UWF Faculty Catalyst Initative awards $30,000 to highly productive faculty

The University of West Florida’s newly established Faculty Catalyst Initiative, recently awarded $30,000 to highly productive faculty based on their distinquished accomplishments in research and creative activities.

The UWF Faculty Catalyst Initiative is a Pace Academic Development Award funded program that supports scholarly and creative projects and activities of successful UWF faculty. Of the 13 applications received for the program, seven faculty were awarded. Faculty receiving these awards must have been evaluated as distiniguished in the area of Scholarly and Creative Activities for each of the last three years. The faculty and their proposal titles are listed below.

Raid Amin for Faculty Catalyst
Dr. Raid Amin

Dr. Raid Amin, Math & Statistics, College of Arts & Sciences

Cluster Analysis of Public Health Data

I am planning to conduct the proposed research activities during the spring semester of the 2014 academic year. I will keep my research activities focused on geographical disease surveillance with spatial and space-time cluster analysis. I am proposing the following activities:

  • Continue doing research with cluster analysis applied to public health data sets
  • Travel during the UWF spring break to Harvard University (Boston, Massachusetts) to continue collaborative research with Dr. Martin Kulldorff, in addition to University of Massachusetts (Amherst) to discuss Big Data extraction for the EPA RSEI micro data set with Dr. Michael Ash.

Dr. Martin Kulldorff is Professor and biostatistician in the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School. His main research interest is the developing of statistical methods for geographical disease surveillance, including methods for the early detection of disease outbreaks. We have a couple of research projects on which I would like to work during the spring 2015 semester, leading to a two week visit to Harvard. One of the projects is about geographical cluster analysis of rape rates in the USA. Dr. Kulldorff has welcomed such a visit, and his department will provide office space for me. Google Scholar shows 111161 citations to his scientific articles, with 7079 citations since 2008. He has received many external grants over the years. I have been holding discussions with Professor Kulldorff over the past three years, and I am learning a lot from him about modeling for cluster analysis studies.

Dr. Michael Ash is Professor and Chair of Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is an excellent computer programmer, and he has access to EPA air quality data at the micro level. His high profile research at the Political Economy Research Institute includes Justice in the Air: Tracking Toxic Pollution from America’s Industries. I am fortunate through my association with Professor Ash to be one of only three research groups in the USA who have access to the EPA micro data set on air pollution. I am discussing with him the possibility of using cluster analysis methods to analyze air pollution data. I am planning to visit him in Amherst as I visit Boston.

Suhbash Bagui for Faculty Catalyst
Dr. Suhbash Bagui

Dr. Suhbash Bagui, Math & Statistics, College of Arts & Sciences
Mining Breast Cancer Data

In this research, we consider the problem of classifying breast cancer data using various classification rules, such as linear, quadratic, logistic, k nearest neighbor (k-NN), and k rank nearest neighbor (k-RNN) rules. We compare the performances of these classification rules with respect to two large breast cancer data sets. We also explore the significance of breast cancer features in order to find the best model for cancer diagnosis.

Tim Royappa for Faculty Catalyst
Dr. Tim Royappa

Dr. Tim Royappa, Chemistry, College of Arts & Sciences
Novel Copper Compounds for Electronics Applications

In the semiconductor industry, the manufacture of integrated circuits and other solidstate devices often relies on a technique called Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). In this technique, a gas is passed over a hot surface, which reacts with the gas, resulting in a thin film coating the surface. One of the important uses of CVD is the manufacture of thin copper films used to make “interconnects” (circuit lines) on the integrated circuits in high-performance computer chips. However, no satisfactory method exists yet for depositing this metal with good adhesion to the surface. This project focuses on the synthesis of new copper-containing compounds that can work well in industrial CVD processes. Certain new copper compounds containing unipositive copper(I) ions (Cu+), the oxalate anion (C2O42–) and various ligands (organic molecules attached to the copper ions) have been synthesized in the last few years for use as CVD precursors. These so-called copper(I) oxalate complexes, which can be made from affordable starting materials such as copper(I) oxide and oxalic acid, show promise for use in CVD because they can generate copper metal cleanly, producing non-toxic carbon dioxide as the by-product. The goal of this project, sensu stricto, is to create novel copper(I) oxalate complexes for possible use in CVD. In a broader sense, however, our research group is interested in carrying out a detailed study of the chemical reaction used to create these complexes, in order to gain a broader understanding of their synthesis, structure, reactivity and stability.

Leonid Yanovskiy Faculty Catalyst Initiative
Dr. Leonid Yanovskiy

Dr. Leonid Yanovskiy, Music, College of Arts & Sciences
National Recruitment Tour

The project will encompass collecting data, presenting lectures, recitals and teaching master classes at pre-college educational organizations and high schools renowned for successful string programs. Targeted areas include Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, Montana and New

I plan to collect specific data pertaining to distinguished pre-college string programs: a) size and type of a program; b) size and type of orchestra/ensemble classes offered; c) level of music theory/history classes offered; d) percentage of students taking one-on-one instrumental lessons; e) level of senior string students’ repertoire. The follow-up analyses of the collected data would allow the UWF Department of Music to calibrate its operation in areas of a) recruitment and retention of music students; b) successful collaboration with local/regional music programs and c) further development of our own pre-college music program. My lectures, recitals and master classes would enable us to create personal contacts with prospective music students and their teachers, inform them about unprecedented vigor of musical life in West Florida, and create excitement about excellence of the UWF music program.

