UTSA awards seed funding to faculty in engineering, kinesiology and science


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(June 23, 2015) – Six new research projects will receive $20,000 in seed funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research in FY 2016. The Grants for Research Advancement and Transformation (GREAT) funding will allow the researchers and their collaborators to conduct preliminary studies in new areas and assemble data that will position the research for competitive extramural funding in future years.

The following projects were selected to receive support:

• Computational modeling of trabecular cutting as a novel approach to treat patients with diastolic heart failure

Professor Hai-Chao Han (Mechanical Engineering) will use computational modeling to develop a new surgical technique to treat patients whose hearts do not relax normally, a condition known as Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF). His research will focus on the development and optimization of techniques to cut into the trabeculae carnae, a network of muscles in the heart's ventricles.

• Intensified hippocampal circuits contributing to the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

Professor David Jaffe (Biology) will study sharp wave ripples, the neural correlate of memory consolidation in the brain's hippocampal formation, in an effort to better understand how the brain responds to traumatic stress. Specifically, he will study communication within circuits of the hippocampus and develop a computational model that allows researchers to predict the effect of traumatic events on hippocampal memory function.

• Efficient Structural Health Management and Prognosis through a Novel Fracture Mechanics Approach

Assistant Professor Arturo Montoya (Civil and Environmental Engineering) will use computational modeling and multicomplex mathematics to improve the way that structural analysts assess how fatigue and fractures affect the integrity of a structure and/or contribute to its overall collapse.

• A long-duration capturing of the three-dimensional scapular kinematics using inertial magnetic unit

Assistant Professor Sakiko Oyama (Kinesiology, Health and Nutrition) will develop an improved method to measure scapular kinematics, three-dimensional motion of the shoulder blade along the rib cage, over a long period of time. Oyama will use an inertial magnetic unit – which uses sensors to capture data from an accelerometer, a magnetometer and a gyroscope – to develop the new method, which will help scientists and clinicians better understand and treat conditions related to prolonged upper limb use.

• Air Pollution and Weather Controls on Childhood Asthma in Texas

Associate Professor Hatim Sharif (Civil and Environmental Engineering) will conduct research to better understand how air pollutants affect children with asthma, a disease that is responsible for nearly two million emergency room visits each year. Ultimately, the research could also help society better understand how to address asthma-related health disparities.

• Reconstruct paleo-lake shorelines and monsoon variability over the Tibetan Plateau since later Pleistocene

Associate Professor Hongjie Xie (Geology) will use optically stimulated luminescence and U-Th dating techniques to obtain precise ages of paleo-lake shorelines, critical data to decipher paleo-climate changes that have caused the drastic lake shrinking over the Tibetan Plateau.


To learn more about UTSA's seed funding programs for researchers, visit http://research.utsa.edu/research-funding/opportunities.

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