Richmond, VA, United States

University of Richmond
Richmond, VA, United States

The University of Richmond is a private, nonsectarian, liberal arts university located on the border of the city of Richmond and Henrico County, Virginia. The University of Richmond is a primarily undergraduate, residential university with approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students in five schools: the School of Arts and science, the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the University of Richmond School of Law and the School of Professional & Continuing Studies. Wikipedia.

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Over the last ten years we have seen great efforts focused on revising amphibian systematics. Phylogenetic reconstructions derived from DNA sequence data have played a central role in these revisionary studies but have typically under-sampled the diverse frog family Microhylidae. Here, we present a detailed phylogenetic study focused on expanding previous hypotheses of relationships within this cosmopolitan family. Specifically, we placed an emphasis on assessing relationships among New World genera and those taxa with uncertain phylogenetic affinities (i.e., incertae sedis). One mitochondrial and three nuclear genes (about 2.8 kb) were sequenced to assess phylogenetic relationships. We utilized an unprecedented sampling of 200 microhylid taxa representing 91% of currently recognized subfamilies and 95% of New World genera. Our analyses do not fully resolve relationships among subfamilies supporting previous studies that have suggested a rapid early diversification of this clade. We observed a close relationship between Synapturanus and Otophryne of the subfamily Otophryninae. Within the subfamily Gastrophryninae relationships between genera were well resolved. Otophryninae is distantly related to all other New World microhylids that were recovered as a monophyletic group, Gastrophryninae. Within Gastrophryninae, five genera were recovered as non-monophyletic; we propose taxonomic re-arrangements to render all genera monophyletic. This hypothesis of relationships and updated classification for New World microhylids may serve as a guide to better understand the evolutionary history of this group that is apparently subject to convergent morphological evolution and chromosome reduction. Based on a divergence analysis calibrated with hypotheses from previous studies and fossil data, it appears that microhylid genera inhabiting the New World originated during a period of gradual cooling from the late Oligocene to mid Miocene.

Grollman E.A.,University of Richmond
Journal of Health and Social Behavior | Year: 2014

The double disadvantage hypothesis predicts that adults who hold more than one disadvantaged status may experience worse health than their singly disadvantaged and privileged counterparts. Research that has tested this thesis has yielded mixed findings due partly to a failure to examine the role of discrimination. This article uses data from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (N = 2,647) to investigate the relationship between multiple disadvantaged statuses and health, and whether multiple forms of interpersonal discrimination contribute to this association. The results suggest that multiply disadvantaged adults are more likely to experience major depression, poor physical health, and functional limitations than their singly disadvantaged and privileged counterparts. Further, multiple forms of discrimination partially mediate the relationship between multiple stigmatized statuses and health. Taken together, these findings suggest that multiply disadvantaged adults do face a "double disadvantage" in health, in part, because of their disproportionate exposure to discrimination. © American Sociological Association 2014.

Seeman J.I.,University of Richmond
Angewandte Chemie - International Edition | Year: 2012

Storkisms: In honor of the 90th birthday of Professor Gilbert Stork, a collection of poignant quotes and anecdotes have been gathered which illustrate his philosophies of life and his unique qualities of intensity, humor, and gentleness. These stories are both entertaining and didactic, while revealing aspects of the academic life of a chemist from 1940 to 2011. Copyright © 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SOCIOLOGY | Award Amount: 84.89K | Year: 2015

This project investigates the implications of development initiatives that seek to empower women and enhance gender equity in developing countries, using the dairy sector in Uganda as a field site. In Uganda, as in many developing countries, women dominate the agricultural labor force, yet gender-based inequalities constrain their ability to enhance farm productivity and profitability. A key development strategy to close the gender gap focuses on empowering women within agricultural value chains, the wide-ranging set of activities that connect farmers to markets. Yet little is known about the effects of value chain development initiatives for empowering female farmers and addressing gender-based inequalities. This research uses a value chain approach and geospatial analysis to examine gender mainstreaming efforts in Uganda by comparing dairy value chains with active gender and-development programs with dairy value chains that do not have gender-specific programs. The results from this study will provide a better understanding of how female farmer participation in the marketplace facilitates women?s empowerment and improves farm productivity and food security in developing countries.

