Research Briefs

July 1, 2013

Students present research during Scholars Week

As part of Scholars Week hosted by Baylor's Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) program in April, more than 170 students presented research they conducted under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Students representing fields of study ranging from air science to religion presented on even more diverse research topics through oral, paper and poster presentations.

"The undergraduate research presented at Scholars Week provides Baylor students with an opportunity to develop their creativity, as well as to implement advanced methods in their chosen field," said Dr. Susan Bratton, director of URSA and professor of environmental science in Baylor's College of Arts & Science.

A sampling of research topics include:

  • Exercise Interventions for the Alzheimer's & Dementia Patient, by Jonathan Fordyce, BSN '13
    Faculty Mentor: Dr. Becky Spencer -- Nursing
  • MRSA Prevalence and Predominant Bacterial Species in Canine, by Lucy Xu
    Faculty Mentor: Dr. Diane Hartman -- Biology
  • Apocalyptic Vision in American Postmodern Film and Literature, by Brett Hager
    Faculty Mentor: Carrolle Kamperman, BA '82, MA '88 -- English
  • Space Weather Effects on Aircraft Navigation: A Pilot's Perspective, by Jack Stanley
    Faculty Mentor: Dr. Trey Cade -- Aviation Sciences
  • Building Models in Free Fermionic String Theory, by Brandon Mattingly, BS '13
    Faculty Mentor: Dr. Gerald Cleaver -- Physics

Want to improve customer service and reduce turnover? Hire servant leaders

Businesses that want to provide better customer service and decrease employee turnover may be wise to hire managers who have the attributes of servant leaders, according to a Baylor study in the journal The Leadership Quarterly.

"Our study suggests that servant leaders create a work environment that promotes the virtue of serving others, and that their employees tend to want to remain and be more engaged in such a positive work environment," said Dr. Emily Hunter, assistant professor of marketing and entrepreneurship in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business. She and Dr. Mitchell Neubert, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship and Chavanne Chair of Christian Ethics in Business, authored the study, along with co-authors at two other universities.

Servant leadership is increasingly popular among companies today. Many of Fortune Magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work for in America'' name servant leadership as a core company value.

Perhaps surprisingly, the study also found that servant leaders were more likely to be introverts rather than extroverts. Managers who are introverts tend to be perceived as servant leaders because they don't mind working behind the scenes, and they don't have a need to draw attention to themselves.

Stocking Florida bass in Texas reservoirs may alter connected stream systems

A genetic analysis by Baylor University biologists suggests that the stocking of Florida bass in Texas reservoirs impacts bass populations far beyond the actual stocking location.

Stocking efforts have transitioned toward the Florida bass over the native largemouth bass because it is widely considered a better sport fish since it grows to a greater size.

The Baylor researchers analyzed the genetic composition of 69 largemouth bass in nonstocked streams of central Texas. These results were compared to DNA from 27 largemouth bass and Florida bass specimens provided by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Their analyses found the presence of Florida bass DNA in bass at all sampling locations, including sites more than 50 miles upstream from the closest documented stocking location.

"This presence of Florida bass DNA at the sampling locations indicates that the influence of stocking reaches far beyond managed reservoirs," reported Dr. Patrick D. Danley, assistant professor in the department of biology in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.

Because of the methods used, the researchers could not determine if Florida bass migrated upstream or if the movement of their DNA was due to hybridization with native populations. The study was published in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society.

Older people may be at greater risk for alcohol impairment than teens

An acute dose of alcohol may cause greater impairment in coordination, learning and memory in the elderly than in young people, according to a study by Baylor University.

"Health implications such as falls, accidents and poor medicine-taking are pretty easy to conclude," said Dr. Douglas B. Matthews, senior author of the paper, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

In the U.S., as many as 13 percent of men and 8 percent of women over age 65 engage in risky drinking behavior, with an estimated 1 to 3 percent of those afflicted with an alcohol use disorder, according to prior research.

While previous data have indicated that aged people show significantly greater impairments than younger adults when alcohol is consumed, understanding the neurobiology underlying that increased sensitivity in the aged has been hampered by the lack of an adequate animal model, said Matthews, a research scientist in psychology and neuroscience in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences and head of psychology at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

The Baylor research, the first of its kind, established a baseline of the acute effects of alcohol in aged populations, which can aid future research into neurobiology and in determining the effect of prolonged alcohol abuse.

The experiment included adult and aged rats (at least 18 months old) and showed a dramatic increase in ethanol-induced ataxia.

"We know a lot of neurobiological changes occur during aging which underlie age-related cognitive and behavioral deficits. It's reasonable to suspect a significant interaction exists between age-related and alcohol-induced effects in the brain," said Dr. Jim Diaz-Granados, a study co-author and chair of Baylor's Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.

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