2012 Annual Report/ University of Cincinnati, Design by Sharareh Khosravani

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1. 2012 ANNUAL REPORT The Graduate School 2. “I was struck by how hard he was trying to work. And yet, he kept trying to explain. I realized in that moment that our…

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  • 1. 2012 ANNUAL REPORT The Graduate School
  • 2. “I was struck by how hard he was trying to work. And yet, he kept trying to explain. I realized in that moment that our human urge is to share ourselves with each other, and that we mainly do this through language.” Ruth Williams, Fulbright Scholar English & Comparative Literature, PhD Story on page 16
  • 3. Nanotechnology Takes Flight 2 Excellence in Teaching Award 4 Distinguished Dissertation Completion Fellows 6 Graduate Poster Forum 12 The Fulbright U.S. Student Program 14 G-SUM/SUMR-UC 16 UC Graduate School Growth 18 UC Graduate Student Satisfaction 19 The Yates Scholars Program 20 Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring Award 25 Letter from the Dean 26 2012 Dissertation Listing 27 Connect with UC 41 Contents
  • 4. 2 Nanotechnology Takes Flight Master’s student Adam Hehr studies structural health. A “healthy” structure is one without damage or change to its original strength and form. For his current research project, Adam has set his sights high: monitoring an airplane’s com- posite materials while it flies above the clouds. Composite materials — in this case, plastics reinforced with carbon fibers — offer an lighter alternative to the heavy materials traditionally used to build airplanes. “Composite materials are really great because they’re lightweight, strong and stiff,” says Adam. Airlines, private plane owners and the military all want lighter aircraft, as they use less fuel. Howev- er, composite materials have their downside: “A lot of com- mercial aircraft haven’t utilized them because it’s really hard to detect when a composite material’s going to fail.” With aircraft made from traditional materials, such as aluminum, mechanics can easily spot structural damage. “If something hits the plane, like a bird (which happens fre- quently), it’s very easy to identify that, because you’ll have dents in the plane,” Adam explains. “Whereas if a composite material gets struck by something, the material will rebound, and the impact will not be very noticeable.” Even when com- posite materials rebound to the point where there is no vis- ible surface damage, there may still be serious damage un- der the surface. The composite materials used in aircraft are composed of many layers glued together. When this mate- rial rebounds after an impact or some other stress, some of these layers will separate. “That’s called delamination,” Adam explains.“And that’s one of the biggest unseen failure modes in composite materials.” Currently, airline mechanics use ultrasound to test the structural integrity of the composite. However, this is a lengthy process that requires the plane to be taken out of service, and it yields imprecise data regarding any damage Materials science engineering student Adam Hehr explores ways to monitor structural integrity from the inside — with carbon nanotube sensors.
  • 5. 3 found. “It’s very difficult for them to say how bad the crack is and how it is influencing the structural integrity.” Adam’s so- lution: imbed carbon nanotube sensors within the material. “What I’m doing is using the carbon nanotube thread as a sensor. The thread is very small, smaller than a human hair,” he explains. “Since it’s so small, you can integrate it into the composite material in the aircraft. And then you can see if there’s damage in the aircraft without taking it out of ser- vice. The sensors will measure the stress-strain levels on the plane, and they’ll let the pilot know if there’s a problem. If a certain strain level is exceeded on the plane, it would indi- cate an impact or unusual fatigue or wear. And it could tell the pilot: There’s a problem, you should land. Or it could tell the pilot: There’s a problem, but the plane is still structurally stable, so we can continue with the flight.” Adam is currently designing a sensor that is sensitive, stable and consistent enough for the aerospace industry’s needs. He conducts his research in the College of Engineer- ing and Applied Science’s Nanoworld Laboratory under Dr. Mark Schulz. A three-year fellowship from the National Sci- ence Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellows Program al- lows him to focus on his research, which has potential to rev- olutionize the automotive, as well as the aerospace, industry. “Eventually we’ll start to see more composites in cars and trucks,” Adam says. “It’s already started to happen somewhat with replacing a lot of metal with plastics and polymers. But some of the main critical components are still steel, which are very heavy. Eventually, some of these critical components will be replaced by composite materials. This nanotechnol- ogy would be applicable to that usage as well, because the sensors could that feed into vehicle’s main computer. When you get your annual tune-up, maintenance personnel could see the structural integrity of your chassis or your tire rods.” In short, mechanics could find a problem before the compo- nent breaks. Two commercials planes already use composite materi- als: the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350. If Adam’s sensors are adopted by the aerospace industry, we’ll see many more planes with composite materials. Yet don’t expect to see this tech in cars anytime soon. “Automotive manufacturers want something that’s extremely reliable,” says Adam. “If the ma- terial gets proven in some of these new planes that they’re kicking out, I think automotive manufacturers will adopt it.” Nonetheless, once this nanotechnology is integrated into car manufacturing, you’ll have Adam Hehr to thank for higher gas mileage and fewer breakdowns.
