Research Profiles

Emad Khazraee

SLIS Professor Emad Khazraee with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden

SLIS Professor leads effort to digitize Afghani archives
 

While Afghanistan, to many people, is virtually synonymous with the idea of war and terrorism, for one Kent State researcher, it’s a treasure trove of scholarly information.

In April, Kent State School of Library and Information Science Assistant Professor Dr. Emad Khazraee, began a three- to five-year project to help Afghanistan build the systems to support a digital repository to preserve its national archives.

Kent State Epidemiologist Studies Best Practices for Helping Cardiac and Respiratory Patients Heal

Melissa Zullo (left), associate professor of epidemiology in Kent State’s College of Public Health, works with a Ph.D. student.

Kent State University scholar Melissa Zullo, Ph.D., is all heart, an academic who lives and breathes research, almost literally. Zullo, an associate professor of epidemiology in Kent State’s College of Public Health, has spent a significant portion of her professional and academic career studying the best practices for helping cardiac and respiratory patients heal.

Doug Kline & Srinivasan Vijayaraghavan

KENT STATE BIOLOGISTS COMBINE FOR MORE THAN $850,000 IN NIH GRANTS TO STUDY REPRODUCTIVE CHALLENGES

 

It could be argued that there is no science more valuable to us than that which helps to ensure the survival of our species, and answers questions to solve the problems that challenge it.

For many years, two Kent State researchers have been toiling over this matter and each have recently received new grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the NIH — collectively totaling more than $857,990 — to study reproductive biology, focusing on the cellular mechanisms that regulate the formation and function of gametes (sperm and eggs).

Biological Sciences Professor, Dr. Srinivasan Vijayaraghavan received $424,484, for a two-year study, “Identification of Phosphoproteins Regulating Sperm Function,” while Biological Sciences Professor Dr. Doug Kline was awarded $433,503 over three years for research into “The Role of 14-3-3 Proteins in Oogenesis and Early Development.”

The grants are just the latest in a 30-year legacy of continuous funding between the two Kent State scientists.

READ MORE ABOUT DOUG AND VIJAY

Xiaozhen Mou

Kent State Associate Bio. Sciences Professor Xiaozhen (Jen) Mou

KENT STATE BIOLOGIST COLLABORATES WITH TOLEDO RESEARCHER TO PURSUE BETTER WATER TREATMENT METHODS

The toxic algae bloom crisis in Toledo in 2014 put the issue of water treatment front and center, and problems like those in Flint, Michigan, and Sebring, Ohio only add more weight to the discussion.

One faculty member who has been pursuing impactful research in this field is Biological Sciences Associate Professor Xiaozhen (Jen) Mou. She is co-principal investigator on a new three-year $329,688 grant from the National Science Foundation to fund a project, “Engineering Biofilm Dynamics for Cyanotoxins in Biological Water Treatment.” She will collaborate with Dr. Youngwoo Seo, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Toledo.

“This project targets how we can use bacteria to improve efficiency in water treatment plants,” Mou said. “We can isolate the bacteria that are capable of degrading cyanotoxins.”

READ MORE ABOUT JEN

Colleen Novak

Kent State Biological Sciences Professor, Dr. Colleen Novak

KENT STATE BIOLOGIST NETS GRANT TO STUDY CALORIE-BURNING PROCESS THAT COULD HELP FIGHT OBESITY

Physical activity is essential to fighting obesity, and scientists are constantly working to make this activity more effective and beneficial.

A $450,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health will help Kent State Biological Sciences Professor, Dr. Colleen Novak, better understand how the body allocates energy and burns fat.

In her project, “Mechanisms Underlying Contextual Induction of Muscle Thermogenesis,” Novak is studying the biological phenomenon known as thermogenesis — how the body burns caloric energy, turning it into heat.

“We are going to look at a specific aspect of that, which is the heat put off by skeletal muscle as a way to dissipate energy,” Novak said. “We’ve found a way to make rats engage muscle thermogenesis, and this grant allows us to study the mechanisms behind that.”

READ MORE ABOUT Colleen

Beth Herndon & Lauren Kinsman-Costello

Undergrad Geology major Jonathan Mills, Geology MS Candidate Kiersten Duroe, Geology Professor Beth Herndon, and Biology Professor Lauren Kinsman-Costello.

