RESEARCH REPORT 2013 UW-MILWAUKEE RESEARCH REPORT 2013 2 Biotech discovery fuels UWM startup 19 Restoring America’s homegrown philosophy 4 GE Healthcare and UWM: forging the future of medical imaging 20 Revealing the healing power of light 21 Art, science, dance merge in Milwaukee 22 Cracking the ice code 26 Hearing the Internet 27 Teen brains on pot 28 ‘Bolsa família’ boosts families in Brazil 29 Reading Spanish, mastering English 30 Stories told with buildings 31 Are online clinics the future of medicine? 32 UWM’s innovation engine 6 JCI partnership propels battery research 7 TABLE Rapid research spots new freshwater invaders OF CONTENTS 24 A sleep pod to keep babies safe 8 Nurturing family caregivers 10 When speech is not a ‘voice’ 12 A ‘super’ material substitute 15 A new prescription for drug studies 16 Stoking UWM students’ entrepreneurial fire On the cover: Microbiologist Ching-Hong Yang is taking his lab research to the marketplace, launching a startup company around his method of blocking bacterial infections – without antibiotics. Read more on page 2. Background photo: A crew member loads camp and research gear into a helicopter at Alligator Peak, Antarctica, where geologist John Isbell has visited 15 times to track glaciers from 250 million years ago. Read more on page 22. THE POWER OF RESEARCH RELATIONSHIPS For many years, I have been a firm believer in the great power of close research relationships between universities and the institutions in the communities they serve. This belief is widely embraced by faculty and staff throughout the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It extends to those with whom we work regardless of whether they are in the not-for-profit or for-profit sectors. At UWM, we are creating dynamic research relationships throughout the region in areas ranging from health care and engineering to the arts and education. We believe such collaborations are an integral part of the future of higher education because these interactions will generate new and better processes, technologies and products. On the following pages are reports about the latest results of our approach to blend companies’ needs with our university’s academic and research objectives. By pairing strengths and focusing on service, knowledge and innovation, we are unifying this region’s most significant resources. The considerable accomplishments of individuals and organizations working together show that bold actions can lead to excellent results. Best, Michael R. Lovell Chancellor AN ANTIBIOTIC ALTERNATIVE Today, curing an infection means using antibiotics that kill the offending pathogen. Ching-Hong Yang has a better idea. A chemical compound he and a partner developed disarms pathogens so that they can’t invade healthy cells in the first place. With recent investment backing, the pair are closer to bringing their discovery to market. Ching-Hong Yang (left), associate professor of biological sciences, and Yan Li, visiting professor from China Agricultural University in Beijing BIOTECH DISCOVERY FUELS UWM STARTUP A new strategy for treating infection in both humans and plants is the basis for the latest startup company – and the second one this year – to launch from research conducted at UWM. With backing from an investor, UWM biologist Ching-Hong Yang and collaborator Xin Chen, a chemistry professor at Changzhou University in China, have formed T3 Bioscience LLC, licensing the commercial use of their idea from the UWM Research Foundation. Their product is a potent antibacterial agent with a crucial advantage over current antibiotics. Rather than killing the bacteria, the compound disables their genetic ability to cause infection, eliminating the threat of antibiotic resistance in the process. The investor is associated with a large company in Hong Kong and now owns a share of the new company. The support will allow Yang and Chen to further hone their product and create derivatives as they move toward human trials. Results have shown the compounds to be effective against two different kinds of pathogens, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the cause of many aggressive and sometimes fatal hospital infections. The product was found equally effective against two pathogens that attack crops. The scientists currently are adjusting the level of potency without increasing toxicity, and conducting further tests for side effects. In the compound for plants, they are developing a time-release action. can work out the details,” says Yang. “For a lot of innovative ideas, companies prefer to take them at a later stage of development. They will not invest in anything that they feel is risky.” Go inside Ching-Hong Yang’s lab as he continues to test his antibiotic alternative at researchreport.uwm.edu. RESEARCH INCLUDES EDUCATION Ching-Hong Yang works with current doctoral student Devanshi Khokhani (small photo, right) and former student Yan Li (large photo, left) – now a visiting professor from China Agricultural University in Beijing – to test a new antibacterial agent against multiple pathogens by recording changes in virulence gene expression of the bacteria. UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 3 “The university can take the lead in identifying biotech ideas with commercial value, because in the lab researchers SAVING LIVES, SECURING JOBS A joint effort between UWM and GE Healthcare is boosting the area economy while improving diagnostic imaging that can help physicians save lives. American workers with a skill set in the growing field of computational medical imaging are in urgent demand. With backing from GE Healthcare, UWM is offering training that can transform Milwaukee into a national base of expertise in medical imaging engineering. Bill Berezowitz (left), UWM engineering alumnus and GE Healthcare vice president of imaging subsystems, and UWM Chancellor Michael R. Lovell GE HEALTHCARE AND UWM: FORGING THE FUTURE OF MEDICAL IMAGING A unique collaboration aims to turbocharge what is already a strong state industry cluster. GE Healthcare is investing more than $3 million with UWM to support a first-of-its-kind talent pipeline for Wisconsin-based medical imaging software developers and researchers. Through the five-year collaboration, UWM will launch the GE Healthcare Center for Advanced Computational Imaging and also provide continuing-education opportunities for GE Healthcare technologists, driving a new age of health care technology globally. Computational imaging is an emerging software capability that enables images of organs to be reconstructed without additional scans. Used in various medical exams – for instance, magnetic resonance and computed tomography – computational imaging allows physicians to complete scans of patients quickly and with greater detail. “UWM will expand existing research and academic strengths with GE Healthcare – a world-class partner with offices that are literally