  • 6. 4 Excellence in Teaching Award Julie Weast-Knapp Psychology, PhD Julie Weast-Knapp helps her fellow TAs become better teachers. During the 2011-12 academic year, Julie collaborated with her friends on a student-lead work- shop series for UC teaching assistants: “Lori Gresham and I had for years been talking about the problems we had with prepar- ing to teach, and we got to the point where we said, there’s probably other people that have these exact same feelings.” As Julie explained, teaching assistants (TAs) often have a lot of questions. Some are technical, such as how to set up a Black- board course or place a textbook order with the bookstore. Others are more difficult, such as how to proceed when they suspect a student has committed plagiarism or how to recover from making a mistake in front of a class. However, TAs are not always sure who to turn to with these questions. While a department head or other faculty member may seem like the logical choice, graduate students may not feel comfortable exposing their lack of knowledge or their perceived “failings” to their professors. “We thought that since nobody was meeting this need, we could at least cre- ate this safe zone,” says Julie. “We made this place where graduate students could talk about issues and ask questions.” These student-led workshops were so popular that each session filled up within a day or two. By summer 2012, the work- shop series had evolved into the student-
  • 7. 5 run Graduate Association for Teaching Enhancement, which aims to improve the skills, preparedness and professional development (as it relates to teaching) of all UC graduate students. Julie has five rich years of experience to offer her fellow TAs and undergraduate students. She now teaches a two- course series as an independent instructor — an unusual feat for a TA. “I taught the laboratory portion of Psych 201 and 202 for a while,” Julie explains, “so my department head Steve Howe asked me to teach the lecture portion, which is normally only taught by faculty. I’m very lucky that he asked me to do that. I’ve taught the 201/202 series twice now.” While relatively new to teaching independently, Julie consistently receives high ratings on her end-of-the-term student evaluations. This is due, in a large part, to her enthu- siasm in the classroom and her rapport with students. As one of her students noted, “[Julie] is so enthusiastic about teach- ing the students. She is helpful and understanding when stu- dents, like myself, ask lots of questions. She provides useful information and helps any student whenever he/she need it.” Another student remarked, “Julie has an amazing knack for teaching, especially at the college level. [She] remem- bers what it’s like to be ‘busy’ in college and plans her class 2012 Honorable Mentions for the Excellence in Teaching Award Aniruddha Despandi Communication Sciences and Disorders, PhD Zipporah Inniss-Richter Health Promotion and Education, PhD Matteo Magarotto Composition, Musicology, and Theory, PhD Balaji Sharma Mechanical Engineering, PhD Katherine Swinford Classics, PhD Diana Taft Epidemiology (Department of Environmental Health), PhD Michael Urick Business Management, PhD accordingly. She has a really flexible schedule and is willing to meet with students who are struggling, or just to say hey!” Julie’s passion for teaching is clear to anyone who talks with her, so it is no surprise that she plans to make teaching her career. “I’d love to work at a teaching school,” she says. “There are a few universities trying to spin psychology as being a STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathe- matics] science, and Miami University’s one of them. In early 2011, I did a mentorship there. The psychology department was redesigning their 201/202 series equivalent and mak- ing it more like a science class, with a lecture portion and a hands-on laboratory portion. They’re one of the best teach- ing universities in the United States. It would be cool to get a job where there’s that kind of momentum to improve what psychology students graduate with.” For Julie, the impetus to teach stems not from a need for awards and accolades, but from a sincere desire to see students succeed academically and professionally. “I have had a few students that I started teaching when they were sophomores who stayed in touch,” Julie says. “I’ve seen them all the way through until they graduated. And that’s really neat to see, this evolving that these people do. It’s cool to see them grow. ”
  • 8. 6 Distinguished Dissertation Completion Fellowss Dissertation completion fellowships support outstanding students during the last stage of their research. Finding a means of support can be difficult for doctoral students who are close to finishing their dissertations, especially during tough economic times. The Graduate School recently established the Distinguished Dissertation Completion Fellowship to make their search for funding a little easier. The fellowship provides students with $20,000 and a full tuition scholarship to help them complete their dissertations by the end of the 2012-2013 academic year.
