University of Portland’s biology professor Elinor Sullivan won a federal grant worth almost $4 million to conduct research at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. Her research concerns the link between maternal obesity and a high-fat diet on the brain development and mental health of primates. For more information on Professor Sullivan’s grant and research, please click here.
Ami Ahern-Rindell of the biology department, and 2013-2014 Dundon-Berchtold Biology Fellow, and her student collaborator and Dundon-Berchtold Scholar, Alex Quackenbush, had a peer-reviewed paper published in the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) Quarterly fall issue (Vol. 36 No. 1) dedicated to “Ethics and the Responsible Conduct of Undergraduate Research.” The paper is entitled “Applied Ethics Can Foster the Teacher-Scholar Model and Impact Undergraduate Research Campus-Wide.” The article highlights UP’s efforts to support faculty-student scholarly collaborations pertaining to applied ethics and provides a specific example in the biology discipline. UP’s Dundon-Berchtold Initiative is featured in the article and suggested as a possible model for other higher education institutions to emulate.
Nine UP students attended the Sigma Xi Columbia Willamette Chapter Student Research Symposium with three faculty sponsors (Elinor Sullivan, Tara Maginnis, and Christine Weilhoefer) on April 16th at Portland State University. The undergraduates competed under the categories of Biology, Biomedical Sciences and Earth and Environmental Sciences. Below are the awards that University of Portland students won:
1st place – Taylor Rudow
2nd place – Clayton Steed and Ryan Kain
3rd place – Cassidy McCartney
1st place – Kellie Riper
Earth & Environmental Science
1st place – Jeff Fang
2nd place – Sarah Donohoe
Taylor Rudow, was also named one of the ten “Provost’s Initiative for Undergraduate Research” recipients for Spring, 2015.
–Story from Tara Maginnis
No, this isn’t a strange YouTube fascination. Bui teamed up with biology professor Elinor Sullivan this semester to research how the obesity of non-human primates affects their offspring.
“I never thought that it would be so mind blowing,” Bui said. “We can draw conclusions from what we find in the research and help people who are experiencing similar characteristics or maybe even developing healthier lifestyles. It’s so profound to think that you are able to conduct something, and transfer that knowledge to the bigger population to help people become healthier.”
Sullivan and Bui were among the recipients of the Spring 2015 Provost’s Initiative on Undergraduate Research awards. The provost selects faculty members to mentor and collaborate with an underclassman on a co-designed research project.
Bui spends three to four hours a week in the Romanaggi Hall computer lab, working her way through a series of 32 videos. The videos, 45 to 47 minutes each in length, focus on the offspring of an obese non-human primate.
The primate is alone in a cage for the first 10 minutes of the video. Then a researcher, normally Sullivan, walks into the room and sits without interacting with the primate. Eventually, Sullivan will get up close and personal with the primate, attempting to make eye contact.
Bui observes the primates’ behavior and takes detailed notes. Bui says that she has taken note of several social similarities between humans and the non-human primates.
“We found that monkeys who are more obese or have obese parents are less likely to make eye contact because they are afraid or more drawn back,” Bui said. “And you can think about that in our society as well. There hasn’t been a specific study done, but if someone is less confident about the way they look, they are not as likely to go out and interact or make eye contact.”
Sullivan and other researchers also experimented with trying to frighten the animal. Bui said the videos sometimes show Sullivan wearing a vampire mask or a cone head to see how the primate will react.
“One behavior I found in the primate when someone is wearing a vampire mask or a cone head was lip smacking,” Bui said. “It kind of correlates with anxiety, like grinding your teeth when you get nervous about something.”
The world of undergraduate research is new to Bui. She says she is grateful to Sullivan, who was her physiology professor last semester, for helping her gain experience.
“She cares that I’m interested in this, and she’s appreciative of my time and the effort that I’m putting in,” Bui said. “It’s just so nice to have her as a mentor.”
Sullivan has been working on this project with a team of researchers since 2008. She hopes to translate her results to human problems with obesity.
“We knew that obese mothers were more likely to have children that would grow up to be obese.” Sullivan said. “But we didn’t know if that was just genetic, or a result of a shared environment, or if something else is happening during development. That’s why we started investigating.”
The ultimate goal of Sullivan and Bui’s research is to help pregnant women who struggle with obesity find the best way to take proper care of their pregnancy and their child’s health.
Through her experiments, Sullivan has discovered that cutting out unhealthy food from the primate’s diet just during it’s pregnancy can seriously impact the physical and psychological state of the offspring.