Kent State Researchers Study Climate Change in Alaska

Thanks to a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, two Kent State professors have been conducting some cool research this summer. Assistant Professors Elizabeth Herndon (Geology) and Lauren Kinsman-Costello (Biological Sciences) spent a week in Fairbanks, Alaska in June studying how climate change affects the availability of plant nutrients in arctic and sub-arctic ecosystems.

The grant teams up two of Kent State’s newest researchers.

“I think it’s really great that two early-career scientists were awarded the funds to do this research,” Herndon said.

Both Herndon and Kinsman-Costello joined Kent State about two years ago, and their new collaborative research effort has potential implications for understanding how high-latitude peatlands will respond to climate change.

READ MORE ABOUT BETH AND LAUREN

Ye Zhao, Xinyue Ye & Andrew Curtis

Kent State Associate Professor of Computer Science, Ye Zhao

Three Kent Researchers Land Grant to Develop City Planning Software

As the City of Kent continues its renaissance, and nearby cities like Akron and Youngstown continue to refine their plans to revitalize, an understanding of how people use a city and move through it could be vital to development plans.

A grant from the National Science Foundation could put some Kent State University researchers in a position to help such cities find and use that data.

The two-year $100,000 grant will contribute to the work of Associate Professor of Computer Science Dr. Ye Zhao, Assistant Professor of Geography, Dr. Xinyue Ye, Professor of Geography, Dr. Andrew Curtis, and their colleague, Computer Science Professor, Dr. Jing Yang of UNC-Charlotte.

READ MORE ABOUT YE, XINYUE AND ANDREW

Joe Ortiz

Kent State University Geology Professor, Dr. Joseph Ortiz

Geologist Follows in his Mentor's Footsteps to Fight Climate Change

The same week one of his undergraduate mentors passed away, Kent State Geology Professor, Dr. Joseph Ortiz received a grant that will allow him to use the techniques that his mentor taught him in an innovative way to research harmful algae blooms (HAB). The $10,000 in funds from Ohio Sea Grant will let Ortiz partner with Bowling Green State University, NASA-Glenn, and the United States Geologic Survey’s Lake Erie Biological Station to study to study the differences the between growth and presence of large cyanoHAB toxic blooms in the Maumee River.

Ortiz has been working on cyanoHABs in Lake Erie with NASA Glenn and Ohio View* partners for several years. In 2014, the City of Toledo’s drinking water was contaminated by toxic algae in Lake Erie and the Maumee River. Scientists and city and state officials want to know what causes the toxic algae to grow where it does, in the hope that they can stop it, or get more advanced warning as problems develop.

READ MORE ABOUT JOE

Kristy Welshhans

BIology professor Kristy Welshhans received a grant in July to help her study how the human nervous system forms.

Grant helps Kent State researcher study nervous system development

How do fingers type these words? How do eyes read them? How does the mouth speak, the legs walk, the tongue taste, the skin feel?

The simple answer is neurons, but how do neurons connect with one another so that the body can function properly?

How the body forms and, specifically, what underlies the development of the nervous system is a topic scientists continue to study. Scientists want to not only understand the basics, but also why things go wrong and how to fix the problems that result.

One Kent State professor has received a grant that might help her answer a few of these questions. In July, the National Institutes of Health awarded a three-year, $375,000 grant to Biological Sciences Assistant Professor Kristy Welshhans. This grant is entitled, “Molecular mechanisms regulating local translation during axon growth and guidance.”

READ MORE ABOUT KRISTY

Hanbin Mao

Chemistry Professor Hanbin Mao recently received the first federal funding grant for his work on single-molecule mechano-chemical sensing

Fields collide! researcher develops hybrid discipline to build biosensor

Hanbin Mao received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in the field of analytical chemistry. He did his post-doc at The University of California at Berkeley in the field of biophysics.

When he came to Kent State University in 2005, he had hopes of combining the two disciplines to create an entirely new niche field for himself.
“At first, in my lab, I had no idea how to combine them, so I just worked separately in the two different fields,” he said.

Now a grant from the National Science Foundation has made his dream a reality. Mao just received a two-year $200,000 grant from the NSF that puts his two research foci in use in a new field he’s called mechano-analytical chemistry.  The NSF grant allows Mao and his lab staff to establish novel methods in single-molecule mechano-chemical sensing (SMMS), a transformative sensing strategy pioneered by Mao since 2014.