right down the street from our new Innovation Campus in Wauwatosa,” says UWM Chancellor Michael R. Lovell. Expertise in medical applications for computational imaging remains largely based in Silicon Valley. This unique collaboration between UWM and GE Healthcare will help expand the skilled workforce in Wisconsin, where more Healthcare, one of the state’s largest employers and one that is largely responsible for Wisconsin’s No. 3 ranking among states with high numbers of workers in the field of medical imaging. CLUSTER POWER UWM and GE Healthcare have forged a collaboration that will develop Wisconsin’s high-tech workforce in the area of medical imaging software. It will also help advance the quality of medical imaging to benefit patients. The computed tomography image of the blood vessels of the head is from a GE Healthcare Discovery CT750 HD. Continued on page 6 UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 5 than 85 percent of UWM graduates have historically remained following graduation. That’s good news for GE GE HEALTHCARE From page 5 “We want to draw from a strong talent pool of local people,” says Bill Berezowitz, a UWM engineering alumnus and GE Healthcare vice president of imaging subsystems. A unit of General Electric Company, GE Healthcare employs around 6,500 people in Wisconsin, of whom 2,800 are engineers. UWM’s first academic offering, in fall 2013, will be a graduate-level computational imaging certificate, JCI PARTNERSHIP PROPELS BATTERY RESEARCH alongside professional development curricula for GE Healthcare employees, according to Ethan Munson, chair of the Department of Computer Science and director of the new center. UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 6 W hen Johnson Controls built a state-of-the-art dry lab to enable groundbreaking discoveries in the area of energy-storage devices and batteries, it decided to put the facility where UWM students and faculty could readily contribute – right in the College of Engineering & Applied Science (CEAS). In addition to education, the center will house research The Energy Advancement Center, which opened in fall 2012, is unique in the United States. “The dry lab capability located right here on campus is one that really doesn’t exist in university environments,” says CEAS Dean Brett Peters. “Johnson Controls provides a grounding for the applied research that our faculty are doing.” clinicians and better care for patients,” says Tom The cutting-edge lab at UWM, along with support for graduate research programs and a shared endowed professorship with UW-Madison, represent an unprecedented partnership between the world’s leading automotive battery supplier and the UW System’s two research institutions. It will position Wisconsin as a global leader in energy storage. “This partnership also is going to transform our campus and transform Milwaukee,” says Chancellor Michael R. Lovell. Tour the Energy Advancement Center at researchreport.uwm.edu. initiatives and collaborative projects related to image and signal processing for medical technology that may lead to earlier diagnosis of disease. “The future of medical imaging promises more advanced tools for Gentile, president and CEO of GE Healthcare’s Healthcare Systems, based in Wisconsin. “We see a great opportunity for UWM to play a significant role in helping us provide advanced diagnostic tools that can help researchers discover lifesaving solutions.” Munson notes that the work of the center will also reduce health care costs – a key business concern nationally. “The aim of this research is to generate software that can ultimately bring down the cost of producing these medical imaging devices, while also improving the quality of pictures the equipment can produce,” he says. NO TIME TO WASTE The most advanced molecular tools in North America are being used at UWM to reveal information about lake and river contamination in a fraction of the time it used to take – and with greater accuracy. Rebecca Klaper, Shaw Associate Professor of Freshwater Sciences RAPID RESEARCH SPOTS NEW FRESHWATER INVADERS The center will help organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency determine which emerging chemicals need immediate controls, says toxicologist Rebecca Klaper, the center director. Only now are researchers beginning to discover, for example, how nanoparticles – atomic-scale ingredients in products ranging from sunscreen to clothing – affect organisms, says Klaper. “It will revolutionize the study of freshwater,” says SFS Dean David Garman. “This technology is currently used in medical applications, but never before to inform ecological and environmental questions.” Funded through multiple sources, including the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the center will provide vital information for managing this essential resource as concerns about freshwater quality grow worldwide. Join Rebecca Klaper on a Great Lakes research vessel at researchreport.uwm.edu. UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 7 O f all the substances entering lakes and rivers from the urban landscape, which ones are harmful to aquatic life – and to people? For thousands of chemicals, scientists just don’t know. But UWM’s National Center for Great Lakes Genomics is finding the answers. New technology at the center, part of UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences (SFS), will enable researchers to track an organism’s genes as it reacts to its environment and assess whether its health is at risk. This DNA analysis can be done with unprecedented speed. NURTURING FAMILY CAREGIVERS A “ ssuming care for a loved one is challenging,” says UWM gerontologist Rhonda Montgomery. Often, the emotional strain of caregiving is harder than the physical tasks. “As more care is required, roles and relationships change in ways that are very stressful.” Many caregivers don’t recognize the signs of burnout, deepening depression or the impact of caregiving on their own health. TCARE is a system designed by Montgomery and her UWM team that provides care managers – specialists assisting family caregivers – with a step-by-step tool to tailor care plans. For example, a care manager and a caregiver husband meet face to face and, through TCARE’s Web-based protocol, they assess that caregiver’s needs and strengths. The resulting “map” might pinpoint the husband’s need for help in acquiring medical equipment, obtaining counseling or finding respite care. The care manager then identifies local resources that could provide him with specific assistance. TCARE Navigator LLC licensed TCARE through the UWM Research Foundation as one of UWM’s recent startups. “The program has been used by state agencies and organizations for several years,” says Montgomery. “This new company is promoting TCARE to private insurers, accountable-care organizations, self-insured employers and U.S. government