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Research Enhancement Grants Awarded to Six Island University Faculty Members

May 10, 2016

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas –Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Division of Research, Commercialization and Outreach awarded Research Enhancement Grants to six faculty members for studies that examine fish, fuel and fatty foods.

Each scholar will receive $5,000 to help move their research forward or in new directions.

Dr. Joseph Felix, Assistant Professor of Physical and Environmental Sciences, earned funding for his research titled, “Investigating how ethanol fuel emissions are affecting ozone concentrations in a coastal urban air shed,” focuses on how this major renewable fuel source can have an effect on air quality from the ethanol vehicle emissions that can be detrimental to human health. His objective is to work with different passive samplers to investigate the relationship between ethanol emissions and ozone concentrations, another side in the ongoing national discussion of the pros and cons of increasing ethanol fuel production.   

Dr. Byung Cheol “Bruce” Lee, Assistant Professor of Life Sciences, earned funds for his research that will build a prototype of an image-capturing chamber and a data management hub of an indoor plant phenotyping system to analyze plant physiological measurements and breeding factors in different environments. This innovative system will support and accelerate breeding of favorable traits in plants and increase the number of plants grown. 

Dr. Miguel Moreno, Assistant Professor of Psychology, earned funds for his research titled, “Conscious and non-conscious associations impacting food choices.” He and his students will be investigating ways to measure the non-conscious feelings we have toward food and the best way to change these feelings to promote healthier food choices, like picking a salad when you crave cookies. Eating healthier foods, such as fresh greens, fruits and veggies, can help decrease the pollution and energy expenditure of the agriculture industry here in Texas.

Dr. Carmen Tejeda- Delgado, Associate Professor, and Dr. Kimberly Reinhardt, Assistant Professor, both in the College of Education and Human Development, worked together and earned funds for their study titled, “Investigating a research based co-teaching model to study the cultural differences in teaching and learning through the use of a standard methodology with diverse populations.” They hope to increase teacher preparation, especially those in STEM, though the co-teaching model to help student learning by addressing the teaching and learning aspects in culturally diverse schools.

Dr. Benjamin Walther, Assistant Professor of Life Sciences, earned funding for his study, “Investigating resiliency in a key fish species exposed to anthropogenic hypoxia inhabiting the northern Gulf of Mexico.” This study will be used to determine whether feeding behaviors of coastal fishes, specifically the Atlantic croaker, within the “Dead Zone” of the northern Gulf of Mexico are affected by extremely low dissolved oxygen in the ocean. If coastal food webs are affected by low oxygen, this could lead to a negative performance of important Gulf fisheries that support communities economically connected to seafood harvests in the United States.

The Research Enhancement Program, founded by the Texas legislature in 1987, is funded by appropriations according to a formula developed by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Projects are chosen based on scholarly merit and feasibility. The spring 2016 call for proposals requested an emphasis on the nexus of food, energy, and water—a convergence of issues that has become the focus of research around the nation and a source of research funds at federal and regional levels.