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Research for the Common Good
Quickly Detecting COVID-19
In a matter of hours, University of Dayton Research Institute scientist Barath Narayanan tailored existing medical diagnostics software to quickly diagnose COVID-19. The technology can detect the presence of COVID-19 on chest X-rays in seconds — with 98% accuracy. Then, in less than three days, University of Dayton alumnus Srikanth Kodeboyina exclusively licensed the technology, driven to bring it to the health care industry as quickly as possible. Kodeboyina, who owns Blue Eye Soft in Greenville, South Carolina, has filed a provisional patent on the technology.
Both men were driven by the same mission: Finding a way to rapidly provide another resource in the fight against COVID-19.
“We hope to be able to bring this new tool to market very quickly,” Kodeboyina said, adding that his startup company’s staff of 40 employees was virtually joined by more than 100 professionals based in Singapore, India and across the U.S., all contributing their expertise in artificial intelligence, medical licensing, cybersecurity and other related fields, to expedite further development of the product in preparation for a proposal to the FDA for approval. In the United States, end users would include hospitals, laboratories and medical professionals, he added.
Narayanan, a research scientist in UDRI’s sensor and software systems division, developed his technology using the “deep learning” branch of artificial intelligence — the same technology he uses to perform sponsored research for manufacturing and other commercial applications at the Research Institute. And for the last several years, after the workday ends, he’s continued working with the technology on his own time and for his own purpose: advancing research in AI to help doctors diagnose and treat patients more quickly.
Narayanan had already developed a number of software codes that successfully detect — with 92% to 99% accuracy — lung and breast cancers, malaria, brain tumors, tuberculosis, diabetic retinopathy and pneumonia on respective medical images, including X-rays, CT scans, blood smear slides and eye scans. When a set of chest X-rays from patients with and without COVID-19 were made available for research, just days into the pandemic, Narayanan quickly switched focus.
Drawing on expertise and coding developed on and off the clock, he quickly developed a deep learning algorithm that searches for markings on X-rays that indicate the presence of the disease. In a matter of hours, his software was classifying the images as having, or not having, markings of the disease with a high degree of accuracy.
Narayanan, who holds master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from UD and teaches part time in the University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said he enjoyed the image processing aspect of his graduate student research, and decided to use the field to help people in some way. “I wanted to do something for the common good, and medical imaging seemed a good way to do that,” he said.
“Software-based diagnostic tools can help reduce human error and serve as a valuable, virtual second opinion for medical professionals, especially in parts of the world where medical teams are short-staffed. With additional research, these technologies can be fine-tuned to detect even the slightest anomalies on images — those that are difficult to see with the human eye — helping doctors diagnose and treat patients more quickly.”
Kodeboyina, who received his master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from UD in 2011, has also been on a mission to develop software that will enhance human life, he said. “Right now, one of the most pressing needs on the planet is addressing the COVID-19 crisis. Artificial intelligence can be an important solution to support the health care industry in its fight to mitigate the impact of the disease, and we are on the leading edge of developing that technology.”
UD vice president for research John Leland said the University has been working to execute technology licenses quickly, but completing an agreement between UD and BES in only two and a half days was unprecedented. “We were driven to help Blue Eye Soft make this technology available as quickly as possible,” Leland said. “We are also excited that a UD grad has licensed one of our technologies and is working diligently to provide medical professionals a new tool in the fight against the spread of this devastating disease.”
While Narayanan is hoping to find funding that will enable him to further develop AI tools for the medical field, he said he will continue to work on his own time to help bring them to the health care industry.
Power of Song
From the moment of capture, through the treacherous middle passage, after the final sale and throughout life in North America, the experience of enslaved Africans who first arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, some 400 years ago, was characterized by loss, terror and abuse.
“From this tragic backdrop one of the most poignant American musical genres, the Negro spiritual, was birthed,” explained Donna Cox, professor in the Department of Music. “Sometimes called slave songs, jubilees and sorrow songs, spirituals were created out of, and spoke directly to, the black experience in America prior to the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, that declared all slaves free.”
Even with a new language, English, and without familiar instruments, the enslaved people turned the peculiarities of African musical expressions into the African American sound.
Rhythms were complex and marked by syncopation, an accent on the weak beat. Call-and-response, a technique rooted in sub-Saharan West African culture, was frequently employed in spirituals. Call-and-response is very much like a conversation — the leader makes a statement or asks a question and others answer or expound.
“An example of this is the spiritual, ‘Certainly, Lord,” said Cox. “The leader excitedly queries, ‘Have you got good religion?’ and others jubilantly respond, ‘Certainly, Lord.’ Using repetition and improvisation, the conversation continues to build until everyone exclaims, ‘certainly, certainly, certainly, Lord!’”
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“Some spirituals were derived from African melodies,” said Cox. “Others were ‘new,’ freely composed songs with a melodic phrase borrowed from here and a rhythmic pattern from there — all combined to create a highly improvised form.”
The spiritual was deeply rooted in the oral tradition and often created spontaneously, one person starting a tune and another joining until a new song was added to the community repertoire. Textually, the spiritual drew from the Hebrew-Christian Bible, particularly the Old Testament, with its stories of deliverance and liberation.
“Songs like ‘Go Down Moses’ direct the awaited deliverer to ‘go down’ to Southern plantations and ‘tell ole Pharaoh’ — the masters — to ‘let my people go,’” said Cox.
For the slaves, the spiritual proved to be an ingenious tool used to counter senseless brutality and the denial of personhood. In order to survive emotionally, resilience was critical. In the spirituals, slaves sang out their struggle, weariness, loneliness, sorrow, hope and determination for a new and better life. Yet these are not songs of anger. They are songs of survival that voice an unwavering belief in their own humanity and attest to an abiding faith in the ultimate triumph of good over systemic evil.
The spirituals could also serve as acts of rebellion. They were used to organize clandestine meetings, and announce activities of the Underground Railroad. Songs like “Great Camp Meeting” were used to announce when secret gatherings were being planned.
“The spiritual served as a mediator between the dissonance of oppression and the belief that there was ‘a bright side somewhere,’” said Cox. “Four hundred years after the birth of slavery, as the world still struggles with racial division, injustice and a sense of hopelessness, spirituals can teach how to build hope in the face of despair and challenge the status quo.”
This article is adapted from a piece that originally appeared in The Conversation.
An Illuminating Discovery
For 20 years, researchers have studied how light rotates around a longitudinal axis parallel to the direction light travels. But could it move in other ways? After two years of research, and thanks to a sabbatical, University of Dayton researchers Andy Chong and Qiwen Zhan became the first to create a new “state of light” — showing it also can rotate around a transverse axis perpendicular to the direction light travels, like a cyclone.
Their findings were published in Nature Photonics, an international publisher of top-quality, peer-reviewed research of light generation, manipulation and detection.
"The sabbatical allowed us the time to fully concentrate on this research and was very instrumental in putting us in a position to make this discovery," said Chong, associate professor of physics and electro-optics and photonics.
Zhan and Chong didn't go into their research with preconceived notions on what to look for or what they would find.
"It was more of a curiosity. Can we do this or make light do that?" said Zhan, a professor of electro-optics and photonics and managing director of the UD-Fraunhofer Joint Research Center. "Once we discovered we're able to do this, we then asked, 'What's next?'"
"What's next?" may be a while off for the researchers and others who will examine the pair's basic research findings for applications, but they surmise this new state of light could be used to improve the transmission of large amounts of data with greater security, among many other potential applications.
"We don't know yet. But the sky's the limit," Zhan said.
The duo is most interested in how the light interacts with materials.
"We want to better understand how this state of light interacts with materials in space and time," Chong said.
Allen McGrew is a video "rock star." The associate professor of geology shares his field research into the extreme stretching of the Earth’s crust in northeastern Nevada on the RuGGEd YouTube channel, which has received thousands of views from students, science educators and geoscience professionals.
The videos are produced with colleagues from the University of Colorado Boulder and Great Basin College under a National Science Foundation grant totaling nearly $400,000. The University of Dayton received $200,000 from the grant.
The growing collection of Nevada geology tutorials are linked to an interactive Google map, so geology students and tourists can download the material before field trips or hikes. The channel also has videos about laboratory practices featuring University of Dayton geology students, and videos of the researchers discussing results at Geological Society of America conferences.
The research highlighted on the YouTube channel centers on a large section of the western U.S. —between Salt Lake City and Reno, Nevada — that has roughly doubled in width over the last 40 million years due to extreme stretching and extension of the Earth’s crust. Focusing on a well-exposed section of crust in the Ruby Mountains-East Humboldt Range-Wood Hills metamorphic core complex, McGrew and his colleagues are examining rocks that were brought to the surface from 12 to 24 miles deep by large, geological faults. Using radiometric age-dating, their goal is to determine the timing and rate of the extension, which is the subject of scientific debate.
“These rocks were deep and they were hot,” McGrew said. “They were probably at least 600 degrees Celsius at their original depths. As they are brought up by these faults, they cool as they get closer to the surface. We use that cooling as a fingerprint for this ‘unroofing’ — the rate at which these rocks were brought up to the surface. You can apply this technique to different minerals and they will begin recording this history at different temperatures, so you can develop a fairly continuous cooling history from over 500 degrees to about 50 degrees Celsius. Then, when they get to the surface they begin eroding and they show up in surface deposits, so you can really track the complete history of their journey.”
Some geologists believe 90% of the extension occurred after 17 million years ago, when the North American tectonic plate began to drift over the “Yellowstone hot spot,” a long-lived volcanic center. However, McGrew and others have argued that the extension actually began about 40 million years ago during a series of large geological events, including a widespread outburst of volcanism across Nevada.
“What we’ve been able to show is that the latter view is basically correct,” he said.
McGrew has done field work in northeastern Nevada since he joined the University faculty in 1995. Under the NSF grant, he has made regular trips to the Ruby Mountains, accompanied by five University of Dayton undergraduate students, as well as several from CU Boulder and Great Basin College in nearby Elko, Nevada. He is interested in the geological history of the mountains, but the area is also of great economic interest because it sits in the heart of North America’s largest gold-producing province.
Currently, he is completing the age-dating and working with his colleagues — James Metcalf of CU Boulder and Carrie Bruno Meisner of Great Basin College — to synthesize data and prepare their findings for publication.
Pakistan: From Place to Displacement
Formerly part of the British Empire, Pakistan became independent in 1947 and is the only country to have been created in the name of Islam. But when a nation’s boundaries are created by a former colonizer, how does that impact people’s sense of belonging?
Shazia Rahman, University of Dayton literary critic and associate professor of English, explores that question — and others — in Place and Postcolonial Ecofeminism: Pakistani Women’s Literary and Cinematic Fictions. With each chapter focusing on a different place in Pakistan, the book traces the ways in which Pakistani women explore alternative, environmental modes of belonging.
For example, one chapter explores how the people who live in the desert in India and Pakistan feel they belong to the desert; the nation-state isn’t as pressing to their way of thinking about where they live.
Through analysis of films such as Sabiha Sumar’s Khamosh Pani and Mehreen Jabbar’s Ramchand Pakistani, and novels that include Sorayya Khan’s Noor, Uzma Aslam Khan’s Trespassing and Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows, Rahman illuminates how these works simultaneously critique and counter stereotypes about Pakistan as a country of religious nationalism and oppressive patriarchy.
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The book grew out of Rahman’s teaching about postcolonial literature from around the globe. She previously spent 17 years at Western Illinois University, where she was a tenured full professor. After seeing news reports about Pakistan that largely focused on regional tensions and terrorist attacks, she developed a course in Pakistani literature to offer her students a different perspective.
“I want to humanize the people from this country, and what better way to do that than to have students read literature from that country and get to know the people,” she said. “As I started to do that, I found I had a lot to say about what I was teaching.”
And from there, the book was formed.
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Water Towers: Roles and Woes
Earth is home to 78 mountain glacier-based water systems, known as mountain water towers, that supply water for 1.6 billion people globally — roughly a quarter of the world’s population.
University of Dayton environmental geologist Umesh Haritashya is one of 32 international scientists who contributed to research published in Nature that assessed and ranked these mountain water towers in order of their importance and vulnerability.
“Mountain glaciers supply a considerable amount of water to the rivers and support increasing human water demands in the downstream region,” said Haritashya, associate professor in the Department of Geology and the Brother Leonard A. Mann, S.M., Chair in the Sciences. “However, as demands on this vital resource are increasing, so does their vulnerability. Therefore, in this study, we developed a water tower index and ranked each one of the world's water towers based on numerous possible factors.”
The study provides evidence global water towers are at risk, in many cases critically, because of threats of climate change, population growth, mismanagement of water resources and other geopolitical factors. The authors conclude it is essential to develop international, mountain-specific conservation and climate change adaptation policies and strategies to safeguard both ecosystems and people downstream.
The researchers determined the world’s most relied-upon mountain system is the Indus water tower in Asia. The Indus tower — made up of vast areas of the Himalayan mountain range and covering portions of Afghanistan, China, India and Pakistan — is also one of the most vulnerable.
“The significance of this research is enormous, especially because more than a billion people living in the downstream areas can be significantly impacted by the changes in the world's water towers,” Haritashya said.
To determine the importance of these 78 water towers, researchers analyzed the various factors that determine how reliant downstream communities are upon the supplies of water from these systems. They also assessed each water tower to determine the vulnerability of the water resources, as well as the people and ecosystems that depend on them, based on predictions of future climate and socioeconomic changes.
Of the 78 global water towers identified, the following are the five most relied-upon systems by continent:
- Asia: Indus, Tarim, Amu Darya, Syr Darya, Ganges-Brahmaputra.
- Europe: Rhône, Po, Rhine, Black Sea North Coast, Caspian Sea Coast.
- North America: Fraser, Columbia and Northwest United States, Pacific and Arctic Coast, Saskatchewan-Nelson, North America-Colorado.
- South America: South Chile, South Argentina, Negro, La Puna region, North Chile.
National Geographic and Rolex supported the research as part of their Perpetual Planet partnership, which aims to shine a light on the challenges facing the Earth’s critical life-support systems, support science and exploration of these systems, and empower leaders around the world to develop solutions to protect the planet.
“Mountains are iconic and sacred places around the world, but the critical role they play in sustaining life on Earth is not well understood," said Jonathan Baillie, executive vice president and chief scientist at the National Geographic Society. "This research will help decision-makers, on global and local levels, prioritize where action should be taken to protect mountain systems, the resources they provide, and the people who depend on them.”
Since 2012, Haritashya and his research colleagues have received nearly $3 million in NASA research funding to study glacial lakes and landslides in the Himalaya and Karakoram mountains of southeast Asia. He recently received a $100,433 NASA grant to study a new type of data from Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) that will help scientists better detect and understand glaciers. His research involves field work, as well as the use of satellite imagery and computer modeling.
