MMC Faculty Awarded Grant from Rose M. Badgeley Residuary Charitable Trust

September 08, 2017

Seven faculty members in the Division of the Sciences received a $20,900 grant from the Rose M. Badgeley Residuary Charitable Trust to support six faculty-student research projects in the 2017-18 academic year. The research projects range from investigation of marine organochlorine and cellular processes to human behavior, disabilities, and communication disorders. The faculty and their projects include:

Ann Aguanno, Ph.D., Professor of Biology

Project Title: The role of cyclin dependent kinase 5 (CDK5) in the development of mammalian tissues: A continuing project in an undergraduate biology research training program

Project Overview: This research project involves the cultivation, classification and manipulation of multiple animal cells. These cells are used in various ways to determine the role that protein, CDK5, plays in the nervous system and in pancreas development. Her team aims to identify whether CDK5 is a possible link between two major diseases: Type II Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Alessandra Leri, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry

Project Title: Biological Sources of Marine Organochlorine

Project Overview: Using fluorescence mapping and X-ray analysis of oceanic phytoplankton and sediment samples, experiments will investigate the origin of marine organochlorine (chlorine bonded to carbon) and its relationship with biologically important elements, including calcium and silicon. The goal is to link organochlorine production with calcareous and/or siliceous marine microorganisms to clarify the biogeochemical transformations of marine chlorine and its role in the preservation of marine organic carbon, a topic central to climate change.

Benedetta Sampoli Benitez, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences

Project Title: Molecular dynamics studies of Y-family DNA polymerases in trans-lesion synthesis

Project Overview: This project focuses on our DNA, which is constantly under attack by both chemicals which can damage it. If not repaired, these DNA adducts can lead to mutations to the DNA, or even worse, they can halt replication, eventually leading to aging and/or cancer.

Nava Silton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology

Project Title: Realabilities, A Transmedia Approach Towards Fostering Empathy, Kindness and Understanding of Typical Middle and High School Students Towards Students with Special Needs & Promoting a Stop Bullying Platform in the Schools

Project Overview: Dr. Silton is the creator of the Realabilities Educational Comic Book Series Curriculum and The Addy & Uno, First Family Musical about Bullying and Disability, , which have shown significant and noteworthy success in enhancing typical elementary school children’s understanding and attitudes towards children with special needs. Piggybacking off these successes, the research intervention seeks to utilize a 3-D virtual reality game to foster the empathy of typical children towards their peers with disabilities.

Linda Solomon, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Department of Psychology and Sarah Weinberger-Litman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology

Project Title: Variables Affecting Statistics and Research Methods Anxiety and Study Behaviors

Project Overview: Attitudes toward statistics and research methods may be related to attitudes toward intelligence and learning (set at birth or developed throughout the lifespan) in a broader sense. Analyses in this  study may shed light on whether general attitudes regarding intelligence predict specific attitudes in a specific area, such as statistics and research methods, and whether those attitudes predict the amount of time and effort devoted to mastering academic material.

Margaret T. Kamowski-Shakibai, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Project Title: Integration of yoga practice with speech and language intervention for children and adults with communication disorders

Project Overview: The pilot project aims to determine the benefits and possibility of incorporating yoga practices and language-based home activities into treatment plans of children and adults diagnosed with communication disorders (CD). Dr. Kamowski-Shakibai hypothesizes that those with CD will demonstrate improved performance with speech and/or language (S/L) intervention combined with yoga practice, compared to their progress made with S/L intervention only.