agencies.” UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 8 “TCARE is expected to offer significant savings associated with delaying placement of the patient in institutionalized care, as well as avoiding future health care costs for the caregiver,” says Norrie Daroga, chief executive officer of TCARE Navigator. “The system will deliver high value to our clients by easing the burdens experienced by caregivers, decreasing absenteeism in the workplace and ultimately lowering health care costs for all payers.” Initially created for use with those caring for relatives with dementia, TCARE has been adapted for families of injured soldiers and the developmentally disabled, and its benefits have been well documented. Care managers overseeing caregiver clients reported feeling better about the services they provided, more professional and more hopeful. Caregivers reported increased positive feelings about caregiving, lower levels of stress and depression, and a diminished likelihood of moving the cared-for person out of the home. Ultimately, those receiving care may benefit the most. “Our families are the best hope for sustained, quality and loving care,” says Montgomery. Meet a couple using TCARE and hear firsthand how it changed their lives at researchreport.uwm.edu. KEEPING FAMILIES TOGETHER The TCARE system has been developed and validated throughout the U.S. for the past 25 years. Now, through the startup company TCARE Navigator, this care management process will be available to help even more family caregivers receive the support they need. That assistance can help keep family members needing care in their homes. COMPASSION = COST SAVINGS TCARE Navigator LLC is commercializing an innovative caregiver support system developed at UWM. TCARE (Tailored Caregiver Assessment and Referral) helps caregivers receive the support they need to help their aging and/or disabled family members. Businesses and agencies are drawn to TCARE by the prospect of impressive health care savings. Rhonda Montgomery, Helen Bader Endowed Chair of Applied Gerontology in the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare and professor in the Department of Sociology, College of Letters & Science WHEN SPEECH IS NOT A ‘VOICE’ I f you want 21st-century solutions to 21st-century challenges, you need to bring together researchers from disciplines that haven’t traditionally worked together. That’s the thinking behind the Transdisciplinary Challenge Awards funded through UWM’s Center for 21st Century Studies. This year’s award is supporting an engineer, a speech-language pathologist, an artist-scholar and a linguist who are collaborating to explore the social and technological impacts of using synthetic voices. People with communication disabilities use these voices to communicate through augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technologies. While voices in early devices sounded robotic, newer voices are more natural-sounding. However, AAC technologies still have challenges, like a limited number of voices to choose from, says Shelley Lund, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders. Synthetic voices are now easier to understand, but other issues remain – such as how to convey emotion and personality, and whether natural-sounding voices are even preferable. “Emotion is the most challenging aspect of the voice to convey through synthesis,” says Heather Warren-Crow, an assistant professor of art theory and practice. “We want to look at the issues people using AAC technologies face – how the use of specific available voices affects their identities and their interaction with others,” adds Patricia Mayes, a linguist in the English Department. UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 10 The researchers will interview AAC users about their perceptions and preferences, and also record their interaction with others to determine how to improve synthesized speech. They also will refine and perhaps expand the scope of a tablet application they are developing under the leadership of team member Yi Hu, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science. “We want to see if we can convert what we learn into practical applications for devices like smartphones,” he says. “Starting from the perspective of the humanities and arts, our goal is to improve the devices created by engineers and designers,” says Mayes. Hear synthetic voice examples at researchreport.uwm.edu. SYNTHETIC VOICES Augmentative and alternative communication technologies were first developed 40 years ago and are now available on tablet computers such as iPads. They allow users with communication disabilities to type what they want to say into a device that converts their messages to spoken words. THE IMPACT OF SYNTHETIC SPEECH What does it mean when the voice that expresses your thoughts isn’t your own? A transdisciplinary team of UWM researchers is looking at how synthetic voices impact those who use them and those they communicate with. Front to back: Heather Warren-Crow, assistant professor of art theory and practice; Yi Hu, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science; Shelley Lund, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders; and Patricia Mayes, associate professor of English A ‘SUPER’ MATERIAL SUBSTITUTE T his year UWM became a front-runner in a worldwide race to find less expensive ways to replicate a revolutionary “super” material called graphene. UWM scientists and graduate students have chemically changed a close cousin of the highly touted material into an easy-to-make and cost-effective form. Graphene is a one-atom-thick layer of carbon that resembles a flat sheet of chicken wire at nanoscale. Since it conducts electricity better than any metal, it has the best potential to replace today’s silicon transistors and usher in the next generation of lightning-speed computers and tinier electronics. But currently graphene is too expensive to mass-produce, and it exists only as a conductor or an insulator, not in the valuable semiconductor state essential for electronic devices. UWM physicists are calling the new form “graphene monoxide” (GMO), and say it exhibits characteristics that could make it a viable substitute. Like silicon in the current generation of electronics, for example, GMO is a semiconductor. UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 12 The discovery began as an ordinary imaging task: Engineering Professor Junhong Chen developed a hybrid material for use in high-performance, energy-efficient and inexpensive sensors. His material consists of carbon nanotubes decorated with nanoparticles of tin oxide. Using a high-resolution transmission electron microscope, Chen and Physics Professor Marija Gajdardziska hoped to observe the hybrid material as it was sensing. The pair soon found they needed to know which molecules were attaching to the nanotube surface, which were attaching to the tin oxide surface, and how they changed