Owl Research & Innovation magazine, Spring 2017


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Owl Research & Innovation magazine is published by the Division of Research at Florida Atlantic University

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SPRING 2017 From Aquatic Upbringing to Leading Marine and Environmental Research Programs UNTRADITIONAL & UNDAUNTED New College of Medicine Dean Learned Early the Value of Communicating Well STELLAR START-UPS The Next “It” Companies @ FAU Tech Runway


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Table of Contents 24 19 Features 24 Acclaimed Scientist to Lead HBOI Positive Energy Pervading FAU Attracts Anton Post, Ph.D., to Lead Marine and Environmental Programs 28 Enormous Opportunities Ahead for the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine With an Impressive Record of Research, Phillip Boiselle, M.D., Set to Take the College to Next Level 30 Skyrocketing to Success From Fish Farming to Recruitment Software, FAU Tech Runway Start-Ups Attracting Impressive Levels of Financing 48 Insights 42 New Polling Initiative Finds Fast Success The Business and Economic Polling Initiative Makes Headlines While Developing Students’ Research Skills 46 In Her Own Words Director of Sponsored Programs Shares Experience With FAU’s Lewy Body Dementia Caregivers Support Group 48 From Bench to Boardroom Researcher Fulfills His Life’s Passion for Research by Founding an Orphan Drug Company FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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4 14 New Faces in Research 18 Paving the Way to Build the World’s Best Honors College 19 With Stars in His Eyes, Now Leading the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science 20 New Vice President for Advancement Brings Wealth of Experience 22 Genomics Expert Recruited to Lead Medical School’s Biomedical Sciences Department News Briefs 4 Helping Endangered African Penguins 6 Increasing the Number of Hispanic Engineering Graduates 7 Evaluating Cognitive Abilities of Older Drivers 9 College of Education Part of National Initiative to Better Prepare Principals 14 Navy Funds Underwater Propulsion System Study Owl Research & Innovation is published by the Division of Research at Florida Atlantic University. Executive Editor: Luis F. Perez Editor: Beth C. Barak Visuals Editor: Cindy Jones-Hulfachor Copy editors: Cindy Jones-Hulfachor; Kristine M. Gobbo, Spectrum Public Relations Contributing writers: Miriam Alam Campo; Missy Clyne Diaz; Gisele Galoustian; Zach Greathouse; James Hellegaard; Luis F. Perez; Cara Perry; Carin Smith; Brittany Sullivan; Kelsie Weekes; Carol Lewis West; Lauren Woeber Image credits: Hannah Anderson; Felix Angwella; Beth C. Barak; Brian Cousin; Curet Lab; College of Business; Gina Fontana; Niki Fridh; Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post via ZUMA Wire; Lab of Matthew Ajemian, Ph.D.; Mote Marine Laboratory; Ramsey Clevenger; Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research; Viviana Puga; Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds; Briana Valentino Design and graphics: Christina Page, Southeastern Printing; Cindy Jones-Hulfachor; Cindy Diaz On the cover: Anton Post, Ph.D., and Paul Wills, Ph.D. FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 1


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President’s Message JOHN KELLY, PH.D. Attracting the Best and the Brightest A hallmark of every great research university is the talent that fills its laboratories and classrooms. In order for Florida Atlantic University to achieve its goal of becoming “America’s Fastest Improving University,” it is vital to have the right people in place whose innovative work will drive the university’s “race to excellence” — and FAU’s faculty are rising to the challenge. The university is building its research capacity through passion for discovery, creativity and scholarship. You can read about some of their best efforts here in the pages of Owl Research & Innovation. FAU is growing its research enterprise through strategic hires. In the last year, FAU has recruited some of the brightest stars in their respective fields. In this edition of the magazine, you’ll learn about one of the newest members of the FAU family, Anton Post, Ph.D., a leading phytoplankton researcher. Dr. Post will lead the groundbreaking environmental and ocean science research already underway at FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, and across the university. The university also has recruited two new stellar deans to lead the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, respectively, who will focus on growing research in these colleges. Additionally, the medical school’s new clinical trial research unit just opened its doors, and two new top-level researchers will lead its charge. The growth of FAU’s research portfolio provides more opportunities to attract the best and brightest students to South Florida who want to learn from the nation’s top scientists and scholars. FAU is making great strides, and the talented student researchers and faculty are leading the way. t 2 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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Research Growth on the Rise T he progress in growing Florida Atlantic University’s research enterprise has come into focus, with the establishment of four research institutes, additional hiring of world-class researchers and with more faculty submitting and being awarded research grants. We’re well on our way to achieving the university’s goal of $100 million in research funding by the year 2023. In the last two years, we have defined the structure of the four research pillars in A Strategic Plan for the Race to Excellence 2015-2025 and identified faculty who align with those pillars. We hired the directors to lead the pillars, and turn them into powerful research institutes. The most recent hire is Anton Post, Ph.D., the new executive director of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. From his position at HBOI, he’ll lead ocean and environmental initiatives at the university across its campuses. Read more about him in our cover story. Each of the institute leaders are hard at work recruiting new researchers and encouraging existing faculty to seek research funding. FAU grant applications have been rising with a steady increase over the last two years. In the 2014-15 fiscal year, we had 370 applications submitted. That number is projected to jump to 600 submitted applications in the current fiscal year. The increase in funding follows the same trajectory with $33 million in awards during the 2014-15 year jumping to an estimated $50 million plus this fiscal year. None of this would be possible without the good work FAU faculty members continue to do. That’s why we highlight as many of them as we can throughout the magazine. Read about some of their success, and know that we’re on pace for many more in the years to come. t DANIEL C. FLYNN, PH.D. Vice President for Research FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 3