The tiny white clusters in the jet fuel sample were all too familiar. Steve Zabarnick and his fuels research team at the University of Dayton Research Institute had seen them before, during a study related to low-temperature jet-fuel freezing. So when they were asked to help determine the cause of multiple related inflight aircraft engine failures, the researchers were quickly able to identify the culprit.
The white clusters, formed when urea bonded with large normal alkanes (carbon chains) in the jet fuel, clogged filters, nozzles and other parts of the aircraft fuel systems. Urea is not naturally found in fuel; it was introduced when an aircraft refueling technician inadvertently added what he thought was an icing inhibitor into fuel that was then pumped into the engines of several aircraft. Instead, he’d added diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), a urea-based solution designed to reduce polluting emissions from refueling trucks.
The UDRI fuels research team first identified the problem in 2017, after several military and civilian jets were unintentionally serviced with DEF-contaminated fuel at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska. Since then, at least three aircraft have experienced in-flight engine flameouts or other issues resulting from two separate DEF-contaminated fueling events in 2018 and 2019. In the most recent event, two air ambulances fueled at Punta Gorda Airport in Florida were forced to make emergency landings after engine failure.
Although affected aircraft from all three events were able to land safely, there have been several close calls. And Zabarnick believes all aircraft involved are no longer airworthy, since there is no way to flush the urea complex from the fuel systems.
Zabarnick said the problem started after a 2014 mandate by the Environmental Protection Agency required DEF to be added to the exhaust systems of off-road, diesel-fueled ground vehicles — including airport refueling trucks — to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides and other harmful pollutants in vehicle emissions. Airport operators began storing DEF onsite to service refueling trucks, but the clear, colorless liquid is identical in appearance to fuel system icing inhibitor (FSII), an additive designed to keep trace water in jet fuel from freezing at cold temperatures.
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“When urea is added to ground vehicle emissions systems in the form of DEF, it binds with nitrogen oxides and other pollutants and prevents them from getting through the exhaust system and into the air. But when urea is added to fuel, it binds with hydrocarbons to form clusters of crystals that will clog filters and other fuel systems components. These crystals are not soluble in fuel, so it’s virtually impossible to flush or otherwise remove them from the fuel system — meaning the engine is irreparably damaged,” Zabarnick said.
Ironically, it was their 2002 study into the potential of using urea to lower jet fuel freeze points that helped the research team quickly identify urea contamination as the cause of the engine failures in 2017, he added. “We were able to show that urea selectively binds with and removes the long-chain hydrocarbons in jet fuel that cause it to freeze, but the process generates large quantities of clumpy white deposits. So when we saw the same types of clusters in the fuel samples we received in 2017, we quickly suspected they were urea-alkane based.”
Using gas chromatography, a process which isolates components of a solution for identification, the researchers confirmed their suspicion.
Since then, the fuels team has worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration during investigations into related engine failures in 2018 and 2019, confirming each time that urea-alkane complexes were present in the fuel systems of the affected aircraft.
“It’s important to note that this issue has only been seen in aircraft for which FSII is injected during refueling, such as business and military jets,” Zabarnick said. “The vast majority of commercial passenger flights will not be affected, because they do not require FSII.”
Zabarnick said a report issued by a working group of the FAA and industry participants indicates that the risk of DEF contamination is still high, but that efforts are in place to mitigate that risk. The report recommends a number of short- and long-term actions and processes designed to prevent contamination, including distinct labeling for FSII tanks and dyeing DEF a unique and distinguishable color. The National Air Transportation Association now offers free training on contamination prevention and free decals for DEF storage containers.
“We know the industry is working on measures to prevent contamination, which could include standardized containers, couplings, and pipes and hoses for fuel dispensing equipment,” Zabarnick said. “We believe the risk for DEF-related jet fuel contamination can be greatly reduced as these and other safety measures are put in place.”
Defending Data From Cyberattacks
Consumer data breaches regularly grab headlines as personal information becomes public with increasing frequency.
To help defend against these cyberattacks, the University of Dayton Center for Cybersecurity & Data Intelligence will create new workforce development programs, increase awareness around cybersecurity issues and provide expertise throughout the state with new Ohio Department of Higher Education research incentive funding worth more than $277,000.
“The state recognizes people need help protecting their sensitive information in a world where threats keep growing,” said Dave Salisbury, UD cybersecurity center director. “This funding will allow the University to leverage its resources to help Ohio educate and equip its citizens against cyberthreats.”
The funding will enable the University to make its Cyber-Mindfulness education program available to the public. This program was designed to build awareness about cyberattacks and equip people with the ability to recognize and resist threats.
“Most hackers target people, not machines,” said
In addition to raising awareness about cybersecurity, the Cyber-Mindfulness initiative saw positive, tangible results. The percentage of employees who said they would be able to recognize a suspicious email message increased 13%, for a total of 77%. In addition, the percentage of users who were tricked by a phish test to obtain their password dropped from 5.5% to just 0.5% a year later.
The funding also helps address the cyberworkforce needs in the state. The University will use its state-funded Cyber Range — a virtual training environment — to help future tech workers document their skills and progress via a cyberskills portfolio. Participants will be able to present their portfolio to potential employers, giving them a credential that complements other training or formal education.
Additionally, the University will create materials, such as curriculum and videos, for groups such as local governments, small businesses or school districts that face cyberthreats but lack the resources and information to address them.
The Center for Cybersecurity & Data Intelligence was founded in 2018 by the University and founding sponsor partner Premier Health. Learn more about how the University is cultivating cyber-mindfulness.
Enabling Hypersonic Travel
The University of Dayton Research Institute was awarded a $9.9 million, three-year contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory for research and development to design and fabricate a subscale hypersonic flight test vehicle.
In a similar and ongoing program, UDRI has been working with the University of Tennessee and Purdue University to explore the design process for reusable hypersonic vehicle structures. The same team will leverage these efforts to design, analyze, test and fabricate a flight test vehicle with integrated structural and aerodynamic experiments.
Hypersonic vehicles, which travel at speeds faster than five times the speed of sound, experience significant thermal and aerodynamic loads. Designing vehicle structures that can survive these extreme environmental stresses is critical but extremely challenging, said Brett Hauber, UDRI’s chief engineer for this program.
“The design of hypersonic vehicles requires unique structural configurations and careful application of advanced materials,” Hauber added, noting that UDRI has a long history of developing and transitioning advanced materials and structures for aerospace.
“The Research Institute will again partner with the University of Tennessee and Purdue University, whose capabilities complement our expertise in materials and structures,” Hauber said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now accepts and reviews results from spray drift experiments in the University of Dayton Low-Speed Wind Tunnel.
University of Dayton assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Sidaard Gunasekaran and his industry partner Kyle Butz, a technical adviser with Spray Analytics, believe the facility is just the second on a U.S. college campus to hold this designation. The other university facility is at the University of Nebraska.
Having the UD tunnel open for testing will help alleviate what can be a several-month backlog of agricultural and spray nozzle companies who must put their products through this testing to be approved for use in the field, according to Gunasekaran.
As Butz explained to Ohio Farmer, manufacturers of farm chemicals and equipment need to test agricultural spray mixtures in certain wind conditions to get product approval from the U.S. EPA, and farmers need the results so they can keep their spray on target.
“With our facility, clients can test nozzle, pressure and tank mixture for applying treatments, and use the data to accurately predict the drift potential in the field,” Gunasekaran said.
During testing, the wind tunnel is set to 15 miles per hour, and the sprayer is set to the EPA-approved pressure for the mixture and nozzle being tested. Then, the duo sprays test samples from agricultural companies through a laser to measure the range of droplet sizes. The droplet size information is then used to understand the drift potential of each test combination.
While preferred droplet size varies by product, smaller droplets are most prone to drift — and can be problematic. If farmers apply a product that drifts away from the field, the crops don’t receive its full benefit. Drifting droplets can also create liability issues.
“If I spray for a certain weed, and my neighbor’s crop is not resistant to that, I can cause damage to them, and it becomes a civil issue,” said Butz. “If we can optimize the way farmers spray, we should be able to keep the active spray on target. That way, the farmer is happy because he’s maximizing coverage of their crop. And the neighbors are happy because they are not being impacted at all.”
A Jolly Good Fellow
The Geologic Time Scale, a multivolume reference book updated every eight years, is known as one of the most essential texts for geoscientists worldwide. It is also one of professor Daniel Goldman’s highest professional achievements.
The book reconstructs the Earth’s 4.6 billion-year history, dividing it into time intervals with boundaries marked by significant events, such as mass extinctions and the first appearance of certain types of animals — as discerned through the study of rocks, fossils and sediments.
“The Geologic Time Scale is the most fundamental of tools in the geosciences,” Goldman said. “It serves earth scientists across disciplines in most everything they do, particularly any research that involves calculating rates of change. Evolutionary rates — or rates of tectonic plate movement, for example — need precise time-calibrated data. Being chosen to work on this project is especially satisfying because it represents significant recognition of my research in paleontology.”
Goldman is lead author on the chapter on the Ordovician Period, which began about 488 million years ago and lasted nearly 45 million years — back when most of North America was south of the equator. The Ordovician Period is best known for encompassing a rapid radiation of marine life, called the Great Ordovician Biodiversity Event, and ending with the second biggest mass extinction in Earth’s history.
The chapter will cover new and improved quantitative methods of relating shallow- and deep-water fossil occurrences to time, which will allow scientists to more objectively determine whether fossils discovered at different locations around the globe existed at the same time.
Goldman’s chapter co-authors are Stephen Leslie, head of James Madison University’s Department of Geology and Environmental Science, and Peter Sadler, earth sciences professor at the University of California, Riverside. They spent the past two years preparing the chapter, working with a lot of new data, including methodological advances, better fossil information and many new radiometric dates.
“The result is better ways of integrating that data to construct a more precise time scale,” Goldman said.
Goldman’s contributions to the field led to his election as a Geological Society of America fellow in May 2019. Founded in 1888, the society is an international group of scientists in academia, government and business with more than 20,000 members in over 100 countries. It supports scientific discovery, application of geoscience knowledge, public dialogue on geoscience issues and earth-science education.
“Fellows are so named as a reflection of their important and sustained contribution to their field,” said Don Pair, College of Arts and Sciences associate dean for interdisciplinary research and experiential initiatives.
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Beauty Isn’t Always Better
According to common wisdom, beautiful people tend to have a lot more luck in the work world.
Research has shown people deemed attractive get paid more, receive better job evaluations and are generally more employable. It’s even been shown that good-looking CEOs bring better stock returns for their companies.
“In television commercials, for example, retailers and other companies are increasingly using real people — with all their physical flaws — rather than photoshopped models to give their brands an ‘authentic’ feel,” said Zhang.
Zhang and colleagues set out to investigate how beauty impacts employees’ interactions with customers.
In their first study, 309 college students read about dining at a restaurant. They then looked at an image of their waiter. The image depicted a male or female whose facial features were edited to depict high or low levels of attractiveness, based on prior research defining beauty.
Participants rated the attractiveness of the server and how “psychologically close” they felt to him or her. Participants also graded customer satisfaction, the service quality and the likability of the waiter on a scale from low to high.
“We found that how close a consumer felt toward the waiter correlated with how they rated the quality of service they received,” explained Zhang. “That is, if they felt distance from the waiter, they were more likely to give him or her poor marks. Furthermore, we found that people who thought the server was attractive but were themselves not good-looking — using our objective beauty assessment — were more likely to feel distance.”
This finding led the researchers to more questions: Was the distance participants felt due to each person’s self-perceptions — or an objective measure?
To explore this question, the researchers studied 237 people who were waiting to board a flight in Guangzhou, China. The participants read a scenario about receiving a meal or other service from a flight attendant while aboard the plane and viewed a picture of the employee. Just as in the first study, participants randomly viewed either “attractive” or “unattractive” flight attendants.
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The findings showed that participants who saw themselves as less good-looking felt more distance from an attractive flight attendant. They were also more likely to perceive the service as lower quality. Participants who said there isn’t a connection between beauty and skill also tended to assess attractive employees’ service as low quality.
In a third study, the researchers surveyed consumers at a shopping mall who had just had a face-to-face encounter with a service employee. This study further confirmed the results of the first two.
“In each study, we found a clear connection between beautiful workers and unpleasant customer experiences for people who are less attractive,” explained Zhang. “In a world that admires and hires beautiful people, our research suggests there’s a potential downside, at least in the service sector.”
This article is adapted from a piece that originally appeared in The Conversation.
Measuring Human Sufficiency
Historian David Darrow’s
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“I used to give him a hard time about reducing human life to numbers,” said Darrow, associate professor of history. “That got me thinking about what it means to count people and categorize their lives.”
The result is Tsardom of Sufficiency, Empire of Norms: Statistics, Land Allotments, and Agrarian Reform in Russia, 1700-1921, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press. The book explores how numbers shaped Russia’s land reform policies from the 18th century into the first decades of the 20th century, and how they formed a narrative of what the state thought it understood as reality.
Russia’s agrarian system was built on a statistical category called a “nadel” — a specific allotment of land — as a standard of peasant well-being. This land entitlement was seen as a key to social stability for peasants, who were thus guaranteed some level of subsistence. For many elites, it also seemed key to preserving the stability of existing social and political institutions. The entire agrarian system was built on this category.
“It is out of concerns such as these that we get the first institutions and policies of the welfare state in both its western European and its Soviet form,” Darrow said.
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After the empire fell in 1917, the Bolsheviks continued attempts to allocate property based on these same traditional land norms during the early years of Soviet power. Their policy remained locked into the idea that peasants needed to have enough land to survive, instead of trying to get them to do more with the land they had.
“In many respects, the norms themselves became a measure of socio-economic justice,” Darrow said. “In rural areas, it was a land norm. In urban areas, it was a norm for living space — a certain number of square meters that every Soviet citizen was entitled to. This was the epitome of modernity: Everything can be measured and once you can measure something, then in the interest of equality you can mete it out by some sort of measure.
Darrow researched Tsardom of Sufficiency, Empire of Norms over eight years, including a 2016 sabbatical. He examined archival sources and rural councils’ statistical studies in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. In addition to writing the book, he has translated that research experience to the classroom.
“One of the things I like about the University of Dayton is the emphasis on the teacher-scholar model,” he said. “I believe that an active life of scholarship informs a classroom and keeps you up to date on the latest scholarship on your topic. If you take Russian history from me, you hear a lot about agriculture and peasants, and that in many respects comes out of my work here.”
He recalled waxing poetic about the wonders of being in an archive to students in Introduction to the Historian’s Craft, a core course for history majors, after returning from sabbatical. Excited by his words, one student asked why they, too, couldn’t be in an archive.
“That ultimately led to what we are doing now, both in the introduction and our senior capstone course, which is getting our history majors into the University archives and the Marianist Library, working on research projects with the primary sources available there.”