  • 9. 7 It’s said that mother knows best. When it comes to healthy eating, Adam Knowlden is doing his best to make sure mom has good information. As a doctoral student in the Program of Health Promotion and Education, Adam decided that in order to do something about childhood obesity, he had to go straight to its source. “I firmly believe that if we really want to get a grip on the obesity epidemic, we have to start at the beginning: the family and home environment in early childhood,” Adam explained. Childhood obesity is a rapidly growing problem. In the past 30 years, obesity in children ages two to five has dou- bled, and in the same time period, the prevalence has tripled in children ages six to eleven. These figures alone are cause enough for alarm for Adam and anyone who works with chil- dren. Yet, as Adam points out, everyone has a stake in revers- ing this trend. If childhood obesity prevalence continues to grow at an exponential rate, the U.S. will soon see the adult obesity rate skyrocket. This would mean higher health-care costs for individuals, employers and the government. To combat childhood obesity at its source, Adam is de- veloping a web-based program for mothers of young chil- dren. “Parents are busy. They need a health education pro- gram that is convenient and doesn’t take a lot of time.” Adam’s program will educate mothers on how to feed their children healthier food. “My main goal is to empower mothers to improve the health of their children. My program will be designed to give them the tools they need to suc- ceed.” Adam Knowlden Health Promotion and Education, PhD College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services
  • 10. 8 In the university system, physics, economics and psy- chology are treated as unrelated fields. But Tao Ma has found networks in each field with similarly operating structures. Tao, a doctoral student in physics, conducts interdisci- plinary research with economics and psychology in addition to his research focusing purely on physics. “I am very excited about the scientific impact of my ongoing and upcoming doctoral work on these three projects,” he says. “I believe my work will contribute to new paradigms in all three areas.” Tao’s purely physics research deals with quantum chaos. General Relativity describes physics on a large scale, and Quantum Mechanics describes physics on a microscopic scale, but these two bedrocks of physics don’t agree about what happens at the scale of 10-7 of a meter. The size seems small — it’s the largest particle able to pass through a surgi- cal mask — but the impact of research on how to bridge this gap is not. Tao’s interdisciplinary research involves analyzing sys- tems. His research in “econophysics” focuses on personal wealth distribution, while his work in psychology deals with predicting the distribution of response times to a stimulus. Although these two projects sound as though they have nothing in common, Tao is able to see connections: “We think of the brain like a network,” he explained. “We hypoth- esize that the ‘brain network” and the network of economic systems may be similar.” As a physics student, Tao brings a radical viewpoint to the network problems of economics and psychology. And, in time, Tao might find that his venture into economics and psychology has given him insight into the problems of quan- tum chaos. Tao Ma Physics, PhD McMicken College of Arts and Sciences
  • 11. 9 To survive, people must have access to clean drinking water. Yet more and more people across the world have to deal with contaminated water. Xuexiang He, a doctoral stu- dent in environmental engineering, wants to change this. “My dissertation project involves the removal of emerg- ing contaminants from drinking water,”she writes, explaining that she particularly hopes to target substances including antibiotics, pharmaceutical drugs and cynobacterial toxins. To do this, she is investigating the use of advanced oxidation processes, or chemical treatments designed to break down these harmful contaminants. An international student from China, Xuexiang was drawn to this issue in part by the increasing presence of anti- biotics in the environment. “Their existence even at the trace amount,” she writes, “has a huge influence on the environ- ment and ecosystem.” She was also concerned about recent cynobacterial blooms, or large concentrations of blue-green bacteria, which can release toxins dangerous to animals and humans into the water supply. Not surprisingly, Xuexiang’s research has been met with great enthusiasm. Along with presenting at national and in- ternational conferences, she was awarded one of the Ameri- can Chemical Society’s highest student honors, the Graduate Student Research Paper Award for the Division of Environ- mental Chemistry. But Xuexiang has even larger goals for her work: She hopes to find a purification technique that’s both sustainable and that gives us “safe drinking water quality for our generation and future generations.” Xuexiang He Environmental Engineering and Science, PhD College of Engineering and Applied Science
