News release prepared by: Communications and Marketing, 785-532-2535, email@example.com
Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012
University researchers have year's worth of intriguing studies
MANHATTAN -- At Kansas State University, 2012 was a productive year full of research and discoveries.
For the 2011-2012 fiscal year ending June 30, researchers were awarded 910 grants, totaling more than $137.4 million in funding -- the second highest funding level ever received at the university. The funding supported studies that ranged from improving animal health to increasing our understanding of the world. Here is a look at some intriguing and fun university research in 2012.
*Words speak louder than actions. Amy Hageman, assistant professor of accounting, co-authored a study that found that the more information companies disclose about their sustainable practices, the more they are viewed as being environmentally friendly -- even if their actual environmental performance is not strong. Researchers found that companies with the worst environmental performance have the best environmental reputation.
*A place to play. Chelsey King, recent master's graduate in landscape architecture, St. Peters, Mo., worked with Katie Kingery-Page, assistant professor of landscape architecture, to design a playground where elementary school children with autism could feel comfortable and included. The playground included a music garden to help with sensory aspects; an edible garden for hands-on interaction with nature; and a variety of alcoves for children.
*A picture is worth a thousand warnings. Eugene Vasserman, assistant professor of computing and information sciences, and Gary Brase, associate professor of psychology, are developing an online warning system that would show novice computer users an easily understandable, relatable visual warning if the website the user wants to visit could pose a risk to his or her online safety or computer's security. The visual warning would prompt a gut-level good choice from the user without the user having to understand technical details.
*Switching light sources brightens shelf life for meat. Kyle Steele, a recent graduate student in animal sciences and industry, Silver Lake, found that using light-emitting diode, or LED, lights in refrigeration units both saves energy for meat retailers and extends the color shelf life of some beef products. Once cut, meat slowly becomes discolored by light sources. Using LED lights slowed the discoloration. Steele worked with Elizabeth Boyle and Melvin Hunt, both professors of animal sciences and industry.
*Being the weak link leads to better workouts. Brandon Irwin, assistant professor of kinesiology, found that when individuals exercise with a teammate they perceive to be better, they increase their workout time and intensity by as much as 200 percent. According to Irwin, those who felt they were the weak link put more effort into the workout than they normally would doing it alone.
*Cleaning and conflict. Sarah Riforgiate, assistant professor of communication studies, looked at what happens when roommates and romantic partners have different levels of tolerance for housework left undone. She found that those with lower tolerance levels for a mess often clean it up first -- which can lead to those tasks being regarded as that person's job. That leads to no longer feeling grateful for a partner's work or compensating.
*Luring locavores to market. Sarah Bernard, a 2012 master's graduate in agribusiness, studied consumer's motivations behind buying local beef. She found that farmers should be marketing more to female and older consumers because they are more likely to buy local products. Additionally, farmers should promote local agriculture in their marketing messages.
*Breaking up is hard to do, but necessary. Amber Vennum, assistant professor of family studies and human services, is studying couples that break up and then get back together and how it affects their relationship. She found that couples who have reunited are frequently more impulsive about major relationship transitions such as moving in together or having a baby. As a result, the couples have worse communication, lower self-esteem and make more negative decisions.
*Going viral to stop viruses. A university research team is looking at using social media to curb the spread of infectious diseases. By studying human behavior and identifying the various groups that most need to be reached through social media, the team suspects that a well-timed tweet or Facebook post from a public authority or trusted person could help influence flu shots, hand-washing or sneezing into an elbow.
*Plant material improves roads. Wilson Smith, a recent graduate in civil engineering, Independence, Mo., studied using lignin, a plant-based biomass material, as a concrete additive to improve the quality of unpaved roads throughout Kansas. Lignin is adhesive, making it good for binding soil particles together and providing cohesion for the loose gravel roads. As a result, vehicles have better support on the unpaved roads and the road is better protected from erosion. Dunja Peric, associate professor of civil engineering, is also involved.
*A smooth college transition. Kristy Morgan, recent doctoral graduate in student affairs and higher education, Leavenworth, studied ways to help college students with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, plan a successful transition to college. Research shows that college students with ADHD have a tangible struggle with a medical condition that cannot be dismissed as an everyday struggle. Recommendations for students and parents were developed to help students with ADHD make a successful transition to campus.
*Solid-tary confinement for carbon dioxide. Saugata Datta, associate professor of geology, is determining whether aquifer rocks are a viable option for carbon dioxide storage. He is looking at trapping and storing carbon dioxide in rocks more than 5,000 feet underground in Kansas' Arbuckle aquifer, which has such high salt concentrations that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has deemed its water unsafe to drink.
*A computer network that defends itself. Scott DeLoach, professor of computing and information sciences, and Xinming "Simon" Ou, associate professor of computing and information sciences, are researching the feasibility of building a computer network that could protect itself against online attackers by automatically changing its setup and configuration. Creating such a network would increase online security for government departments, corporations and businesses, and universities.
*Medical insight offers a healthy bond for humans and dogs. James Roush, professor of clinical sciences, is studying ways to lessen pain after surgery and improve care for small animals, particularly dogs. Because humans and dogs experience some diseases in similar ways, his research may improve how doctors and physicians understand human health, too.
Read about Roush's three current projects at http://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/sept12/dog92512.html
*New collaborative tool offers better classroom flexibility. Brian Lindshield, assistant professor of human nutrition, has developed an online form of textbook called a flexbook. The flexbook is a textbook replacement that saves students money and provides instructors with teaching flexibility. Designed to be read online, the flexbook contains links to videos, animations, relevant news stories, websites and other online material. A flexbook is designed to have more figures and visuals than huge amounts of text. Lindshield's flexbook was one of three nominees for an Education-Portal.com People's Choice Award for "Most Open Resource."