CEHS Research Showcase highlights life-changing work

CEHS Research Showcase highlights life-changing work

21 Oct 2014    

Research matters in practical and profound ways. Research in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is enhancing the lives of individuals, families, schools and communities. Older adults can live independently longer, athletes can return to the playing field more safely after concussions, and Americans can avoid the health pitfalls of obesity. These are examples of the promise found in research projects that will be featured at the 2014 CEHS Research Showcase from 4-6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 23 at the UNL East Campus Union in Lincoln.

“Our college has remarkable researchers doing remarkable work,” said Jon Pedersen, CEHS associate dean for research. “From multi-million dollar grants working on obesity at the cellular level to toddler sleep patterns, we are pleased to share the breadth of our research with others. Please come and visit with our faculty and students and find out how we are making a difference.”

Traumatic brain injury, including concussions, is a rising medical concern for both athletes and soldiers. Julie Honaker, an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education and Communications Disorders, is researching how to better assess when it’s appropriate for athletes and soldiers to return to duty. With students and colleagues from UNL and the University of Nebraska Medical, Honaker is exploring an innovative assessment measure combining Transcranial Doppler (TCD) and dynamic balance evaluation to monitor changes in cerebral autoregulation. Findings suggest there may be new assessments to help a broad range of people who have brain injury.

Statistically, one in three older adults over the age of 60 years will sustain a fall, and of those who fall, it is highly likely that they will sustain a second fall within the same year. Falls are an ever-present threat to independence and instill fear of future falls, both negatively impacting the quality of life of older adults. Honaker and her students are targeting at-risk populations and developing screening protocols that may prove successful in preventing falls and helping people live more independent lives.

Any parent knows the ramifications of a toddler who’s not getting enough sleep. It can wreak havoc on an entire family. Victoria Molfese, professor in the Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies, is conducting research into toddler sleep patterns and bedtime routines that parents use. Toddler sleep characteristics may reveal connections to a child’s ability to pay attention, learn and get along with others. Bedtime routines may also have an impact on child temperament reflected in their reactions and ability to control emotions and behavior.

In August, UNL announced that Janos Zempleni, Willa Cather professor of molecular nutrition in the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences, and his research team have been awarded an $11.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant establishes a research center at UNL to focus on understanding nutrition and obesity at the molecular level. Answering molecular-level questions regarding obesity and related diseases is a crucial first step toward curbing the national obesity epidemic.

These examples and more than 100 others will be featured at the CEHS Research Showcase, held every other year to create a forum for faculty, students, the UNL community and others to learn about research and scholarship in the college, to exchange ideas and to foster future collaborations in research.

College of Education and Human Sciences