Internal Funding Initiatives (IFI) Current Awards

About the Internal Funding Initiatives grant program
Examples of successful proposals (HawkID required)
October 2013 Awardees


The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development is proud to present the March 2014 IFI Awardees:


Karim Abdel-MalekKarim Abdel-Malek, Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Major Project Grant

Integrated Neurological Control of Assistive Devices for Improved Function and Health

The advent of digital devices and systems into our lives, whether embedded in the human body or otherwise, will yield significant challenges and opportunities. Integrating technologies in the human body, to communicate with our brain and other organs, will positively impact humanity. To be sure, biosensors and bioelectronics is an active field of research and development, but there are few efforts that pursue full concurrent coordination and synchronization of multiple types of sensors. As an initial component in pursuing the overarching goal, we will focus on 1) integrating neurocognitive feedback with a mechanical assistive device, and 2) using digital human models for customizing the device design. A driver for this component is the idea that virtual models should be used for ensuring proper fit and function of any assistive device or prosthetic. Technology is at a point where no patient should experience the benefits of a prosthetic at the expense of surface discomfort. Furthermore, by leveraging cutting-edge advanced manufacturing technology like 3D printing, products should be produced in near real time, each product customized to its potential user. Once produced, especially with assistive devices akin to exoskeletons, we content that such devices can be activated directly from neurocognitive impulses. They would not only provide the traditional stabilization of typical braces but would help articulate joints simply in response to a thought. When complete, the final system will virtually fit a prosthetic device to an avatar that precisely reflects the user’s morphology and anthropometry (via. Existing body-scan technology), immediately produce the consequent customized device via 3D printing, and then allow one to actuate the device with wireless neurocognitive nano-sensors in the brain. The implications of this proposed system are substantial, promising to resolve many different medical deficiencies with minimal imposition to the end user.

Scott BaalrudScott Baalrud, Assistant Professor, Physics and Astronomy
Major Project Grant

Influence of Waves on Plasma-Material Interaction

We propose to build an experiment to study waves generated by the interaction of ionized gas (plasma) and solid materials. The goal is to test a new theory by the applicant which indicates that these waves play an important role in controlling how fast particles are moving when they exit the plasma and strike a solid material. It predicts (contrary to the old theory) that particles of different types will all tend to exit the plasma at the same speed due to the action of the waves. The interaction of plasma with solid materials is important for a great many situations including space plasma interacting with planets, comets, and spacecraft, for laboratory plasmas interacting with probes and chamber walls, and for industrial plasmas interacting with silicon wafers to manufacture microchips. Advanced laser-based measurement techniques will be used to study both the speed of particles leaving the plasma and striking the material as well as the plasma waves which influence how fast the particles are moving. The procedure involves building a plasma chamber with a specially prepared material object that can be inserted into the plasma. In addition to the usual requirements of ultra-high vacuum and a gas-discharge plasma source, the chamber has to be specially outfitted for optical measurements involving lasers. A large window, carefully designed optics, and photon-counting detection will be needed. Based on laser measurements it is possible to draw conclusions concerning both the exit speed of various particles as well as what the waves are doing to the particles. These are difficult experiments which (when it comes to looking at the waves in question) have never been performed before. Because of the fundamental nature of the experiment as well as the importance of the exit-speed problem, the results can be expected to have high impact on a number of technical communities working with ionized gasses. In this new collaboration, new theory will be tested and new measurement techniques developed.

Maria Jose BarbosaMaria Jose Barbosa, Professor, Spanish and Portugese
​Major Conference/Ideation Meetings Grant

