For Dr. David Baker, professor and associate chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Health Sciences, the Jesuit principle of cura personalis begins in the brain. Not just in a cerebral, thought-provoking sense, but in a literal sense, with the study of neurotransmitters and their roles in diseases like schizophrenia and addiction.
“We’re developing cutting-edge genetic tools that will allow us to rigorously evaluate a novel glutamate release mechanism in the brain,” Baker says. “Put simply, this is an understudied mechanism that may well be a key in understanding and developing treatments for multiple neural disorders.”
He believes the Way Klingler Fellowship in science — $50,000 annually for three years — will catalyze increased funding for his research.
“It’s wonderful that the university has this type of intramural support,” Baker says. “When done correctly, an investment like this can be leveraged into larger extramural grants, further accelerating the pace of discovery. I’m optimistic that we can turn it around into a $1.5 million grant in the next two years — a 10-time return within the life of the fellowship.”
As co-founder of Promentis Pharmaceuticals, a start-up company dedicated to discovering pharmacological treatments for neuropsychiatric diseases, Baker understands that it takes this level of funding commitment when breaking new ground in neuroscience. When it comes to caring for the whole person, the research is worth the investment.
“The statistics are staggering,” Baker says. “According to the National Resource and Training center on Homelessness and Mental Illness, 25 percent of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe, persistent mental illness.”
“We’re going to improve patient care for people with schizophrenia by understanding the underlying causes, with some of the most powerful techniques used in neuroscience,” he says. “It’s research that’s rooted in the mission of Marquette."
Most people assume technology helps make the workforce more efficient. But are they overlooking the negative effects such advances can have on the people operating that technology?
Dr. Stephen Guastello, professor of psychology, has been awarded the Way Klingler Fellowship in the humanities — $20,000 annually for three years — for his research addressing cognitive workload and fatigue in the context of group coordination and leadership.
His current project aims to determine the demands on human operators as the world becomes increasingly dependent on technology to perform work functions. New technological systems are successful in automating many types of work activities, but they generally produce greater demands on human operators in the form of cognitive workload and fatigue.
Guastello uses nonlinear mathematical models to help predict outcomes. He has been successful at separating the effects of workload, fatigue or repeated tasks using two models for sudden changes in performance on different tasks.
“I’m excited because I’ve been able to unravel some problems in cognitive workload and fatigue that have perplexed psychologists for years,” says Guastello. “Next, I want to focus on separating the effects of workload versus fatigue in work teams and how the upper boundaries of humans’ cognitive capacity to function while fatigued and overloaded varies from person to person.”
In Guastello’s 30 years on campus, he has authored more than 100 journal articles, 42 book chapters and four books, plus another two books he co-edited, mainly on chaos; complexity and catastrophe theory; work motivation and performance; group and organizational behavior; and employee turnover.