NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University's Office of Research and Graduate Studies has announced the recipients of its annual Research and Creative Activity and Research Pilot Study grants.

ORGS and Academic Affairs conduct a university-wide call for proposals, and the deadline for submissions is typically the end of October. The University Research Council conducts a blind peer review of all applications. Grant awardees are notified early in the spring semester and funded through the remainder of the fiscal year.

Dr. Steve Bullard, provost and vice president for academic affairs, approved the award of six RCA grants totaling approximately $130,000 based on the recommendations of the URC. Additionally, the URC approved two spring RPS grants. Both of these programs are awarded through an annual competition and are funded from the university’s Research Enhancement Fund, which encourages and enhances research, offers scholarly and creative opportunities for faculty members, serves as support for innovative research, and provides seed monies to attract external financial support.

The RCA grants provide substantive summer salary support to faculty members in addition to funds for collecting data, producing the creative activity, hiring students to assist, materials, supplies and other similar items. The pilot study program provides seed money to generate pilot data so faculty members may initiate new lines of research and scholarly endeavors.

2018 Research and Creative Activity Grants

Dr. John Brannon Gary – Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Sciences and Mathematics
Bioinspired D Catalysis: Using Nature as an Inspiration for Developing New Chemistry

Gary’s research seeks to develop new chemical models based on natural enzymes rather than the more expensive metals used in current practices to produce many commodity chemicals. These new systems could potentially impact areas such as alternative energy and the development of new drugs. Gary hopes to use this preliminary data to garner external funding in the future to continue to research using other types of experiments, such as water oxidation.

Dr. Xiaozhen (Jenny) Han – Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Sciences and Mathematics
The Preparation of Multi-Target Anticancer Prodrugs: Ru(II) (Arene) Complexes with Selenium-Containing Flavonols

Han seeks to develop water-soluble, multi-target anticancer drug agents by combining certain flavonols with metal fragments. The multi-target anticancer drugs are important with diseases as complex as cancer. The use of certain metal ions that possess a lower toxicity could help reduce side effects of cancer treatments.

Candace Hicks - School of Art, College of Fine Arts
Many Mini Murder Scenes

Hicks’ project will expand on the standard theatrical diorama display to incorporate audience participation elements in her crime scene dioramas based on fictional stories. The result will be a public exhibition, including a guidebook that allows the viewer to unravel the clues in the crime scene — not to solve the crime, but to delve into the cultural significance of the mystery.

Dr. Sheryll Jerez – Division of Environmental Science, Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture
Comparison of Benzene and Other Volatile Compounds in Ambient Air near the Eagle Ford Shale Area

Jerez will develop standard operating procedures for certain analyses performed with the new gas chromatography/flame ionization detector system. In addition, she will research the air quality impacts on people in rural East Texas from fracking sites. The standard operating procedures will be invaluable as Jerez and other faculty members seek to expand their research capacities.

Dr. Christopher Schalk – Department of Forestry and Spatial Science, Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture
Examining terrestrial food-web structure in managed and unmanaged forests in East Texas

Schalk will concentrate on forest management practices and how they impact food webs (consumer-resource relationships). Such research data will help land managers make more informed decisions concerning forestry practices in addition to providing seed data for Schalk to be competitive in external funding.

Dr. Jacob Turner – Department of Mathematics and Statistics, College of Sciences and Mathematics
Robustness to model selection in longitudinal gene expression studies

Turner will research high throughput gene expression data to develop new theoretical and methodological approaches to improve current standards of practice, which will be useful to the bioinformatics and biostatistics research communities.

Research Pilot Study

Dr. Luis Aguerrevere – Department of Human Services, James I. Perkins College of Education
Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) on Facial and Emotional Regulation in Individuals with Autism: A Pilot Study

Dr. Hector Ochoa – Department of Physics, Engineering and Astronomy, College of Sciences and Mathematics
Establishing a Methodology to Fabricate and Test Super Coiled Polymer Actuators using Traditional and Conductive Polymers