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Research, scholarship and creative activity at Oklahoma State University

SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS OSU Pathologists Target Bovine Viral Infections after Long Road to Discovery

Jean d’Offay Center for Veterinary Health Sciences


2017 Burns Hargis President Kenneth W. Sewell, PhD. Vice President for Research OSU Research Matters is published annually by Oklahoma State University and is produced by the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Editor: Jeff Joiner Art Director/Designer: Valerie Kisling Copy Editor: Dorothy Pugh Photographers: Kim Archer, Mandy Gross, Jamie Hadwin, Jeff Joiner, Todd Johnson, Gary Lawson, Kevin McCroskey, Brian Petrotta, Phil Shockley Cover Photo: Phil Shockley Contributing Writers: Kim Archer, Julie Bernard, Derinda Blakeney, Jamie Hadwin, Melanie Jackson, Jeff Joiner, Christy Lang, Brian Petrotta, Chelsea Robinson, Bryan Trude, Ariel West, Catherine Wilson For details about research highlighted in this magazine or reproduction permission, contact the editor. Jeff Joiner, Editor, OSU Research Matters 405.744.5827;

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures.  This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies. Any person (student, faculty, or staff) who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154. This publication, issued by Oklahoma State University as authorized by Research Communication, was printed by Royle Printing at a cost of $5,328. 5M / 1/17. #6707

OSU Research Matters Welcome to Oklahoma State University’s annual research magazine, which highlights just a few of the university’s many scientific, engineering and scholarly projects and researchers. I think you’ll agree that this issue is loaded with fascinating work that illustrates how OSU research impacts our students, Oklahomans, and the world. You’ll notice that the name of the magazine has been changed to OSU Research Matters. The change came after discussions with many OSU research leaders who agree with me that OSU’s research reputation is one of impact…we do research that MATTERS. In my introductory remarks to last year’s magazine, I made the case for why research matters. In our social media posts, we’ve begun using #OSUResearchMatters as a way to collect topics that highlight this concept. Now we’re doubling down by making that statement the title of the university’s chief research publication. Why call it OSU Research Matters? As a comprehensive research university and a land-grant institution, research is integral to OSU’s mission. This work directly impacts an enormous constituency of individuals and organizations, both public and private. For those directly impacted, our research certainly matters. But even for those who may never realize how they benefit, the results of our research still matter greatly. Research conducted at OSU translates into safer bridges and highways, improved human and animal health, safer and more efficient food production, a cleaner environment, a productive economy, an understanding of how culture enriches our lives, and much, much more. Research also matters to the tens of thousands of OSU students who, over the years, have participated in research projects while being mentored by professors. For these undergraduate and graduate students, conducting genuine research deeply affects their educational experience and, in many cases, influences careers. Exciting research is going on in every discipline at OSU and includes an amazing assortment of study areas, a few of which are featured in this inaugural issue of OSU Research Matters. Projects in this issue illustrate how research is at the heart of what we do as a land-grant university. I hope you enjoy the projects featured in these pages, and that you will find ways to help us spread the news: OSU Research Matters!

Kenneth W. Sewell, Ph.D. Vice President for Research

Research , scholarship and creative ac tivit y at O klahoma State Universit y


2 Baum’s Butterflies The work of biologists Kristen Baum and colleagues is restoring pollinator habitat while opening doors to undergrad researchers.



Writing the Rules of the Universe

Decades of CVHS Research Targets Viral Disease

OSU physicists and students are part of a worldwide search for subatomic particles using the most powerful instruments in the world.

Pathologists study how latent viruses hurt the health of cattle, which hurts the bottom line of producers.

6 Firing up food safety 8 The win/win of industry/university research partnerships 14 Supercomputer power grows at OSU 20 Sleep and academic success 22 Poetry as the building blocks of engineering 26 Building a better battery

30 Ensuring the Success of Science Educators College of Education’s Julie Angle prepares STEM teachers for the classroom through laboratory experience.

28 Native American student thrives on research 34 Honoring research pacesetters 36 Unlikely collaboration creates artistry in motion

BACK COVER Malicious Insiders

Baum’s Butterflies and Undergrad Research Exposing students to the research experience BY B R I A N P E T R OT TA P H OTO S/ TO D D J O H N S O N

On an unseasonably warm September afternoon, a monarch butterfly drifts out of a second-story window of Oklahoma State University’s Life Sciences West building, carrying a little extra weight in the form of a teardrop-sized sticker on its wing.