Search and Rescue
When disasters happen – whether a natural disaster like a flood or earthquake, or a human-caused one like a bombing – it can be extremely dangerous to send first responders in, even though there are people who badly need help.
Drones can be useful in such situations, but most require individual pilots to fly the unmanned aircraft by remote control. That limits how quickly rescuers can view an entire affected area, and can delay actual aid from reaching victims.
“Autonomous drones could cover more ground more quickly but would only be more effective if they were able to independently help rescuers identify people in need,” said Vijayan Asari, professor of electrical and computer engineering. “At the University of Dayton Vision Lab, we are working on developing systems that can help spot people or animals – especially ones who might be trapped by fallen debris. Our technology mimics the behavior of a human rescuer, looking briefly at wide areas and quickly choosing specific regions to focus in on, to examine more closely.”
Disaster areas are often cluttered with downed trees, collapsed buildings, torn-up roads and other disarray that can make spotting victims in need of rescue very difficult. Asari’s team has developed an artificial neural network system that can run in a computer onboard a drone and can emulate some of the ways human vision works. It analyzes images captured by the drone’s camera and communicates notable findings to human supervisors.
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The system can also make other adjustments that mimic strategies used by the human brain. In a rainy environment, for example, humans take note of the parts of a scene that don’t change and the ones that do, such as raindrops. Asari’s technology uses the same strategy, continuously investigating the contents of each location in a sequence of images to get clear information about the objects in that location.
In addition, the system is intelligent enough to extrapolate what it sees. For example, it can identify people in various positions, such as lying prone or curled in the fetal position, even from different viewing angles and in varying lighting conditions. It can also detect and locate parts of an object: a leg sticking out from under rubble, a hand waving at a distance or a head popping up above a pile of wooden blocks.
“During its initial scan of the landscape, our system examines the ground to find possible objects of interest or regions worth further examination. Then our system investigates each selected region to obtain information about the shape, structure and texture of objects there. When it detects a set of features that matches a human being or part of a human, it flags that as a location of a victim,” said Asari.
The drone also collects GPS data about its location, and senses how far it is from other objects it’s photographing. That information lets the system calculate exactly the location of each person needing assistance, and alert rescuers.
The entire process – capturing an image, processing it for maximum visibility and analyzing it to identify people who might be trapped or concealed – takes about one-fifth of a second on a standard laptop computer carried by the drone.
The European Union has awarded researcher Bob Brecha a two-year, $200,000 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship to work with Berlin-based Climate Analytics on bringing renewable energy to developing countries and examining the impact on areas accessing electricity for the first time. Only about 14% of applicants receive the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship.
"We have an immediate challenge to improve human well-being as expressed by the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals and mitigate climate change as championed by the Paris Agreement," said Brecha, a professor in the Department of Physics and Renewable and Clean Energy Master's Program. "Climate change mitigation and adaptation require a rapid transition to sustainable, renewable energy sources. Access to those energy sources correlates with improved well-being."
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie program connects researchers throughout the world to enhance the flow of knowledge across countries, sectors of the economy and scientific disciplines. Brecha said his group at Climate Analytics will utilize partnerships in the developing world to achieve their goals.
"We'll work with local groups to develop alternative energy-system plans consistent with their nation's support of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals," said Brecha, who also has served as the director of research in the University's Hanley Sustainability Institute. "This country-specific research will provide case studies for other similar regions."
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He spent a sabbatical in 2018 at Climate Analytics where he also served for part of the year as interim head of energy system modeling and interim co-head of the climate policy team.
"This experience will help me better serve the University's collective efforts in renewable and clean energy, the Hanley Sustainability Institute, the sustainability program
What is the impact of travel and identification documents on migration and citizenship in colonial and post-colonial India?
Haimanti Roy, associate professor of history, will spend a nine-month, senior-research fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies finding out. Her research will focus on the development of documentary identity — passports, visas, ration cards and caste certificates — and trace the ways in which they impacted groups such as migrants, immigrants, refugees, welfare recipients and beneficiaries of caste reservation policies.
“The intersection of legal and bureaucratic policies and the expressions of ordinary people provide new ways to understand the framing of citizenship in post-colonial India,” explained Roy.
She also will examine the ways in which members of these groups encountered and resisted the implementation of such documentary regimes.
“India now has the largest biometric identification process in the world,” she said. “Known popularly as the Aadhaar scheme, it started in 2009 with the aim of providing every Indian — and there are more than 1 billion of them — with a card with biometric identification and a number. It’s similar to the Social Security card or driver’s license that we carry, except this one will have your retina information and your fingerprints.”
India’s central government has pushed citizens to link their Aadhaar numbers to passports, bank accounts and mobile SIM cards, among other services. That has led to debate and court challenges related to issues of privacy, security and surveillance.
“The Indian state is telling us the Aadhar is an attempt to simplify and put everything on one card, but this is not new,” she said. “What we are seeing is yet another card, and no one is getting rid of anything else.”
The goal of Roy’s research project is a book, tentatively titled Paper Trails: Mobility, Identity and Making of the Indian Citizen: 1920-2015. Roy already has started publishing her initial research, including an article in the Journal of South Asian Studies about the emergence of documentary identities in post-colonial India.
“Dr. Roy’s fellowship is an extraordinary honor in itself, given the very competitive field of proposals that are usually submitted,” said Juan Santamarina, associate professor and Department of History chair. “It’s a testament to the relevance, importance and originality of her current work on state documentation. Her first-rate scholarship is broadly relevant to questions of citizenship and associated rights across countries.”
Headquartered at the University of Chicago, the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) was established in 1961 to further the knowledge of India in the United States by supporting American scholarship on India. More than 6,000 scholars and creative artists have received AIIS support, with their work spanning the humanities, social sciences, social policy and natural sciences.
Roy, who specializes in the political and social history of modern South Asia, recently wrote "The Road to India’s Partition" in The Conversation. She has also authored two books: Partitioned Lives: Migrants, Refugees, Citizens in India and Pakistan, 1947-65, and The Partition of India (Oxford India Short Introductions).
Lockheed Martin has licensed technology developed in part by a University of Dayton team led by electrical and computer engineering professor Guru Subramanyam.
The technology — tunable varactors made of a thin, ceramic film — was originally developed to cut the number of filters used to sort frequencies in cell phones, TVs and satellite communication systems. Very low battery-powered voltage changes manipulate the electrical properties of the film to switch the frequencies that allow the use of different gadgets and improve signal reception.
"This technology attracted attention at the World's Best Technologies and TechConnect forums that focus on the world's most promising technologies and of cell phone makers Ericsson, Qualcomm and Nokia when we first developed it a decade ago," Subramanyam said.
Over time, the varactors have evolved to support rapid reconfiguration of radio frequency and microwave sensors conducting simultaneous operations.
Lockheed Martin plans to test whether the technology can work with sensors to eliminate interference from sources that would otherwise degrade the performance of the sensors. If the sensor demonstration proves successful, Lockheed Martin and the UD team could move to a second phase that includes mass production of the varactors.
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Glaciers on Asia’s Tibetan plateau are important water sources for the Yangtze, Yellow and Ganges rivers, so the effects of rising temperatures on these dense ice formations could have direct impact on billions of people in China and India.
To better understand the impact of climate change on Tibetan glaciers, climatologist Shuang-Ye Wu is collaborating with colleagues at China’s Nanjing University under a $552,620 grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Wu, an associate professor in the Department of Geology, is a co-investigator on the grant awarded to Nanjing University, where she is affiliated as a visiting professor.
She and her partners will use both physical and data-based research methods to determine how the region’s glaciers expanded and contracted during the past 10,000 years in response to climate change. Their results could have important implications for predicting the effects of global warming in this key region.
“People know that when it is warm, glaciers will melt,” Wu said. “But the individual glaciers’ response to climate change can be very different. For example, some glaciers are more sensitive to temperature change, some are more sensitive to precipitation change, and the topography also plays a role.”
Most glaciers on the Tibetan plateau have experienced a retreating trend with rising temperatures during the past several decades — a trend that has recently accelerated. However, glaciers covering the northwest plateau are relatively stable, with some even expanding in geographic area.
Those findings are largely based on remote-sensing data and on-site observations during past decades. Little is known about the reduction of glaciers over periods of a 1,000 years or longer.
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Wu will then use computer modeling to simulate the region’s past climate, given the known conditions during the last 10,000 years, to see if the climate model agrees with the historical data derived from the ice cores and sediment samples.
“The results will be put into future models to see, if the temperature rises, how the glaciers on the Tibetan plateau will respond,” she said. “That is going to have big implications, because the glaciers are important sources of water for a very highly populated area. It feeds the major rivers in China and India, so it is going to have very serious water resource implications for billions of people.”
The Nanjing University team will drill and collect cores and send the data to the University of Dayton campus, where Wu will do the modeling. Wu already has some field data to work with from a previous project in the same region that served as the foundation for the team’s current collaboration.
She credits the University of Dayton’s Global Education Seminar, which broadens faculty teaching and scholarship through international placement, for helping her forge connections with the Chinese research team. Wu visited Nanjing University in 2012 through the program and then returned in 2015 for a sabbatical year. She has since returned every summer and also hosted a Nanjing University graduate student for a semester on Dayton’s campus.
Wu has also conducted research on how climate change raises the risk of floods for Midwest states.
A Lab With Wings
The University of Dayton Research Institute is now home to a decommissioned C-130 aircraft. It will be used by UDRI and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center to demonstrate and test a number of technologies designed to lower the cost of sustaining the Air Force's C-130 fleet.
Work will be performed in and on the aircraft as well as in other UDRI support labs. Researchers from UDRI will perform the work in collaboration with AFLCMC's Product Support Engineering Division and the AFLCMC C-130 Program Office.
"The Air Force spends a lot of money on aircraft sustainment," said Debbie
Brian Stitt, division head for Sustainment Technologies Transition at UDRI, said technology development and demonstration under the program will include micro-vanes for fuel savings, additive manufacturing, cold spray for repairs, robotics and lasers for paint removal, environmental evaluation of coatings, augmented and virtual reality, condition-based maintenance, and aircraft battle damage repair.
Although several of these technologies are emerging, they are already proving valuable in the sustainment of legacy aircraft. For example, advances in additive manufacturing — also known as 3D printing — are enabling the Air Force to produce,
"The challenge is that, in many cases, no technical information exists on these parts because of the age of the aircraft,"
In the process, the team will create a "digital thread," an electronic database documenting all information on the part and the process used to create it.
The faster these technologies are developed and advanced, the bigger the impact will be for use across the Air Force enterprise, Stitt said. And having an aircraft
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The program is expected to last between 18 and 24 months. Students from the University of Dayton, Ohio State University and Wright State University will work alongside engineers and researchers from the Air Force and UDRI to advance these transformative technologies.
A Gold Standard
Consumers equate gold with status and luxury — and it turns out seeing the color makes them more generous tippers, according to new research from Na Young Lee, assistant professor of marketing.
In her research, the color gold positively influenced tipping by enhancing customers’ self-status perception. The findings were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and the topic also appeared as an article in The Conversation.
“Gold is frequently associated with prestige, exclusivity and status perception. Examples include gold labels in rewards programs such as Starbucks Gold Card,” Lee said. “In our study, we found that mere exposure to the color gold makes consumers spend more on tips. When customers see the color gold, they feel that their status is high because they are in a place that serves high-status people. And when customers perceive that their status is high, they tend to spend more on tipping to show off their status.”
In the studies, diners who received their checks in gold-colored folders tipped more than those who got their checks in black folders. Additionally, in a mock restaurant lab setting, people seated with gold-colored tablecloths left higher tips than those seated at tables with white cloths.
Additionally, the research team evaluated whether gold increased tipping because it was a novel color. But they found that other novel colors, presented as an orange-colored bill folder, did not increase tipping because orange is not associated with status perception.
The findings, Lee said, have managerial implications that can be applied outside the restaurant industry.
“We wanted to find out how the service environment influences customer behavior,” Lee said. “We found subtle cues such as color make a difference by influencing customers’ self-status perception. That means businesses can create meaningful change by paying attention to the details of service design.”
The research team included Stephanie Noble at the University of Tennessee and Dipayan Biswas at the University of South Florida.
Indicators Of Attraction
How can you tell if someone likes you? New research led by
“There is a specific suite of behaviors associated with liking, and this same set of behaviors can be found in cultures from around the world,” Montoya said.
Making eye contact, smiling, initiating conversation, laughing and maintaining physical proximity were related to liking across cultures. Mimicking behaviors and
Other behaviors showed no evidence of being related to liking, including when someone flips their hair, lifts their eyebrows, uses gestures, tilts their head, primps their clothes, maintains open body posture or leans in.
Montoya and his co-researchers developed the list — the most definitive ever produced — by analyzing 54 empirical papers that examined the
The results are published in Psychological Bulletin, a peer-reviewed journal from the American Psychological Association.
Montoya said the findings go beyond the world of dating.
“Whether we engage in these behaviors has little or nothing to do with romantic desires,” he said. “These behaviors apply when doctors interact with their patients, parents interact with their kids, or when salespeople talk to their customers.”
He explained that behaviors associated with attraction are those associated with developing trust and rapport between people.
“When we like someone, we act in ways to get them to trust us,” he said. “From this perspective, we engage in these behaviors to increase the degree of overlap, interdependence
Montoya’s co-researchers were Christine Kershaw, a doctoral candidate at the University of Alberta, and Julie L. Prosser, a doctoral candidate at Colorado State University.
As massive new airports open across Asia and the Middle East, U.S. airports are enhancing security checkpoints with technological gadgets to screen passengers and luggage more quickly. These projects are often touted as “airports of the future,” in which air travel will be faster, more efficient and more enjoyable than ever before.
However, Janet Bednarek, professor of history and author of Airports, Cities and the Jet Age, notes these improvements still struggle to solve the problems that have vexed airport managers and passengers since at least the late 1950s.
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While necessary for logistical reasons, this approach required passengers to walk long distances to their gates — sometimes nearly half a mile. To solve this issue, airports implemented various solutions, including underground trains, moving sidewalks and mobile lounges.
“Those approaches did reduce the number of steps passengers had to take. But as terminals grew in size and airline routes became more complex, passengers had to change planes more often. That has required trains or trams to help people travel longer distances within terminals, or even to other concourses,” explained Bednarek.
After the 2001 terrorist attacks, new security screenings created long lines and increased the amount of time people spent at the airport before flights. The need for additional security and waiting space challenged designs that had seemed forward-thinking even in the late 1990s.
“As more people fly more often, the pace of growth and unexpected events have often overwhelmed the best-intended designs and plans,” said Bednarek. “After more than 60 years of trying, it’s an open question whether the ultimate airport of the future — one where passengers and their bags move quickly through a space that’s enjoyable to be in — could ever exist at all.”
This article is adapted from a piece that originally appeared in The Conversation.