Construing Brazil in the United States

“Construing Brazil in the Unites States” is a two-day interdisciplinary symposium scheduled for October 17 and 18, 2014, intended to highlight the sustained record of cultural, historical, and economic involvement that Brazil and the United States have shared. This event will feature thirty-eight participants in different capacities (presenters, chairs of sessions, and performers). Twenty five of them are from eleven departments at the University of Iowa, and the other external participants are prominent scholars from different geographical areas in the United States. The program also includes a film-maker and a musician from Brazil. As a result, the following areas of study will be represented: art and art history, anthropology, cinema, comparative literature, cultural studies, film making, dance, ethnomusicology, history, music, performance theory, religion, sociology, and theater. The symposium’s format (plenary sessions) allows for all to attend the oral presentations and participate in the round-table discussions. The symposium will commence with a key-note speech by diplomat Paulo Camargo (Brazil State Department/Consulate General of Chicago) on the economic and political status of Brazil in the 21st century. The program includes a film-screening/discussion with the director/writer on the evening of October 17, and will conclude with a concert featuring Brazilian composers (classical and popular), and a program on Brazilian “choro”, (one of the most celebrated Brazilian genres of urban music). All events will take place at the UCC (the central location will make it easier for people to attend). The official language of the symposium will be English to circumvent language barriers. This is the first event of its kind to take place at the University of Iowa and will create a great opportunity for faculty, students, and the community-at-large to share knowledge. It will enhance the diversity of studies and interest in Brazil/Latin America that exists at the University of Iowa, will also draw the attention of peer institutions to our campus, and promote inter-institutional collaboration in the Midwest and beyond.

Jennifer BuckleyJennifer Buckley, Assistant Professor, English
Arts and Humanities Initiative Grant

Action, Scene, and Voice: Twenty-first Century Dialogues with Edward Gordon Craig

Scholarship and performance interact and circulate in 'Action, Scene, and Voice: Twenty-first Century Dialogues with Edward Gordon Craig,' a multimodal digital collection that brings together an international group of established and emerging scholars, actors, dancers, performance artists, puppeteers, mimes, directors, choreographers, stage designers, and archivists. Capitalizing on the intense interest in theatre and media and in performance as research, I propose an interdisciplinary scholarly website in which Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966), the controversial English actor, director, engraver, and theatre theorist, serves as the central node in a network connecting innovative critical and performance work that responds both to Craig’s art and to his polemics. Contributors from the US, France, the UK, and China have already committed to the project, and I intend to use a polished, content-rich initial web publication to attract more. The site will be innovative not only in its use of a new platform, Scalar, but also in its equal valuation of performance and scholarship. The project will demonstrate how digital platforms can enable scholars and performing artists to collaboratively produce work and to make that work accessible to a global audience.

Gregory CarmichaelGregory Carmichael, Professor, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering 
Major Conference/Ideation Meetings Grant

Informatics@Iowa Colloquium Including a Student Workshop

Funds are requested to organize a campus-wide Informatics@Iowa colloquium for the Academic Year 2013/14. This colloquium will be organized by the University of Iowa Informatics Initiative (UI3). The colloquium will consist of six (three in fall and three in spring) activities each centered on specific (and generally different) informatics thematic area. These colloquium activities are in addition to informatics seminars that take place with regularity on campus throughout the year associated with informatics faculty recruitment, the current IGPI program and departmental interests. Each activity will consist of: a public seminar presented by an outside speaker; round table ideation discussion of research related to thematic area involving UI faculty, staff and students; and informal discussions. This informatics colloquium will be strategically used to help build a campus wide informatics community, identify new research directions, to build new collaborations outside of the institution and to promote UI3 to leading informatics researchers. These monthly activities will be highly structured and will include several specific outputs. For each activity a small organizing committee will be formed around the thematic area and in addition to organizing the events, they will be charged with developing new research proposal ideas with targeted agencies and follow-up plans, as a result of the seminar, round table and informal discussions. In addition journalism student(s) will be hired to develop stories around the thematic areas, which highlight the importance of the theme and university of Iowa related-activities (faculty/student research, etc.). These stories could take various forms (print, YouTube, web, blog, radio, etc.) and will also be used as content for the UI3 website. One of the monthly activities will be devoted to hosting a regional informatics workshop organized by graduate students and post docs, where students from various universities and colleges in the region (broadly the Midwest) will come to campus to share research activities (presentations and posters) and to build a community. Workshops on career opportunities, specific new technologies, curriculum needs, are a few possible additional workshop activities.