upon attachment. So they turned to Physics Professor Carol Hirschmugl, who recently pioneered a method of infrared imaging that not only offers high-definition images of samples, but also renders a chemical “signature” that identifies which atoms are interacting in a sample. Continued on page14 MANY RESEARCH HANDS Working through UWM’s Center for Surface Studies, the research team also included UWM Distinguished Professor of Physics Michael Weinert, physics research associate Marvin Schofield, postdoctoral associate Michael Nasse, engineering graduate students Haihui Pu and Shumao Cui, engineering research associate Ganhua Lu, and Rodney Ruoff of the University of Texas. BEYOND THE SILICON CHIP UWM physicists have developed a new carbon-based “super” material that may have the same commercial potential as costly graphene: the ability to transform the performance of today’s electronics. The new material, called graphene monoxide, is cheaper and easier to make than graphene. Next step: testing it on improving lithium-ion batteries. Above: Eric Mattson, doctoral student in physics and first author on the published research. Left: Physics professors Carol Hirschmugl (foreground) and Marija Gajdardziska, who is also associate dean in the UWM Graduate School. Michael Weinert (right), UWM Distinguished Professor of Physics, and engineering graduate student Haihui Pu ‘SUPER’ MATERIAL UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 14 From page 12 To give them more points of attachment to examine, the scientists unrolled the carbon nanotubes into single sheets. With these single layers of carbon and two forms of precision imaging equipment at their disposal, the researchers and their students looked for a way to make graphene from its cousin, graphene oxide (GO). GO consists of layers of graphene stacked on top of one another in an unaligned orientation, and it is the focus of much current graphene research. In one experiment, students and faculty heated the GO in a vacuum to reduce oxygen. Instead of being destroyed, however, the carbon and oxygen atoms in the layers of GO became aligned, transforming themselves into an “ordered,” semiconducting carbon oxide – GMO. It was not the result they expected. “We thought the oxygen would go away and leave multilayered graphene, so the observation of something other than that was a surprise,” says Eric Mattson, a doctoral student of Hirschmugl’s, who is the first author on the research paper published in the journal ACS Nano. Because GMO is formed in single sheets, Gajdardziska says the material could have applications in products such as fuel cells or industrial processes that involve surface catalysis, an accelerated chemical reaction occurring at the surface of materials. She, Hirschmugl and Chen also are exploring its use in making lithium-ion batteries more efficient. A NEW PRESCRIPTION FOR DRUG STUDIES W hat can avatars tell medical researchers about the health of real people? The same information, it turns out, that testing large human populations would, says UWM researcher Peter Tonellato. A professor of public health, Tonellato uses avatars, mathematical models and simulations to develop reliable medical guidance at a fraction of the cost of a large-scale human study. Currently he is testing optimal dosage levels of the common blood-clot-preventing drug warfarin, using a representative population of virtual patients created from real-life health records. Tonellato and his colleagues in UWM’s Laboratory for Public Health Informatics and Genomics created the avatars to find the drug’s “sweet spot,” a dosage that prevents clots while minimizing the risk of side effects. The work is being done in conjunction with Aurora Health Care’s Patient-Centered Research division. “This type of research teases out information about the intertwined impact of genetics and environment,” says Tonellato. For example, genetic research has shown that African Americans generally metabolize warfarin more quickly than other ethnic groups. Asian Americans generally metabolize it more slowly. Not every individual in those groups metabolizes the drug the same way, so it’s still important to consider individualized genetic testing in certain situations, says Tonellato. But improved modeling can help identify the likely value of the genetic test on improved health care outcomes and, as a result, reduce the need for this comparatively expensive option. Public health decisions must include not only science, but also cost, policy and health care outcomes, says Tonellato. With his research, Tonellato aims to provide guidance that takes all of these factors into account. “We can then have a discussion about not only what is scientifically proven and clinically validated, but also what is feasible and practical for the community to use effectively.” Peter Tonellato, professor of public health START ME UP! Enterprising students at UWM are getting a boost from a new program that encourages them not only to learn, but to find commercial applications for their knowledge. The university is offering financial backing for students’ promising product ideas, meaning they could graduate from UWM with a degree and a company. STOKING UWM STUDENTS’ ENTREPREN W hen Jesse Depinto’s full-time job was suddenly downsized, he began to dream of starting a business of his own. Depinto, a 23-year-old engineering undergraduate who already co-owns a small company, is now pursuing another thanks to UWM’s Student Startup Challenge (SSC). The SSC is energizing the campus entrepreneurial culture, giving students with sustainable product ideas the chance to finish their degrees while they also launch their businesses. FOCUS ON THE PRODUCT Middle photo at left: Clever Blocks team member Bryan Cera guides a metal-cutter while fabricating the prototype of the product. Lower photo: Finished blocks are detached from their building board. Prototypes of all three Student Startup Challenge winners were produced by members of a product realization course taught by faculty Ilya Avdeev and Nathaniel Stern. The Clever Blocks team (from left): Joe Cera, Bryan Cera, Cat Pham, Kavi Laud, Dom Amato and Rob Zdanowski What makes the SSC distinct from most other business competitions is its focus on the product itself. Three winning teams each received $10,000 to spend a year building prototypes and participating in workshops on business plans and marketing. “This is the way it happens in the real world,” says Thomas Schuster, a partner in the Wisconsin Early Stage Fund, who served as an SSC judge. “Business plan competitions have no substance unless a sustainable business concept is driving them.” The top products in this inaugural competition were chosen based on the likelihood that each would translate into a successful company within a year. The university will not own any part of the students’ ideas or resulting intellectual property. The winners include: • Clever