R&D: UNT Shines Light on Quasars; UTA Profs Get $460K Grant for Research to Lower Dementia Caregivers’ Stress

Also, you'll learn about how two schools are splitting a National Cancer Institute grant to study cancer health disparity and how TWU plans to show off its research. Here are some of the research projects underway in North Texas that could make lives better.

Whats new, next, and reimagined in Dallas-Fort Worth ResearchEvery week, we pore through press releases and websites doing a little research of our own. We’re looking for scientists, professors, engineers, entrepreneurs—anybody, really—engaging in research and development across North Texas.

There’s plenty of good work being done. If you want to put R&D under your microscope, sign up for our e-newsletter.

Researcher’s work could illuminate facts about distant quasars

They’re massive and very remote celestial objects, emitting extremely large amounts of energy usually looking like stars in a telescope. 

Ron Diiulio, left, Ohad Shemmer, center, and Preston Starr, right, with the Gemini-North telescope. [Photo Courtesy UNT]

I’m talking about quasars, and an associate professor of physics at the University of North Texas College of Science is using an $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to observe infrared light from more than 400 faraway quasars.

Scientist Ohad Shemmer is doing his research in collaboration with the University of Wyoming.

“At sufficiently large distances, the details of quasars are no longer detectable in the visible spectrum,” Shemmer said. “Using the Gemini-North telescope in Hawaii with its infrared sensors, we will be able to observe these details in order to better estimate the masses of the quasar’s black holes, their fueling rates, and their distances from earth.”

UNT said in a release that quasars are formed when matter is funneled into supermassive black holes, generally ones found at the centers of galaxies. It’s believed that the quasars help shape the growth of galaxies around them.

Shemmer — the principal investigator of the study — said that he and his team will conduct roughly 350 hours of telescopic observations to create a one-of-a-kind data set for scientists to study.

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Assistant professors Noelle Fields and Ling Xu are studying ways to lower the stress of caring for Alzheimers patients. [Photo Courtesy UT Arlington]

Grant furthers research into reducing dementia caregivers’ stress

Families who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease experience stress, and two social work professors at the University of Texas at Arlington are using a $459,994 grant from the National Institutes of Health to find ways to reduce those pressures.

Assistant professors Noelle Fields and Ling Xu were awarded the grant based on their research titled,” The Senior Companion Program Plus (SCP Plus): A Psychoeducational Intervention for African American Dementia Caregivers.”

Fields said the grant could even have future benefits.

“This grant means that Ling and I are taking the next step in our research careers by conducting meaningful community-based research that is funded externally, in hopes of leading to future grants related to family care-giving and aging,” Fields said in a statement. “The School of Social Work also benefits from this grant because we are supporting numerous students and strengthening the research environment in the School and University as a whole.”

The pair’s research focuses on reducing a caregiver’s burden and stress, increase the well-being of the caregiver, and grow caregivers’ knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth and Langston University in Oklahoma are splitting a grant to study health disparities in minority communities. [Photo Courtesy UNTHSC]

UNTHSC, Langston University share $2.2M grant to study health disparities

The University of North Texas Health Science and Langston University in Oklahoma are splitting a $2.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute on a collaboration that seeks to lower cancer health disparities and prepare minority scholars to do innovative medical research.

“Through this partnership, we will share increased knowledge and awareness of the cancer needs in underserved communities and contribute to the fight against cancer and cancer disparities.”
Jamboor Vishwanatha

The grant will be paid over four years, UNTHSC said in a release. The school said there are four other similarly funded projects active nationwide, and those involve M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Duke University, Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Baylor College of Medicine.

Researchers will be working with the Senior Companion Program, a part of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“Through this partnership, we will share increased knowledge and awareness of the cancer needs in under-served communities and contribute to the fight against cancer and cancer disparities,” Jamboor Vishwanatha, Ph.D., project director for the Texas Center for Health Disparities, said. The release noted that health disparities  — preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are prevalent in socially disadvantaged populations — are high in Texas and Oklahoma.

Public invited to view TWU research projects at mall event

You may want to put this event on your calendar. Texas Woman’s University faculty and students will present their current research projects to the public on Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Denton’s Golden Triangle Mall’s food court.

Research posters from the TWU Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Family Sciences, Informatics, Mathematics and Computer Science, Music, Psychology and Philosophy, and Teacher Education will all be on display, TWU said in a release. And, faculty, staff, and students will be present to discuss their research and answer questions. More information is available at the Pioneer Research at the Mall website.

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