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University of Iowa News Release

July 16, 2003

UI Obermann Center Awards $50,000 In Collaborative Research Grants

Six University of Iowa professors are spending a month this summer at the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies collaborating on four interdisciplinary research projects. The Obermann Center has awarded Interdisciplinary Research Grants totaling more than $50,000 to support these projects.

The interdisciplinary research program is supported by the Office of the Vice-President for Research, the Graduate College and the C. Esco and Avalon L. Obermann Fund.

This year's projects and researchers include:

"Using Machine Learning Algorithms to Predict Cognitive Dysfunction from Brain Damage," by Coleman O. Martin (left, in photo), clinical associate in neurology in the UI Carver College of Medicine, and Mark Light (right, in photo), assistant professor of linguistics in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The goal of the project is to discover the neural basis of higher cognitive functions by creating brain maps that associate neuropsychological deficits with brain lesions. Martin and Light will use the UI neurology department's database of more than 500 patients, each with a detailed assessment of areas of brain damage and higher cognitive functioning. They will apply machine learning techniques to find patterns within the database, with the goal of discovering new associations between brain damage and cognitive dysfunction.

"Assimilation and Political Incorporation: An Examination of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cuban Americans," by Wayne Santoro (left, in photo), assistant professor of sociology, and Gary Segura (right, in photo), associate professor of political science, both in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This project is a detailed examination of the active political participation -- including voting and protest involvement participation -- of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans, the three largest Latino national-origin groups in the U.S. The professors will offer a model that relates political incorporation to multiple aspects of assimilation.

"Imaging and Community: Small Town Service in the Twenty-first Century" by Margaret Stratton (right, in photo), professor of art and art history in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Rebecca Cummins (left, in photo), assistant professor of art at the University of Washington. The project examines small town communities of Iowa, in which much of the service activity is performed by dedicated volunteers. Stratton and Cummins will meet with these volunteers, including firefighters, emergency medical responders, parent associations, hot-line workers and local law enforcement officers, to explore how the threat of biological terrorism, combined with problems such as AIDS, teen depression/suicide, and increased amphetamine and marijuana use has affected their lives and work. The professors will compile the material into a video program for television broadcast, gallery exhibits and an interactive website.

"A Pilot Study and the Development of a Grant Application for Tinnitus Treatment," by Richard Tyler (left, in photo), professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery in the UI Carver College of Medicine, and Bill Noble (right, in photo), professor of psychology at the University of New England, Australia. Tyler and Noble will combine their respective backgrounds in a joint effort to develop an innovative treatment for tinnitus, a ringing in the ears that affects about 17 percent of the population and has no cure. The new treatment will involve the use of hearing aids and a structured program of psychotherapy.

Jay Semel, director of the Obermann Center, said the Obermann Interdisciplinary Research Grants, with their distinctive force on collaborative work, were the first of their kind in the nation. Since the program's establishment more than a decade ago, UI projects funded by these grants have resulted in numerous jointly-authored articles and books, as well as federal and foundation grants totaling more than $3 million.

For 25 years the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies has encouraged scholarly interaction to explore broad frontiers of knowledge and investigate complex ideas and problems. Obermann Scholars are stimulated by informal exchange of ideas with scholars from other disciplines and by uninterrupted blocks of time in which to pursue their research. Obermann Scholars have published numerous scholarly books and articles and have won millions of dollars in competitive external research funding for projects started at the center. For more information about the Obermann Center or the Interdisciplinary Research Grants, contact Semel at 319-335-4034 or jay-semel@uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu. Program: Jay Semel, 319-335-4034, jay-semel@uiowa.edu