Selected for the research accomplishments they already have achieved and their potential for additional outstanding research, four junior faculty were named
2009 Way Klingler Young Scholars. The awards of up to $32,000 are intended to fund $2,000 in operating costs and up to 50 percent of salary for a one-semester sabbatical.
Dr. Allison Abbott is using the roundworm C. elegans to research the functions of small RNAs known as microRNAs that regulate gene expression and are important regulators in the roundworm and in humans. "The goal is to identify specific biological pathways that are regulated by microRNAs," said Abbott. "If we can understand what microRNAs do in normal animal development, then we can begin to understand what's happening when they're misregulated in human cancers." Abbott will take her sabbatical in spring 2010 to identify the target genes and genetic pathways that are regulated by three microRNAs.
Focusing on embedded, real-time software systems, Dr. Dennis Brylow has set his sights on creating better, less expensive tools for system designers and software engineers. "As a society, we seem to be a distance from technological change not just causing change, but actually causing measurable improvement in the lives of people," said Brylow. "We're working on our little corner of it here." During his fall 2009 sabbatical, Brylow will continue work on his "little corner," which has brought in more than $250,000 in grant funding, to extend operating system infrastructure and explore new programming paradigms.
During the spring 2010 semester, Dr. Irene Guenther will take her sabbatical to prepare for publication Fashioning Berlin: The Politics of Clothing 1945–1961, a book on post-war Berlin. Guenther will examine a ruined post-war Germany. Out of that destruction, the Germans reshaped themselves to be the citizens that they are today, according to Guenther. "What people are encouraged or are required to wear, choose or refuse to wear, how they clothe themselves or are fashioned, and how a nation imagines and fashions its identity can tell us a great deal," said Guenther.
With an expertise in mental health disparities, Dr. Lucas Torres is focusing his research on Latino populations, examining how living in the United States affects the mental health of Latinos. One project involves investigating how Latino intercultural competencies, including the integration of traditional values and personal capabilities, help individuals navigate between cultures and within a culture. Another project uses a daily diary study to track individuals for two weeks and measure their responses to race-related stressors. Torres' sabbatical semester, in spring 2010, will allow him to advance his research, collect and analyze data, and prepare a manuscript.