Office of the Vice Provost for Research

Awards: Faculty Research Support Program 2014-15

Seed Round 1

Do Revelations about Internet Security have a Chilling Effect?
Yong Yeol Ahn, School of Informatics and Computing
Apu Kapadia, School of Informatics and Computing
Fabio Rojas, School of Informatics and Computing
Modern technologies are radically altering the privacy of everyday communication as well as people's perception of privacy. This research seeks to understand how revelations about the security of the Internet affect how people communicate. People may view the Internet as safer or riskier than before based on various information. For example, in 2013, it was revealed and widely publicized that the National Security Agency was collecting emails, telephone calls, and other forms of data from Americans and citizens of other countries. This research will measure the effects of such revelations on the people's communication patterns on Twitter, and help develop a more mature understanding of how online communities are shaped by their social and political environments. This understanding will ultimately allow us to better model how social and political trends affect how people present themselves in online environments.

A New Model for Neuronal Quasi-Criticality
John Beggs, Department of Physics
Gerardo Ortiz, Department of Physics
Recent data suggest that living neural networks operate near a critical point. At the critical point, information processing is expected to be optimal. Neuropathologies are associated with operating away from this critical point. Accordingly, this idea has generated much interest because of its potential impact in biophysics and human health. Unfortunately, current theories cannot explain key aspects of the data, including how the critical point is affected by background activity. Here we propose to develop a new theory to deal with this. We propose that the brain is actually quasi-critical, and we have already submitted a paper on this.

The Problem-Based Learning Virtual Case Laboratory
Krista Glazewski, Instructional Systems Technology
Thomas Brush, Instructional Systems Technology
Cindy Hmelo-Silver, Center for Research on Learning & Technology
The Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Virtual Case Laboratory project aims to increase the capacity of faculty to implement PBL in support of design problem-solving. Targeted outcomes include (1) an increase of faculty knowledge and skills for problem-based instruction, and (2) dissemination of PBL materials as models of practice to support design problem solving. We plan to develop videocase examples of three engineering faculty who have been using PBL with design projects for several years. The overall purpose of the is to design, disseminate, evaluate, and sustain an enhanced videocase model for use of PBL methods in support of design problem solving in higher education.

How Does Stigma Affect Attitudes Toward Mental Health Treatment?
Anne Krendl, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Untreated depression is an epidemic that disproportionately targets young adults (individuals from the ages of 18 to 25). Untreated depression is the primary cause of suicide, which is the third leading cause of death for young adults in the U.S. One of the key barriers preventing individuals with depression from seeking treatment is overcoming the stigma associated with mental illness. The current proposal uses behavioral and neuroscience techniques to develop a better understanding of how stigma affects individuals’ attitudes toward mental health treatment. The proposed research will lay the groundwork for developing interventions that reduce the pernicious effects of stigma on attitudes toward mental illness.

Research on Transition Services and Supports to Juveniles Leaving Residential Correctional Facilities Returning to Their Home Communities
Theresa Ochoa, Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Juvenile incarceration and recidivism rates are issues of national concern. In Indiana, research showed that 68.7% of juvenile delinquents were likely to reoffend in the absence of academic programs while in custody. My research examines:  (1) transition services for adolescents in Indiana during incarceration; (2) post-release transition community-based support; and (3) needs for and barriers to transition services as perceived by educators, the girls in custody and the families of incarcerated female adolescents. My objective is to reduce the recidivism rate of this population by developing a set of procedures for long-term transition support focusing on the development of vocational skills during incarceration and continued post-discharge support once adolescents return to their communities.

Seed Round 2

Exploration of Human Tyrosine O-sulfation
Charles Dann, Department of Chemistry
Tyrosine O-sulfation is a post-translational modification on proteins that affects the efficiency of protein-protein interactions during normal immunological and inflammatory responses in mammals. Additionally, tyrosine O-sulfation is implicated in the interactions of viruses and parasites with host cells. This project will study the two human enzymes responsible for tyrosine O-sulfation and to identify novel targets of these enzymes using a combination of enzymology, structural biology and bioinformatics. Given the demonstrated role of this modification in protein-protein interactions in the few examples studied, the researchers expects to uncover sulfated proteins with critical roles in normal cell-cell communication and host-pathogen interactions.

Microbiome Influences on the Development of Sociality
Demas, Department of Biology
Cara Wellman, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Jeffry Alberts, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

This project is to develop a rodent model of the effects of perinatal antibiotic administration on the development of sociality and the neural, endocrine, and immune measures that may mediate the effects of microbial depletion on this clinically important behavior. Bi-parental and uni-parental species will be used to test whether paternal behavior mitigates the effects of maternal microbiome disruption on mother-offspring interactions and concomitant developmental changes in neuroendocrine, immune responses and social behaviors in offspring. The work will be highly relevant to human parent-infant interactions in that they will identify the contributions of normal healthy parental behaviors (both maternal and paternal) to offspring development.

