Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement at UTSA

First edition

Faculty and students at The University of Texas at San Antonio perform a wide variety of exploratory and creative research projects. These efforts are documented through the research articles they publish. To highlight the scope and depth of this work, we have listed a few of these below.

Dr. Holly Ventura Miller, assistant professor of criminal justice, College of Public Policy, received the Outstanding Article Award from the Southern Criminal Justice Association for “The Social Context of Acculturation: Findings from a Sample of Hispanic Adolescents.” The award is given to the best article published in SCJA’s official publication, American Journal of Criminal Justice. The article was chosen from 50 that appeared in the publication over the last year.

In a highly cited article in the journal Neuropsychology, Dr. Rebekah Smith, associate professor of psychology, explored the impact of traumatic brain injury and how our ability to remember could be altered when we are distracted by too many concurrent tasks. In our multitasking society, this finding provides suggestions for more effective treatment strategies for soldiers returning from war with lingering cognitive deficits.

An article in the prestigious journal Neuroscience by Roland K. and Jane W. Blumberg Professor of Neurobiology and Director of UTSA’s Neurosciences Institute Dr. Charles Wilson described the activity patterns in the subthalamus, a part of the brain involved in movement. His insights advance our understanding of disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

UTSA’s Dean of the College of Science and Professor of Biology Dr. George Perry published a highly cited article in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease titled “Increased Iron and Free Radical Generation in Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment.” Dr. Perry is one of the top ten Alzheimer’s disease researchers in the world, and this article expands our understanding of this disease and suggests new avenues of diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Robert Hard, professor of anthropology, explored the bones of individuals who lived on the Texas Gulf Coastal Plain during the Late Prehistoric Period (ca. A.D. 700-1400) utilizing specialized chemical analysis equipment. This work was documented in American Antiquity and reveals that this group had a stable huntergatherer diet that consisted of fish as well as local plants and grains. These results also provided evidence that mobility was constrained among these groups and that population increases were correlated with an increasing use of plant resources.

Dr. Banglin Chen, professor of chemistry, has pursued research which explores the use of nanoparticles and metal-organic frameworks for their utility in industrial processes and future alternative-fueled vehicles. His recent article in Nature Communication reveals that vehicles of the future may run on gas supplied to vehicles within our existing gas supply infrastructure at low pressure. It also means that methane-fueled cars will not pollute the atmosphere in the way that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are doing.

Department of Communication Associate Professor Dr. Sara DeTurk’s article, “Allies in Action: The Communicative Experiences of People Who Challenge Social Injustice on Behalf of Others,” published in the Communication Quarterly, was selected as the 2012 Eastern Communication Association Article of the Year. It reveals the experiences of people who act to address social injustices and the communication styles they utilize when they resist social peer pressure to refrain from acting.

Dr. José López-Ribot, associate professor of biology and associate director of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Anand Ramasubramanian, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, published a highly cited article in PLoS Pathogens titled “Dispersion as an Important Step in the Candida albicans Biofilm Developmental Cycle.” Their work explores how biofilms form on surfaces and are the source of many infections that occur after surgery or after severe burns. This research reveals new treatment approaches.

In the well-regarded journal Vaccine, a group of UTSA researchers describe a new method to protect against the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia. This involved Jane and Roland Blumberg Professorship in Biology and Associate Dean of Research, College of Science, Dr. Bernard Arulanandam; Dr. Neal Guentzel, professor of microbiology; and Dr. Guangming Zhong, professor of microbiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

UTSA has invested heavily in its research infrastructure, including a $3 million Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) that can image individual atoms. The TEM was used in a recent research project executed by UTSA’s world-famous nanoscientist Dr. Miguel José-Yacamán, professor and chair of UTSA’s Department of Physics, along with Dr. Marcelo Mariscal, assistant professor of physics, and their students. They observed that nanoparticles made of gold and cobalt changed their shape when the temperature changed, suggesting alternate manufacturing methods. This research was documented in the esteemed journal Nanoscale.

In the prestigious Journal of Financial Economics, Professor of Finance Dr. John Wald, College of Business, described the interaction between political rights and the cost of debt. This scholarly work provides insight into the current plight in the European Union, which has amassed ponderous debt that has crippled their economies.

Lutcher Brown Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the Autonomous Control Engineering Center Dr. Mo Jamshidi has worked extensively with robotic systems for many years. In a recent IEEE Systems Journal article, he describes the control for a system of underwater swarm robots. This paper details a consensus control method which allows each robot to know the final goal and then to decide, based on the position of the other robots, its best move to help achieve the central targeted goal of the swarm.

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