David CwiertnyDavid Cwiertny, Assistant Professor, Civil-Environmental Engineering
Major Project Grant

Identifying Bioactive Transformation Products of Glucocorticoid Steroids Generated during Water Treatment

Glucocorticoids (GCs) are among the most widely prescribed pharmaceuticals in the U.S. It is not surprising, therefore, that they are frequently detected in surface water and wastewater, where they are viewed as a so-called “emerging pollutant class” due to concerns over their potential as endocrine-disrupting compounds. However, while recent bioassays have indicated widespread and frequent detection of GC activity in water resources (e.g., treatment plant effluent) concurrent chemical analysis of known GCs can only explain a small minority of the measured bioactivity. Motivated by these recent observations, this study focuses on the fate of the synthetic GCs dexamethasone, prednisone, and fluticasone during engineered water treatment. We hypothesize that recent observations of widespread GC activity in effluents and surface waters can be explained by as-yet unidentified, bioactive transformation products generated during water treatment. To test this hypothesis, we propose a research plan that will determine the removal efficiencies of the three target GCs during simulated disinfection processes (e.g., chlorination/chloramination, ozonation and UV light) (Task 1), while also identifying the dominant transformation products resulting from these treatments (Task 2). Finally, recognizing that transformation products may exert a comparable or even greater bioactivity than their parents, the GC activity of the dominant transformation products will be assessed through bioassays conducted in collaboration external to UI (Task 3). Outcomes of this work include a new database of rate constants and product yields for several potent, synthetic GCs over a range of engineered treatment systems, data that is currently limited or non-existent in the literature. This information should improve prediction of GC fate in water supplies, aid future regulatory decisions related to the fate of pharmaceuticals in water, and guide the design of new treatment systems best suited for mitigating ecological and human health risks. Finally, we believe the proposed work is highly innovative as it will challenge current fate models and risk assessment paradigms for emerging pollutant classes, as all current models fail to account for the formation of environmental transformation products that remain bioactive.

Michael DaileyMichael Dailey, Associate Professor, Biology
Major Project Grant

Mechanisms of Brain Microglial Vulnerability and Protection During Stroke

Our long-term goal is to understand how cells of the brain respond to injury, including ischemic stroke. The brain is composed of both neurons and glia, including microglia, which are brain-resident immune cells. Microglia may be beneficial after stroke by removing dead cells and producing growth factors that promote neuronal survival and regrowth of neural connections. However, microglial cells are also vulnerable to stroke, and their demise may thus exacerbate stroke. A better understanding of the mechanisms of cell death would help direct therapeutic intervention to minimize tissue damage after stroke. Based on our preliminary data, we hypothesize that ATP released by brain cells during stroke is toxic to microglia, and that this cytotoxicity is mediated in part by P2X7-type of ATP receptors in microglia. Our previous studies in mouse brain tissue slices indicate that many microglia die within a few hours after onset of ischemia, and that microglial cell death can be protected (~50%) by disrupting P2X7 receptors. However, it is unknown whether this holds true for stroke in vivo, an issue that needs to be resolved in order to move forward with major extramural funding proposals and interactions with pharmaceutical companies. The present proposal establishes a new collaboration between Dr. Dailey (Biology), an expert in microglia and imaging, and Dr. Anil Chauhan (Internal Medicine), an expert in in vivo mouse models of stroke. Working together, the labs will test the hypothesis using complementary in vivo models of stroke - including middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) and photothrombosis - in genetically engineered mice. This collaborative work will establish a new model of stroke on campus. These interactions will generate new ideas and applications for extramural funding from the AHA and NIH, and promote new therapies for protecting microglia and improving outcomes in human patients suffering from ischemic injury.

Sanjana DayalSanjana Dayal, Associate Research Scientist/Engineer, Internal Medicine
Major Project Grant

Effect of Aging on Platelet Activation in Humans

Life threatening thrombotic events such as stroke, heart attack and venous thrombosis are common causes of morbidity and mortality in the elderly; however, the mechanisms by which aging contributes to thrombosis are not clear. One possible mechanism is through increased oxidative stress, which has been associated with aging. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated in several cardiovascular consequences of aging, but their potential role in increased thrombotic susceptibility is uncertain. Recently, we made the novel discovery that aged mice exhibit increased susceptibility to experimental thrombosis, which is associated with platelet hyperactivity and accumulation of the ROS, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) within platelets. Approaches to lower H2O2 prevent platelet hyperactivity and the pro-thrombotic phenotype in aged mice, suggesting that platelet-derived H2O2 is a key mediator of thrombosis in aging. However, these studies are limited as they were conducted in a murine model. To translate our findings in human, we will test the hypothesis that platelets from aged humans have increased platelet activity and form larger thrombi ex vivo. This work leverages Dr. Dayal’s expertise in murine models of thrombosis and platelet activation assays and Dr. Pierce’s significant experience in vascular studies of aging in human.