“This is the first major federal funding for this part of the research,” he said.

READ MORE ABOUT HANBIN

Angela Ridgel

Dr. Angela Ridgel, an associate professor of exercise science and an avid cyclist, has designed a bicycle specially tailored to Parkinson’s patients

Angela Ridgel

PROFESSOR DEVELOPS TREATMENT BIKE FOR PARKINSON’S PATIENTS

Physical therapy is usually a component of treatment for patients of Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative and motor system disorders.

Now, a Kent State University professor in the College of Education, Health and Human Services has designed a piece of equipment that serves that purpose and sets the bar for exercise therapy higher.

Angela Ridgel, Ph.D., an associate professor of exercise science and an avid cyclist, has designed a bicycle specially tailored to Parkinson’s patients. The bike is based on a tandem bicycle model – a bike ridden by two people.

She and Jay Alberts, Ph.D., the Bell Family Endowed Chair in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, came up with the idea. Alberts, also a cyclist, told Ridgel of a tandem ride he was on with a cyclist who suffered from Parkinson’s.

READ MORE ABOUT ANGELA

Kristine Pytash

Dr. Kristine Pytash, Asst. Prof, School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies

HOW TROUBLED STUDENTS TEACH TEACHERS

When children enter the justice system they are removed from the classrooms, but state laws say that doesn’t excuse them from their studies.

That’s where researchers like Kristine Pytash come in.

“I’m interested in making sure that we provide a robust education, so that when they have the opportunity to return to the classroom, they are well prepared,” she said.

Pytash is an assistant professor in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies at Kent State’s College of Education, Health, and Human Services, where she co-directs the secondary Integrated Language Arts teacher preparation program

Through that program, Pytash conducts research at detention centers in Summit County. In addition to facilitating writing workshops for young adults, Pytash and KSU preservice teachers lead classes on writing and literature to incarcerated and detained students in grades 7-12.

READ MORE ABOUT KRISTY

Yanhai Du

Applied Engineering Professor Dr. Yanhai Du

THE FUTURE OF FUEL CELLS

The basic concept of a fuel cell is simple — it converts chemical energy into electricity.

To hear Kent State professor Dr. Yanhai Du tell it, however, the impact of modern and emerging fuel cell technology is anything but basic.

Fuel cells have the potential to deliver on the promise of the elusive cold-fusion theory of the 1990s — clean, super-efficient, affordable energy that could reduce carbon emissions exponentially.

“We have 7.2 billion people in the world, and it’s growing,” Du said. “The more people you have, the more energy you need. What we rely on now is 80 percent fossil fuels.”

Fuel cells may eliminate that problem, using less raw material while generating two- to three times the energy output.

READ MORE ABOUT DR. DU

Gemma Casadesus-Smith

Biology Professor Gemma Casadesus-Smith

Stopping Alzheimer's before it starts

For decades, biologists researching a cure for Alzheimer’s disease have remained in the dark almost as much as the ailment’s victims.

A Kent State professor, however, is looking to stop the disease before it starts.

Gemma Casadesus-Smith, an associate biology professor, studies Alzheimer’s through the lens of the aging process.

“In my lab, we’re trying to understand how age-related events can cause Alzheimer’s disease,” she said. “My work is not in treating existing illness but in preventing it.”

READ MORE ABOUT GEMMA

Roberto Uribe-Rendon

Photo of Dr. Roberto Uribe-Rendon

Roberto Uribe-Rendon

HOW ELECTRON BEAMS IMPROVE MATERIALS

Just the word “radiation” is enough to conjure images of cancer patients or victims of plutonium exposure. 

For Kent State Physics Professor Roberto Uribe-Rendon, though, radiation is a way to improve our lives by improving the materials we use every day. 

Uribe-Rendon’s work focuses on using electron beams of high energy to achieve physical and chemical changes in different types of materials like polymers, composites and even biological materials.