The objectives of this research are to: 1) Identify and measure how gender mainstreaming efforts affect womens participation in the value chain, gender equity in the household, and gender equity in the community; 2) Analyze the spatial and geographic consequences of womens empowerment at the individual, household, and community levels; and 3) Evaluate how examining gender within a spatial context assists in decision making for development programs. To accomplish this, a mixed method research approach will be used including: 1) surveys of female and male farmers engaged in the value chain; 2) in-depth interviews with female and male farmers from households engaged in the value chain, as well as key stakeholders throughout the value chain; 3) geospatial analysis; and 4) a randomized experiment. By conducting a theory directed, empirically grounded analysis of pro-poor value chain projects, this research can inform and shape the decisions of donor organizations, development practitioners, the private sector, and policy makers interested in targeting vulnerable populations through market based initiatives, as well as academics working in the areas of agriculture, gender, and development.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: BIOLOGICAL OCEANOGRAPHY | Award Amount: 69.75K | Year: 2016

Sponges feed on bacteria and extract other material from the water column as they pump water through their tissues. This bio-filtration plays important ecological roles on coral reefs, and may serve as the base of food webs in these habitats by turning dissolved and particulate organic material into detritus (shed sponge cells) that can be eaten by a variety of organisms. This ecological function is known as the sponge loop, and the proposed research tests an unexplored aspect of the sponge loop. Sponges typically support dense and diverse symbiont communities that contribute to their overall ecological performance. It is unknown how the symbiont communities contribute to the ecological performance of the host sponge. During the recent mass coral bleaching event (i.e., loss of algal symbionts) in the Florida Keys, sponges with algal symbionts, that normally do not bleach, were also found to have bleached. This unusual observation offers the opportunity to test ideas about the role of symbionts in the sponge loop. That is, the hypothesis under consideration is that disruption of symbiotic associations compromises a sponges bio-filtration capacity. The broader impacts of this project includes training undergraduate students, producing new scientific information, presenting public talks, and tying this work into existing integrated science courses at the University of Richmond.

The health of coral reef ecosystems may be tied directly to the normal functioning of coral reef sponges through the sponge loop. Detrital food webs may rely on the continued input of shed sponge cells through which dissolved and particulate organic matter are processed into biologically usable material. Previous work indicates that the symbiont state of the host sponge might influence feeding and pumping behavior, but no direct test of the impact symbiont state has on the sponge loop has been conducted. A recent bleaching event involving clionaid sponges in the lower Florida Keys provides an opportunity to test the hypothesis that reef health is a function of health of sponge symbiont populations through host filtration efficiency and feeding behavior. This research project focuses on interactions between symbiotic systems, host behavior, and ecosystem function using Cliona varians. Water samples will be collected using IN-EX sampling followed by flow cytometry and microscopic analysis of the material expelled by sponges. Stable isotopic signatures of the hosts will be compared before, during, and after bleaching events.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: EXTRAGALACTIC ASTRON & COSMOLO | Award Amount: 122.50K | Year: 2014

The goal of this work is to address several timely questions about the analysis and interpretation of observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, with particular emphasis on observations of CMB polarization. CMB observations provide a snapshot of the Universe at an age of a few hundred thousand years, and the spectrum of CMB temperature variations (anisotropy) contains a wealth of information, e.g., providing strong evidence that the Universe is flat, giving measurements of the amounts of dark matter and dark energy, and supporting the theory of inflation. Broader impacts of the work include training of undergraduate graduate students. This is an RUI (Research at Undergraduate Institutions) proposal in which a number of undergraduate students will be introduced to and trained in developing simulations of CMB polarization telescopes for the future. Dr. Bunn also leads regular observing nights for the public using the campus telescope.