Aim 1: Determine whether platelets from aged humans exhibit increased H2O2 accumulation and hyperactivity. We will first examine differences in H2O2 levels and activation in platelets from aged vs. young humans. Studies will be extended to test if NADPH oxidase is the primary source of increased H2O2 and if decreasing platelet H2O2 levels is preventative. Aim 2: Define the pro-thrombotic effects of platelets from aged humans. Studies will utilize an ex vivo model of thrombi formation to compare aggregation of platelets from aged vs. young humans on a subendothelial surface. We will also determine the contribution of H2O2 in the mechanism of increased platelet thrombi formation with aging. If successful, these pilot data will provide evidence that our observations in mice translate to human aging, thereby validating a clinical translational model in mice. Subsequent mechanistic studies in mice have the potential to identify novel therapeutic targets to prevent and treat thrombosis in older adults.

Paul DilleyPaul Dilley, Assistant Professor, Classics and Religious Studies
Arts and Humanities Initiative Grant

Mani at the Court of the Persian Kings: A New Perspective on the Religions of Pre-Islamic Iran

I am applying for an AHI grant to support two research trips to the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, where I will study an ancient manuscript containing the Discourses of Mani, the most reviled of early Christian heretics, which were previously thought to have been lost forever through book burning and persecution. With my colleagues Iain Gardner and Jason BeDuhn, I have been working on the first edition of Mani’s Discourses over the past four years, funded by the Australian Research Council to obtain multispectral images of the manuscript, which is damaged and difficult to read in some places. The AHI grant would provide crucial support at a critical time in our project: during the first trip, in June 2014, we will complete manuscript research related to our jointly authored monograph, to be published with Brill; during the second, in January 2015, we will finalize another publication, the first edition of the Discourses, constituting over 300 pages of Coptic text, with English translation. In addition, we will initiate a major “spin-off” to the project, through negotiations with the Chester Beatty Library to study their unconserved “book-block” of Mani’s most famous work, the Living Gospel, using x-ray tomography.

Mani grew up in a hybrid Jewish-Christian community in Mesopotamia during the third century CE. After a childhood revelation, he considered himself the successor of earlier prophets, especially Jesus, Zoroaster, and Buddha, and gained numerous followers throughout massive Iranian empire, aided by the shah, or king. In the next two centuries, the new religion spread eastwards to China and westwards to Rome, where its success led to persecution and book burning by the established Church. Mani’s Discourses feature his debates at the court of the Persian king. Our two publications on them will have a major impact on the field of Religious Studies, as well as the global history of the ancient world. In particular, we argue that the concept of “religion” itself originated not in the Graeco-Roman world, but in pre-Islamic Iran, where Manichaeans, Zoroastrians, Jews, Brahmins, Buddhists, and Christians sought to build conceptual systems for expressing their similarities and differences.

Rory FisherRory Fisher, Professor, Pharmacology 
Major Project Grant
Biological and Chemical Approaches to Validating and Targeting RGS6 as a Novel Alcohol Abuse Treatment

Alcohol dependence imparts a large socioeconomic burden on the healthcare system in the United States affecting an estimated 12% of the population, a prevalence greater than that for all other drugs of abuse combined. Ethanol consumption is a major etiologic factor in the development of additional sequelae with significant associated morbidity and mortality including non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy and chronic liver disease that progresses from fatty liver to hepatitis, cirrhosis and eventually organ failure. Alcohol abuse is the leading risk factor in the Western Pacific and Americas and second largest risk factor in Europe for premature mortality, disability and loss of health. Despite decades of research, our understanding of the mechanisms underlying acquisition of alcohol dependence remains limited. As a result, there are no currently approved therapeutics designed to reduce alcohol cravings or withdrawal symptomology, and abstinence remains the only effective way to prevent further tissue damage.