Blocks may look like toys, but each one contains a sensor linking it with Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. The result is a quick and easy collaborative building and modeling tool. As the blocks are used, the CAD model is automatically and simultaneously executed. The team will be exploring the product’s uses in teaching and practice. Continued on page18 UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 17 NEURIAL FIRE ENTREPRENEURIAL FIRE From page 17 • Parking Unwired is creating a wireless, deployable car-counting device that will unleash mobile parking apps from their current limited use in parking decks. The hardware has the capability to “talk” to a mobile parking app based on the number of spaces available at any geographic location. The idea sprang from a classroom discussion with leaders of Traffic & Parking Control Co., Inc. (TAPCO). Parking Unwired team (from left): Nick Wessing, Michael Schulze and Matt Helenka • 3D Creations is developing an affordable 3D scanner for use with desktop 3D printers. (A 3D printer creates an object by depositing ultrathin layers of plastic, one on top of another.) The device uses white light from a common LCD projector to produce a safe, inexpensive and accurate scan. The team will investigate medical applications, such as the creation of custom orthotics. The SSC was a combined effort of the College of Engineering & Applied Science, the Peck School of the Arts and the UWM Research Foundation (UWMRF), and this year will expand links with the Lubar School of Business. Students from any discipline can participate, along with recent alumni. “The program takes advantage of innate student creativity in order to ramp up the state’s pool of young business owners and serial entrepreneurs,” says Ilya Avdeev, engineering assistant professor and director of the SSC. “It also gives students the opportunity to apply their education immediately.” 3D Creations team (from left): Jesse Depinto and Matthew T. Juranitch UWMRF’s founding investment made sense. “Student entrepreneurship and faculty innovation go hand in hand,” says Brian Thompson, UWMRF’s president. In the last four years, the foundation has helped five faculty members establish companies. “So it’s a natural extension of the work the foundation already does to help faculty commercialize their research ideas.” For UWM students, the SSC offers a rare quick-start opportunity. “The Startup Challenge is hands-down the biggest boost for my business plans,” says Depinto of 3D Creations. “It’s really unusual to encounter this kind of investment at such an early stage.” See the Student Startup Challenge in action as products become realities at researchreport.uwm.edu. THE ADVOCATE UWM claims its own champion of Pragmatism, a uniquely American approach to philosophy that is undergoing a revival. Robert Schwartz, UWM Distinguished Professor of Philosophy RESTORING AMERICA’S HOMEGROWN PHILOSOPHY “The aim of inquiry is not the discovery of eternal truths, but the invention of tools to better meet present cognitive and physical needs,” says Schwartz. “Its goals, then, are not fixed in advance of inquiry. They evolve and change to cope with unexpected experience.” Many philosophers find this pragmatic approach unpalatable because it questions the significance of projects that search for permanent answers to what are actually evolving questions. But in his recent book, Rethinking Pragmatism, Schwartz argues that Pragmatism offers more insight into the nature of inquiry in science and ethics than current popular accounts. “It’s fine to say that science aims at truth,” Schwartz says. “In practice the most we can claim is that new theories work better than the old.” UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 19 T o philosopher Robert Schwartz, successful inquiry must be understood and judged in terms of its consequences for current problems. That is why he is a voice for Pragmatism, which was prominent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Pragmatism holds that concepts and theories are best thought of as intellectual instruments. EXPLAINING A MIRACLE CURE Scientists have known for years that certain kinds of light in certain doses can heal wounds, but they don’t understand exactly how it works. UWM scientist Chukuka S. Enwemeka is on the forefront of revealing the cellular mechanisms of phototherapy. Chukuka S. Enwemeka, dean of the College of Health Sciences and UWM Distinguished Professor of Kinesiology REVEALING THE HEALING POWER OF LIGHT A Brazilian woman had suffered for decades with a recalcitrant diabetic foot ulcer that wasn’t responding to any treatment. So her doctors, working with UWM’s Chukuka S. Enwemeka and his research team in Brazil, tried a new approach: They exposed the wound to specific doses of near-infrared light. Days later, she was pain-free, with full healing achieved within weeks. Enwemeka, an internationally known researcher in phototherapy, who also is dean of UWM’s College of Health Sciences, is leading a research effort in Brazil and at UWM that he hopes will ultimately lead to the use of near-infrared and blue light to heal wounds and clear topical infections. All types of light, including colors visible to the human eye, can be arrayed on a scale according to their wavelengths. Only a tiny portion of this scale, called the electromagnetic spectrum, is visible to us. Enwemeka and his team have shown that two kinds of light have certain beneficial properties – blue light in the visible range and invisible light in the range beyond red, called near-infrared (NIR). But Enwemeka and his colleagues have found each wavelength accomplishes the task in a very different manner. NIR light can stimulate repair of damaged tissue. Enwemeka, UWM professors Janis Eells and Jeri Lyons, and UWM alumnus Harry Whelan, a professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, have shown NIR light acts on the energy-supply centers of cells, called mitochondria, and a particular enzyme called cytochrome c oxidase, to promote cell repair. Blue light, in contrast, heals infection by killing bacteria. Enwemeka’s studies with blue light suggest that it also acts on the same mitochondrial enzyme, but the effect is toxic to bacteria. The theory is still unproven, but the therapy has achieved undeniable results in the lab with antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” such as the deadly Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Enwemeka demonstrated that one dose of irradiation killed as much as 92 percent of two pervasive strains of the MRSA bacteria. Enwemeka hopes that getting the light to penetrate more layers of bacteria will eliminate the few bacterial colonies that survive irradiation. Working with UWM physics professor Valerica Raicu, he is developing technology that can bring the treatment into widespread clinical use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is