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FAU Scientist’s Research is Helping Endangered African Penguins A dam Schaefer, an FAU epidemiologist, is collaborating with the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds to study the endangered African penguin, Spheniscus demersus. Schaefer’s research has recently appeared in multiple international publications, including the Journal of Veterinary Research. Schaefer and his team recently presented their findings at the International Penguin Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. Schaefer’s research – in South Africa and at FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute – aims to evaluate population health and improve the care, management and rehabilitation of the critically endangered animals by obtaining comprehensive health information. The research provides health data that can be used in conservation efforts. The number of African penguins has been declining for decades, with only 2.5 percent of the population remaining in the wild. Conservationists estimate that they could become extinct in some areas in 15 years based on current population trends. Studying the patterns of disease and health among these populations is critical to understanding the dramatic decline. Research funding is being provided by multiple institutions and private donations. t 4 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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Electrical engineering student, Richard Mejia, works on a project in the College of Engineering and Computer Science's Electronics Parts and Services Lab. Grant to Increase Number of Hispanic Engineering Graduates T he U.S. Department of Education has awarded FAU a $4.4 million grant to boost the number of computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering degrees awarded to Hispanic and low-income students. “Hispanic students enrolling in South Florida colleges are often first-generation college students who encounter significant barriers associated with progressing through a complex, multi-tiered system." ALI ZILOUCHIAN, PH.D. The grant — funded by the Hispanic-Serving Institutions division of the Department of Education — is also earmarked to improve job or graduate school placement in these fields, as well as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related fields. Hispanics and low-income workers are underrepresented in the bachelor’s degree level computer-related workforce. Hispanic-Serving Institutions grants are intended to expand educational opportunities for Hispanics and other underrepresented populations at institutions of higher education. “Hispanic students enrolling in South Florida colleges are often first-generation college students who encounter significant barriers associated with progressing through a complex, multi-tiered system,” said Ali Zilouchian, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs in FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. “This new collaboration with Broward College and Palm Beach State College will help FAU positively impact the educational success of Hispanic students, and ultimately enable them to have successful careers in these fields.” t 6 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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NEWS BRIEFS Evaluating Cognitive Abilities of Older Drivers W ith nearly one in five of all motorists on the roadways over age 65 — the age group that has the highest crash rate per mile — it is imperative that older drivers are sure that they still possess the cognitive abilities to safely get behind the wheel of a car. That’s the conclusion of an article published in the journal Public Health Nursing, co-authored by Lisa Kirk Wiese, Ph.D., an assistant professor in FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. Changes in functionality and in the skills needed for safe driving, and not just chronological age, can increase the risk for injury for older drivers, according to Wiese. This same 65 plus age group is also at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. “Drivers with dementia and even their caregivers may lack the insight needed to limit and then eventually discontinue driving,” said Wiese. The article recommends all older drivers undergo an in-depth geriatric assessment, medication review, as well as a road test. t “Drivers with dementia and even their caregivers may lack the insight needed to limit and then eventually discontinue driving.” LISA KIRK WIESE, PH.D. FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 7


