Owl Research & Innovation magazine,Fall 2017


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Florida Atlantic University bi-annual research magazine

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PRESIDENT MESSAGE FALL 2017 MOVING PEOPLE AND CARGO, SAFER AND FASTER Transportation Research Excellence Gives Rise to New Programs 3 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY BRAINS ILLUSTRATED Illuminating Neuroscientists’ Work FEET FIRST Homeless Get Care from the Bottom Up


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Table of Contents 31 Features 17 Agencies Look to FAU Transportation Expertise Millions in New Grants to Start Collaboration on Major Initiatives 23 Neuroscience Studies in Pictures High-Powered Microscopes Give Researchers an Unparalleled Look Inside Brains 28 Entrepreneurship Program Grows FAU Tech Runway Attracts Largest Class of Venture Companies to Date 23 Insights 31 Documenting a Rare Congo Species Elusive and Endangered Monkey Caught on Camera 35 New Civil War Perspectives Book on Governors’ Role to Save a Nation Wins Critical Acclaim 43 Homeless Foot Care Making Human Connections Through a Clinic 1 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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45 43 New Faces in Research 13 A Q&A with Associate Vice President for Research 14 Healthy Aging Institute Adds Biostatician 15 Three Scientists Join Internet-of-Things Research Group News Briefs 5 Discovery Moves Cataract Blindness Studies Forward 7 Aquaculture Research Comes into Focus 9 The Potential of Snail Spit 10 Finding Out How Fear Memories Form 11 Secret Injustices Exhibit Challenges Old Assumptions 45 Postcards from the Field 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: Linda Holtz; Cindy Jones-Hulfachor; Ellen Kuwana; Spectrum Public Relations Contributing writers: Hannah Anderson; Carol Brzozowski; Polly Burks; Missy Clyne Diaz; Gisele Galoustian; Zach Greathouse; Julia Harris; James Hellegaard; Linda Holtz; Joanna Kentolall; Luis F. Perez; Emma Yasinski Photo credits: Hannah Anderson; Pablo Ayali, Lukuru Foundation; Lisa A. Brennan; Conservation International; Lab of Xavier Comas; Brian Cousin; Cindy Diaz; Gina Fontana; Library of Congress; Mickelene Hoggard; Brian Ramos; Lab of Robert Stackman; Nancy Stein; University Galleries; Briana Valentino; Kimberly Vardeman; Lab of Joshua Voss Design and graphics: Hannah Anderson; Cindy Jones-Hulfachor; Christina Page, Southeastern Printing NOTICE: Copies of this publication can be obtained in an alternate format by contacting the Division of Research at dorcommunications@fau.edu. This publication is available in standard print, Braille or electronically for people with disabilities. Please allow at least 10 days to process this request. n the cover Traffic hi ing y on Interstate near the oca aton ca pus. Photo by Gina Fontana Member of the University Research Magazine Association FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 2


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PRESIDENT MESSAGE President’s Message JOHN KELLY, PH.D. No Longer Diamond in the Rough W hen I first arrived at , I tal ed a out the hidden gems across the university. Our job was to take those unknown or littleknown areas of excellence, polish them and show them off to the world. Now people are taking notice, as we continue to focus our resources on those areas of research strength and building on them. e have had so e significant research and scholarly wins recently, some of which you can read about in this edition of Owl Research & Innovation. The U.S. Department of Education recently named a ispanic erving Institution, affir ing our commitment to serving our diverse communities and opening an important strategic avenue to further our science, technology, engineering and math offerings to an underserved population. 3 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY Nikon Instruments Inc. named the FAU Brain Institute on our Jupiter campus a Nikon Center of Excellence, making it one of just eight such centers in the country and one of 21 internationally. The designation gives our scientists and students access to the latest high-end research microscopes, allowing them to peer into the workings of the brain and nervous system as never before. You can see the vivid imagery those microscopes can produce in a picture story on pages 23-27. The images are not only colorful, they provide our researchers with unmatched insights into how the brain works and potential path ays to fight diseases that af ict so many of our loved ones. The U.S. Department of Transportation has also recognized FAU’s growing research stature, recently awarding two major grants that leverage our faculty expertise in transportation studies. One of those awards — with which state and private contributions could amount to more than $10 million — funds our new Freight Mobility Research Institute. It’s the kind of program that builds upon the work faculty have been doing, and helps grow our research enterprise. t