awaiting more evidence from a large-scale study before approving NIR treatment of chronic wounds and ulcers, something Enwemeka and Whelan are determined to accomplish. “To see people who have not had relief see their wounds heal and not return,” says Enwemeka, “is very touching.” ART, SCIENCE, DANCE MERGE IN MILWAUKEE M ilwaukee: a world-class destination for dance performance, dance education, dance therapy and dance research. That is the vision that inspires the Harmony Initiative, a unique partnership among UWM’s Peck School of the Arts, the Milwaukee Ballet and the Medical College of Wisconsin. The initiative addresses today’s arts funding challenges with a comprehensive business model that uses best artistic and management practices while engaging the city’s creative community to make Milwaukee an international dance capital. The Harmony Initiative received a boost in July 2012 from a $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant to the Milwaukee Ballet. The grant is part of the NEA’s Our Town program, designed to promote “creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful and sustainable places with the arts at their core,” according to an NEA statement. This was the only Our Town grant awarded in Wisconsin for 2012. ANSWERS IN ROCK UWM geologist John Isbell is looking for the natural rules that govern the Earth’s climate in the absence of human activity. His work is challenging many assumptions about the ways drastic climate change unfolds – and what to expect next. John Isbell, professor of geosciences CRACKING THE ICE CODE W hat happened the last time the Earth’s climate shifted from “icehouse” to “hothouse”? And what does it tell us about climate change today? John Isbell is on a quest to coax that information from the last time it happened on a vegetated Earth. The only problem is, that was between 290 million and 335 million years ago. The information from the past forms the all-important baseline needed to predict what the added effects of human activity will bring. During this period, the late Paleozoic Era, the modern continents were packed together in two huge supercontinents. One, called Gondwana, comprised most of the Southern Hemisphere, including what is now the South Pole, Australia, South America, India and Africa. The work of Isbell, a specialist in late Paleozoic glaciation, has shaken the common belief that Gondwana was covered by one massive sheet of ice that gradually and steadily melted away as conditions warmed. Isbell has determined that at least 22 individual ice sheets were located in various places over the region. And the state of glaciation during the period was unstable, marked by dramatic swings in climate and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. He has uncovered evidence that parts of eastern Australia were covered in ice during the tail end of the era, such as mountain building, played a large role in the waxing and waning of glaciers during the transition. “If we figure out what happened with the glaciers – and add it to what we know about other conditions, like carbon cycling, we will be able to unlock the answers to climate change.” Join John Isbell on an expedition to Antarctica at researchreport.uwm.edu. POLAR PONDERING On one of his 15 trips to Antarctica, John Isbell took this shot of a graduate student enjoying the view of the Darwin Mountains. He found an iron-cemented sandstone sample (opposite page) in the Painted Cliffs of Maria Island in Tasmania, Australia. Isbell reads rock to unlock the secrets to Earth’s past. UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 23 when the climate was warming, but not in polar Antarctica during the same period. He believes local events, A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO SAFE SLEEP Many parents sleep with their infants. That’s a reality in spite of public-service campaigns, recommendations from pediatricians and horrific news stories about co-sleeping deaths. It’s also why UWM researchers and product-design students have teamed up to develop a prototype for a protective “sleep pod” for infants. Jennifer Doering (left), associate professor of nursing, and Naira Campbell-Kyureghyan, associate professor of engineering A SLEEP POD TO KEEP BABIES SAFE J ennifer Doering’s interest in safe sleeping for infants grew out of her studies of postpartum depression and parental sleep deprivation in impoverished areas of Milwaukee. In her visits to homes, she found cultural preferences and simple exhaustion often led to co-sleeping. “People were asking for ways to make sleeping safer even if they chose to share a sleep surface with their baby,” says the UWM associate professor of nursing. Public health and medical organizations encourage a zero-tolerance policy toward co-sleeping, but that just doesn’t work for many families, says Doering. “Babies were still dying.” On average, one to two infants in Milwaukee County die each month from unsafe sleeping environments. Spurred by this crisis, Doering began pursuing the idea of a device that would make co-sleeping safe for infants. She soon realized she would need technical design help to make it a reality. “I’m a nurse, not an engineer,” she says. Then she met Naira Campbell-Kyureghyan, an associate professor of engineering with a specialty in safety and injury prevention. Campbell-Kyureghyan, who, like Doering, is a mother, agreed that educational campaigns alone were not going to solve the co-sleeping issue. A safety device made good sense. “We have rules and regulations on construction sites, but hard hats are still required,” she says. Some products that can be used for co-sleeping, like bumpers, rails, mini-bassinets and infant travel beds, are already commercially available, but none is designed with tested safety mechanisms and may give parents a false sense of security, says Doering. STUDENTS GET INVOLVED A team of students worked with Doering and Campbell-Kyureghyan to design a prototype of the sleep pod. They included nursing major Helen Hermus and engineering majors Patrick Dix, Tim Korinek, James Zoromski and Karl Bachhuber-Beam. UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 25 With the help of a Catalyst grant, a UWM Research Foundation award to seed promising research and development in the sciences and engineering, Doering and Campbell-Kyureghyan began working with an interdisciplinary team of four student engineers and a senior nursing student to design and test a sleeping pod backed by research. Continued on page 26 HEARING THE INTERNET R akesh Babu is trying to get inside the minds of those who browse the Internet with their ears, not their eyes. Online information should be more accessible to people who are blind, says Babu, assistant professor of information studies, who lost his own sight as the result of a degenerative eye disease. His research at UWM can help. Screen readers – computerized voices that read aloud