  • 12. 10 Andrew Grace, a student in the Department of English & Comparative Literature, is taking a new angle on an estab- lished tradition. A poet, Andrew considers the pastoral — a kind of poetry that centers on rural life — among his major influences. Yet while pastorals have a long history of ideal- izing the countryside, Andrew is writing an “anti-pastoral”: a book-length poem called Pin It on a Drifter that looks at rural life in a more realistic way. Also unusual is that one of the poem’s main speakers is a woman. Andrew writes, “It is mostly male figures in ru- ral writing that are the active, authoritative characters.” He hopes that his dissertation, which explores the experiences of a single mother, her young son and a drifter as their lives collide on an early 20th -century farm, will help to bring these women’s experiences into greater focus. Andrew is no stranger to rural life--he spent his child- hood on a farm in Illinois. He’s also well acquainted with success: He currently has three published books of poetry, and has won numerous national awards. If Andrew’s past achievements are any indication, Pin it on a Drifter will soon end up on a bookshelf near you. Andrew Grace English & Comparative Literature, PhD McMicken College of Arts and Sciences
  • 13. 11 David Balli entered UC’s Molecular and Developmental Biology program knowing that he wanted to study cancer. When he read a paper by Dr. Tanya Kalin on the genetic com- ponents of lung cancer, it impressed him so much that he joined her research team to study this aspect of the disease. Lung cancer remains highly resistant to available treat- ments like radiation and chemotherapy. By examining the genetic factors of the disease, however, David hopes his research can contribute to the development of alternative therapies. David’s research focuses on a protein called Foxm1 that, depending on what tissues it targets and other factors, can work either to encourage or discourage tumor forma- tion. By manipulating the gene that controls Foxm1 produc- tion, David hopes to identify the conditions that make the protein inhibit cancer development. This research is already showing promise. David’s find- ings so far, he notes, suggest that developing drugs to target Foxm1 could be a worthwhile therapy for a number of lung diseases. And his work has already yielded exciting break- throughs on a lung-scarring condition called pulmonary fibrosis. He explains: “We are the first to show that Foxm1 is critical for onset of fibrosis, and deletion of the protein within the lungs protects against this disease.” David Balli Molecular and Developmental Biology, PhD College of Medicine
  • 14. 12 Arts & Humanities Matthew Bauman Life Sciences & Medicine Zirong Gu Shatrunjai Singh Mark Webb Physical Sciences & Engineering Nathaniel Bates Kelsey Feser Traci Hanley Martial Longla Nivedita Nivedita Li Shen Matthew Vrazo Liang Yan Jian Zhou Social & Behavioral Sciences Anita Williams Master of Fine Arts Gallery Jennifer Wenker The Graduate Poster Forum Every year, graduate students gather from the univer- sity’s 300+ degree programs to share their research and hone their presentation skills. The Graduate Poster Forum serves as a “dress rehearsal” for many students who are preparing to present at a regional or national conference. An initiative of the UC Graduate Student Professional Development Center, the Graduate Poster Forum also recognizes exceptional poster design and outstanding 2012 Award Winners oral communication. UC faculty members volunteered to evaluate posters within their area of expertise, providing valuable feedback and a numerical score. This year, over 150 students entered posters. Topics for the award-winning posters include: a method to ex- tract rare cells in the blood; the evolution of the Title I education policy; and filming Franz Kafka’s novels.
  • 15. 13 How might a previously unknown fossil formation in central Pennsylvania help us better understand the evolu- tion and extinction of certa
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