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Vice President’s Message DANIEL C. FLYNN, PH.D. Our World-Changing Potential T he depth and breadth of the research programs at the university continues to grow. And as we build the infrastructure to support our expanding portfolio, our scientists are rising to the challenge of shaping FAU into a preeminent research institution. They’re putting in for more research grants, and winning more of them. They’re investigating novel ways to solve problems facing our society. Some are turning the intellectual property they’re creating at FAU into business ventures. It’s a cycle that builds on itself, and with each achievement we breed other successes that can change the world we live in. Some of those accomplishments are highlighted in this edition of Owl Research & Innovation. There may be no greater threat to our world than the impacts of climate change on our aging cities and infrastructure. Local leaders understand that, and they’re turning to our faculty to help them plan for the future. The cities of Hollywood and West Palm Beach are working with faculty members who recently launched the Incubator for Sustainable & Resilient Communities, which will help shape the future development of our cities. The story on pages 40 details so e of the issues the center and city officials are tac ling together. Our economic vitality as a country depends on innovation, and FAU contributes to that not only through discoveries made by our scientists, but by fostering an ecosystem of entrepreneurship. The university is an engine of economic growth. The FAU Tech Runway program fuels that growth by transforming faculty inventions into companies. It also acts as an entrepreneurial hub, attracting some of the more promising start-ups from across the region to accelerate their development. You can read about some of the exciting companies to enter Tech Runway’s latest class in the following pages. There’s much more happening here than can ever be covered in any publication. But we hope this magazine provides a glimpse into some of the exciting initiatives happening at FAU that have world-changing potential. t FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 4


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NEWS BRIEFS NEWS BRIEFS Cells producing the normal Parkin protein (left) compared to cells making the dysfunctional Parkin protein. Groundbreaking Research in Age-Related Degenerative Disorders R esearchers have discovered new cellular function for the Parkin protein and are examining how the loss of this protein could contribute to cataracts, certain forms of early onset Parkinson’s disease, and other age-related neurodegenerative disorders. A recently published study is the first to demonstrate the important role Parkin plays in helping cells survive damage caused by free radical formation in the body. Marc Kantorow, Ph.D., professor of biomedical science and assistant dean of graduate programs in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, and Lisa Brennan, Ph.D., associate research professor, engineered eye lens cells that produced either normal or mutant forms of Parkin. They discovered that the activation of the Parkin protein could prevent cell damage and death associated with age-related cataracts and death of neurons associated with Parkinson’s disease. The break-through potential is that drugs or genetic methods that increase Parkin levels could help prevent cataracts and other age-related degenerative diseases, Kantorow said. t 5 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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NEWS BRIEFS Real Estate's Real Deal R esearch faculty at Florida Atlantic University are 24th in the orld for their intellectual contributions to the real estate industry, according to the Real Estate Academic Leadership (REAL) rankings. “Real estate has long been an integral component of the Florida economy, and FAU has made this an area of strategic emphasis and potential growth for the university,” said Daniel Gropper, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business. According to the Journal of Real Estate Literature, faculty received the REAL ranking based on the number of published articles that appeared in the top three peer-reviewed, finance-based real estate journals: the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, the Journal of Real Estate Research and Real Estate Economics. “These rankings reflect FAU’s dedication to the community through top-flight real estate research,” said Ken Johnson, Ph.D., the Investments Limited professor in finance and associate dean of graduate programs at the College of Business. t Steering the Way to Safer Roads R esearchers at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing have developed an app to help steer patients with dementia in the right direction when it comes to safe driving. The Fit2Drive app calculates the likelihood that a driver will pass an on-road evaluation by using results from cognitive tests. Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias often cause physical and cognitive changes that affect driving skills. The information the app gives can assist drivers in deciding when it’s no longer safe for them to be behind the wheel. “Driving safety is a major concern for the aging population,” said creator Ruth M. Tappen, Ed.D., professor and eminent scholar from the college. Tappen developed Fit2Drive with colleague David O. Newman, Ph.D., and Jamie Zahava Ramos, a graduate student from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. It was featured as a cover story in Today’s Geriatric Medicine and presented at the Gerontological Society of America Annual cientific eeting. The app is e pected to e available soon for Android and iOS. t FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 6