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NEWS BRIEFS Sperm-Sorting Device Could Be Infertility Game-Changer A n FAU researcher is developing a device that could be a major advancement in assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization. The most commonly used method for assisted reproductive technology relies on a technique called centrifugation, which rapidly spins sperm samples and collects the most motile sperm. The drawback is that it can cause DNA damage, and it is less efficient at selecting mature sperm or getting rid of sperm that are near death. That’s why the work of an FAU scientist using microfluidic-based technologies to develop methods to select the healthiest sperm for reproductive technologies is such an important alternative. “These are devices that use small volumes of fluid and can enable more control to precisely sort cells within small volumes,” said Waseem Asghar, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and the Department of Biological Sciences. t FAU Supports Graduate Research with 3MT Competition T hree minutes. That’s how much time a group of Florida Atlantic University graduate students had to explain their research to an audience with no background in their area of study. It was part of FAU’s inaugural Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition, a contest founded by the University of Queensland in 2008, now held at more than 200 universities worldwide. FAU’s recently concluded competition consisted of eight rounds, attracting nearly 90 students from each college and representing a range of disciplines. Up to three winners advanced from each round to the championship. “With a limited investment of time, you can learn about research in a variety of areas, ranging from biological sciences and educational psychology, to fine arts and physics,” said Deborah L. Floyd, Ed.D., who as dean of the Graduate College brought the competition to FAU. “It’s a fun and engaging way to learn about the diverse graduate student research occurring at FAU.” t HOW THE DEVICE SORTS SPERM This microfluidic device uses a quick, easy technique for sorting viable sperm for reproduction. Within 30 minutes, the healthy and motile sperm swim through the membrane into the top chamber. An unprocessed semen sample is injected into the device inlet. Sperm swim into a porous membrane. Porous Membrane Slow, DNA-damaged and dead sperm collect in the bottom chamber. Graphic by Cindy Diaz, Florida Atlantic University 8 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY Not to scale


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NEWS BRIEFS College of Education Part of National Initiative to Better Prepare Principals F AU is one of seven universities selected to participate in a $47 million national initiative designed to better prepare school principals. The College of Education will partner with Broward County Public Schools, the School District of Palm Beach County, St. Lucie Public Schools and the Florida Department of Education to redesign educational leadership programs for assistant principals and principals, with the ultimate goal of state certification for those positions. Daniel ReyesGuerra, Ph.D., an associate professor in the college, will lead the project. Via the University Principal Preparation Initiative — funded by The Wallace Foundation — FAU will receive guidance on redesigning its programming from the University of Denver, a nationally acclaimed program. FAU and its partners will receive more than $2.3 million the first year, with a total possible fouryear budget of more than $5.6 million. RAND Corporation, a leading research organization, will evaluate the initiative. The other schools chosen to be part of the initiative are Albany State University, North Carolina State University, San Diego State University, University of Connecticut, Virginia State University and Western Kentucky University. t Daniel Reyes-Guerra, Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Education, is leading the University Principal Preparation Initiative. He's pictured with colleagues Robert Shockley, Ph.D., and Maysaa Barakat, Ph.D. Harbor Branch Scientists Awarded NSF Grant to Create Underwater Holographic Microscope H arbor Branch scientists are creating technology that will allow them to view — in 3-D — the millions of microscopic creatures and particles that populate bodies of water, including the Indian River Lagoon, thanks to funding provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF). FAU Harbor Branch research professor Jim Sullivan, Ph.D., is principal investigator on the project. He was awarded a multi-year grant worth nearly $900,000 from the NSF to pursue work on an underwater holographic imaging system for long-term studies of marine particles, both in the ocean and in the lagoon. The new technology will allow researchers to view what the naked eye is unable to see, as it exists undisturbed in nature. Sullivan is conducting the work with FAU Harbor Branch colleagues Fraser Dalgleish, Ph.D., Laurent Chérubin, Ph.D., Adi Nayak, Ph.D., Lysel Garavelli, Ph.D., and Malcolm McFarland, Ph.D. t FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 9


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Cercopithecus male feeding on Molossid bat in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Observation of African Monkeys Sheds Light on Human Disease T o learn more about human infectious diseases emanating from animals, FAU researchers studied African monkeys who share food with bats and sometimes even eat the notoriously disease-ridden mammals. Researchers from FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters believe they’ve discovered an alternative pathway for bat-to-monkey disease transmission that has implications for human diseases, such as Ebola. Kate Detwiler, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, and Elizabeth Tapanes, first author of the study and a recent graduate of the master’s in arts program in anthropology, were the first to document with photos and video monkeys consuming bats. Prior to the FAU bat predation study, researchers hypothesized that primate consumption of fruits contaminated with an infected bat’s saliva or feces facilitated zoonotic disease transmission. It is believed that more than six out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals. The findings from this study were recently published in the EcoHealth Journal. t 10 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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NEWS BRIEFS Rendering of the Phil Smith Center for Free Enterprise at the College of Business. $5 Million Donation Launches Free Enterprise Center F AU is the recipient of a $5 million gift from alumnus Phil Smith. The generous donation will be used to establish The Phil Smith Center for Free Enterprise at FAU’s College of Business. The main tower at the college will be named Phil Smith Hall. The Phil Smith Center for Free Enterprise will add chaired professorships, and support research and educational programs based on the business philosophy and principles that have guided Smith throughout his career. The center will also support distinguished visiting faculty, a lecture series and other programs focusing on the principles of free enterprise. “Phil Smith’s career demonstrates the success that is possible in the American free enterprise system – what entrepreneurs can build when they do the right things, and do them well,” said Daniel Gropper, Ph.D., dean of the college. t Library Launches Scholarly Communication Program J ane Strudwick, a veteran electronic resources librarian at FAU, is growing a recently launched scholarly communication program for the FAU Libraries. With input from FAU’s faculty and students, the program is intended to help scholars and faculty navigate the complex and controversial issues of publishing and disseminating scholarly works. Through educational programming and research services, the FAU Libraries will become a guide to the evolving technologies, mandates, open access opportunities and economic pressures of scholarly publishing. Carol Hixson, dean of university libraries, established the scholarly communication program as she neared the end of her inaugural year. “I have been a strong advocate for student and faculty research and scholarships throughout my career, and saw an opportunity through Jane Strudwick’s appointment to director of scholarly communication to ramp up the FAU Libraries’ support in this critically important arena,” said Hixson. t FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 11