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, glaucoma affects more than 3 million Americans — and is a leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Collaboration by Khalid Lafdi, University of Dayton Wright Brothers Endowed Chair in Nanomaterials, and UD alumnus Edward Timm, CEO of Mobius Therapeutics LLC, may provide relief.
A “fuzzy fiber” developed by Lafdi at the University of Dayton Research Institute was originally intended for multi-purpose use in aircraft coatings, wind turbines
“The ‘fuzzy fiber’ is a scaffold of carbon covered with surface-treated carbon nanotubes grown in a highly controlled manner,” Lafdi explained. “That’s what gives the material its fuzzy appearance.”
Using this technology, Lafdi and Timm created biocompatible, non-clogging drainage tubes to relieve excess fluid and pressure in the eye. The choice of material is significant. Other devices for glaucoma treatment use silicone tubes, which must be replaced in most patients because they become encapsulated with naturally occurring growth cells called fibroblasts, inhibiting their ability to drain fluid. The new material, however, overcomes that limitation.
“Multiple tests demonstrated that, in the presence of tailored carbon nanotubes, there was zero cell growth. But when I coated the same carbon scaffold with silicone, there was cell proliferation. An absolute invasion,”
According to Timm,
“There’s nothing else like it out there. The current ‘gold standard’ material — silicone — actually stimulates fibroblast growth. It is not just an improper material for such implants; it is exactly the wrong material. Not only is the carbon material completely biocompatible, eliminating the risk for rejection by the body, it will also serve to preserve the longevity of the implant by keeping it from becoming blocked with tissue,” Timm said. “I believe this could completely change the thought process in the design of future ophthalmic devices.”
Mobius is negotiating nonexclusive rights to the coating with multiple parties at this time, according to Timm.
As a neuropsychopharmacologist and assistant professor of biology, Pothitos “Takis” Pitychoutis is interested in how drugs affect the brain and behavior.
Pitychoutis’ lab identified a novel calcium-handling protein in the brain that could play a role in
“This is an exciting, discovery-based project since virtually nothing is known about the function of this calcium-handling protein in the brain,” Pitychoutis said. “Our research will deepen our understanding
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“Preliminary data indicates the protein is selectively expressed in a critical brain region that influences vital neurobiological processes including attention and the generation of sleep rhythms,” Pitychoutis explained. “Based on initial research, the loss of this protein’s function results in hyperactivity and cognitive defects in mice.”
Pitychoutis’ work could lead to the discovery of safer and more effective drug therapies to prevent and treat ADHD and other brain disorders.
“If we discover how our brain works, then we have unlocked one of the biggest mysteries in life,” he said.
Joey Saurine, a senior biochemistry major
When Planes And Drones Collide
When a large military helicopter collided midair with a small quadcopter in 2017, the helicopter sustained only minor damage and returned safely home; the drone was destroyed. But tests performed at the University of Dayton Research Institute show that outcome may not always be the case.
In a test designed to mimic a midair collision at 238 miles per hour, researchers in UDRI's Impact Physics group launched a 2.1-pound DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter at the wing of a Mooney M20 aircraft. The drone did not shatter on impact. Rather, it tore open the leading edge of the wing as it bore into the structure, damaging its main spar.
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As the number of hobby drones in the air dramatically increases, so does the risk of a catastrophic event,
Although the helicopter returned home with only minor damage to a rotor,
"We wanted to help the aviation community and the drone industry understand the dangers that even recreational drones can pose to manned aircraft before a significant event occurs. But there is little to no data about the type of damage UAVs can do, and the information that is available has come only from modeling and simulations," said
After calibration work to ensure they could control the speed, orientation and trajectory of a drone, researchers fired a successful shot at the Mooney wing. The researchers then fired a similarly weighted gel "bird" into a different part of the wing to compare results. "The bird did more apparent damage to the leading edge of the wing, but the Phantom penetrated deeper into the wing and damaged the main spar, which the bird did not do."
In addition to the FAA regulations already in place for drone operators,
At The Nanoscale
The National Science Foundation has awarded UD researchers Chenglong Zhao and Qiwen Zhan $317,158 to study a new manufacturing process for building three-dimensional structures that are 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.
The process developed by the duo is similar to 3-D printing and uses a laser to assemble 100-nanometer-sized particles on a flexible substrate through precise electrical manipulation. Unlike current nanoscale fabrication techniques, it can be done under ambient conditions without expensive
"We found a new transfer technology that allows you to transfer these nanoparticles additively, with no damage to the nanoparticles," said Zhao, an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Physics and the School of Engineering's electro-optics program. "You can just do this in the normal air."
Reliable and cost-effective manufacturing of nanostructures and devices on flexible substrates
Additional applications could include sensors and other flexible electronics, biomedical markers
The three-year NSF grant supports the fundamental study of this new manufacturing process. The award also supports the work of a doctoral student in Zhao’s research laboratory.
The goal is to develop the technology to enable rapid prototyping of both two- and three-dimensional nanostructures on flexible substrates. Zhao intends to prove the concept by fabricating nanostructures in his lab. Zhan will characterize the size and property of those structures.
"3-D printing is widely used by engineers and designers for the rapid prototyping of customizable products," said Zhan, a professor of electro-optics. "Unfortunately, such a rapid prototyping technique has yet to be developed for the manufacturing of nanosized structures."
Zhao said the importance of manufacturing at the nanoscale lies in the extraordinary properties that materials exhibit at such small scales, which is critical for exploring new material properties and applications.
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"This shows that you don’t need to change the chemical
Zhao is working with gold to prove his concept, but in principle, the process also could be used for other metals, such as aluminum.
Current laser-based nanofabrication technology such as laser ablation can operate at ambient conditions. However, it requires a costly, high-power pulsed laser that bombs the material’s surface, destroying that surface in the process.
"Our method doesn’t do any damage to the nanoparticle, which means you can transfer a particle as it is," Zhao said. "If its shape is a sphere, it is still a sphere. If it is like a square, it's still a square."
Mileage May Vary
The 1950s and 1960s were a golden age for the automobile. Drive-ins, fast food drive-thrus and shade tree mechanics abounded from sea to shining sea.
"Cars were more than just machines; they were primary objects of desire," said John Heitmann, professor and auto historian. "That era marked the zenith of America’s love affair with the automobile."
But the story of the automobile in America is a tale of how technology can change the course of history — and our lives — for better and for worse.
Heitmann recently released the second edition of his book, The Automobile and American Life, which focuses on the history of the automobile and its development as one of the most influential technologies of the 20th century. The latest installment includes a new chapter that delves into the technological and economic changes within the automotive industry during the 1970s, along with a discussion on the impact of the Great Recession.
"The ’70s really marks a terrific transition in the automobile industry both in the United States and globally," said Heitmann. "I really needed to bring that material out with this second edition."
The Great Recession also had a significant impact on the automotive industry. New car sales plummeted 21 percent in 2008 and 2009, according to Ward’s World Motor Vehicle Data.
"The Great Recession is part of a really complex period of time,” Heitmann said. “I think it’s fair to say that government intervention saved the American auto industry. Now it’s thriving again, but product mixes are changing, among other things."
In addition, the automobile is no longer the object of desire it once was, Heitmann explained. For many it’s now simply an appliance to get from place to place. "There will always be a number of car enthusiasts," said Heitmann. "But in American culture, and especially with young people, it has really diminished over the last 30 years."
With Rebecca Morales, Heitmann is also co-author of Stealing Cars: Technology and Society from the Model T to the Gran Torino. In it, the duo examine the history of motor vehicle theft.
The survival rate for breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women, is now about 90 percent, increased by nearly 20 percent since the 1970s.
With more women than ever — nearly 3 million — living beyond a breast cancer diagnosis, professor Mary Fisher is looking to decrease arm impairments and other complications that can persist — or even develop — many years after diagnosis.
Surgical removal of lymph nodes places women at risk for a chronic condition called lymphedema, which causes swelling in a person’s limbs. Lymphedema affects anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent of women, depending on the type of surgery and radiation treatment received.
"The amount of radiation that women receive during radiation therapy is less than for women treated years ago but still remains problematic," said Fisher. "While radiation is often lifesaving, it comes with serious side effects: the tissues in the area exposed to radiation become stiffer and thickened over time."
As tissues stiffen, women can experience a loss of motion, which can limit their ability to participate in sports, complete work or household chores and even their abilities to shower and dress. It can affect what may seem like simple things, such as fitting into a long-sleeved blouse or blazer, Fisher explained.
Many of these side effects can either be prevented or managed effectively, but only if they are addressed in a timely fashion. One model of care, with substantial evidence of effectiveness, is the Prospective Surveillance Model. This method advocates for baseline testing prior to cancer surgery, with follow-ups after the surgical and medical treatments take place. By completing baseline testing, any deficits that might hinder effective medical treatment — such as being able to assume the position necessary for radiation — can be addressed prior to cancer treatment. And the measures taken at this visit become the benchmark that aftercare visits are measured against.
Exercise and physical therapy also play an important role in treating side effects that arise after treatment.
"Multiple studies have investigated the safety of physical activity after breast cancer treatment and found there is minimal risk for the development of lymphedema with most exercise," said Fisher. "With 2.8 million women living beyond a cancer diagnosis in the United States, returning to previous activity levels is important. Early intervention and ongoing surveillance promoted by the Prospective Surveillance Model ensures that these women can get back to what is important to them — living."
Making Her Story Part Of History
Dara Delgado, a doctoral student, was awarded a $20,000 fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to complete her dissertation, which focuses on an African-American woman who founded a black Pentecostal denomination in 1924 with the goal of empowering women.
Delgado, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religious Studies, is writing about the life and work of Ida Bell Robinson — the founder, first bishop
In addition to fostering and growing churches affiliated with her ministry, Robinson mentored women to become leaders, managed a radio program, published a newsletter and acquired properties. Her social awareness was reflected in her sermons, which addressed lynching, economic and racial injustice, and World War II — landing her on the FBI watch list.
Delgado said partnering with AAUW on the project is particularly appropriate. The nonpartisan, nonprofit organization is a leading supporter of graduate women’s education, having awarded more than $100 million in fellowships, grants
“It’s just such a wonderful thing to be able to write about a woman in history whose program was about empowering women in all of these social areas and spheres of influence,” Delgado said. “This has been AAUW’s mission since its founding. I am incredibly honored.”
Her dissertation developed from a course on American Christian fundamentalism taught by William Trollinger, a professor in the Departments of History and Religious Studies. They discussed Delgado’s own religious tradition, Pentecostalism, which led them to Robinson’s work empowering black women to lead congregations of both men and women — that work served to undercut religious prohibitions against female leadership.
Unfortunately, few of Robinson’s own writings were preserved, so there was little scholarly research material for Delgado to explore apart from
“Dara is called to do this work,” Trollinger said. “When she is finished, I can confidently say that she will not only have produced an excellent
Trollinger said the AAUW award is
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Delgado holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Niagara University, a master’s degree in theology from Northeastern Seminary and a master of theological studies degree in Pentecostal studies from Tyndale University College and Seminary.
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“At UD, they are forcing us to think theologically, historically, socially, politically and to really expand the way we think about the God question,” she said.
After completing her doctoral degree, Delgado hopes to work in higher education, where she can continue to serve the church, engage in scholarly research and be a positive influence on students as they begin to think critically and engage in hard questions about meaning, purpose
“The University of Dayton has been fantastic to me as a student,” Delgado said. “It has been a wonderful experience and to be able to accept this award as a UD student brings me so much
Piles of Research
America has an infrastructure problem.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the country’s roads, bridges, wastewater systems and other forms of infrastructure pull a grade of D+. Although the nation’s bridge infrastructure earns a grade of C+, about nine percent of the nation’s bridges are structurally deficient and seven percent of Ohio’s bridges are in need of major repair or replacement.
With a $440,000 research project funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, University of Dayton civil engineering researcher Ömer Bilgin is developing a model and design methodology to allow for quicker and less costly bridge construction.
Bilgin, an expert in soil mechanics and foundation engineering, is advancing a model that will predict the temporary loss of load bearing capacity that can occur when piles (bridge foundations) are driven into the ground during construction. The piles, most often made of steel and concrete, transfer the loads of the bridge deep into the ground and are held in place by the frictional resistance of the soil against the pile.
The force of the piles driven into the ground disturbs the soil, which creates a temporary loss of load carrying capacity. Traditionally, contractors have had two choices: add additional length of pile and drive them deeper, or halt the pile driving and wait until the disturbed soil “sets up” and regains its strength. Both choices increase costs and delay construction.
“The associated costs can be hundreds of thousands of dollars on these big projects,” Bilgin said.
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Located on the grounds of UD’s River Campus, the 25,000-square-foot Energy Experience Center features two wind turbines, solar panels, a portable generator, AC motor control centers and advanced batteries for energy storage. Its headquarters is an award-winning, energy-efficient, solar-powered mobile house. A new 6 kW wind turbine, valued at more than $25,000 and donated by OGW Energy Resources of Tipp City, will boost alternative-energy research and educational opportunities.
“We envision the Energy Experience Center to eventually be a showcase of best-in-class technologies in energy generation, storage, controls, efficiency, cybersecurity, monitoring and load management,” said Eric Lang, a senior research scientist in UDRI’s Energy and Power division. “The generous donation by OGW will play an important role in helping us reach that goal.
The new turbine will be installed at the EEC electrical microgrid, opened in 2017 to serve as a test bed, demonstration and training facility for new and emerging energy technologies.
Microgrids are small, self-contained energy storage and generation facilities designed to supply power to end users nearby. They can be connected to one of the major commercial grids that currently supply energy to most of the nation, but they can also operate independently if the larger grid is compromised. Microgrids often incorporate sustainable and energy-efficient sources of power, such as solar and wind.
The EEC microgrid is designed to generate its own power, and advanced batteries will collect and store extra energy produced by solar panels and wind turbines to provide DC power when sun and wind are scarce. The center also features a dedicated connection to the local Dayton Power & Light commercial grid, which supplies electricity for tests requiring extra power. The center also feeds power back to the DP&L grid when its various generators are producing more power than is being consumed by the center.
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Lang said the EEC will use advanced computer programs and hardware to simulate a variety of weather conditions, energy scenarios and power sources, such as solar and wind, when they’re not available. Simulations at the EEC will also allow researchers to run critical tests — initiating a complete power failure, for instance — without actually interrupting operations at a functioning grid.
“Safely simulating conditions such as blackouts will allow us to see how equipment is impacted, at what point the grid begins to destabilize, and what needs to be done to ensure grid stability.”
Lang said the new wind turbine will be used in research, development and teaching related to advanced electrical power conversion technology. Researchers will connect a variable speed electric motor to drive the turbine — rather than relying on unpredictable Ohio weather — to produce precisely controlled weather scenarios and feed the resulting power into the grid through various conversion devices.