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Sustainable Seafood on Land L eading researchers from agencies, academia and organizations across the nation recently gathered at an FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) workshop to identify critical research needs, knowledge gaps, and goals for bolstering domestic fish aquaculture. The meeting was part of an effort to one day establish a center of excellence in aquaculture research. uaculture accounts for 0 percent of the seafood that’s consu ed orld ide, said egan Davis, Ph.D., associate executive director of HBOI. “We are on the cutting edge of aquaculture research and development in the U.S. to produce healthy, safe and delicious seafood. By creating a new center of excellence, we believe we can help grow the industry.” ore than 0 percent of the seafood ericans eat is i ported, hich results in an annual trade deficit of more than $11 billion. To bridge this gap, HBOI researchers are developing sustainable sources of seafood that can be grown on land. “The popularity of seafood as a healthy food option is on the rise — people want to know where it's coming from and that it's sustainably sourced,” said Anton Post, Ph.D., HBOI executive director. “The workshop addressed these and other issues that are key to the future of this industry.” t 7 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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Snail Spit as Medicine M ickelene Hoggard, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, studies snail spit and its potential therapeutic and pharmacological benefits. Of particular interest is the highly potent venom — or spit — of the cone snail species. Deployed by the snail to stun and capture invertebrate prey, the converted spit might one day be used for treating people with cancer, addiction, diabetes or chronic pain. The fast-acting venom is especially potent for receptors in the human nervous and immune system. As part of her dissertation, Hoggard distilled years of research on the potentially life-saving properties of cone snail venom, creating a concise and compelling presentation for the Three Minute Thesis Competition — hosted locally by FAU. The international competition, held at more than 170 universities, fosters research communication skills. Hoggard landed first place, receiving a total of , 00, and the chance to co pete regionally in Annapolis, Md. Her success has led to an internship in a marine lab at the National Institute of Standards in Technology in Charleston, S.C. t 9 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY Graduate student Mickelene Hoggard studies snails, including the Conus brunneus pictured here.


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NEWS BRIEFS Department of Psychology Chair Robert Stackman, (left) and then doctoral student Joan Lora. Seeking Sanctuary in Social Media S eeking medical information and personal support, many people visit social media sites. Researchers in the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing have explored this trend, when persons who received organ transplants use these sites as part of their healing process. Results from the study, published in Computers, Informatics, Nursing, provide an intimate and worldwide glimpse into the post-transplant experience. To better understand why many transplant recipients turn to social media for emotional shelter and a safe space to share feelings, doctoral student Valarie S. Grumme and Professor Shirley C. Gordon, Ph.D., examined postings of members of an international transplant community website. The researchers saw the emergence of two major themes: overwhelming gratitude and finding sanctuary. “Social media support sites provide a window into the world of transplant recipients, offering the opportunity to discover what matters most to them and identify gaps in care related to those needs,” said Gordon. t Discovering How Fear Memories Form S cientists, including Department of Psychology chair Robert Stackman, Ph.D., and then integrative biology-neuroscience doctoral student Joan Lora, have pinpointed a part of the brain that consolidates long-term fear memories. The research was conducted in collaboration with Scripps Florida. The team discovered that a mild stimulus given to a rodent would result in the production of a protein synthesis in the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain. If the new protein synthesis was inhibited immediately after fear conditioning, fear memories did not form. However, if the protein was inhibited a few hours later, memories took hold. Thus, the study identified a critical ti e indo of fear memory encoding in the prefrontal cortex. Until this study, published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, this region of the brain had never been associated with the early encoding of long-term fear memories. The study can serve as a launching point for research in Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease. “Our results are important because they establish for the first ti e the critical involve ent of the prelimbic region of the prefrontal cortex in encoding fear memory,” said Stackman. t FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 10


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"Trump hats" provide statistics about voter disenfranchisement in the state of Florida as a part of the "Undoing Time" collection, which reconfigures prisonerproduced goods in ways that complicate notions of American freedom and dominant images of patriotism. 11 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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NEWS BRIEFS Exploring Imprisonment Goes Digital T he University Galleries in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters presented an exhibition titled,“Sharon Daniel: Secret Injustices 2007-2016.” Using digital technology for the presentation of research and scholarship allows artist Sharon Daniel to engage with the public. Related faculty works were displayed in the Schmidt Center Gallery public space. Opening up dialogue about crime and punishment, the exhibition challenged the assumption that imprisonment provides a solution to social problems. Daniel collaborated on the exhibition with Wendy Hinshaw, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of English, and with a multidisciplinary group of faculty members in the college. The multimedia exhibition featured four interactive works. Themes included incarcerated women; poverty and addiction in America; victim and offender mediation practices; and resistance to the injustices of the criminal legal system. t FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 12