everything on a computer screen – can help the visually impaired. However, screen readers make background coding audible, which can be confusing, and graphic tags (descriptions) may be missing or incomplete. Babu focuses on how users who are blind conceptualize online tasks. He’s trying to discover how these users make mental models to comprehend what they cannot see – checkboxes or videos, for example. It’s an area in which very little work has been done, he says. “We just need more understanding to design a blind-friendly environment.” UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 26 atch Rakesh Babu demonstrate a screen reader at W researchreport.uwm.edu. Rakesh Babu, assistant professor of information studies SLEEP POD From page 25 The resulting prototype is a portable, protective oval pod with a molded plastic exterior and a dense foam interior. The pod has a face-protection feature, equipped with wireless sensors designed to alert sleeping adults if they start to roll over onto it or if blankets or pillows fall on a sleeping baby. The UWM Research Foundation has applied for a patent for the I-SleepPod. The two professors believe the work they are doing can coexist with educational approaches used by health departments. Says Doering: “The death of a baby is tragic, so this is an emotion-laden issue. Sometimes that impedes our ability to see other options that could be a solution to the problem.” TEEN BRAINS ON POT C alm teenagers can reason almost as well as adults. But introduce a negative emotion, like stress, into their decision-making process and it’s a whole other story. And marijuana can exacerbate the problem. Regular pot use before age 16 has been shown to disrupt development of parts of the brain involved in the ability to make rational decisions, persist over time and withhold responses in the face of a negative emotion. Since exercise increases blood flow to the brain and releases several brain-healthy chemicals, UWM neuropsychologist Krista Lisdahl wonders what the cognitive effects of exercise would be on young, regular pot users. In a sweeping study of the interplay of these factors, Lisdahl is using three kinds of neuroimaging techniques and multiple measures of fitness among young pot users and non-using control subjects. The aim is to better understand the cognitive consequences of a chronic pot habit before the brain is fully “wired.” Most of the research on how marijuana affects the brain has been done with adult subjects. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, which allows the researchers to see specific brain connections as they happen, Lisdahl hopes to observe how brain communication differs in young users. Her questions are wide-ranging: What will the imaging show after exercise? Is damage incurred from pot smoking reversible with later abstinence? And what can the developing brain tell us about addiction in general? Like teen pot smokers with little impulse control, “many addicts say they are more likely to use again in response to a negative emotional trigger,” she says. The study has earned Lisdahl the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on researchers in their early careers. AN EXERCISE IN EXERCISE Marijuana is the No. 2 drug of choice among teens, behind alcohol, and its use has been increasing. With a prestigious grant that recognizes the nation’s most promising young researchers, UWM’s Krista Lisdahl is testing whether exercise could be brain-protective for young pot smokers. Krista Lisdahl, assistant professor of psychology ‘BOLSA FAMÍLIA’ BOOSTS C an Brazil’s local governments run a federal income-supplement program without political interference? Yes, they can, says UWM political scientist Natasha Borges Sugiyama, who has been studying the political impact of Brazil’s “Bolsa Família” (Family Grant), a program designed to alleviate poverty and develop human potential. The program gives stipends to mothers in exchange for making sure their children go to school and get regular medical checkups and immunizations. Since its inception in 2003, the Bolsa Família program has had a real impact on children and families living in poverty, says Sugiyama. “In much of Latin America, including Brazil, large segments of the population live in poverty and lack the resources to meet their most basic needs. Conditional cashtransfer programs are an example of a public-policy strategy with the potential to elevate living standards for millions of families,” she says. Sugiyama, of Brazilian-American descent, spent time in Brazil as a child and just published a book FEDERAL PROGRAM RECRUITS MOMS TO FIGHT POVERTY With UWM support, Natasha Borges Sugiyama is studying the political impact of a Brazilian program that is improving the lives of the poor. Such studies are vital in increasing global understanding of politics and social policy, she says. Natasha Borges Sugiyama, assistant professor of political science on good government practices there. She was interested in whether the Bolsa Família program was working, since many local politicians have traditionally used federal funds to buy votes. FAMILIES IN BRAZIL Her research in three northeastern Brazilian cities showed that in the case of Bolsa Família, built-in safeguards – like transparency in operation – against political interference have worked. “It’s a limited sample, but an exciting finding. It’s important because the beneficiaries need to feel this program is a social right,” not a political favor. Her research and that of others has shown that Bolsa Família is succeeding in its goals of improving health care and education for families living in extreme poverty. Bolsa Família is having other impacts that Sugiyama plans to explore and write about – empowering women and encouraging poor people to acquire important legal documents like birth certificates that are needed for the program. Bolsa Família also appears to be helping the poor in the areas she studied feel a sense of political efficacy. “It is interesting to see how one social policy aimed at basic needs has had this ripple effect on people’s lives.” READING SPANISH, MASTERING ENGLISH C an studying Spanish help Latino students learn English and other subjects better? Javier Tapia, associate professor of education at UWM, is working with St. Anthony’s, a choice school, to test that idea. Currently, all instruction in the K-8 grades is in English, even though the majority of students come from Spanish-speaking homes. St. Anthony’s, with 1,600 students, is the largest Catholic school serving Hispanic students in the U.S., but students didn’t have the opportunity to take formal Spanish classes and become literate in their home language until high school. With bilingualism increasingly an employment asset, St. Anthony’s students were at a disadvantage. With Tapia’s help, the school designed a pilot project, an after-school Spanish class for third-graders taught by a