This project is based upon our discovery of a new gene, Regulator of G Protein Signaling 6 (RGS6), which plays a critical role in alcohol dependence in mice. Remarkably, mice lacking RGS6 consume less alcohol in both a short- and long-term free choice paradigm that model the initial stages of alcohol dependence and binge drinking, respectively. These findings provide the first evidence implicating an RGS protein in alcohol dependence. The goals of this project are multifaceted. First, we intend to provide novel mechanistic insight into the pathogenesis of alcoholism by elucidating the role of RGS6 in this process. Then we will employ sophisticated high throughput screening (HTS) approaches to identify novel small molecule inhibitors of RGS6 that will be tested for their ability to attenuate RGS6-dependent alcohol consumption and dependence in mice. These objectives will be achieved in a collaborative effort between Dr. Fisher’s and Roman’s laboratories, recognized worldwide as leaders in RGS6 biology and development of RGS inhibitors, respectively. The development of a small molecule inhibitor of RGS6, for which we demonstrate feasibility, would be a groundbreaking advance that could change the way alcoholism is treated. Thus, the clinical significance and translational aspects of this project are exceptionally high.

Jessica GoetzJessica Goetz, Assistant Professor, Orthopedic
Major Project Grant
Identification of Histologically Based Biomarkers Contributing to a Mathematical Model of Pathological Fracture

Large-scale systematic study of treatment efficacy in multiple myeloma patients has been confounded by the heterogenous patient population and the diversity of treatment regimens, making multiple myeloma an excellent target for systematic study using mathematical modeling. The long-term goal of this work is to develop a computational tool for making accurate prognostic predictions and evaluating treatment effects in multiple myeloma patients. Mathematical models developed for this purpose will be the first based entirely upon data available as a result of standard clinical practice. The goal of this project is to develop software tools to extract biomarker data from histological sections of bone marrow biopsies harvested from multiple myeloma patients as a part of their normal clinical care. This analysis will focus on features relevant to local bone turnover, and the data acquired will form the basis upon which predictive mathematical models of bone remodeling/loss and tumor progression will be built.This project will produce the first biography examining Ashmore’s life, work, role, shortcomings and influence in civil rights history and southern journalism, thereby providing new knowledge and insights into the early years of the Civil Rights Movement and the Little Rock crisis, while refining our understanding of southern liberal journalists. Although he is included among southern liberal/moderate editors, his work has not been closely examined in that context. This project will be the first to examine a southern liberal journalist whose racial attitudes were exposed to the race relations milieu that World War II combat experienced imposed upon him and other southern war veterans.

Specific Aim 1 is to develop a software routine to extract cellular and bone geometry data from histological sections of bone biopsy cores, allowing for maximum information to be obtained from a standard, but highly invasive diagnostic test. Specific Aim 2 is to develop a software routine to extract cell signaling data from immunohistological sections made from bone biopsy cores. This will allow new information to be harvested from existing diagnostic material. These routines will run on histological sections selected from a database of longitudinal bone marrow biopsies harvested over the course of a patient’s diagnosis and treatment for multiple myeloma. Specific Aim 3 is to build a predictive mathematical model of multiple myeloma bone remodeling based upon a combination of histologically derived and clinically available data. Bone loss predicted by these models will be correlated with incidence of fracture as a first illustration of the clinical utility of the modeling approach.

The unique and highly multidisciplinary team assembled for this work brings together the technical expertise needed to achieve the stated goals (engineering, biology, math), and the two clinical members of the team will ensure that the work remains patient-centered and the resulting tools and methodologies are clinically relevant.

Aju JugessurAju Jugessur, Core Facility Research Manager, Optical Science and Technology Center
Core Facilities/Shared Equipment Grant

