NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Six of Stephen F. Austin State University's largest in-house grants for 2016 were awarded this month through the University's Research Enhancement Program and the SFA Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, totaling approximately $120,000 in support of faculty research and creative projects.

Eighteen grant proposals were submitted to and reviewed by the University Research Council, which then chose the six Research and Creative Activity Grants recipients. Two Research Pilot Studies (smaller in-house funding opportunities) also were awarded. Dr. Steve Bullard, SFA's interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, approved the council's recommendations.

"Research enhancement funds like RCA and RPS grants are meant to encourage and strengthen research, offer scholarly and creative opportunities for faculty members, serve as support for innovative research, and provide seed monies to attract other financial support from external entities," Bullard said.

Research and Creative Activity Awards:
Dr. Roger Masse, assistant professor of forest wildlife ecology and management, and Dr. Christopher Comer, professor of forest wildlife management, in the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture
Breeding Bird Response to Oak Savannah Restoration in Eastern Texas

Oak savannah vegetation is declining at a rate fast enough to cause conservation concern. The result of that decline is the encroachment of woody vegetation and habitat loss and degradation for wildlife. Following baseline assessment methodologies, Masse and Comer will estimate abundances of breeding birds in restored and reference post oak savannah. The proposed research will help to evaluate the success of oak savannah restoration and lay the foundation for additional studies regarding wildlife habitat in Eastern Texas.

Dr. Lauren Gonzalez, assistant professor of elementary education in the James I. Perkins College of Education
Preschool Teachers Perspectives and Implementation of STEM

Almost every position in the current workforce is related to science, technology, engineering and math. Creating successful STEM learning in young children will require significant commitment and coordination, yet will yield enormous payoffs in the future. The purpose of Gonzalez's study is to investigate the knowledge and perspectives preschool teachers have regarding STEM education, how they implement it into their classrooms and whether preschool teachers' knowledge/perspectives of STEM education and its implementation change after receiving research-based training development.

Dr. Heather Olson Beal, associate professor of secondary education and educational leadership in the James I. Perkins College of Education
What do Teachers Think? A Qualitative Study of Choice School in a K-12 Rural Setting

Despite the expansion of current school reform efforts, including increased choice and privatization, little research examines how the growing school choice landscape influences teachers' professional lives. Also, there is little research that explores the ways in which these processes impact rural school contexts.

Olson Beal's findings, based on data collected from semi-structured interviews with teachers in Nacogdoches County, will be significant to educational practitioners who work in rural areas and to policymakers and researchers who seek to understand how the current shift toward school choice and marketization affects teachers in rural areas.

Dr. Luis Aguerrevere and Dr. Daniel McCleary, assistant professors of human services in the James I. Perkins College of Education
Ability of QEEG Indicators to Classify Children with Learning Disabilities

Quantitative electroencephalogram indicators have the potential to provide valuable clinical information and data regarding brain functioning in children with learning disabilities. This project will determine how and to what degree the QEEG indicators (e.g. absolute power) can differentiate children with LDs. The study will determine the accuracy and inaccuracy of QEEG activity in identifying the presence of a learning disability using concepts such as sensitivity and specificity. If successful, this study can provide means for the use of QEEG in psychoeducational settings.

Dr. Deb Scott, professor of music (trombone) in the College of Fine Arts
CD Recording of Trombone Solos

Scott, SFA professor of trombone, will record and create a professional CD showcasing her talents in solo trombone performance. The project will help to establish her as one of the leading technical performers on trombone. It will be recorded professionally in the Dallas area.

Accompanying Scott on this project will be Dr. Ron Petti, professor of collaborative piano and director of accompanying at SFA. One previously unrecorded piece in the trombone world and one that is noteworthy of recognition is Dr. Stephen Lias' "River Runner," which was composed for Scott. Lias is the professor of composition at SFA. The recording project should help bring notoriety to his composition, as well.

Dr. Brian Barngrover, assistant professor of computational/physical chemistry in the College of Sciences and Mathematics
Fundamental Growth Mechanism of Noble Metal Nanoparticles

Cancer, renewable energy and water purification/remediation are important areas of research and have a high impact on our lives. Nanoparticles, in particular noble metal nanoparticles, all of which are resistant to corrosion and oxidation, can be the answer to all three of these areas.

By studying the underlying growth mechanism of noble metal nanoparticles, Barngrover intends to further an understanding of nanoparticles size and morphology. If nanoparticle growth is understood, the guesswork could be eliminated, resulting in lower costs and green syntheses.

Research Pilot Study Awards:
Dr. Jenny Gumm, assistant professor of biology in the College of Sciences and Mathematics
The Function of Meral Spot Coloration in Stomatopods (genus Neogonodactylus)

Color signals are critical in animal communication. Coloration may mediate aggression between species, and therefore aggression may drive diversification of color signals. Gumm will test the hypothesis that social interactions drive color diversification in Stomatopods (marine crustaceans commonly known as mantis shrimps).

Dr. James Rowe, assistant professor of kinesiology and health science in the James I. Perkins College of Education
The Effects of High-Intensity Exercise on Postprandial Lipemia and Glycemia

Rowe wishes to determine the influence of a single bout of high-intensity interval exercise on the postprandial (non-fasted) concentration of triglycerides, glucose and insulin in the blood of moderately-trained men after a mixed-liquid meal of dietary fat and sugar. The mixed meal will be comprised of chocolate ice cream, whole milk and whipping cream. The results of this study will hopefully provide more insight into how brief periods of high-intensity exercise influence the prevalence of some risk factors associated with metabolic disease.