Research Magazine 2006

Synopsis

Professor works to balance senior adults

Falls are the leading cause of accidental death in people over age 65. Kinesiology Assistant Professor Christopher Ray is developing rehabilitation interventions to decrease the risk of falls in sighted and legally blind older adults. Dr. Ray’s methods evaluate balance and postural control using a test that measures the subject’s ability to use the three sensory systems that contribute to balance: vestibular (inner ear), visual and somatosensation, which helps the body detect muscle movement and joint position.

Researcher named a rising star in microsystems

Electrical engineering Assistant Professor Michael Vasilyev has received a Young Faculty Award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The honor recognizes Dr. Vasilyev as one of 39 rising stars in university microsystems research. The award includes funding for developing a device that converts mid-infrared light into visible light without losing critical information. Mid-infrared light is important in optical sensing because it is safe for the eye, is not absorbed by the atmosphere and is capable of detecting the spectral “fingerprints” of a variety of chemicals.

Team reports first horizontal gene transfers in mammals

geneA group of genome biologists has provided the first evidence for the “horizontal transfer” of a mobile genetic element in a wide range of vertebrates, including several mammals. Horizontal transfer occurs when an organism incorporates genetic material from another organism without being the offspring of that organism. Mammals normally obtain genes “vertically”—handed down from parents to offspring. The researchers, all from the UT Arlington Biology Department, are Assistant Professor Cédric Feschotte, graduate student John Pace II, postdoctoral fellow Clement Gilbert and former undergraduate student Marlena Clark. The finding has garnered interest from newspapers and online news services in Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, Russia and elsewhere because of its potential impact on the understanding of genome evolution.

Air Force award funds nanophotonics research

Electrical engineering researchers have won part of a prestigious Air Force Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) award to investigate various nanotechnologies. MURI awards provide long-term support for science and engineering research vital to national defense. Assistant Professor Weidong Zhou will collaborate with researchers at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Illinois and the U.S. Air Force. Dr. Zhou’s research group will develop crystal-based nanophotonic devices on nanomembranes for silicon photonics and infrared-sensing applications. Scientists believe that nanomembranes can greatly expand the application of semiconductors.

Study shows teen victims seek friends’ help

teenVictims of teen dating violence are more likely to talk about it if a friend witnesses the incident, a recent study asserts. Researchers from UT Arlington, the University of Michigan and two other institutions conducted the study to understand what leads abused teens to seek help. Their findings appeared in Violence Against Women. “We tend to think of violence between intimates as being behind closed doors,” says UT Arlington social work Professor Beverly Black, the study’s lead author. “We were surprised that in most cases someone witnessed the violence.”