As UWF continues to build a strong and dynamic string program, we strive to attract promising prospective music students from around the nation. Success of the proposed tour would be a critical step towards the fulfillment of our professional mission.

Ludmila Cosa-Lima Faculty Catalyst Initiative
Dr. Ludmila Cosa-Lima

Dr. Ludmila Cosa-Lima, Health, Leisure and Exercise Science, College of Professional Studies
Effects of Exercise on Cardioprotection

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Growing evidence has shown that regular bouts of endurance exercise provide significant cardioprotection against cardiovascular diseases. Nonetheless, the mechanisms responsible for exercise-mediated cardioprotection remain in large unknown. Mitochondria are indispensable organelles that provide energy for cells to sustain incessant cardiac function, but when damaged, they critically contribute to myocardial cell death. Therefore, maintaining mitochondrial quality control is very important. Interestingly, endurance exercise causes cardioprotective mitochondrial traits where damaged proteins and small organelles are disposed. Specifically, our central hypothesis is that regular endurance exercise promotes removal of dysfunctional mitochondria by autophagy and provides cardioprotection.

Effects of Exercise on Cardioprotection

Carla Thompson
Dr. Carla Thompson

Dr. Carla Thompson, Research and Advanced Studies, College of Professional Studies
Examining Health and Psychosocial Factors of Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Relative to College and Career Readiness Considerations: A Mixed Methods Research Project

The special population of homeless youth has become an alarming concern within America’s educational challenges. Recent national estimates of the number of homeless youth vary because of the mobility of the group.  However, estimates range from 8 percent to10 percent of youth across the country are by definition considered to be homeless (National Network for Youth, 2003).   The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001 defines unaccompanied youth as “those who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian” (42 U. S. C.  11431 et seq).  The need for high quality research efforts to identify characteristics and indicators of homeless youth to provide appropriate educational opportunities and experiences for college and career readiness considerations is prevalent in the literature and aligns with the higher education need for addressing this audience of potential students and for developing programs to appropriately prepare these students to enter America’s workforce.  

The project will examine pertinent constructs framed by Life Span Development Theory including biological considerations, cultural considerations, and psychosocial factors.  The life-span perspective emphasizes development across the course of a lifetime and all stages of the span contribute to development. The proposed research project will investigate two research questions: (a) RQ1: What are the influences and interrelationships of homeless youths’ perceptions of health and safety, self- esteem, aspirations, past performances, attendance records, Grade Point Average, and residency information relative to college and career readiness levels? (b) RQ2: What is the impact of specific college and career awareness intervention services and programs on homeless youths’ perceptions of health and safety, self-esteem, aspirations, attendance records, and college and career readiness levels?  The research methodology consists of a pre/post sequential mixed-methods research design with qualitative interview data and quantitative survey data retrieved from the targeted N=50 high school students identified by Santa Rosa County School District.  Study findings will provide relevant results and implications for developing appropriate educational programs to prepare this special needs audience for college/career readiness and the workforce.

Susan Jans-Thomas
Dr. Susan Jans-Thomas

Dr. Susan Jans-Thomas, Research and Advanced Studies, College of Professional Studies
What Jim Crow Forgot: Historical Remnants of Racial Inequality

 I am currently under a signed contract for a book entitled: What Jim Crow Forgot: Historical Remnants of Racial Inequality. The book tells the stories of people, places, and events that remain as evidence to a time when Jim Crow Laws segregated Southern cities and towns. 

For the past three years, I have conducted site-based photographic research throughout Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina. To ensure quality of the final product I must return to South Carolina and North Carolina to photograph definitive sites throughout the state, and complete archival research at Shaw University.

To complete final publication of the book, I must accomplish an index and final edit. A graduate student will complete the process of constructing the index and an outside editor must complete final edits before I submit the manuscript to the publisher. The manuscript will contain a series of my photographs taken during site-based research visits. Photographic images assist in accurately reporting changes over time, while providing readers with purposeful meaning captured by the researcher.

As a professor in the field of Diversity Studies, funding of this research contributes to the field through the study of race relations, oppression, African American history, political economics, ideological perspectives, and educational delivery systems. As a professor in the field of Qualitative Research, this activity follows the research strategies of: Photographic Inquiry, Site-Based Research, Historical and Archival Research.

These funds will pay travel expenses, graduate student assistantship hours, editorial fees, and cost of photographic printing supplies. 

The faculty members selected will initiate their research and creative projects in the Spring 2014 semester, and present a final report in the Summer 2014 semester.

About the University of West Florida: Founded in 1963, the University of West Florida is a vibrant, distinctive institution of higher learning with undergraduate, graduate and targeted research programs. With multiple locations in Northwest Florida, the University serves a student population of more than 12,000. Dedicated to helping students realize their full potential, UWF favors small class sizes with quality teacher-scholars who deliver personalized, innovative, hands-on learning and leadership opportunities.