New Computational Treatments for the Study of Electronic Transport Phenomena in Surface Chemistry
Iyengar, Department of Chemistry
Chemistry on surfaces has applications in solar energy conversion, electronics industry and bio-sensors. This proposal addresses a specific, but critical, aspect of surface chemistry. Upon interaction of chemically modified surfaces with adsorbate materials or light, transient electronic states are generated on the surface. These states have finite lifetimes. Much experimental effort is directed towards extending the lifetimes of these transient states and harnessing such states for energy storage. Here, a new program will be initiated by the PI and new computational methods developed for the study of transient electronic states on surfaces.

Development of Tungsten Stable Isotope Analysis as a Tool for Tracking Transport and Fate of Tungsten in Contaminated Groundwater
Wasylenki, Department of Geological Sciences
The researchers aim to develop a new approach to determining the extent to which chemical reactions, specifically adsorption to mineral particles, affects the mobility of tungsten in contaminated soils or groundwater. The new approach will take advantage of shifts in the stable isotope ratios of tungsten that likely occur during adsorption reactions. The researchers plan to demonstrate (1) precise mearsurement of tungsten isotopes, (2) that tungsten isotopes do indeed partition during adsorption, and (3) that the isotope systematics are driven by thermodynamics, not kinetics.

Seed Round 3

Interactions Between Sensory and Motor Processes in the Brain
Hannah Justine
Block, Department of Kinesiology
More people survive strokes than ever before, but often with long term deficits in sensation and movement that substantially reduce their quality of life.  Sensory and motor processes in the brain affect each other, but we know very little about these interactions even in healthy people.  This gap in knowledge may be limiting our ability to rehabilitate hundreds of thousands of stroke survivors every year, costing billions in long term medical care and reduced quality of life.  To improve rehabilitation of such patients, we first need to understand how motor and sensory processes interact in the brain.  This project proposes three pilot experiments in healthy adults, using brain imaging, behavioral tasks, and non-invasive brain stimulation.

Extending the Sequentially Markovian Coalescent for Inversions
Hahn, Department of Biology
This project aims to develop proof-of-concept software for simulating large genomes with inversions.  Such simulations are necessary for multiple applications in the life and health sciences.  The product will be used for preliminary data in an NIH submission.

Social Construction of Contentious Scientific Knowledge in the Age of Social Media
Hara, School of Informatics & Computing
Presently, more and more citizens are turning to online resources including social media for concise explanations of numerous scientific issues. The goal of the proposed research is to investigate how ordinary citizens digest and interpret scientific knowledge presented in social media and to advance the conceptualization of scientific “credibility” from a layperson’s perspective. The project is built on a previous study that examined three online communities discussing the MMR vaccination controversy.  The PI will interview mothers of small children regarding the administration of the MMR vaccination. The results of the study will likely inform researchers how to best communicate scientific knowledge with ordinary citizens.

An Interaction with the Splicing Factor EWSR1 Defines ETS Proteins That Cause Prostate Cancer
Hollenhorst, Medical Sciences Program
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and there is no cure for metastatic disease. The most common cause of prostate cancer is the expression of an oncogenic ETS protein in prostate cells. This proposal will test the hypothesis that a newly discovered interaction between oncogenic ETS proteins and a protein called EWSR1 is critical for this oncogenic function and represents a promising therapeutic target. This work will provide critical preliminary data for future funding.

Optimizing HTTP 2.0 for a Faster World Wide Web
Qian, Department of Computer Science
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is the key protocol that has supported World Wide Web for 25 years. We propose effective and robust solutions for improving web performance over HTTP/2, the successor of today’s HTTP/1.1 protocol. Specifically, we focus on optimizing four under-explored aspects of HTTP/2: multi-tasking (multiple web sessions fetch data concurrently), server-push (the server proactively pushes data to the client), multi-interface (simultaneously use multiple network paths for web browsing), and HTTP/2’s interaction with other protocols. Our proposed solutions will improve web users' experience, and they can be deployed into browser and server applications to yield immediate benefits.

H-Alpha Dots: Searching for Extremely Metal-Poor Galaxies
Salzer, Department of Astronomy
This project is an innovative program designed to explore the extremes of the chemical abundance scale in galaxies.  Researchers will utilize a newly discovered sample of dwarf galaxies to study the chemical abundances in some of the lowest luminosity galaxies in the local universe.  The broad science goals of the overall project will lead to a better understanding of how chemical evolution proceeds in dwarf galaxies.

Inhibitors of the Innate Immune Receptors MDA5
Williams, Department of Chemistry
Chen Kao, Department of Molecular & Cellular Biochemistry

Hyperactive signal transduction by the innate immune receptor MDA5 has been linked to inflammation-associated diseases. It will be beneficial to develop inhibitors of MDA5 signaling to treat inflammatory diseases. A screen of the NIH Clinical Compound Library identified that epigallocathechin-3-gallate (EGCG) inhibits MDA5 signaling. EGCG binds to the recombinant MDA5 protein, but also binds a related innate immune receptor. The researchers seek to use EGCG as a scaffold to develop specific MDA5 inhibitors. This project will identify the EGCG binding pocket in MDA5 and EGCG derivatives, including nonracemic molecules, which can inhibit MDA5 function. The compounds to be identified will be used for preclinical studies to develop anti-inflammatory drugs.