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NEW FACES NEW FACES Facing Down Funding Challenges as a Team Karin Scarpinato is the new associate vice president in the Division of Research. K arin Scarpinato, Ph.D., a molecular geneticist, was recently appointed associate vice president of the Division of Research. She will help lead the university’s growing research enterprise. A native of Germany, Scarpinato comes to FAU from the University of Miami (UM), where she served as the assistant provost for research. In this role Scarpinato helped shape and advance UM’s research program by creating a collaborative research support structure and network of South Florida research scientists. Prior to UM, Scarpinato served as associate dean for research at Georgia Southern University. She was on the faculty of the Wake Forest School of Medicine for the previous nine years. As a postdoctoral fellow, she researched DNA repair at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Durham, NC. We asked Scarpinato about her background, research interests and how she plans to help investigators navigate the challenges of securing external research funding. Q. What inspired you to become a scientist? A. I have a life-long interest in science and processes in nature. This interest was further supported by a high school teacher who challenged me to go beyond ordinary school work and immerse myself in the study of biology. Based on this experience, I made the decision to turn these interests into a life-long career. Q. Tell us about your key area of research. A. My specialty is DNA repair. There are a lot of chemicals and factors that can damage DNA. Our cells have a system that can, to some extent, repair these damages. If the repair system is defective, it’s one of the ways you can get cancer. Q. What interested you about joining FAU? A. I feel very in step with the university’s research efforts, and am very impressed with the organizational efforts put in place, and leadership that is behind FAU’s growth as a public research university. I believe this is an excellent time to be part of this movement. 13 FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY


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Q. How do you deal with the myriad of funding challenges and competition for grant money? A. Because the competition is strong, the Division of Research is holding workshops for faculty on the cusp of writing grants. It is our goal to provide these faculty members with support to guide them through the grant-writing process. I’ve set up writing bootcamps that are eight-10 weeks long. They will hopefully introduce young faculty to the basics of grant writing, and serve as a refresher for those faculty members who wish to get back into writing grants. Q. What has most impressed you about FAU? A. The teamwork. Everybody works really well as a team here. It’s very invigorating to me and I enjoy that. Biostatistician Zooms in on Healthy Aging K athy Freeman Dr.P.H., entered college planning to become a doctor. It was the start of a journey that took a detour, and recently landed her at FAU. Freeman saw her future in medicine as an intellectually stimulating and humane pursuit, and knew that by becoming a doctor she would be following a long family tradition. All plans changed for Freeman when in her senior year of college, after finding ti e spent in the la unsatisfying, she came to the conclusion that she didn’t want to be a physician. As a mathematics major, now in search of a career, she sought the advice of her department chair. She was instructed to look through a large university course catalog until she found a subject that interested her. When she ca e across the field of epide iology, she ne she had found her calling. As an epidemiologist, Freeman would be applying mathematics to search for the causes of diseases in defined populations, prevention strategies and treatment. For Freeman, epide iology as a perfect fit for a ath a or ith a strong sense of altruism. After acing the graduate school exam, she received a training grant from the U.S. Public Health Service, in exchange for her commitment to work in biostatistics, an offshoot area of epidemiology that applies mathematics to analyze disease patterns. Freeman went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a doctorate from Columbia University, both degrees in biostatistics. Q. What advice do you give faculty pursuing research careers? A. To actually utilize our services and not just try to do their own thing. Nowadays, you have to go out and find colla orators and get as uch assistance as you can in writing your grants. And don't give up. It’s uite difficult to get grants no ecause of the numerous funding cuts over the last decade. Any health-related research is where most of the grant funding goes, particularly in the area of biomedical research. t A biostatistician, Katherine Freeman will be providing support to researchers university-wide. ree an spent 2 years at e or ’s ontefiore Medical Center, where she served as director of biostatistics and a professor in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Department of Epidemiology and Population Health. Freeman has been the principal and co-investigator on many federally funded studies. Now, a part of the research faculty at FAU, Freeman recently started working at the Institute for Healthy Aging and Lifespan Studies. She plans to use her expertise to develop collaborations and write grants to advance the institute’s mission. “Healthy aging sounds like a pat phrase, but if you can preserve quality of life for as long as possible, it means a lot,” she said. Thinking about her other, ho at age continues to e ercise, socialize and keep her mind active by playing bridge four-times-a-week, Freeman says,“It’s too easy to say it’s all about good genes. Lifestyle is a large component as well.” t FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY 14



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