Enhancing the Capabilities of the University of Iowa Microfabrication Facility

The University of Iowa Microfabrication Facility (UIMF is an interdisciplinary central research facility and service center that provides access, hands-on training on state-of-the-art equipment and education opportunities in the areas of micro and nanofabrication, metrology and device characterization. Funds are requested to acquire three key instruments (spinner coater, thin-film measurement system, high-resolution optical microscope) that will directly impact several innovative research projects within the UIMF. The research areas range from devices for future space missions, novel light sources, optical sensors to alternate renewable energy sources and medical implants and they involve fabrication of devices and sample preparation similar to the fabrication processes in the semiconductor processing. These instruments are essential to improve the fabrication process and to deliver reproducible and consistent results. The spinner coater will be used to coat polymer films and the thin-film measurement system will be used to measure thin-films of materials. These tools will deliver results with a high level of reproducibility and precision. The other instrument is a novel type of optical microscope that employs an “oil immersion” technique, enabling the imaging of features on the submicron scale. The key requirement is that these instruments are located in the same cleanroom space (to avoid sample contamination) where device fabrication is carried out in several steps and iterative fabrication cycles. The reproducibility and quality control of the fabrication processes are critical to ensure the success of various research projects which in turn will enhance the University’s profile in these key research areas, potentially attracting more research grants and high caliber faculty and staff. Moreover, these instruments will enable a new research collaboration in the area of nano fabrication between the McEntaffer group and UIMF (OSTC). In addition, these instruments will improve the hands-on training of several undergraduate and graduate students, including the labs in a course, “Fundamentals of Micro and Nanofabrication”. These tools will enhance the training of students from multiple disciplines, which represents opportunities for multidisciplinary research and education within the UI campus and also, setting the stage for future cross-disciplinary research collaboration and education.

Craig JustCraig Just, Assistant Professor, Civil-Environmental Engineering
Major Project Grant

Research at the Intersection of Mussels, Bacteria and Wastewater Treatment: Toward Water Sustainability

This study seeks to expand our limited scientific understanding of the aquatic nitrogen cycle for the purpose of improving the ability to engineer and sustainably manage this cycle in rivers and in municipal wastewater treatment. Nitrogen removal processes that utilize ANAMMOX bacteria are of great interest to environmental engineers since less oxygen and carbon, and thus less energy, is required as compared to traditional treatment approaches. Therefore, researchers are looking to more fully understand how ANAMMOX bacteria function in the natural environment for clues on how to maintain them in engineered settings. Of significance for this proposal, mesocosms with mussels showed significantly increased concentrations of nitrite - the key intermediary nitrogen species in ANAMMOX processes and evidence of ANAMMOX activity. Engineers are seeking new knowledge of ecosystem processes thought to be occurring in freshwater mussel beds for the purpose of rehabilitating rivers and to make wastewater treatment less energy and less carbon intensive. For those that study water sustainability, challenges such as this define the field.

Christopher MorphewChristopher Morphew, Associate Dean, Educational Policy and Leadership
Core Facilities/Shared Equipment Grant

Re-envisioning Processes of Learning and Ways of Teaching

We propose to move the DeLTA Center (an interdisciplinary center devoted to the study of learning and development that is currently housed in two rooms on the 2nd floor of Spence Laboratories of Psychology) into space available in the College of Education (CoE) and to expand DeLTA’s physical presence to include offices and shared laboratory facilities for the purpose of promoting scholarly collaborations between faculty in DeLTA and faculty in CoE. Two CoE faculty members are already associated with the DeLTA Center. Such a move would remove physical and disciplinary boundaries between two groups with overlapping and shared research interests. This project links cross-disciplinary activities among departments and colleges and will create new opportunities for external funding, particularly those related to Institute for Education Sciences initiatives, which stress the need for multidisciplinary approaches to solving broad educational problems. Beyond physical proximity, several specific ways of encouraging and evaluating the collaboration have been identified, including using small seed grants for students and faculty, internal grant reviews, and monitoring collaborative scholarly publications, grant applications, and membership on student committees.

Ingrid Ukstins PeateIngrid Ukstins Peate, Associate Professor, Geoscience
Major Project Grant
Quantifying Climate Change and the Impact of Volcanic Activity on High-Altitude, Late Glacial Sediments, Chile