A number of the activities will be undertaken, ranging from mathematical analyses, to simulations, to pedagogical expositions,and will include studies of CMB anomalies and E/B mode decomposition.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: IUSE | Award Amount: 218.72K | Year: 2016

The main goal of this cognitive neuroscience project is to develop, implement, and disseminate best practices in cognitive electrophysiology education for undergraduates with the aim of increasing the quality and number of education and training opportunities for undergraduates, and increasing research outcomes that involve undergraduate co-authors. The three specific goals are: (1) Develop open-access curricula for cognitive electrophysiology that employ evidence-based practices. (2) Create an open-access database of results from 6 classic event-related potential (ERP) experiments that have been optimized in terms of best practices in experimental design and produce highly reliable results. These data will form the basis of class activities, lab training, and independent research and will include a variety of individual difference measures that can also be used for student-generated hypothesis testing. (3) Engage in ongoing improvement of the learning materials through active engagement with a 9-member faculty learning community of users and students active in this field. This nascent community will be expanded by hosting a series of yearly meetings at a major conference that will be open to all interested faculty and students and by including undergraduate research assistants in the curriculum design and research activities.

This project would address the need for curricular materials in a burgeoning field of research that combines a number of STEM disciplines (biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, and electrical engineering) in a focus on cognitive neuroscience. One cognitive neuroscience measurement technique that is particularly conducive to undergraduate learning is cognitive electrophysiology (electroencephalography/ event-related potentials; EEG/ERP). EEG/ERP studies examine changes in scalp-recorded brain electrical activity corresponding to cognitive processing in real time. EEG refers to the dynamic, ongoing electrical activity recorded during cognitive processing. ERP refers to the most commonly used method of electrophysiological research, relying on signal averaging to extract the activity reliably linked with specific sensory stimuli and/or motor responses (the electrical potentials that are related to specific events). Cognitive electrophysiology is well suited for undergraduate research because the equipment and supplies are relatively inexpensive and the opportunities for learning are high.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Macromolec/Supramolec/Nano | Award Amount: 270.00K | Year: 2014

Funded by the Macromolecular, Supramolecular, and Nanochemistry Program in the Division of Chemistry, Professor Michael C. Leopold at the University of Richmond, is investigating materials and strategies for the development of clinically relevant sensors that incorporate nanomaterials. As a component within sensors, networks of metallic nanoparticles (NPs) elicit improved performance, including enhanced sensitivity and response time. Nanomaterials enable miniaturization of sensing devices, allowing advances to be directly applied to needle electrodes - a sensor geometry amenable to implantable or bedside devices. Greater understanding of NP networks within sensing schemes, allow for the formulation of sensor design strategies targeting molecules that serve as diagnostic markers in emergency room and maternity ward settings, where real time, continuous monitoring would be most beneficial. Biosensing schemes with NP networks that detect lactic and uric acid, compounds linked to diagnosis/monitoring of serious medical conditions, sepsis and pregnancy-induced hypertension, respectively, are a focus. This award is also supporting full immersion undergraduate research mentoring and a continuing outreach partnership with the Math Science Innovation Center to introduce nanotechnology to teachers and students of grades 6-12.

This research seeks to identify and understand critical structure-function relationships within amperometric biosensor schemes that incorporate metallic nanoparticles (NPs), establishing greater understanding of the NPs mechanistic role. First generation, xerogel-based amperometric glucose biosensors serve as model systems that feature composite xerogel/enzyme films embedded with a network of alkanethiolate-protected gold NPs or monolayer-protected clusters (MPCs). Each component of the film, from MPC surface chemistry to the xerogels silane precursor, is systematically examined to elucidate both the NPs and xerogel structural role in the sensing mechanism. Those findings prompt rational design of NP-assisted biosensing schemes at needle or wire electrode geometries with potential in-vitro or in-vivo capability that are also selective for clinically relevant and chemically diverse species.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: GALACTIC ASTRONOMY PROGRAM | Award Amount: 31.20K | Year: 2016

Astronomers have studied the radio waves that come to us from the universe since the 1930s. One
fascinating phenomenon that has been measured in radio light is a faint, diffuse glow which covers the
entire sky. This glow is best described as the Radio Synchrotron Background, where the term
synchrotron refers to particles making radio waves when they spin around magnetic fields. Interest in the Radio
Synchrotron Background has been rekindled recently because of new measurements. This radio glow
presents a mystery because it is difficult to explain how it came to be there with known astrophysical
processes. It represents one of the mysteries of contemporary astrophysics. While there have been
many publications in the literature on this topic, there has not yet been a scientific workshop.