In addition to providing research and development services for customers, the Energy Experience Center will eventually serve as an instructional and research resource for University of Dayton faculty and students — a significant reason for OGW’s donation of the turbine, said OGW President Ray Davis, one of three working partners at the 11-year-old renewable and sustainable energy development company.
Since its inception, OGW Energy Resources has regularly donated product, time and talent to educational institutions, churches and charities, Davis said. “The donation of this turbine will provide opportunities for UD students to engage in education and research in technologies that will address real-world challenges,” Davis said. “And because of our deep roots in the community and with UD, this donation is special because one of our partners is an alumnus, and another has three children who are currently attending or alumni. We’re proud to lead the way in the renewable and sustainable energy industry and will continue to support organizations like the University of Dayton throughout Ohio and the Midwest.”
The Sense of Scents
In Dr. Julie Walsh-Messinger’s narrow lab are tidy rows of what look like felt-tip color markers. Except instead of colors, each holds a smell — from rotting fish to pineapple. Because of odor’s direct access to feelings, Walsh-Messinger is using these Sniffin’ Sticks to better understand schizophrenia — and
Although we seldom realize it, every decision we make is impelled by emotion, Walsh-Messinger explains. In schizophrenia, something in the emotional chain is broken.
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Neurodegenerative diseases like schizophrenia are known to affect the sense of smell. A 2016 University of Florida study found that people with
Walsh-Messinger’s research has uncovered subtle distinctions between how people with schizophrenia respond emotionally to a variety of odors. To make this discovery, participants first identified scents from the Sniffin’ Sticks and then rated each one on how pleasant — and unpleasant — it was.
Why rate scents on two scales? Even the sweetest moments often have a bit of sour to them, and vice versa, Walsh-Messinger explained. In fact, the brain is designed that way: We process pleasure on one circuit and displeasure on a completely distinct circuit. To ignore that subtly is to miss what people are saying about their experience.
The study showed that men with schizophrenia, in particular, had impaired olfaction, judging pleasant odors as more unpleasant than men without the disease. Women with schizophrenia rated pleasant odors the same way women without the disease rated them. Overall, test participants with schizophrenia were less able to identify odors accurately, especially when the odor was neutral or pleasant, a possible hallmark of neurodegenerative damage.
People with more severe “negative” symptoms of schizophrenia — lack of facial expression, impaired social functioning, lack of motivation — found pleasant odors more unpleasant. They also found unpleasant odors more pleasant. Walsh-Messinger and her co-authors had anticipated that people with more severe negative symptoms would show
The results further showed that people with more prominent “positive” symptoms — delusions, hallucinations, disordered behavior — rated neutral odors as more unpleasant and less pleasant, which the researchers said fit the way positive symptoms work: They make people assign significance to meaningless stimuli, increasing their overall level of vigilance.
“What my results don’t tell us is what’s causing this,” she says. “That’s the next big missing piece we need to figure out. We can’t really figure out the treatment until we understand the cause.”
In addition to her research on olfaction and schizophrenia, Walsh-Messinger has studied sex differences in schizophrenia. Her recent paper in the journal Clinical Schizophrenia & Related Psychoses showed that women with schizophrenia are more likely to exhibit “internalizing” symptoms, such as rumination and depression, while men are more likely to “externalize” with symptoms such as hostility and poor impulse control.
Mainstream Moral Cause
Looking at human rights flashpoints during the past 40 years,
“I found these strategies can be effective in attracting a large number of supporters but weaken the viability of human rights by commodifying its practices,”
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“My hope is that, after reading this book, advocates and practitioners will examine the associations they create through campaigns with mass appeal and consider how to more profoundly connect with the public around human rights issues.”
“It relied on sharp marketing and clever video editing but never challenged supporters to step outside of themselves,”
Amanda Murdie, Dean Rusk Scholar of International Relations and professor of international affairs at the University of Georgia, recommended Pruce’s book as “a must-read for both scholars and advocates.”
“By highlighting the precarious position advocates often find themselves in with
In addition to teaching courses on the politics of human rights, human rights and foreign policy, and international law and organization,
In conjunction with partners on and
The first project was in Ferguson, Missouri, capturing stories of people who shaped and witnessed the 2014 protests after the killing of Michael Brown. The team produced an award-winning interactive website, podcast and a traveling exhibit. In May,
Modesty's The Best Policy
“You might say ‘I’m the best’ at something or ‘I’m better than most people,’ but without evidence to back up your claim, that kind of self-promotion can have negative social repercussions,” said Erin O'Mara associate professor of psychology.
People react more favorably to boasting when it is supported by evidence. But UD researchers found being modest — saying you’re average at something when the evidence shows you’re actually great at it — makes someone the most
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“You might expect a shift in how people perceive self-promotional claims because it’s become the norm now to promote yourself on social media,” said Benjamin Kunz, associate professor of psychology. “People are always posting on Facebook and Instagram all the success and fun they’re having, so we thought people may have become desensitized to self-promotion. Perhaps you don’t need to be modest anymore to be liked. But that wasn’t the case.”
Their research grew out of a disagreement they had about Roger Federer, who is widely considered to be the best tennis player of all time, and whether his self-promotion makes him unlikeable.
“He’s very sure of himself when he’s interviewed,” Kunz said of Federer, who holds more Grand Slam singles titles than any other player in history. “But he can say he’s the best in the world and you can verify that, so his boasting is warranted. I thought that made him more
But O’Mara maintained: “If he were more modest, that would make him more
Rather than leave it to debate, the duo decided to test it empirically, which led them to the 1982 study. And when they replicated the findings, they confirmed: O’Mara was right.
The study is published in Self and Identity, a peer-reviewed journal. University of Dayton alumnae Angela Receveur and Sierra Corbin contributed to the research.
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Bugs the size of tiny twigs have a large impact on the rainforest.
“The importance of small insects, especially things that eat plants in
Prather’s three-year experiment, funded by the National Science Foundation and published in the prominent journal Ecology, focused on walking sticks. Research findings showed these herbivores — which live above the “litter,” or layer of dead leaves, branches and other materials on the rainforest floor — affect decomposition through their diet choices.
“Walking sticks have preferences in food, just like we do,” Prather said. “You’d probably rather eat spinach than a corn husk because the corn husk is going to be hard to chew and hard for your body to break down.”
The walking sticks eat the more easily digestible spinach-like leaves and ignore the less digestible plants, which are also slower to decompose when they die and fall to the ground. That
Working in Puerto Rico, Prather’s group also examined snails that live in litter, but surprisingly found the snails living on the forest floor did not affect decomposition. The findings are important, Prather said, because ecologists previously ignored insects living above the layer of dead leaves in the forest.
“What we’re showing is that something that doesn’t live in the litter can actually have huge effects, and maybe effects that are greater than things that live in litter, because they’re actually altering the litter itself. If it is more widespread in other forests, it could be really important,” she said. “This is one of the first studies to say insects that feed on plants could be really important to the way these rainforest systems function. It highlights the fact that it needs to be much better studied because up until this point, it’s been ignored.”
The study also examined if light gaps that are caused by things like
Prather says that this may just be due to how the experiment was
“These storms often increase the amount of easily digestible plants, allowing walking sticks to reproduce more quickly,” she said. “If the walking sticks eat more, they could perhaps slow down decomposition even more in the months following a big storm.”
Prather worked with Gary Belovsky from the University of Notre Dame, Sharon Cantrell-Rodríguez of the Universidad del Turabo in Puerto Rico, and Grizelle Gonzalez of the USDA Forest Service’s International Institute of Tropical Forestry.
Frozen Frogs Offer Fresh Hope
Can frozen frogs improve human medicine? Premedicine major Dante Pezzutti thinks so.
With funding from the 2017 American Physiological Society Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship, Pezzutti spent last summer researching Cope’s gray tree frog with Carissa Krane, professor of biology and Schuellein Chair in the Biological Sciences. His research examines the frog’s ability to withstand cold winters by converting up to 65 percent of its body fluids into ice. While frozen, the frog loses blood circulation, the ability to breathe, nerve conduction, brain activity and its heartbeat.
“If you found the frog in the winter it would have icicles, it would be rock solid and look dead, but it’s not,” said Pezzutti. “It’s the frog’s way of surviving the cold. Then, come spring it thaws itself and resumes life.
In the lab, Pezzutti is investigating a protein that may be involved in mediating the osmotic adjustments during the freezing and thawing process. He hopes developing a better understanding of how these proteins work in frogs could lead to breakthroughs in the preservation of human organs for transplant.
Pezzutti presented his research at the April 2018 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology meeting — and was awarded the Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Excellence in Undergraduate Research Award, the most prestigious undergraduate research award offered by the society.
Diversifying Children’s Literature
If a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s that much more important to consider what they’re communicating.
“Children need to see themselves represented in the books they read and in their teacher’s instruction,” said Jackie Arnold, assistant professor of teacher education. “Yet even today, only a small portion of children’s books are published by or about diverse groups, and we still find our bookshelves and classrooms lack high-quality materials that represent diversity in our society.”
To address this issue, Arnold and Mary-Kate Sableski, assistant professor of teacher education, designed a new tool to help schoolteachers identify and select more diverse children’s literature. The field-tested rubric provides a way for teachers to rate books on a scale from zero to three.
- Books rated a zero feature no diversity, such as those with animals as the characters.
- Books rated a one might feature diverse characters but not as main actors, including the Harry Potter stories which include only Caucasian main characters with just a few diverse characters in the background.
- Books rated
have diverse characters as an important element in the story, but the primary intent of the book is not to communicate a message of diversity. a two
- Books rated
intentionally and explicitly display a theme of diversity, such as The Price of Freedom by Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin. The history of slavery in America is a central theme to this book, communicating an intentional message of diversity. a three
“The rubric is important because even teachers who understand the need for books that represent people of different cultures, genders and abilities might have limited experience selecting titles,” said Sableski. “Not only will this rubric help teachers categorize the books, more
Colleen Gromek, a former middle school language arts teacher and current adjunct instructor at the University of Dayton, said she has used the rubric to evaluate classroom materials and has also found it useful as a parent.
“I never noticed how many books for young children were entirely centered around animals,” she said. “My husband and I work hard to make sure our home library reflects the diversity of the world around us. I constantly refer to the rubric as a tool when purchasing or borrowing books for my son. We try to ensure the books that surround him serve as both mirrors of his own experience and windows into the experiences of others.”
The study by Arnold and Sableski that produced the rubric is published in Literacy Research, Practice and Evaluation.
Everything Is Connected
In a book edited by Vincent Miller, the University’s Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture, 13 international theologians, ethicists, scientists and economists explore the spiritual, moral and practical themes of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment.
“Pope Francis captured the world’s attention with his call to address the climate crisis in Laudato Si’,” said Miller. “The crisis we face is a matter of science, economic systems, politics and human moral action, so a successful response must draw upon the knowledge and wisdom of all these disciplines.”
To continue the transdisciplinary conversation of Pope Francis’s encyclical, a 2016 conference — Everything is Connected: Teaching Pope Francis’ “Integral Ecology” — was organized by Miller and the Hanley Sustainability Institute.
“We gathered leading physicists, ecologists, economists, ethicists and theologians to discuss the details of Francis’ religious teaching from within the context of their field,” explained Miller. Together, we developed a better understanding of the crisis we face, and sketched the actions and policies needed to respond.”
The findings and perspectives shared by the scholars at the conference were compiled into a book: The Theological and Ecological Vision of Laudato Si’: Everything is Connected. It addresses the connections between the theology of creation and science, offers a spiritual vision of love and responsibility for creation, explores the connection between Christian solidarity with the poor and concern for the environment, and situates Francis’ encyclical in the history of church teaching.
Tobias Winright, the Hubert Mäder endowed chair of health care ethics and an associate professor in the Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University, recommended the book as “impressive for both its breadth and depth.”
“I regard this collection ... as a go-to resource for anyone who seeks to answer Pope Francis’ call to address climate change and to care for creation,” Winright added.
Contributing authors from the University of Dayton include Bob Brecha, Hanley Sustainability Institute research director and frequent visiting scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, and Sandra Yocum, University Professor of Faith and Culture who has written three books and more than 30 journal articles and book chapters, much of it dealing with Catholicism’s intersection with American culture.
Other contributors include a former co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and come from the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Theology, Science and Human Flourishing, Xavier University (Ohio), Loyola University (Maryland), Loyola Marymount (California), Andover Newton Theological School, Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the Berlin Institute of Technology, the Hertie School of Governance (Berlin), Creighton University and the College of Saint Elizabeth.
The University of Dayton Research Institute has won an Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge award for a program that will teach people with opioid addictions how to reduce their cravings by regaining control of their brains.
UDRI software engineer Kelly Cashion Beigh, who wrote the winning proposal and will lead the program, will develop and use a system of neurofeedback therapy designed to help people “recover control of their minds and bodies and accelerate the path to recovery,” Cashion Beigh said.
Cashion Beigh’s was one of five winning proposals — two from Ohio, two from Massachusetts and one from Utah — selected for funding by the Ohio Third Frontier from entries submitted from nine countries. The Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge was developed to help engender solutions to the nation’s growing opioid addiction crisis.
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“Using neurofeedback, we’ll work with our volunteers to help them learn to regulate activity in the part of their brain associated with cravings and rewire some of those pathways, allowing them to reduce their cravings and experience a more ‘normal’ state even without opioids,” Cashion Beigh said.
Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback where sensors are used in conjunction with a brainwave monitoring method, such as electroencephalography (EEG), to help the wearer see his or her brain’s electrical activity in real time.
In her program, Cashion Beigh will show volunteers a graphics display — which she likened to a simple video game — on a computer monitor. By giving the volunteers tasks that require a shift in focus or other interaction with the game, they will see which activities most positively impact the signals associated with cravings. After a series of training sessions, volunteers will have learned the tasks they will need to perform to reduce cravings, even without use of the technology.
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For patients who are transitioning to recovery with the use of medication, neurofeedback can provide additional insight into the changes enabled by the medication, Cashion Beigh added.
At the outset of her program, Cashion Beigh will work with health care professionals and other experts to help establish a baseline of neurological signals and identify which signals are associated with cravings. She’ll work with other researchers in UDRI’s Software Systems group to use mathematical algorithms to map the 2-dimensional baseline signal imagery to a 3-dimensional map of the brain. “From there we’ll be able to tell which parts of the brain the signals are coming from,” she said.
When she is ready to begin testing, Cashion Beigh will work with health care professionals and agencies which serve people with opioid addictions to help identify potential volunteers. As the program progresses, Cashion Beigh will continue to consult with technology experts within UDRI and external medical specialists to validate results and make adjustments as necessary.
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When Bigger Is Better
The University of Dayton Research Institute’s new large-structure research and testing facility has allowed researchers to expand their structural testing capabilities — in both size and scope.