The Younger Dryas - the most rapid climate change event in recent history – represents a severe cold spell between ~12,800 and 11,500 years before present, where average temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere changed significantly over the timespan of a decade: Greenland was 15º C colder than today (Severinghaus et al., 1998). This catastrophic climate shift abruptly took the planet from a relatively warm period into glacial climate conditions – much like the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”. Paleoclimate events such as the Younger Dryas represent the key to understanding the scope and potential impact of current and future climate change, but climate modelers require robust, well-constrained records of past climate in order to extrapolate to future effects. Paleoclimate records from South America are critical for understanding the impact of the tropics on the global system, but few high-fidelity data sets exist for the time period of interest. We propose to utilize paleolake deposits at Laguna Lejía, Chile, which were deposited from 14,000 to 4,300 years ago, to construct a high-resolution geochemical, geochronologic and genetic database that covers this climate event. The lake sediments deposited at Laguna Lejía represent an ideal sample suite for high-resolution paleoclimate studies because they are a thick package (ca. 3 to 4 m) of carbonate, silts and muds, which preserve a temporal record of conditions present in the lake spanning the timeframe of deposition, like pages in a book. Major and trace element geochemistry and stable isotope analyses of lake sediments allow us to quantify past changes in lake composition, salinity and water temperature, which can be related to large-scale, long-term changes in regional climate. We will incorporate a genetic database of bacterial DNA fossilized within the sediments to quantify the organisms making up the lake ecosystem, and track biogeological changes over time. This information will be input into a regional-scale numerical model to assess the critical factors responsible for rate of onset and amplitude of climate change in central South America, which can be compared to other paleoclimate datasets from the Northern Hemisphere, and extrapolated to global-scale processes of rapid, large-magnitude temperature change.

Judy PolumbauJudy Polumbaum, Professor, Journalism and Mass Communication
Major Project Grant

Depicting Post-Revolutionary China: The Photojournalism of Wang Wenlan

For three decades, Chinese photojournalists have been documenting their country's breakneck economic, social, and cultural transformations, yet only a small fraction of their output has gained the attention of the rest of the world. This project introduces the work of photographer WANG Wenlan, whose career through the post-Mao decades has produced an especially rich chronicle of a changing society. Spanning a year, the project will consist of research, selection, translation, design and preparation of an exhibit of "paired photographs" contrasting China of the 1980s and early 1990s with the China of the new millennium, culminating in an exhibition on the University of Iowa campus in spring 2015. An opening symposium will feature Wang and Iowa alumus David Guttenfelder, the AP's chief Asia photographer. An honors practicum scheduled in conjunction with the program will enable a group of Iowa undergraduate students to help plan and carry out the event.

Richard PriestRichard Priest, Associate Professor, History
Major Conference/Ideation Meetings Grant

Energy Cultures in the Age of the Anthropocene

This interdisciplinary symposium, scheduled for March 5-7, 2015, will bring together public figures, scholars, and artists to curate a humanistic effort to make sense of humans’ relationship to energy. During the last two centuries, the discovery and exploitation of concentrated forms of energy from the earth -- coal and oil, the two principal fossil fuels – allowed for a massive increase in heat and power in human society. Combined with exponential population growth, the resulting human intervention in the earth’s carbon, nitrogen, and hydrologic cycles has accelerated to such an extent that a new name has been given to describe this age – the Anthropocene, or the age of humans.

The symposium will explore the illusory boundary between what is “natural” and “man-made,” between the multiple ways humans experience and demarcate time, and between the unequal social impacts caused by human-transformed and fossil-fueled environments around the world. The symposium will challenge people to rethink the ideas, values, and aesthetics that shape the way we fuel our lives and transform our environments.

This symposium will take place over three days, centered around several keynote lectures and panels. In addition to invited experts, the University of Iowa has a wide and deep reserve of expertise on environmental subjects that will be tapped to support the symposium. Furthermore, we are planning linked activities through the spring, including performances, art exhibitions, films, and community events. The organizers are also encouraging UI faculty to offer courses related to the theme of the symposium or work the theme into existing courses to help widen the impact of the event. In advance of the symposium, the organizers will conduct a one-credit course with interested graduate and advanced undergraduate students to study the work of the presenters and issues related to energy and The Anthropocene.

In addition to promoting greater engagement between UI and the greater Iowa City community, concrete outcomes of the symposium will include a University of Iowa Press edited collection based on papers presented, along with new courses and research ideas related to the topics of energy and The Anthropocene.