READ MORE ABOUT ROBERTO

Ya-Fen Wang

KENT STATE COLLEGE OF NURSING PROFESSOR RESEARCHES STRESS AND OBESITY IN CHILDREN

Ya-Fen Wang, Ph.D., M.S.N., RN, assistant professor in Kent State University’s College of Nursing, is working on a one-year project to study if children’s prolonged exposure to stressful situations such as school, family or environment encourages poor eating behaviors, which can lead to childhood obesity. Wang’s project, titled “Resourcefulness, Stress and Overeating in Children,” also looks at whether those behaviors can be exchanged for healthier options through self-coping skills, also known as resourcefulness.

She received a $10,000 grant from the Lake Health Foundation in Northeast Ohio to support her work. The grant compensated the data collectors and provided incentives for student participation.

READ MORE ABOUT YA-FEN

Lauren Kinsman-Costello

ROAD CONSTRUCTION LEADS TO WETLANDS RESEARCH ON CAMPUS

The Summit Street construction project may be an inconvenience to drivers, but it will soon give a facelift to one of Kent State’s main entrances and make it a safer road to travel.

For some Kent State researchers, though, it’s an opportunity to make the campus more ecologically friendly and establish trends in biology, chemistry, geology and ecology.

Biology professor Lauren Kinsman-Costello is leading a team of student researchers in the study of a wetland area along Summit Street near Campus Center Drive.

READ MORE ABOUT LAUREN

Sanjaya Abeysirigunawardena

New Kent State research faculty Dr. Sanjaya Abeysirigunawardena

BUILDING BETTER ANTIBIOTICS

In the fight against bacterial infections, antibiotics are on the front lines, and a new Kent State University professor is working on research that could one day make them better soldiers.

"There is a big issue of antibiotic resistance," said chemistry professor Sanjaya Abeysirigunawardena. "Several antibiotic-resistant (tuberculosis) strains have been found in Bangladesh, and that is a major concern in the health industry these days. We need to find new antibiotics and novel targets to overcome this issue."

To begin this new attack on bacterial pathogens, Abeysirigunawardena, who joined Kent State faculty in August 2015, has been studying RNA-protein interactions in the formation of ribosomes.

READ MORE ABOUT SANJAYA

Yaorong Zheng

MAKING CHEMOTHERAPY A BETTER TREATMENT

As it stands, one in three men and one in four women will battle cancer in their lives.

Dr. Yaorong Zheng came to the Kent campus in August 2015, and has turned a lab in Williams Hall into a place where answers — and hope — may soon be developed for cancer patients the world over.

READ MORE ABOUT YAORONG

Researchers at Kent State work on challenges we face as a society – in health care, energy and sustainability. Their cultural and artistic endeavors enrich our lives and their scholarship adds to the body of knowledge that informs and intrigues us. Their examples of research and scholarship foster a culture of student research.

Here are some of the researchers profiled in recent news and feature stories.

Amy Sato
Examining obesity in low-income teens
Low-income teenagers face a high risk of becoming obese. And they are vulnerable to stress-induced eating, living in neighborhoods where it may be unsafe to go outside or in families where food and money are scarce.

John West
A researcher goes to market
“If you want to learn the ropes of doing everything, come to a start-up.”

Colleen Novak
What is the brain’s role in obesity?
“About one third of adults in the U.S. are obese and another one third are overweight. I’m interested in that other one third…”

Joseph Ortiz
Clearing the waters of Lake Erie
His research will help provide a baseline for assessing the effectiveness of measures to slow the growth of toxic algae blooms.

Oleg Lavrentovich
Liquid crystals captivate and compel
“Once you observe them under a microscope, you’re addicted.”

Richard Ferdig
Connecting citizen scientists
“We’re really interested in advancing informal science learning…”

Margaret Calkins
Designing for comfort and health
“There is a lot of work still to be done in senior living communities.”

Antál Jakli
Discovering deep blue in a liquid crystal
This opens “a rich world of learning more about structure color throughout nature.”

James Tyner
Geographer puts violence in its place
Halfway around the world in Cambodia, he relates the violence of the killing fields to its landscape.

Heather Caldwell
How a hormone affects aggression
“If we understand the basics, it may provide insights into other species, including humans.”

Brian Peters
Architecture’s digital future
His laboratory is one of the “gardens of digital design” on the Kent State campus

Kristy Welshhans
Will Down syndrome one day be treated in utero?
“If we can figure out what’s happening in utero, maybe we can develop strategies to treat the disorder.”

 

Learn more: Visit Scholars of the Month.