She hopes this evidence will help obese pregnant women make healthy choices during their pregnancy.
“They may not be able to give up McDonald’s and eating ice cream forever,” Sullivan said. “But perhaps, just like you give up alcohol and smoking during pregnancy, they’d be willing to give up unhealthy food as well.”
Bui is working towards a career in dentistry and she hopes that this research will further her work.
“The choices you make correlate to your lifestyle and overall that’s something I want to do as a career,” Bui said. “I’m interested in oral health. I think this research will not only make me a better science student but it will make me a more knowledgeable dentist in the future.”
–Story from the Beacon
Excerpts from comments made by Dean Andrews:
At the beginning of the semester, each senior and junior athlete-student was invited to nominate one professor for The 2015 Difference Award. The main criterion for this award is that the faculty member embody whatever difference-making characteristic, idea or attitude students felt made a positive and substantial impact in their life as an undergraduate Pilot. Professors Hannah Callender, Terry Favero, and Christopher Lee were chosen by our athlete-scholars as key difference-makers at our University. They were honored as Difference Award recipients at a public presentation during the UP Men’s Basketball game on Thursday, February 12.
Congratulations Hannah, Terry, and Chris!
|Dr. Hannah Callender, Department of Mathematics|
|Dr. Terry Favero, Department of Biology|
|Dr. Christopher Lee, Department of Mathematics|
University of Portland senior Alexandra Quackenbush was awarded the Rita W. Peterson Award in Science Education from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) during its recent Pacific Division conference. Quakenbush also received second place in her division for her project and presentation. Quackenbush, a biology and mathematics double major and member of the University’s Honors Program, worked on her project with biology professor Ami Ahern-Rindell. The project, “Ethics Tutorial for Students Engaging in Undergraduate Biological Research,” was completed as part of the University’s Dundon-Berchtold Fellowships.
For the project, Quackenbush surveyed junior and senior students in biology labs by posing behavior scenarios. The pair found that students had gaps in their understanding of ethical situations, especially in the areas of data management, authorship, and experimental design.
The Rita W. Peterson Award in Science Education, was established in 2002 to honor an outstanding student presentation in an area of science education research.
The Dundon-Berchtold Fund for Moral Development and Applied Ethics was established by University of Portland regent Amy Dundon-Berchtold and her husband Jim Berchtold ’63. The fund is designed to ensure that the University meets its “aspirations both to form the moral character of its students and to conduct sustained ethical reflection in applied aspects of business, science, engineering, education, health care, and the arts. The fund includes Dundon-Berchtold Fellowships, which started in 2013 and provide for students and faculty mentors to study contemporary ethical issues related to their own academic disciplines as well as the many vocations and professions supported by the University’s educational mission.
For more information contact Dan McGinty, provost’s office, at 7105 or email@example.com.
The College of Arts and Sciences is happy welcome six nine new CAS faculty members into the UP community.
Aarti B. Arora, Ph.D, Visiting Lecturer, Communication Studies
Born and raised in India, Aarti B. Arora received her doctoral degree at the Scripps College of Communication, Ohio University, and earned her master’s degree in Communication Studies from Marshall University. She received her undergraduate degree in English Literature and Child Psychology from St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad, and earned credits towards her undergraduate degree by attending Harvard Summer School at Harvard University. Her primary interest lies in uncovering what motivates people to choose complementary and alternative medicine and how culture and communication influence such choices.
Christina A. Astorga, Ph.D,Chair, Professor, Department of Theology
Christina A. Astorga previously taught at Gonzaga University. She was the first woman and layperson to serve as Chair of the Theology Department of the Ateneo de Manila-Loyola Schools, and completed her doctoral degree at the Loyola School of Theology in 1992. She did her post-doctoral study as a visiting scholar at Weston Jesuit School of Theology from 1996-1997, was a Fellow at the Jesuit Institute of Boston College in 2003, and at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in 2004. She was the Founding Director for the Center for the Study of Catholic Social Thought of Duquesne University from 2007-2011. Her second book, Catholic Moral Theology and Social Ethics: A New Method, received the 2014 College Theology Society Best Book Award. Astorga was the recipient of the National Outstanding Teacher Award in the Philippines in 2000.
