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UHV awards more than $20K to professors for research projects

May 17, 2014 at 12:17 a.m.

Beverly Tomek, assistant professor of history, "Slavery and Abolition in Pennsylvania"

A quartet of University of Houston-Victoria faculty members will receive 2014-15 Internal Research grant awards to further their research in biology, education, history and mathematics.

This is the third year UHV has awarded grants to selected faculty members. Recipients will receive between $4,320 and $6,000, depending on project budgets. The total amount awarded is $21,172.

The recipients and titles of their research projects are:

Beverly Tomek, assistant professor of history, "Slavery and Abolition in Pennsylvania"

Ricardo Teixeira, assistant professor of mathematics, "Ranking of Complex Information"

Richard Gunasekera, director of biology graduate programs and professor of biology and biochemistry, "Diagnosis of Secondary Samples from Kashin-Beck Disease and Control Subjects from Tibet as Preliminary Evidence for NIH Grant Proposals and Research"

Mary Lasater, assistant professor of education, "Utilizing Online Fluency-Building Games to Enhance Exam Preparation for Teacher Education Students"

UHV began the internal grants in 2011 to contribute to faculty members' ongoing professional development and the advancement of overall knowledge in their professional fields. The awards are for tenured and tenure-track faculty members, and support pilot projects that can lead to developing and submitting proposals to external agencies for significant grant funding.

Tomek's project examines Pennsylvania antislavery from its beginning in 1688 to the years after the U.S. Civil War. It will show that Pennsylvania remained central to the abolition movement and showcase the cooperation between black and white abolitionists.

Tomek plans to use the grant money to purchase a microfilm reader to use with her home computer. She also will travel to Philadelphia.

Tomek plans to apply for a fellowship from the Library Company of Philadelphia Mellon Scholar Program in African-American History next summer. She also is writing two books about the subject.

Teixeira also was awarded a $10,000 summer research grant for 2014. He will spend part of the summer developing a mathematical prediction tool for NBA and NFL outcomes. During the 2014-2015 school year, he will extend the research to predict consumer decisions using the same mathematical tool.

Teixeira said a portion of the grant will be used to hire a graduate student to perform computer simulation research. He also will spend the money on books, supplies and travel. His collaborator on the project works at Trinity University in San Antonio.

In summer 2007, Gunasekera and UHV student Jeff Cokenour embarked on a research and humanitarian project in Tibet, China, to examine the cause and a therapy for Kashin-Beck disease. The disease is a degenerative form of osteoarthritis involving both growth and joint cartilage that often affects children and teenagers, usually between ages 5 and 15.

Gunasekera and his students resumed the research last year to see if genetic elements and environmental factors trigger the genesis of the disease. In a pilot study using 11 samples, they did sequence analysis of DNA from swabs collected in the field.

Now, Gunasekera wants to expand the study by completing the analysis of 189 DNA samples to learn what the effect this DNA mutation has on Kashin-Beck disease patients.

Lasater's project is about using gaming to build the vocabulary of education students practicing to take their teacher certification, specifically the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities exam.

Lasater will work with Alireza Tavakkoli, director of the UHV digital gaming and simulation program. The funding will be used to hire UHV gaming students to work on the study.

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