Spanishlanguage instructor and a third-grade teacher. “Our goal is to improve students’ writing and reading ability in Spanish, see the impact on other subjects, like English, and foster bilingualism,” says Tapia. STORIES TOLD WITH BUILDINGS Y ou could call UWM’s Chris Cornelius an architect, but first and foremost he considers himself a storyteller. He is a member of Wisconsin’s Oneida Nation, and his building designs embody the values and stories of Native American cultures. Take the example of Milwaukee’s Indian Community School. As a member of the design team, Cornelius played a key role in ensuring that architect Antoine Predock’s award-winning school design accurately translated Wisconsin’s woodland Native culture. Towering tree trunks serve as dramatic support pillars throughout the school’s open space, which is appropriate given the important symbolic role of trees in Native culture, Cornelius says. For example, among the Oneida, the white pine represents Mother Earth. “These trees gave themselves to the school,” he says. “They are our greatgrandparents and they reinforce the priorities of the school – respect and responsibility. “Many of these kids come from the city and don’t have a connection to the landscape of their cultural home,” he says. “We were looking for visual links so that the inside and outside boundaries were blurred.” Cornelius, one of only a few Native architect-academics in the U.S., grew up on a Green Bay reservation and completed his undergraduate architecture degree at UWM and his master’s degree at the University of Virginia. Before accepting his current position as UWM associate professor, Cornelius worked with sustainable-design guru William McDonough and served as an artist-in-residence at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. “The work coming out of his studios at UWM is like nothing I’ve seen before,” says Robert Greenstreet, dean of the School of Architecture & Urban Planning. “It’s much more spirit-inspired, with interesting applied forms and a completely different aesthetic.” Join Chris Cornelius for a tour of Milwaukee’s Indian Community School at researchreport.uwm.edu. Chris Cornelius, associate professor of architecture CUTTING COSTS, CURBING CONTAGIONS UWM and the Medical College of Wisconsin have developed a virtual medical office where avatars of patients and doctors meet online. With burgeoning demands on the health care system, this reduces costs and expands physician availability without compromising privacy, patient satisfaction or quality care. F. Mariam Zahedi, James R. Mueller Distinguished Scholar and professor of information technology management in the Lubar School of Business ARE ONLINE CLINICS THE FUTURE OF MEDICINE? F. Mariam Zahedi, professor of information technology management, and two colleagues first created a campus clinic in the virtual world Second Life. Student volunteers then tested it by becoming avatar “patients” while the researchers acted as avatar “physicians.” With enthusiastic response from volunteers, Zahedi next partnered with MCW’s Reza Shaker, director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, a regional health collaboration. Together, Zahedi and Shaker began testing the use of actual patients with real symptoms talking with a real physicianbacked avatar. “Patients benefit by not being exposed to illnesses and having access to care, even when housebound,” says Zahedi. To maximize cost savings and efficiency without compromising privacy and quality, avatars with similar complaints met an avatar physician as a group. The next phase of the project involves proprietary software that will enhance the exchange between patient and physician, making the online experience more like a face-to-face examination. Zahedi’s approach is very usercentered. “We always have to examine how the patients react and how the technology fills their needs and wants.” UWM RESEARCH REPORT 2013 • 31 W hat if you could go to the doctor’s office, get a diagnosis and be treated, all without leaving your house? Through a process developed at UWM and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), avatars of real patients and doctors (aided by the patients’ medical records) meet at a virtual clinic. UWM’S INNOVATION ENGINE T o attain true economic vitality for Southeastern Wisconsin, regional companies need to be linked in meaningful ways to breakthroughs in research. The UWM Research Foundation (UWMRF) is building an “innovation engine” to accomplish just that. By growing a culture of creativity and seeding promising ideas, the UWMRF is helping support partnering efforts in water, energy, medical devices and drug discovery. At the same time, it’s developing a portfolio of intellectual property and transferring that asset to commercial partners. Our “innovation engine” is working. It has already produced six startup companies from UWM-licensed technology. Efforts to stimulate UWM student entrepreneurship are being modeled on that success. Other measurable results include a growing portfolio of patent applications and issued patents, investments by partner companies in research, and completed license agreements – more than 100 active intellectual property matters in all. With the UWM Real Estate Foundation, the UWMRF is helping to construct UWM’s Innovation Campus adjacent to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. Proximity will allow collaboration among thinkers in industry, research and medicine. Just as important as commercialization, UWMRF activities are supporting a new generation of students who study and conduct research with UWM faculty – as they prepare for successful careers built on innovation. If you would like to find out more about what UWM can offer your company, please contact me at [email protected] Sincerely, Brian Thompson President UWM Research Foundation As Wisconsin’s premier public urban institution, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee enjoys a growing national reputation for excellence in research, teaching and community engagement. On an operating budget of $680 million, it educates approximately 30,000 students and is an engine of innovation for Southeastern Wisconsin. The 104-acre main campus and satellite sites are located in the economic and cultural heart of the state. The university’s recent expansion includes new academic and research facilities, and the creation of the only School of Freshwater Sciences in the United States and the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health. Produced by UWM University Relations & Communications. This publication may be requested in accessible format. researchreport.uwm.edu Watch interviews with the researchers behind UWM’s two newest startups and see their work in action at researchreport.uwm.edu. See the Student Startup Challenge in action as products become realities at researchreport.uwm.edu.
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