muscle adaptive response over warmer temperatures. From this previous research the importance of recovery temperature is unclear. The muscle samples for the proposed study have been collected at the University of Montana as part of a different project and will be shipped to UNO upon funding.

Recognition Memory in Older Adults

Amy Fair Teten, Special Education and Communication Disorders

The purpose of the proposed research is to examine whether healthy older adults (GA) and older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCl) are differentially affected by the level of specificity required in tests of recognition memory. Pmticipants in the two groups will be asked to study words presented in different contexts and then complete a series of recognition tests. Test lists will require recollection of either specific or more general aspects of initial encoding. Compared to healthy GA, adults with MCI are expected to have greater difficulty using controlled retrieval processes to access specific information.

The Effect of Huddling Behavior on Metabolic Rates in Southern Flying Squirrels (Glaucomys volans)


James Wilson, Biology

Animals adapt to winter by migrating, hibernating, developing insulation, or huddling. Flying squirrels do not hibernate, but do utilize group huddling in winter to reduce the energetic demands of thermoregulation. However, the amount of energy savings obtained from huddling is unknown. This study will measure the energy savings of group huddling by flying squirrels. We hypothesize that total group metabolism will be lower than the sum of the metabolism of each individual in the group when exposed to cold alone. Understanding how animals behaviorally reduce winter thermal costs will determine how best to manage habitat to facilitate energy saving behaviors.

A Novel Technique of Video Quality Improvement for Public Safety

Quiming Zhu, Computer Science

As video surveillance technology becomes indispensable in public safety and law enforcement around the world, one thing is clear: image quality is paramount. Because of the immense quantities of video data, compression techniques are widely used to reduce the data sizes with certain quality losses for storing and transmission. A novel technique called no-reference quality assessment will be investigated in order to maintain sufficient quality of the videos while remaining efficient for data storage and live transmission. The research results will lead to more effective use of digital videos in public safety and other commercial applications.