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Retirement Eludes Many Priests Despite decades of service, the prospect of retirement is becoming increasingly difficult for Catholic priests, according to Michael N. Kane, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Social Work in the College for Design and Social Inquiry. “The expectation is that the priest will continue to be of service throughout his life until he is physically or cognitively unable to serve,” Kane writes. “To do otherwise may be perceived as self-indulgent or selfish. But after decades of service, is it reasonable for a priest to say ‘enough!’?” Kane authored “The Taboo of Retirement for Diocesan Catholic Priests,” published in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling. The shortage of priests entering the ministry – combined with some 67 million parish-connected Catholics – has resulted not only in retirement being more elusive, but also a rising concern about the mental health of the clergymen, who are reportedly experiencing high rates of depression, anxiety and burnout. t Changes within Catholic parishes Parishes, priests and parishioners in the United States from 1965 to 2015. Number of Catholics in parishes 68.1 million Total priests 58,632 37,578 Parishes without a resident priest 549 3,533 46.3 million ’65 ’75 ’85 ’95 ’05 ’15 Parishes 17,637 17,337 ’65 ’75 ’85 ’95 ’05 ’15 ’65 ’75 ’85 ’95 ’05 ’15 ’65 ’75 ’85 ’95 ’05 ’15 Sources: Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, The Official Catholic Directory 12 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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NEWS BRIEFS Millennials No More Promiscuous Than Earlier Generations D espite coming of age at a time when finding sex is just a keyboard stroke away, research finds millennials are no more promiscuous than previous generations, according to Ryne Sherman, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and co-author of a study on the subject. “This is really about this generation of young American adults and not the time period in which they are living,” said Sherman, whose study also found that those born in the 1990s are less inclined to get a driver’s license or work for pay. Researchers speculate that more sex education and awareness of sexually transmitted diseases, easier access to pornography, and generational differences in defining sexual activity, such as oral sex versus intercourse, may account for the shift between millennials and other generations. t Decrease in sexually Dacetcivreeaysoeuinngseaxduualtlsly active young adultsPercent of PAemrceerinctaonfs, Aagmeesr2ic0antos,24, wagheos w20erteon2o4t, swehxouawlleyreacntoivte aseftxeuratlhlye active afgterotfh1e8. Born in ’B6o5r-n’69in: ’6.53-’16%9: 6.31% ’70-’79: 1’710.4-’799%: 11.49% age of 18. ’90-’94: 1’950.1-’974%: ’80-’89: 15.17% 1’810.6-’879%: 11.67% Differences among gender and education CDoifmfeprearnicnegs1a9m6o0nsgtoge1n9d9e0rsand education CYooumngpwaroimnegn 1960s to 1990s Young adults without Young w5.o4m%en 5.4% 2.3% 2.3% Young men 1Yo.7u%ng 1m.9e%n 1.7% 1.9% Yccooollull11een..gg77gee%%aeedddu44uult..cc11saa%%wttiiiootnnhouteeWW22dd..22iiuutt%%hhccaaccttooiioo22llllnn..ee22gg%%ee ’60s ’90s ’60s ’90s ’60s ’90s ’60s So’6u0rsce: “’9S0esxual Ina’6ct0isvity’9D0usring You’6n0gs Ad’9u0ltshood ’60s iSiJsseoaMMunroocTrrewee: e“CCSnooegmmxeumm, aRoolynnInneAAammScthooivennirggtmyUUaDn..SSu..raiMMnndiigllllBYeeornnounnoniikaagellssAWaadnneulddlltshiiGGoeeonnd,,”” Jean Twenge, Ryne Sherman and Brooke Wells ’90s ’90s FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 13



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