Gregory May, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor, Psychological Sciences
After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Portland, Gregory May completed his doctoral degree in clinical psychology at Pacific University’s School of Professional Psychology. May has been a professor since 2008, teaching undergraduate and graduate level psychology courses at both his alma maters. He has a clinical practice in Vancouver, Washington, specializing in traumatic stress response, relationships, psychoeducational and vocational assessment, and organizational consulting. His background in Montessori education provides the foundation for creating collaborative learning environments, fostering andragogical learning by placing an emphasis on experiential opportunities.
Matthias Kullowatz, M.S., Visiting Assistant Professor, Mathematics
Matthias Kullowatz has taught mathematics and statistics at the University of Porltand, as well as at Portland State University, Washington State University, and the Portland Jewish academy. In the past five years, he has worked in various capacities with students ranging in age from three to 60 years old. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Lewis and Clark College and his master’s degree from Portland State University, where he taught as a graduate assistant. Matthias spends his free time playing sports and writing about statistical trends in sports. In 2013 he started a website dedicated to the analysis of Major League Soccer, and he thinks that Sporting Kansas City—not the Seattle Sounders—are the plurality favorites to repeat as MLS Cup Champions in 2014.
Jen McDaneld, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor, English
Jen McDaneld comes to the University of Portland from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. She holds a Ph.D. in American literature from UNC and a Graduate Certificate in Feminist Studies from Duke University. Her research examines how narratives about the early U.S. women’s rights movement circulate in twentieth and twenty-first century American cultural discourse, with essays recently published and forthcoming in journals like Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Her current project explores first-wave feminist memoir as a way of theorizing the relationship between U.S. feminism and American literary history.
Jeffrey W. Meiser, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Political Science
Before joining the Political Science Department at the University of Portland, Jeffrey W. Meiser was an Associate Professor at the College of International Security Affairs in the Regional and Analytical Studies Department and Director of the South and Central Asia Program. At CISA he has taught Methods of Analysis and Argumentation, Research Methods, American Way of War, Strategic Thought, and Frontline of Global War: South Asia Since 1979. He previously taught courses on American foreign policy and energy and environmental security at the University of California, Santa Barbara, The Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Mannheim. Meiser’s book Power and Restraint: The Rise of the United States, 1898-1941 will be published next year by Georgetown University Press. He grew up in Western Washington and is happy to be back in the Pacific Northwest after nine years of exile in Washington, DC.
Susan Murray, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biology
Susan Murray has been interested in the immune system since the summer following her junior year in college when she foreswore waitressing at Marc’s Big Boy Restaurant to take a job in an immunology laboratory at the University of Wisconsin. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, she obtained a Ph.D. from Oregon Health & Science University in 2002. Following a one-year hiatus as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Portland, Susan completed a post-doctoral fellowship at OHSU and went on to become a research assistant professor in the department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. During this time, she also taught immunology at the University of Portland as an adjunct faculty member. Susan is excited to be back at UP full-time as an assistant professor in the biology department. She maintains close contacts with her immunology colleagues at OHSU and is an affiliate member of the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology department there.
Sruthi Rothenfluch, Ph.D, Visiting Assistant Professor, Philosophy
Sruthi Rothenfluch completed her doctoral degree at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln in 2011, and is a 2003 alumna. Before joining the Philosophy Department, she taught at Pacific University, Lewis and Clark College, and at the University of Portland as an adjunct professor. Her research interests lie primarily in epistemology and, more recently, neuroethics. Rothenfluch is a Portland native, living in the northwest with her husband and daughter, and is happy to have settled in Portland after stints in the mid-west and Washington state.
Valerie Walters, Ph.D., Instructor, Chemistry
A native of Michigan, Valerie Walters received her Ph.D. in chemistry from Yale University. Since then she has taught chemistry at Lafayette College (where she was awarded tenure), Haverford College, Willamette University and, for the past two years, as an adjunct and visiting instructor at the University of Portland. She was the owner of a consulting business specializing in chemical education. After teaching for many years and fueled by an additional interest in chemical information, she earned an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Drexel University. She is a member of the American Chemical Society and the Special Library Association (Chemistry Division). She has lived on both coasts and in the Midwest, but loves the Pacific Northwest region most of all.
All students, staff, faculty, and friends are invited to visit the Crab Lab during its open house on Friday, October 3, from noon to 5 p.m., in Swindells 139 and 128, according to Tara Maginnis, biology. With over 500 gallons of saltwater and six species of crabs, there is plenty to explore. Maginnis and her biology research students will be there explaining how the lab works and what kind of research goes on there (and no, they don’t eat the crabs and neither can you).
For more information contact Maginnis at firstname.lastname@example.org.