Inside the Structures and Materials Assessment, Research and Testing (SMART) Laboratory, which features 12,000 square feet of floor space and a nearly 40-foot floor-to-ceiling clearance, researchers in UDRI’s Aerospace Mechanics and Structural Integrity divisions are testing significantly larger structures — think small passenger plane — than they were able to accommodate previously. The lab also features a 20-by-20, 10-foot-deep floor pit to provide additional clearance for very tall structures, as well as 5- and 10-ton overhead cranes for heavy-duty lifting.
“There were times when customers sought bids for testing very large structures, such as a full tail assembly from a cargo jet, and we couldn’t bid on the work because we simply didn’t have the room,” said Mike Bouchard, head of the Aerospace Mechanics division. “Our new lab has allowed us to go after a much bigger variety of work, no pun intended. We’re able to test everything from a small material sample all the way up to and including an entire vehicle, even a small aircraft.”
Structural testing is designed to evaluate how a structure or material behaves under pressure. Test items are secured in
“We simulate realistic service conditions to help customers understand whether their parts and materials are strong and durable enough to withstand the repeated loads and harsh environments they will regularly experience in the field. These tests yield valuable information that helps our customers better maintain existing assets, develop new products or choose the best material for each specific application,” said Bouchard, whose division is currently working with MHT Floor Technologies of Haleyville, Alabama, to test the efficiency of a new, energy-saving insulated floor system for refrigerated truck beds.
Rigging the 28-foot truck bed to create and measure thermal properties first meant bringing the entire truck into a controlled environment, something researchers would not have been able to do before the SMART Lab was built, said research engineer Michael Adams, who is leading the program.
The Research Institute has performed structures and materials assessment for six decades and developed significant expertise and renown in both areas, Bouchard said. “One of the things that
From Fruit Flies To Human Eyes
How do genes transform a single layer of cells into a three-dimensional organ? Amit Singh, associate professor of biology and interim director of the Center for Tissue Regeneration and Engineering at Dayton (TREND) aims to find out.
When cells do not properly become three-dimensional, organs are half-formed or not formed at all, Singh explained. For example, people are born without eyes or have eye defects that affect their vision.
Under a new $439,499 grant from the National Institutes of Health, Singh is studying early eye development in fruit flies to understand the molecular basis of retinal disease and birth defects in the human eye.
“What we are trying to understand is how these genes control this process of delineating three-dimensional structure from a monolayer organ,” Singh said. “Understanding how this transcription factor works will not only have implications on birth defects of the eye, but it will also help us understand how it is involved in the growth of cancer.”
The project is funded through July 2020 and will employ a postdoctoral researcher, two graduate students — one full-time and one part-time — and three undergraduate student researchers.
The current investigation builds on an earlier research project, in which Singh received a $218,250 NIH grant to study the genetic circuitry involved in regulating eye cell growth and patterning. Under that award, Singh identified genes responsible for the three-dimensional patterning process along the
In addition to early eye development, Singh’s lab focuses on
A Vision For Safety
Pacific Gas and Electric Company needed a way to monitor construction and demolition projects in San Francisco to identify potential intrusions into gas line right-of-ways. They found the solution 2,391 miles away at the University of Dayton’s Vision Lab.
Here, Vijayan Asari’s team developed new algorithms and technologies to detect threats to facilities like gas lines. The software analyzes satellite images to find changes in the environment and communicates the findings to the utility company for additional follow-up. The system helps combat human fatigue and error when conducting such meticulous comparisons — improving both safety and performance.
This technology could also save bridges, railroads, highways, pipelines and other areas from threats or damages. With more than 2 million miles of pipelines spanning the U.S. — impacting virtually every community — the need for advanced technologies to ensure
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The technology can even be applied to humans. The lab is developing robots with facial recognition capabilities that can identify and assess the wounded, keeping first responders out of harm.
Civil Servants On The Silver Screen
University of Dayton political scientist Michelle Pautz explores how movies influence our opinions of government in a new book that looks at the top box office grossing films of the 21st century.
“Films are subtle in the way they inform and provoke thinking in their audiences,” said Pautz, associate professor and assistant provost for the University’s Common Academic Program. “When it comes to bureaucrats, we aren’t necessarily cognizant that we are seeing images of them but they are prominent in film — just as they are in real life — and these images can influence our views on government.”
Pautz’s book, Civil Servants on the Silver Screen: Hollywood’s Depiction of Government and Bureaucrats, examines hundreds of government workers in films released from 2000 to 2015 — from the fictional Ministry of Magic employees of Harry Potter to the pilots in the dramatization Pearl Harbor.
While nearly half the films portrayed government as a whole in a negative way — which aligns with popular opinion — most of the individual characters were shown positively, Pautz found. They were often physically attractive and younger. Their most common attributes: intelligence, strength, loyalty, kindness and dedication.
Pautz also found evidence audiences change their opinions after watching movies. She asked people about government and policy issues — including how much people trust Washington to do what’s right — before and after watching films like The Day After Tomorrow, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. Their trust in the government improved, for instance, after watching Argo, which chronicled a CIA operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis in Iran.
“It’s interesting that a quarter to a third of audience members changed their responses to the question after watching one movie that lasts just a few hours,” Pautz said.
Pautz cautions it’s almost impossible to prove scientifically that watching films will change your opinion. But for now she says: “Most Americans have a love-hate relationship with the government, and we see that complexity extends to film.”
Interested in learning more? In The Academic Minute, Pautz discusses how bureaucrats are shown in a different light in the dark of the theater.
A Laser Focus
“Pulsed lasers are useful in medical applications, but the type being used now — solid
“But what if we can see the details of the cell structure? Doctors will have a precise
Chong is focused on pulsed fiber lasers, also known as mode-locked fiber lasers, which are cheaper, smaller and more user-friendly. He is working to create such a laser that generates visible wavelengths, which could be used for microsurgeries, imaging biopsies, or even in eradicating cancer cells with gold nanoparticles.
“For medical purposes, we do believe the mode-locked fiber lasers are the future,” he said. “But for now, the visible wavelength laser is not directly available from mode-locked lasers. You have to start with the laser and convert to the visible wavelength. What I’m suggesting is we can build a laser that can generate visible light and make it readily available for medical applications in a way that is cheaper and more reliable.”
Chong’s work is funded for three
“Dr. Chong has become an internationally recognized leader in mode-locked fiber laser design,” said John Erdei, chair of the University’s physics department. “Our undergraduate and graduate students are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from him and work alongside him. The experience will be transformative for their education and their future careers.”
Chong began working on his laser research as a doctoral student at Cornell University. He has continued his scientific investigation during his six years as a UD faculty member. He was inspired to work in this field, he said, by the possibility to improve lives.
“I thought about a person with a brain tumor,” he said. “Most likely, doctors are going to take out the tumor as much as they can. At the same time, they have to carve out a lot more tissue surrounding it just to make sure all the damaged cells are somehow removed from the brain. And that actually limits the function of the brain.
“But what if we can see the details of the cell structure? Doctors will have a precise
Chong said he hopes to collaborate with more experts in the fields of biology and medical research in the future.
“I can provide the laser, so if anyone is interested in doing collaborations I would love to have that chance,” he said.
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Hypersonic vehicles, which travel at speeds faster than five times the speed of sound, experience significant thermal and aerodynamic loads, said Steven Olson, group leader for Structures in UDRI’s Aerospace Mechanics division, who will serve as principal investigator on the program.
“Designing vehicles that can survive extreme environmental stresses is critical but challenging, requiring unique structural configurations and advanced materials” Olson said. “Our role will be to focus on understanding the mechanical and thermal loads experienced by hypersonic vehicle structures, then work to identify the best materials and create preliminary designs for select airframe structures.”
As the program progresses, researchers will perform experiments and analysis to verify performance of the aerospace structures.
UDRI has a long history of developing and transitioning advanced materials and structures for aerospace, including work in exotic materials for a variety of high-temperature applications. “There have been a number of advances in materials over the last several decades, particularly in the area of ceramics and ceramic matrix composites, that will make them particularly well suited for this type of application,” Olson said.
“The Research Institute will partner with the University of Tennessee and Purdue University, whose capabilities in aerodynamic modeling and wind tunnel testing complement our own capabilities,” Olson added.
UDRI director Allan Crasto said hypersonics is one of several targeted technology areas included in UDRI’s new strategic plan, designed to serve as a blueprint for the organization’s growth and expansion in significant fields of research for the coming decade and beyond.
Tales From The Tomb
Caecilia Metella is one of the most widely known women
Metella’s tomb is one of
Archaeologists, treasure hunters
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When Borbonus looked into them more, he found very little information. “There was not a ton published, and everybody said the same thing. The same three or four pieces of information were repeated over and over again.”
Finding them to study firsthand can be difficult. They’re often recognizable from
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In his photos from multiple columbaria, he examined the architecture, the size
Why study death?
“It’s something that everybody faces, no matter who it is, where they live, no matter which time period they come from,” said Borbonus. “It’s a human experience, and [through it] we can learn something about the world’s past and something about ourselves today.”
Each year, the American Academy in Rome hosts up to 30 recipients of the prestigious Rome Prize, which provides a stipend, room and board and other benefits for 11 months to support innovative scholarly and creative projects. Borbonus, a German citizen, snagged the only 2016-17 Rome Prize available to a non-U.S. citizen.
Singleness And The Church
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"It’s for the church as a whole to think through: What does it mean for us to take seriously the fact that engagements happen and widows happen?"
Bennett, associate professor of religious studies, explores the Christian tradition of single life. The topic is timely as the single population continues to grow and now includes half of adults in the U.S. and a third of Catholics.
“More people are waiting to get married or deciding marriage isn’t for them,” Bennett said. “It’s part of the culture, and it’s something the church needs to pay attention to.”
Bennett says while Christians often treat singleness “primarily as a waiting game or a kind of purgatory on the way to marriage,” they should take it seriously as a part of the Christian community.
“This book is about celebrating what gifts singleness has to offer,” she said. “It’s not a book just for single people. It’s for the church as a whole to think through: What does it mean for us to take seriously the fact that engagements happen and widows happen? People find themselves in all these states of life, but that doesn’t negate that they are Christian brothers and sisters and follow the call of discipleship.”
Some of those gifts, she said, include new ways of understanding friendship or how we make choices or seek self-sufficiency. She said the book is a starting point for “restoring singleness, in all its amazing varieties, to its rightful place in Christian tradition.”
It devotes chapters to each of the “impermanent” states of life, as she describes them, because someone could, for instance, be single, then engaged, married, widowed and left a single parent. Each chapter includes a theologian who lived that type of single life, for instance the never-married Apostle Paul.
“My hope overall is to jump-start a conversation,” Bennett writes. “I think that Christians have thought more deeply and richly about states of singleness in other times and places than they tend to do now. I am gathering up some strands from tradition that have been dropped.”
Singleness and the Church builds on Bennett’s work, including her 2008 book on marriage and singleness titled Water is Thicker than Blood: An Augustinian Theology of Marriage and Singleness.
“Dr. Bennett draws on a rich reading of Christian theological and spiritual traditions to help her students, community and academy think about what the church should be and how the church should act in a world where old boundaries have dissolved and old binaries, like the choice of either marriage or religious vocation, seem mismatched with the actual lives of Christians struggling with their vocation today,” said Daniel Thompson, chair of the religious studies department. “She steps into a long tradition of UD faculty offering theological and practical reflection on the concrete circumstances of life today, while at the same time she re-reads and expands that tradition in innovative ways.”
University of Dayton researcher Tarek Taha hopes his third National Science Foundation award is a charm in his quest to develop a brain-inspired computer chip that can learn by itself and be more secure, efficient and compact than current chips.
“Anything small you need to be smart and powerful. The key is teaching the chip to learn and then apply it. One thing that differentiates us is we’re looking at learning on the chip,” said Taha, who is using a three-year, $440,000 National Science Foundation award to work toward that goal. “We want to make these systems more autonomous, or independent of outside systems.”
Modern intelligent systems such as self-driving cars typically ship data gathered throughout the day to servers at the manufacturer’s facility for processing. This process will likely move into smaller items as artificial intelligence further pervades our everyday lives, Taha explained.
“But chips like these can be more expensive in terms of energy and time, especially energy,” he said. “Plus, if you cannot connect to the Internet or share data, or need enhanced security or do not want to share data, a chip like this is important.”
"We want to make these systems more autonomous, or independent of outside systems."
Robots could also benefit from a learning chip.
“Big batteries in robots are heavy. Batteries and computing components take up most of the space in robots,” Taha said. “This can shrink the size of robots.”
Deep learning, an artificial intelligence approach that has caught fire, is at the root of making this work, according to Taha.
“Deep learning has created a mini-revolution in the industry by replacing decades-old approaches,” he said. “Deep learning involves mimicking what we think the human brain may do, teaching a system. And once you teach it, it works on its own. This latest project is to do the actual teaching.”
The U.S. Postal Service has been using deep learning to recognize handwritten digits, Taha said, adding that the multibillion-dollar deep learning industry hopes to ramp up to large-scale networks for applications like Google voice translation and others.
Taha has been a rising researcher in the artificial intelligence field for a decade.
In 2007, the National Science Foundation awarded Taha, then at Clemson University, a $400,000 CAREER award that supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research. A few years ago, he received another NSF award to examine ways to make computers smarter by mimicking human brains.
Taha’s research uses a type of nanoscale device, known as a memristor, which retains memory without power. His group has applied for four patents for their work.
Taha’s group is in the process of designing a new computer chip that can provide the equivalent performance of an entire
Earthquakes in high mountain regions can trigger large landslides that bury villages, flood rivers and block important international roads, resulting in catastrophic human and economic losses.
"Dr. Haritashya’s work is not just cutting-edge science; it is directly beneficial to thousands — perhaps millions — of people who live in this earthquake-prone region."
Under a new $1.17 million grant from NASA, Umesh Haritashya, associate professor of geology, and a pair of University of Arizona research colleagues hope to better understand the relationship between earthquakes and landslides, and their potential for recurrence and disruption. The research could help determine safer locations for communities and infrastructure in the national border areas of Bhutan, China, Nepal, India
Currently, little is known about earthquake wave propagation and its relationship to large landslides. For example, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in one part of the region resulted in 3,000 to 4,000 landslides. Another earthquake of the same magnitude in China several years ago resulted in 50,000 to 80,000 landslides. "The project is going to advance the science to a new level," Haritashya said.
Using satellite imagery, Haritashya will map historic landslides and determine the speed at which they moved. He also will create computer models of rivers blocked by the debris, which can form large, artificial lakes behind the landslide that are hemmed in by loose sediment.
"Once the water pressure increases, that artificial lake could bust out and flood downstream," Haritashya said. "I will be modeling the hydrology of such flood scenarios."
His colleagues' research will include modeling earthquakes and the region’s mountain ridges. They will simulate seismic events of various magnitudes to track the resulting energy waves through the mountains, as well as their potential impacts.