We will hold the first scientific workshop on the radio synchrotron background, which will bring
together scientists working in these overlapping fields to discuss the radio synchrotron background in
person for the first time. There are implications for many areas of active research in contemporary
astrophysics. The workshop will inspire new collaborations and new lines of inquiry, and may spur
future meetings on the topic. This project funds travel support toward allowing scientists to attend the
workshop as well as for a talk for the public and for a report for the scientific community on the
outcome of the meeting. The workshop will be held at the University of Richmond.

The Radio Synchrotron Background is a newly re-appreciated astrophysical phenomenon which has been
a subject of great interest to many in the community. Combining the ARCADE 2 balloon-based absolute
spectrum data from 3-90 GHz with absolutely calibrated single-dish diffuse radio surveys at lower
frequencies reveals a radio synchrotron excess that is several times brighter than was expected by
many. The origin of the radio synchrotron background is one of the mysteries of contemporary
astrophysics. It is difficult to produce the observed level of surface brightness by known processes
without violating constraints.

The existence of the radio background at the observed levels presents profound challenges for our
current understanding of radio emission in the Galaxy and the universe. As demonstrated in many
recent publications, there are implications for many areas of astrophysics, including cosmic ray
propagation, galactic and extragalactic magnetic fields, the radio to far-infrared correlation, radio source
counts, X-ray source counts, quasar luminosity functions, dark matter annihilation, polarization of
foregrounds in microwave background maps, population III stars, mergers of clusters, and many more.

The workshop will feature plenary sessions made up of multiple presentations by attendees
interspersed with and question and discussion periods centered around different topics that study of
the radio synchrotron background touches. The visual component of individual presentations, in the
form of PDF, PowerPoint, or similar files will be made available on the Web. Additionally, a report will
be prepared for the scientific community on the outcome of the meeting. The priorities identified in the
report will be determined by consensus of the meeting attendees as synthesized by the organizing
committee. Finally, new collaborations and working relationships will be established.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SYMBIOSIS DEF & SELF RECOG | Award Amount: 310.14K | Year: 2016

Intracellular associations between animal hosts and algal symbionts support important ecosystems like coral reefs. Despite the importance of these associations, there is limited understanding of basic aspects about how stable interactions between host and algal partners is achieved. This inhibits our ability to make informed decisions about the management of vulnerable ecosystems. For example, coral reefs experience periodic bleaching events that involve the breakdown of the symbiosis and jeopardize reef health, but the process of bleaching and subsequent recovery of the host are poorly understood. To protect our valuable reef resources, greater understanding of the cellular and genetic cross-talk between symbiotic partners is required. This project will elucidate key components of the conserved genetic regulatory pathways important in host:symbiont exchanges. As changes to ocean environments occur (e.g., increasing average seawater temperatures), it is imperative that details about how hosts support symbiont populations at the cellular and genetic level are fully understood. The project has a diverse suite of planned broader impacts including training of STEM undergraduates, involvement in a pre-college summer bridge program to increase diversity in STEM, partnerships with national leaders in incorporating undergraduate research in community colleges, and high impact community based learning opportunities.

The research will refine understanding of host:symbiont interactions through identification of major-effect symbiosis genes and genetic pathways. The proposed work takes advantage of unique properties of marine and freshwater sponge hosts and their algal partners to identify the molecular, genetic, cellular, and physiological interactions that occur. These properties allow control over the timing of symbiont infection, so that gene expression profiles can be correlated with events involved with symbiont contact, engulfment, recognition, intracellular migration, and repopulation. In a methodologically novel way, the research will create different combinations of hosts and algal partners to explore reasons why particular hosts become suitable habitat for particular symbionts while other hosts cannot support those symbionts. The project will explore how down-regulating gene expression can change dynamics of host:symbiont interactions, and combining field-based experiments, RNAseq, and advanced physiological, microscopic, and molecular tools, the research will identify common regulatory features of those interactions. The results will increase understanding of the habitat requirements of the symbiont, and the ability of the hosts to interact with different partners. The results will also help define the scope of change in the identity of symbiotic partners. In addition to intellectual contributions in the form of publications and presentations, this project will expand educational and research opportunities for pre-college, community college, and undergraduate students, particularly those from underserved backgrounds. The proposal will support high impact practices like course-based research and community-based learning in the context of an undergraduate curriculum, as well as community outreach through a multi-disciplinary faculty learning community and civic-engaged talks.

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