October 4, 2013

Professor to study Great
Lakes ecosystem

In May, the University of Michigan Water Center awarded grants to researchers who can fill "critical science gaps" related to Great Lakes waters and wildlife; Baylor's Dr. Cole Matson is among the dozen grant recipients.

Matson, an assistant professor of environmental science, received a two-year, $50,000 grant to study area birds as indicators of contaminant exposure. He will work with the U.S. Geological Survey to assess chromosomal damage in tree swallow nestlings collected from contaminated areas across the Great Lakes region. The data collected will help states and the Environmental Protection Agency provide a framework for understanding the impact of environmental contamination in other locations.

Matson spent two years as executive director of Duke's Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology before coming to Baylor in 2011. Here, he teaches within the College of Arts & Sciences and is a part of Baylor's Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research.

Hypnotic relaxation therapy improves sexual health in postmenopausal women

Hypnotic relaxation therapy improves sexual health in postmenopausal women who have moderate to severe hot flashes, according to Baylor University researchers who presented their findings at the American Psychological Association's recent annual meeting.

The study is a first step toward a safe and effective alternative toward hormone replacement therapy, which carries associated risks of cancer and heart disease, said Dr. Gary Elkins, director of Baylor's Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory and a professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.

The conclusion was based on a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. For the study, 187 women were randomly assigned to receive either five weekly sessions of hypnotic relaxation therapy or supportive counseling, said lead researcher Aimee Johnson, a doctoral student in psychology and neuroscience at Baylor.

"Women's sexual health improved, whether because of sleeping better, less stress or fewer hot flashes, or perhaps other unknown mechanisms," Elkins said.

Entrepreneurs pray more, see God as personal

American entrepreneurs pray more frequently, are more likely to see God as personal and are more likely to attend services in congregations that encourage business and profit-making, according to a study by Baylor University scholars of business and sociology.

Their research, published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, is an analysis of data from the ongoing Baylor Religion Survey designed by Baylor scholars and administered by the Gallup Organization in 2010. The study is part of a larger research project on religion and entrepreneurship funded by the National Science Foundation.

When it comes to entrepreneurs' concept of God, "they tend to think of God as a more personal, interactive being, and that is tightly related to why they pray more frequently," said Dr. Kevin Dougherty an associate professor of sociology in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.

That finding raises interesting questions, added Dr. Mitchell J. Neubert, associate professor and Chavanne Chair of Christian Ethics in Business in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business.

The study raises interesting considerations for faith communities. Because of the country's "competitive religious market," congregations specialize to attract and retain individuals. Catering to entrepreneurial individuals may offer "a competitive advantage," the researchers wrote.

Other questions the study raises are whether entrepreneurs pick a congregation that matches their entrepreneurial orientation -- and whether a faith community can help prepare someone for entrepreneurship.

Neubert noted that entrepreneurs are critical to communities in terms of jobs and stimulating the economy. Both entrepreneurs and churches share goals of reaching out to the community, and they might benefit from partnering.

"How is religion related to entrepreneurial behavior? And more importantly, why?" the article asks. "Equally fascinating, how do religious individuals engaged in business creation reconcile the teachings of their faith on material gain with their entrepreneurial endeavors? Prompted by these initial findings, we hope others will join us to expand understanding of if, how and why religion and entrepreneurial behavior intersect."

The research is part of the "National Study of Entrepreneurial Behavior and Religion." Other researchers were Dr. Jerry Z. Park, an associate professor of sociology at Baylor, and Jenna Griebel, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Baylor.

Warring couples want power, not apologies

The most common thing that couples want from each other during a conflict is not an apology, but a willingness to relinquish power, according to a new Baylor University study.

Giving up power comes in many forms, among them giving a partner more independence, admitting faults, showing respect and being willing to compromise. The study is published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

"It's common for partners to be sensitive to how to share power and control when making decisions in their relationship," said Dr. Keith Sanford, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.

Following closely behind the desire for shared control was the wish for the partner to show more of an investment in the relationship through such ways as sharing intimate thoughts or feelings, listening and sharing chores and activities, Sanford said.

After relinquished power, the desired behaviors from one's partner -- from most to least common -- were:

  • To show investment,
  • To stop adversarial behavior,
  • To communicate more,
  • To give affection, and
  • To make an apology.

"We definitely respond to whether we gain or lose status," Sanford said. "When we feel criticized, we are likely to have underlying concerns about a perceived threat to status, and when that happens, we usually want a partner simply to disengage and back off."

Sanford has developed a free interactive Internet program for couples titled the "Couple Conflict Consultant" at The program provides a personalized assessment of 14 areas of conflict resolution and a large resource bank of information and recommendations for couples.

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