The April 2015 Nepal earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people and injured almost 22,000. The magnitude 7.8 earthquake caused an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing 21 people, and landslides in the Langtang valley, where 250 people were reported missing. Entire villages were buried, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
"Dr. Haritashya’s work is not just cutting-edge science; it is directly beneficial to thousands — perhaps millions — of people who live in this earthquake-prone region," said Dan Goldman, professor
The project also will benefit students in Haritashya's courses.
"These opportunities absolutely, 100 percent affect my teaching," Haritashya said. "I'm not just bringing textbook knowledge to the classroom; I am bringing in real-life experience and scientific data that support the textbook's teachings. It is definitely going to bring a lot of new science into the classroom."
This is the third time in five years NASA has awarded research funding to Haritashya. Last year, his team received a $630,000 grant to study how the heating of glacial lakes is accelerating the melting and retreat of glaciers in the Asian Himalayas. In 2012, they were awarded nearly $1 million to conduct
A Giant Leap In Insect Control
Insect ecologist Chelse Prather is "rewriting the textbook" about the role certain minerals might play in controlling grasshopper and other insect populations under a $346,500 National Science Foundation grant.
"[...] this is groundbreaking, rewriting the textbook kind of stuff."
Prather, assistant professor of biology, and four students spent 12 weeks manipulating soil nutrients in a coastal tallgrass prairie south of Houston, Texas. Their goal? To test the nutrients’ importance in determining grasshopper density and diversity.
Grasshoppers are an important part of grassland ecosystems, eating plants and serving as fodder for other animals. But they also compete with livestock for food and in large populations can cause millions of dollars of damage to pastures and rangeland. Ranchers and farmers spend nearly $1 billion annually to control grasshoppers in these areas, but still can't predict their numbers year-to-year.
"This type of information could actually help us predict outbreaks better and has lots of implications for how we manage these systems," Prather said.
Nitrogen and phosphorus are essential elements for plant and animal growth, but these "macronutrients" are now abundant in most soil because of their prevalence in fertilizer. Prather is studying whether less common "micronutrients" such as calcium, potassium
In the laboratory, Prather discovered grasshoppers can detect the amount of calcium in blades of grass and actually choose to eat ones with specific levels of these micronutrients. In the field, she found a correlation between the level of micronutrients in plants and the number of grasshoppers in that area.
Under the National Science Foundation grant, Prather is testing her hypothesis using every combination of nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, potassium
"We are going plot to plot testing grasshopper density, sweep-netting insects and looking at grasshopper diversity," said Kiersten Angelos, a senior biology major.
In summer 2016, Prather saw vast differences in the plant communities in the various plots. Insects also started to respond to the micronutrients — particularly grasshoppers, which responded strongly to calcium and sodium.
"People didn't think that animals like insects were limited by micronutrients, so this is groundbreaking, rewriting the textbook kind of stuff," she said. "It's also showing us that dumping all this nitrogen and phosphorus on the ground has significant effects for how ecosystems function — in particular these grasslands."
Prather hopes her tests will show whether adding large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer to soil has resulted in plants and animals responding differently to other nutrients.
"I think this project will hopefully produce a lot of papers," she said. "We're getting results that are the most exciting of my career."
In addition to her micronutrient work, Prather is researching whether grasshopper diversity affects how grasslands function under a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in collaboration with Angela Laws, research assistant professor at the University of Houston. Prather is also part of a team to receive a University STEM Catalyst grant to study grasshopper biomes by tracking decomposition rates and invasive fire ant rates in the region.
Accelerating Research From Days To Minutes
Most of us have heard the adages "work smarter, not harder" or "be quick, but don't hurry."
That will be easier for anyone on campus needing high-powered computing for research, a better view of the next solar eclipse or laser power for autonomous systems.
"UD is among fewer than 100 universities in the nation with this type of capability. In Ohio, only UD, Ohio State, Case Western and the University of Cincinnati have these networks.
This comes thanks to a $250,000 Air Force grant awarded to the Intelligent Optics Laboratory, located in the Department of Electro-optics and Photonics, and Director Mikhail Vorontsov for his work to improve atmospheric optical systems for laser communications, LIDAR (radar using laser beams), imaging, laser beam projection and power delivery systems.
Vorontsov's group worked with PSSC Labs, a developer of custom high-performance computing and big data computing solutions, to install a cluster of 780 processing cores and four state-of-the-art graphics processing units.
"Lasers can be used to transmit all sorts of data, including high-definition images, and power various remote systems. Our lab looks at how atmospheric turbulence, clouds and other weather conditions cause the degradation or loss of data, and power transmission efficiency," Vorontsov said. "Then, we try to find ways to mitigate those effects and build better optical systems."
Vorontsov's group has studied laser beam propagation over the 4.34 miles from the University's Fitz Hall to the Dayton VA Medical Center and the 92 miles between two Hawaiian islands. He also is interested in examining laser communication links between ground stations and satellites and between low-orbit satellites. These high-performance links will eventually replace conventional radio frequency-based communication technology.
But these high-performance computational capabilities aren't just for researchers in the Intelligent Optics Lab. Anyone on campus is welcome to use the computer cluster to support their research activities, according to Vorontsov.
The cluster is part of UDsciNet, a 10-gigabyte high-performance data network that provides unimpeded connections to researchers around the nation. UDsciNet, upgraded with a quarter-million-dollar National Science Foundation grant, also allows researchers to remotely access and control instruments like electron microscopes at the Ohio State Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis.
"UDsciNet connects to the global ‘Internet 2’ research network, thereby facilitating UD's high-performance computing/research relationships beyond our campus. All researchers can better share data regardless of its size or complexity. What used to take days, now takes minutes," said Tom Skill, the University's CIO. "This upgrade is the type of support a good research university needs. Building and sustaining a network of this caliber is an important component in advancing a vision for a far-reaching research infrastructure. These investments show current and future faculty we are serious about supporting their research needs.”
“These high-performance research networks only exist on NSF-funded campuses,” Skill added. “UD is among fewer than 100 universities in the nation with this type of capability. In Ohio, only UD, Ohio State, Case Western and the University of Cincinnati have these networks."
Other examples of how faculty intend to use the system include:
- • Umesh Haritashya, geology professor, is using the network to access and analyze massive data files of high-resolution satellite imagery from NASA and others to study geohazards such as earthquake-induced landslides and river blockages.
- • Andrew Sarangan, electro-optics professor, will work with Sinclair Community College through the network to develop new ways of learning in STEM fields, including nanotechnology.
- • Vijay Asari, Ohio Research Scholars Chair in Wide Area Surveillance and Vision Lab director, will use the network with Central State University to send, receive and store tremendous amounts of data for their work in sensors, imaging, automatic scene analysis and three-dimensional movement analysis.
- • Shuang-Ye Wu, associate professor of geology, will analyze massive data sets involving climate change and precipitation models through the remote use of the Ohio Supercomputer Center.
- • Charles Browning, chair of the chemical and materials engineering department, will access Ohio State's Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis.
Not wanting to waste the opportunity his godmother gave him to pull himself out of poverty, François Vibert battled through his darkness to earn a Fulbright scholarship he hopes will enable him to provide the gift of light to his native Haiti.
"My parents were very poor and my mother wasn't well, so my godmother took me in, raised me and worked to send me to private schools," Vibert said. "I would still be in Haiti doing who knows what, if not for my godmother. She knew I always had a dream, and I couldn't jeopardize the opportunity she gave me. So, I studied a lot."
But sometimes he didn't have any electricity to study. That meant walking many kilometers to find light to study.
"It fueled my interest in doing something to help."
Vibert eventually found his way to the University of Dayton master's program in renewable and clean energy via an engineering school in Cuba. In between, he returned to Haiti to work in a power plant and volunteer with a social service agency focusing on housing.
As a UD student, he's keeping busy working with mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Kevin Hallinan on cost-effective models to provide electricity in Haiti using solar energy and interning at Fairfield, Ohio-based SonLight Power. SonLight Power is a faith-based non-profit organization providing sustainable energy solutions, knowledge and skills to help people in developing areas gain independence from energy poverty. This summer, Vibert was part of a SonLight Power team that installed a solar power project near Campton, Kentucky.
His eventual goal is to return to Haiti, launch a startup and bring solar energy to his compatriots. The Fulbright Foreign Student Program brings citizens of other countries to the U.S. for graduate study. Many foreign Fulbright grantees are early-career professionals who will return to take leadership positions in their home countries, often working at universities or in government service.
"I want to help people, especially the underprivileged," Vibert said. "I'm not a rich man but I can share my knowledge. I can help guide people."
SonLight Power Executive Director Kevin Sasson said he feels crossing Vibert's path during a talk at UD's School of Engineering was meant to be.
"All of it, it's not a coincidence.""It's supernatural. There's no other way to describe how everything unfolded for us to connect, other than it was a God-thing," he said. "Just think of the sequence of events that had to happen for François and SonLight Power to meet in Dayton, Ohio, of all places. And the precise fit between the SonLight Power mission and François' interests in applying clean energy to improve the quality of life in Haiti. All of it, it's not a coincidence."
Started in 2009, the University of Dayton renewable and clean energy graduate program focuses on energy-efficient buildings and manufacturing, and solar, wind, geothermal, biofuel and fuel-cell energy engineering. The program continues to attract students from around the globe, with applications annually three times that of seats available.
Students have the opportunity to participate in more than $18 million of energy-related research the University performs within the School of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences and the University of Dayton Research Institute or hands-on sustainability learning through the University's Hanley Sustainability Institute.
Out Of This World
In early February, NASA scientists narrowed down potential landing sites for Mars 2020 to three — Northeast Syrtis, Jezero Crater and Columbia Hills — at least one of which is likely to be warmer than sites where previous rovers have landed. Simultaneously, researchers at the University of Dayton Research Institute performed a high-temperature qualifying test on a power generator prototype to see if it would successfully operate at the higher temperatures that may be experienced by the generator powering the next rover.
“There are only three of this type of MMRTG. Two are here at UD, and the third is on Mars.”
The Mars 2020 rover will be powered by a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) —similar to the unit currently providing power to Curiosity in Gale Crater — which converts heat created by naturally decaying plutonium radioisotopes into electricity to power the rover’s instruments, computers, wheels, robotic arm
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UDRI houses two MMRTG qualification units that are identical to Curiosity's generator, except they are powered and heated with electricity rather than plutonium. For the last three years, researchers have been designing and running experiments to provide NASA with critical information related to Curiosity's continued exploration, as well as in support of Mars 2020 and other future missions.
And so with cots and sleeping bags handy, UDRI scientist Chad Barklay and UES (Beavercreek) engineer Allen Tolston spent 36 hours camped next to one of the generators — sleeping only 2.5 hours each during the test — while they heated the unit to 428 F, approximately 100 degrees higher than the max temperature Curiosity’s generator experiences. They held the unit at that temperature for 24 hours, prepared to quickly shut down the experiment if they observed any behavior that threatened the system.
Barklay said the test was necessary because at least one of the potential landing sites for the Mars 2020 rover is warmer than Gale Crater, where Curiosity is exploring. "The maximum temperature at Gale Crater is about 32 F during the day, but it could be up to 35 degrees warmer at Columbia Hills," he said. “Although that doesn't sound like much, an increased Martian surface temperature means the surface of the MMRTG could potentially get much hotter."
The experiment, supported by additional UDRI researchers and attended by representatives of Teledyne Energy Systems, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Oak Ridge National Laboratory — who also had an interest in its outcome — was highly successful, Barklay said. "It went better than anybody could have hoped. Everyone was very impressed with our ability to design and develop a test setup and protocols that were unlike anything
NASA is expected to select a landing site for the mission in the next two years. Mars 2020 is targeted for launch
Working Smarter, Together
The University of Dayton looked at a former brownfield site adjacent to its campus and saw
In 2013, GE opened the GE Aviation Electrical Power Integrated Systems Center. Inside,
"Nowhere else will you find a similar facility where academic researchers and industry participants can come together under one roof [...]"
"We toured 11 other possible sites in the Dayton area, but being next to the University of Dayton was what clinched it for us," said Vic Bonneau, president of Electrical Power Systems for GE Aviation.
University president Eric Spina, himself an aerospace engineer, said Bonneau has praised the agility and problem-solving abilities of UD researchers at the
The collaborative nature of the University’s culture has nurtured its nearly four-decade relationship with Emerson, a company best known for air conditioning and refrigeration technologies.
The Helix is Emerson’s premier innovation center where UD students and faculty work with Emerson engineers and industry leaders to develop innovations in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning
"This facility fills a real and critical need for the HVACR industry today,” said Ken Monnier '83, chief technology officer for Emerson's commercial and residential solutions business. "Nowhere else will you find a similar facility where academic researchers and industry participants can come together under one roof to discuss, develop and test technology solutions through various real-world applications. Here, new game-changing technologies and services will be conceived and tested to create beneficial change in our industry and world."
In fact, the collaboration has already resulted in a patent application – for an ice machine simulator which is designed to help achieve the U.S. Department of Energy's target of reducing energy in ice machines by 10-15 percent by 2018.
From Fish Tank To Gas Tank
Once known only as the slimy scourge of backyard ponds and lakes, algae is emerging as a superhero in the race for cleaner and renewable energy resources. But this hero is not without its Achilles' heel: algae is vulnerable to fluctuations in weather and temperature, limiting commercial growers and researchers in their selection of growing systems and locations.
“The University of Dayton Research Institute has developed the technology to generate a cost-competitive biofuel intermediate in the United States,”
But researchers at the University of Dayton Research Institute are addressing that limitation — and producing a high volume of algae in an outdoor, fully automated, closed system designed to operate 24/7, 365, regardless of the weather.
"Our goal was to design and build an economical and efficient system that could be transported anywhere, easily assembled and operate in any climate, and we’ve done just that," said Sukh Sidhu, head of UDRI’s energy technologies and materials division. "This is all about cleaner air, cleaner water and cleaner energies."
"Algae feeds on carbon dioxide and converts it to a highly desirable oil, which accounts for as much as 70 percent of the organism's body weight in some strains. So we can capture carbon dioxide from stacks of coal boilers and other combustion processes before it’s released into the atmosphere and run it through algae growing systems. We consider this a far better alternative for dealing with CO2 emissions than geosequestration, where carbon dioxide is pumped deep into the earth."
In turn algae oil can be extracted and, along with the proteins and carbohydrates that also make up the body of algae, used to create renewable resources for biofuel.
"We discovered that there are no 'best strains' of algae, but that the key factors to high yield are environmental — factors such as weather and temperature, which can be so unpredictable," Sidhu said. "That's why most systems are open, such as natural or man-made ponds, and found in warmer climates.
"And that's why our system is different. It will operate well in any location, regardless of season or climate."
Aside from being more cost-efficient, UDRI’s growing process is "greener" than other systems, using livestock manure instead of chemical fertilizer as a nutrient source for the algae.
After demonstrating the technology, which includes proprietary design modifications engineered by program principal investigator Moshan Kahandawala, the next step will be commercialization.
