Four Fabulous Finds

Arts & Sciences News

December 18, 2009

Research and discovery coming from the College of Arts and Sciences contributes much to the lives of everyday citizens and the field of knowledge itself. Over the past year, the students and professors from the College of Arts and Sciences have made four significant discoveries that attracted national attention. By working together, professors don't just guide students through research, but teach them how to assist in large research projects and help them to pursue their own research ideas. By conducting research in a variety of academic departments, students from across campus have not only been getting hands on experience relevant to their area of study, but they have also been able to improve the world around them with their discoveries! In case you missed any, here is a recap from the headlines of the top four discoveries in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2009.

1. Baylor Student Develops New Mathematical Concept
Miles Barker, a Baylor sophomore in the spring of 2009, discovered a new theory for solving the Black-Scholes finance equation that is used to evaluate option pricing. He developed a way to use the equation of make an educated guess on how the market will act according to certain principles. Baker was invited to give two lectures about research and new mathematical research; one at the Texas Oklahoma Regional Undergraduate Symposium at Abilene Christian University and another at the Mathematical Association of America Texas Regional Meeting in Denton.

2. Baylor Researcher Identifies New Species
Dr. Walter Holmes, a Baylor professor of Biology, discovered a new species of pea while at the Love Creek Nature Preserve in Bandera County. The purple and yellow-green flowering plant was found in tributaries of the Nueces River. Dr. Holmes and his college Jason Singhurst, a Texas Parks and Wildlife botanist, named the pea Galactia watsoniana. The common name is "Watson's Milkpea" in honor of the Big Thicket National Preserve founder, Geraldine Watson.

3. Baylor Researcher Finds Genetic Chromosome that Contributes to Stress; Possible Drug-Taking Behavior

Dr. Doug Matthews, a Baylor professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, discovered a set of genes that modulate stress responses involved in complex behaviors like drug abuse. For his research, Dr. Matthews received the Fulker Award from the Behavior Genetics Association. Dr. Matthews comments that his discovery "gives us insight into a common genetic pathway fro stress that might be critical in modulating drug taking behavior, especially alcohol consumption. Dr. Matthews also worked with researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Memphis, University of Tennessee and University of British Columbia.

4. First National Pilot Study Finds Human Medications and Personal Care Products in Fish Caught in Several U.S. Waterways
Dr. Bryan Brooks and Dr. Kevin Chambliss led a team of Baylor researchers to study the occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products found in fish is our nation's waterways. Working alongside the Environmental Protection Agency, the Baylor team discovered high concentrations and frequencies of compounds in fish livers, but are not yet sure what impacts these compounds have on fish. It is hypothesized that some compounds may cause behavioral changes which would affect aggression, mating, and other behaviors.

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