Dawn QuelleDawn Quelle, Associate Professor, Pharmacology
Major Project Grant

Drug Resistance in Pancreatic Cancer

The goal of this proposal is to define the mechanisms and biological significance of a novel pancreatic protein, named RABL6A, in pancreatic cancer resistance to oxaliplatin-based therapies. This is an important question because pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest malignancies for which there are few effective therapies. New regimens including oxaliplatin are showing remarkable promise and extend median survival two-fold (from 5.5 to 11 months) in patients. We recently demonstrated that RABL6A promotes oxaliplatin resistance in cultured pancreatic cancer cells in vitro. In aim 1, we will conduct molecular studies to test the mechanistic role of two oncogenic proteins (Nek2 and Akt) in RABL6A-mediated oxaliplatin resistance. In aim 2, we will determine if RABL6A expression levels dictate oxaliplatin sensitivity in pancreatic tumor cells in vivo (in a mouse model of the disease). In aim 3, we will measure RABL6A expression in resected pancreatic tumors and biopsies and determine if increased expression is associated with increased oxaliplatin resistance in patients. Findings could identify RABL6A as a meaningful marker of pancreatic cancer that guides clinical management (choice of therapy) for patients.

Miriam Thaggert, Associate Professor, English
Arts and Humanities Initiative Grant

Riding Jane Crow: Gender and the Railroads in African American Culture

My book manuscript, “Riding Jane Crow: Gender and the Railroads in African American Culture,” examines the social effect of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century technology, particularly the railroad, on the perception of race, gender, class and nationality in American literature. The book examines the portrayal of the train in African American fiction, the black female workers who serviced railroad lines, the black middle-class women who sued to ride as “ladies” in first-class passenger cars, and the impact of the train in black expressive culture.

Daniel Thedens, Associate Research Scientist/Engineer, Radiology
Major Project Grant

Imaging the Porcine Lung with Fluorine-19 Magnetic Resonance

We propose to develop new magnetic resonance imaging methods for pulmonary research. The methods use the fluorine-19 (19F) nucleus as the imaging agent. This nucleus has a very high intrinsic signal in MRI, and has no natural background in mammals. In the first of two aims we propose to develop new pulse sequences for cleaner and faster imaging of lung ventilation using gaseous 19F agents. In the second aim we propose to use liquid fluorocarbon coatings to image the airway tree. These aims will require development of new pulse sequences for optimal imaging in vivo. Our preliminary experiments have proven the basic concepts are valid. Initially we will develop methods on inanimate phantoms. We will optimize the methods using euthanized pigs. Existing data analysis methods will be adapted to extract the desired information from the images. The new methods promise to fill a hole in the information needed by pulmonary researchers, allowing assessment of the state of the lung and the effects of potential treatments on a level of detail that is not now achievable.

Stephen VoyceStephen Voyce, Assistant Professor, English
Arts and Humanities Initiatives Grant

Fluxus Digital Collection

The Fluxus Digital Collection consists of an online archive of the most artistically mischievous works in twentieth-century art history. Fluxus was an international consortium of artists, composers, writers, and filmmakers working together during the 1960s, 70s, and early-80s. The group’s members famously created their genre-blurring “intermedia” art and performance events, which often involved text, image, film, and audio recordings together in a single work. Both prescient and playful, Fluxus members referred to this collaborative mode of art-making as the “Eternal Network.”

It is precisely this multi-modal approach to art that makes the group so difficult to document and exhibit, since traditional formats (the gallery space, book catalogue, etc.) either fail to represent Fluxus’ intermedial work or grant its viewers the necessary access to view/read/listen/interact with such works. As a result, only a very small number of scholars have ever experienced Fluxus artworks in their entirety. Approximately 90% of UI Special Collections’ holdings, for instance, remain unpublished or unexhibited.

At present all pre-production phases of the project are complete (e.g. copyright acquisition, metadata processing), while many production phases are finished or underway (e.g. photography, 3D modeling, scanning). Working with an outstanding team of designers, programmers, and librarians, the Fluxus Digital Collection requires funding to complete (1) web-animated filming, (2) data visualization, and (3) digitizing of a magazine collection donated by artist Ken Friedman (who generously gave us his collection after learning about our project and the expanded audience it will offer his work).

Simply put, the final outcome of this project is a media-intensive website that gives unprecedented access to the art, writing, musical scores, films, unpublished primary documents, and criticism of a movement exceedingly elusive yet widely considered to be one of the most important of the twentieth century. In so doing, we create a model for future faculty-librarian digital humanities collaborations, creating greater efficiency and cost-effective protocols for digital archive research, management, and exhibition.