"The University of Dayton Research Institute has developed the technology to generate a cost-competitive biofuel intermediate in the United States," Sidhu said. "We've taken it from beakers and jars in the lab to full-size and fully operational modules that can be transitioned to the marketplace for commercial use. And we’re pretty proud of that."
UDRI has been performing research, testing and development of algae and algae-growing systems for pollution control and alternative energies since 2009 under funding from the Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate.
Built Out Of Needs
WITH THE HELP OF SOME BRICKS AND HARD WORK.
Eight thousand miles from the University Dayton, Wasambo High School is rising from foundations in the green hillside overlooking Lake Malawi.
It will serve as an experiential learning hub for University students while also helping meet the needs of the people of Sangilo Village, Karonga District, Malawi. In the eastern African nation, the median age is 16 1/2 years old and only 18 percent of primary school graduates continue on to high school.
The school was built out of needs articulated by local people in their conversations with UD students involved with the University's Malawi Practicum on Research and Development.
"Their research gives credibility to our mission and influences the direction we take our programming."
"It's amazing when we have our UD students here, as they can dig into an issue and, with their Malawian counterparts, help us understand where we should focus our efforts," said Matt Maroon '06, founder of the Malawi-based nongovernmental organization Determined to Develop. "Their research gives credibility to our mission and influences the direction we take our programming."
University research and development to improve the human condition in Malawi has been a team effort since 2010. In the last year, students from the School of Engineering ETHOS program have surveyed land for the school site and helped with plans and construction. Faculty and students from UD's teacher education program are developing training and curriculum materials. And students and alumni have contributed funds to support the building of Wasambo school to benefit students both in Malawi and Dayton.
As an experiential learning hub, the school will showcase the University's transdisciplinary, liberal-arts education guided by the Marianist spirit of partner-based community building.
"It's a reflection of the commitment and passion of the community in Malawi, of Matt and of the different programs at UD,” said Jason Pierce, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "It's really quite exciting. It's terrific experiential learning for our students, and it resonates deeply with the mission of the Marianists."
Construction began in September 2016. The boys' school and dormitory and houses for teachers, staff and volunteers will be complete when school begins Sept. 1, 2017. A second phase will include a girls’ school and dormitory. When the boarding school reaches full capacity, it will educate more than 300 students annually.
James Mayni, 14, is excited that his dream of continuing his education is so close to reality: "I will keep hoping that my next chapter of my life at Wasambo High School awaits."
In her two decades of experience in the field of school psychology, Susan Davies, associate professor of counselor education and human services, has seen the consequences of concussions left unaddressed.
After sustaining a brain injury, students may experience learning and behavioral difficulties, she said, but "because educators weren't often well-trained in identifying and understanding brain injuries, these students were not receiving the school-based supports and services they needed in order to be successful."
"Concussions aren't just a sports thing; educators often don't make the link between a child’s fall from the monkey bars and her lack of attention in a kindergarten class."Her mission? To use her research to educate those who work in schools — as well as the parents and students themselves — to identify injuries, acknowledge their myriad impacts and create a community of care to help the students return to learn. In addition to authoring Managing Concussions in Schools: A Guide to Recognition, Response, and Leadership, Davies offers training, sponsored by the Ohio Department of Health, that school-based professionals and health care providers can take back to their schools.
"My strategy with schools for concussion cases is helping them understand that if they have the right supports and adjustments to the workload and academic environments in place, those kids can get better in a few days or weeks," Davies said. "On the other hand, if students come back to an educational environment that is not understanding their unique needs, it can really do some physical damage and prolong their recovery."
Although managing traumatic brain injury in school settings has been Davies' area of research for more than 10 years, she's seen an uptick in interest during the last five with the national attention on sports-related concussions. "But you can't forget about these kids who've fallen, been in fights or been in car accidents. Concussions aren't just a sports thing," she said, adding that educators often don't make the link between a child’s fall from the monkey bars and her lack of attention in a kindergarten class.
The Eyes Have It
Can the common fruit fly (Drosophila) provide a better understanding
Just ask Matt Riccetti, a biology major, who is working in the lab of Amit Singh, associate professor of biology.
"We are taking the human Alzheimer's protein and introducing it to the Drosophila's eye," Riccetti explained. "The eye is made up of a number of photoreceptor neurons that show similar reactions to that of the human brain. We can then monitor the degradation of these neurons due to the introduction of the Alzheimer’s protein, which exhibits the effects and degradation that occurs in a human brain with
"I wholeheartedly believe that no one creates opportunities for undergraduate research the way UD does."
Once their lab gains a better understanding of the pathology of the disease and the way it affects the brain, they will look for either other proteins or drugs that will target the disease state.
This type of research is useful because flies are very quick to reproduce and share 70 percent of disease-related genes with humans. Once the lab identifies possible solutions and treatments for the disease, it is their goal to have their research used in future clinical trials and other related programs.
Riccetti said the research he has done in Singh's lab has given him a new passion – not to mention top honors. Riccetti was one of seven undergraduates across North America to earn the prestigious Victoria Finnerty undergraduate travel award and attended the 58th Drosophila Research Conference, an international meeting that brings together Drosophila geneticists for
"This is an incredible award and honor both for Matt and for Dr. Singh's lab," said Mark Nielsen, Department of Biology chair. "The Drosophila Research Conference is one of the largest international
Engineering researcher Kristen Comfort won a five-year, $542,000 National Science Foundation CAREER award to support her quest to build a cellular model that acts more like a human body, allowing for a better understanding and visualization of human-drug interactions. Her research could lead to better ways to deliver medicine straight to the source of an illness – a malignant tumor or infection — without the cost and ethical concerns of animal testing.
Comfort has tested 3-D cultures, multicellular systems and fluid flow models individually, but she wants to use her award to tie it all together. Comfort will set up the systems in her first year and use the rest of the term to examine how nanomaterials, tiny particles used to deliver medications in the body, interact with the systems.
"It's more than just the results; for students, it’s also about the experience."
"Traditional tissue cultures are typically static. You sit them in an incubator and they stay there. These cultures are two-dimensional, grown in a single layer," Comfort said."But humans are 3-D beings with systems where everything is moving. I want to use this grant to build a 3-D scaffold to support cell culture systems that mimic a human's physiological flow using a pump to reproduce capillary flow rates."
One model will have lung, liver and skin components to replicate how people inhale a material, which is filtered through the liver and settles in the skin. Another planned model will replicate an immune system. Comfort also hopes to have those systems communicate with each other.
This new system could allow for a faster way to screen potential drugs without the use of animals.
"Expanding from a simple cell system to a large animal system is where most models fall apart," Comfort said. "In addition to ethical issues, the large number of nanomaterials and drugs that need to be tested means animal testing is not always an option. In our system, in addition to determining how the cells respond, we can capture the nanomaterials and examine their properties after they have been run through the system."
Comfort will be able to employ a graduate student and two undergraduate students for the five-year term.
"It's more than just the results; for students, it's also about the experience. In addition to having the resources to carry out some really exciting and innovative research, I’m thrilled to be able to use the CAREER award to introduce science to a new group of students."
Located less than 2 miles from the University's campus, Twin Towers is a community where 63 percent of the children live below the poverty level, more than double the statewide average. The neighborhood's population boomed during World War II, but that all changed in 1962 with the construction of U.S. Route 35 through Dayton, which forced thousands of Twin Towers families to relocate and many of its businesses and industries to close.
"The University of Dayton really stresses being part of your community [...] I think a lot of people embrace that idea and want to come out and help."
But today, citizens are reclaiming their neighborhood. And a partnership among the University of Dayton, East End Community Services and Mission of Mary Cooperative is working to transform the former Lincoln Elementary School site into an urban farm and greenspace.
Dubbed Lincoln Hill Gardens, the 5-acre site is the first high-profile project for the University's Hanley Sustainability Institute. Established in 2014 with a $12.5 million gift from the George and Amanda Hanley Foundation, the institute aims to extend the University’s sustainability efforts across campus and into the Dayton community.
In addition to urban food production, Lincoln Hill Gardens will allow students to work on projects that meet both learning goals and community needs, said Kelly Bohrer '96, '01, director of community-engaged learning in the University’s Fitz Center for Leadership in Community.
For example, students in Bohrer's sustainability research classes designed possible site elements, including aquaponics and composting facilities, that were presented to MKSK, the chosen architecture and design firm. In addition, students in associate professor Suki Kwon’s art and design course worked with Niels Braam, MKSK’s environmental graphic designer, to develop branding and signage proposals. Recently, a group of students installed sensors to monitor garden temperatures to ensure optimal growing conditions.
After a year, Lincoln Hill Gardens has produced nearly 2 tons of food for 80 families, plus more to be sold at local markets. The proceeds go toward developing Lincoln Hill Garden, according to Stephen Mackell, urban farm manager at Mission of Mary Cooperative.
"Through the 2017 growing season, families are getting 10-15 pounds of vegetables a week, plus they are getting in the habit of cooking and eating fresh food all of the time," Mackell said. "We expect to have another 20,000 pounds combined from the spring and summer growing seasons."
But it's not just about the food. The gardens allow families to spend quality time together and for neighbors to get to know one another. The property will also be a natural playground, according to Abby Lisjak, the Hanley Sustainability Institute intern for the Lincoln Hill Garden project.
"I've been learning the importance of nature for childhood development and the benefits of a playscape that's different than a traditional playground," said Lisjak, a mechanical engineering major with a minor in human rights. "This is a great fit with my passions and confirmation I want to work in this area. I've always really liked the science, math and process of engineering, but I've sought ways to use engineering to make a difference, to use human rights as a guide to apply engineering."
Cracking Diversity’s Code
Tom Williams, associate professor of biology, is using an $839,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to research why organisms that share the same genes look and behave differently — and the findings could have implications for human health.
Williams' research is rooted in 1980s discoveries that found radically different organisms have similar sets of genes, suggesting much of the Earth’s biological diversity comes not from new genes, but from how the same genes are used differently.
In previous research, Williams developed an investigative model using color patterns on the abdomens of fruit flies to study the ways in which DNA sequences function to switch genes "on" and "off" during an organism's development. Now Williams is examining the genetic codes of closely related fruit fly species to tease out the DNA sequences that function as switches. His goal? Understanding the changes that make one species' switch behave differently from that of another.
These switch sequences are thought to be a common factor in human health issues such as obesity. For example, a person's genome sequence could determine whether they easily burn off calories or store them instead, impacting their ability to lose weight.
Where Engineering Meets Wellness
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"Engineering students sometimes wonder if they should stay in engineering or go into physical therapy. The great thing about biomechanics is they can do both," said associate professor Kim Bigelow, Engineering Wellness through Biomechanics Lab director.
In the lab, Bigelow and her students conduct research that can transform clinical care – especially for individuals who have balance issues.
"That's the beauty of engineering ... you can easily find a connection between the science and your passion. For me, it was finding ways to help people and improve their quality of life."
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Older adults are another group with proportionally high balance issues. One in three individuals aged 65 and older falls each year. To improve this statistic – and quality of life for seniors – Bigelow and her students are establishing ways to better identify individuals who might be at risk, prevent falls and mitigate related injuries.
In addition to her team's efforts in the lab, students in Bigelow's first-year design course, along with students in the School of Engineering's Innovation Center, have worked with both the Kettering Health Network NeuroRehab & Balance Center and United Rehabilitation Services on assistive devices — funded by a three-year, $75,000 National Science Foundation General & Age-Related Disabilities Engineering project grant. Devices include hinged wrist orthotics for patients with clenched fists, easier-to-open pill boxes for patients with limited dexterity, and modified golf clubs for stroke patients.
"I've always wanted to help make a difference in the lives of others — and that's the beauty of engineering," said Bigelow. "The field is so broad, you can easily find a connection between the science and your passion. For me, it was finding ways to help people and improve their quality of life."
Since Bigelow opened the lab in 2009, she has mentored nearly 80 students. They've achieved great things for medical device companies like 3M and Ethicon and have been admitted to preeminent graduate schools. Four of her students received National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships to pursue their doctoral degrees.
Silence Is Not Always Golden
A boss yells at his employee. The employee is afraid to lose his job and stays silent about it. And the abusive behavior continues. It's a vicious cycle — and a problem that's hurting businesses, says Christian Kiewitz, professor of organizational theory and behavior.
Kiewitz is an expert on workplace aggression and abusive supervision — sustained hostile behavior by a supervisor toward a subordinate that does not include physical violence. While shootings in the workplace make headlines, Kiewitz said it's much more common for workers to experience low-level aggressive incidents.
"Your boss yells at you. Your co-worker doesn't forward an important email to you or keep you in the loop. Somebody might sabotage you," he said. "For most employees, experiencing physical workplace aggression or violence is not the norm. Instead what we experience is hostility."
"But you have to look at: Why is it that people keep silent? Silence is intentionally withholding information, so the motive behind the silence is really important."
While researchers have long focused on employees who speak out, looking at silence is something newer.
"The assumption was silence is the absence of voice," Kiewitz said. "But you have to look at: Why is it that people keep silent? Silence is intentionally withholding information, so the motive behind the silence is really important."
He explains when subordinates remain silent because they fear their managers, it also results in more abusive supervision down the road. The effects can include people leaving, sabotaging their bosses or losing their emotional attachment to the company – all problematic for the organization.
While his research does not prescribe what to do in cases of abusive supervision, Kiewitz explains one way to break the cycle is to get top management involved. "It comes back to what kind of a culture you want to have in your organization. The best way of dealing with abusive supervisors is not to have them in the first place."
By the Numbers
in the nation for sponsored materials R&D
Catholic university for sponsored engineering R&D
Catholic university for R&D in all categories
in Ohio for sponsored physical STEM R&D
in the nation for federally sponsored engineering R&D
in annual sponsored research last year
STEM Catalyst Initiative
Solving the Regeneration Puzzle
Dr. Pothitos Pitychoutis is studying limb regeneration in axolotls, a type of salamander. Axolotls have the unique ability to regrow entire amputated limbs. The Axolotl limb and the human limb are anatomically similar, and their development is governed by analogous mechanisms. The goal is to better understand the role of the nervous system in regeneration, which could lead to therapeutic approaches for humans.
Flexible Solar Cells and Biosensors
University of Dayton researchers are testing the viability of flexible solar cells and biosensors using a new method for producing electronic devices on a flexible surface. The solar cells could be used in wearable solar technology. The molecular sensors could be used to monitor human performance, detect explosives and prevent foodborne illnesses.
Translating Big Data to VR Visualization
Research at the University of Dayton aims to help engineers visualize geotechnical subsurface data. Understanding the subsurface conditions is an important step in designing buildings, bridges and other critical infrastructures. Using data from multiple sources, the researchers will create models using state-of-the-art machine learning and stochastic simulation techniques. The data can then be integrated into a virtual reality visualization.