Dr. Richard L. Freyman, professor in the Department of Communication Disorders, has been awarded a four-year, $1.33 million grant from the NIH National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The funding completes a competitive renewal for Freyman’s ongoing research project titled “Spatial Hearing in Complex Sound Fields.” This research is being conducted in collaboration with two co-investigators at the University – Dr. Karen Helfer, also of the Communication Disorders Department, and Dr. Lisa Sanders of the Psychology Department.
In an environment filled with multiple sound sources such as a crowded room, a busy street, or a subway station platform, an individual must distinguish from among numerous auditory signals and competing reflections as sound waves reflect from walls, floors, and other objects. The process can tax any individual’s ability to process sound properly, but can be particularly problematic to people with hearing losses who use assistive hearing technologies such as hearing aids.
The team’s research seeks to understand how listeners combine information from their two ears to process multiple sound sources in complex sound environments. The project’s goals are to characterize the auditory processes and brain physiology that allow individuals to form a single perceptual image from sources and reflections, to discover the auditory mechanisms that determine where a sound image is localized, and to understand how individual, correctly-localized sounds are maintained in the presence of competing sound sources and how this ability is used in conjunction with knowledge of linguistic context to improve listeners’ understanding of speech in complex listening environments.
Findings from this research may aid millions of people with hearing impairment by identifying the auditory mechanisms that allow normal-hearing listeners to succeed in complex sound environments containing multiple sound sources and reflections. Discovery of these mechanisms may ultimately lead to improvements in how hearing aids and cochlear implants process sounds to reduce the difficulties experienced by hearing-impaired individuals.
Kate Lyden (left) and Rich Viskochil (right), doctoral students in Kinesiology, have recently been awarded research grants from the American College of Sports Medicine Foundation. Lyden is funded through the ACSM Paffenbarger-Blair Fund for Epidemiologic Research on Physical Activity Initiative for a grant titled “Metabolic response to increased sedentary behavior dose.” Viskochil received his award through the American College of Sports Medicine Foundation Doctoral Student Research Grant Initiative for a grant titled “The effect of exercise serum exposure on pancreatic islet function.”
Lyden’s project will evaluate how sitting time and how we accumulate sitting time (e.g., in prolonged unbroken periods of sitting vs. more sporadic periods of sitting) affect metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors. Sedentary behavior has been shown to be detrimental to health, even for regular exercisers. Lyden expects that findings from this study will shed light into specific ways behavior can be changed to improve health and may help inform future public recommendations on sedentary behavior.
Viskochil’s research examines the production of insulin secretion within the pancreas. In order to properly measure changes in insulin secretion independently of improvements in insulin sensitivity, testing must be done in cell cultures without the presence of muscle tissue. This method has not been developed yet, and Viskochil’s project will test and validate a technique to measure any direct changes on pancreatic cells from exercise. Once that is established, testing can occur to determine the effect exercise training has on insulin secretion by putting the cells in serum taken from people who are exercising. By measuring the effects of insulin secretion in a cell culture, Viskochil hopes to determine whether or not exercise has a direct effect on insulin secretion and identify a new mechanism by which exercise works to prevent diabetes.
Kinesiology doctoral student Ling Xin received a travel grant to attend the Mary Frances Picciano NIH Dietary Supplement Research Practicum held at the NIH in June. Practicum participants came from a variety of health-related disciplines such as nutrition, food science, pharmacology and pharmacognosy, kinesiology, medicine, dentistry, nursing, and complementary and alternative medicine.
This practicum provided an intensive examination of dietary supplements used by millions of Americans. It presented a thorough overview and grounding about issues, concepts, unknowns, and controversies about dietary supplements and supplement ingredients. The program also emphasized the importance of scientific investigations to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and value of these products for health promotion, disease prevention and treatment, as well as how to carry out this type of research. Speakers included experts from the NIH, academic institutions, and federal regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The Center for Teaching & Faculty Development (CTFD) has announced the recipients of its 2011-12 Mellon Mutual Mentoring Grants for teams and individuals. The Mutual Mentoring Initiative, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, encourages faculty to develop robust professional networks that support their growth as researchers, teachers, and leaders in their fields, said Mary Deane Sorcinelli, associate provost for Faculty Development.
“This year's range of faculty-generated mentoring projects is impressive,” said Sorcinelli. “The Mellon grants are meant to support a wide variety of professional networking possibilities, and our faculty has responded with some truly creative, context-specific projects.”
The Mellon Mutual Mentoring Team Grants provide up to $10,000 for one year to support faculty-driven mentoring projects for early-career and/or under-represented faculty based at the departmental, school/college, interdisciplinary, or inter-institutional levels.
This year's Team Grant recipients are:
The Mellon Mutual Mentoring Micro Grants provide up to $1,200 for one year to individual pre-tenure faculty. Micro Grants are intended to encourage early-career faculty to identify desirable areas for professional growth, and to develop the necessary mentoring relationships to make such opportunities possible.
This year's Micro Grant recipients are:
Since 2006, Mutual Mentoring Grants have encouraged recipients to pursue mentoring as a broad form of professional networking and development. Past grant recipients have used their grant funds to pursue a range of activities, including:
For more information about Mutual Mentoring, please contact the principal investigators of the Mellon grant: Mary Deane Sorcinelli, Associate Provost for Faculty Development; Jung H. Yun, Director of New Faculty Initiatives; or Brian Baldi, Senior Project Manager at 413-545-1225 at the Center for Teaching & Faculty Development.