The sticker allows OSU associate professor of integrative biology Kristen Baum to track the butterfly — and hundreds of its friends wearing similar attachments — as it migrates south for the winter. Baum has built a career on studying pollinators, and her work has taken on more urgency as the monarch population has fallen 80 percent over the past 20 years, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. How did such a sharp decline occur? They’re hungry, and their food supply is waning. Monarch caterpillars feed solely on milkweed, so recent conservation efforts have focused on preserving such habitats, especially in the Midwest. Baum’s expertise with pollinators helped her and colleagues at OSU and the University of Texas-Austin secure funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work with state wildlife departments in Oklahoma and Texas to restore pollinator habitat using prescribed fire and seeding with native plants, such as the coveted milkweed. She is also collaborating with colleagues at Texas A&M University on a project funded by the Texas comptroller’s office to study late-breeding (fall) monarchs. Not one to seek the spotlight, Baum has found herself sitting for interviews and being recorded for television programs to discuss conservation efforts for

the monarch and other pollinators. Though still not completely comfortable in the role, she has chosen to embrace the moment. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to contribute at a national or even international level,” she says. As Baum helps OSU fulfill its land-grant mission through research and outreach, she also has distinguished herself as a teacher and mentor. In 2016, the College of Arts & Sciences honored her as its Outstanding Faculty Mentor. She has received other awards and recognition in the past but this one was special because an undergraduate student made the nomination. “She takes a lot of people under her wing and she’s very good at it,” says Shannon Beck, a senior from Tulsa majoring in secondary science education. “She’s very caring and attentive.” Amy Jorgensen, a senior zoology major from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, agrees. “I had never been exposed to the research process, except the scientific method that you learn in class, but it is totally different when you have to implement it,” Jorgensen says. “She sat me down and worked through the steps and processes.” Beck plans to go into teaching upon graduation while Jorgensen is open to any job related to animal behavior. They both feel like they are better prepared for their respective careers thanks to Baum’s guidance. Interestingly, Baum herself did not participate in research as an undergrad. She began to pick up the skills during internships and field jobs after she graduated but realized to quench her curiosity she would have to return to school.

Research at Oklahoma State University |


“I had never been exposed to the scientific process, except the scientific method that you learn in class, but it is totally different when you have to implement it.” - Amy Jorgensen, senior zoology major


OSU biologist Kristen Baum (above left) examines milkweed along a highway right-of-way to study the effects of mowing on the plant. A monarch egg (top), containing the caterpillar, is attached to a milkweed leaf by the butterfly. A monarch caterpillar feeds only on milkweed. The plant is in decline because of a loss of its habitat. A monarch (top right) emerges from its chrysalis in Baum’s lab. The monarch caterpillar (right) will eventually change into the insect’s chrysalis.


Baum works with Molly Miller, a junior biology major, who is observing monarch caterpillars in Baum’s lab.


A highway right-of-way sign marks the location of a cooperative research project between the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and OSU Cooperative Extension.

“If you are really interested in research — being the one asking the questions — you need that graduate degree,” Baum says. She completed her doctorate at Texas A&M in 2003 and soon landed at OSU. Before long, she had her first funded project, surveying for native bees at the OSU Stillwater Research Range, where prescribed burns occur. After the summer burns, milkweed is one of the first plants to grow back, and it attracts bees — and butterflies. She asked herself, “What about monarchs?” Finding very little research on fall monarchs, she decided to tackle the question herself and has been conducting the research ever since. Baum remains committed to teaching, serving as a co-director for the OSUTeach program, a collaboration between the colleges of Education and Arts & Sciences. Now in its third year, OSUTeach gives science, technology, engineering and math majors the flexibility to earn a degree in their chosen field while completing the requirements for their teaching certificate — all within the standard four-year time period. Graduates can then decide whether to teach, work in industry or pursue graduate school opportunities. It gives students more bang for their bucks and ideally creates more, and better-prepared secondary school STEM teachers as well as a workforce that values and supports secondary STEM education. “The opportunity to try out your future potential career in the actual setting your freshman year is a huge benefit,” Baum says. OSUTeach allows freshmen to enter the classroom (under the guidance of a master teacher) their first semester. Students also work directly with a faculty mentor on research as part of the College of Education associate professor Julie Angle’s (see story on page 30) Teaching Nature of Science Through an Inquiry Approach course. Baum feels this experience benefits both students and faculty. “I think it’s valuable to the faculty mentors to see a direct application of their research to the secondary school system,” Baum explains. “For the students, actually doing research gives them a big advantage for teaching science and engaging students.” While Baum was able to pick up research experience in the field, she did not receive much formal training on how to teach. She has been grateful for the

Research at Oklahoma State University |

resources that OSU provides to help her grow in the classroom, specifically mentioning programs provided by the Institute for Teaching and Learning Excellence. “It is strange that we receive extensive training on how to do research, but not so much for teaching,” Baum says. “I have learned a lot from working directly with undergraduates from diverse backgrounds. I have learned to think about who I am teaching in the classroom: Where did they come from, where do they want to go, what do they want to do?” Molly Miller, a junior biology major from Owasso, Okla., had a good idea where she would go to college. Her grandfather and brother both attended OSU. She always had an interest in pollinators but her introverted nature kept her from reaching out to faculty right away. Eventually, she emailed Baum and has now created her own research project observing monarch caterpillars. The experience has helped her become more assertive, and she advocates for other students to do the same. “Just put yourself out there,” she says. “Ask a lot of questions, even if you think they’re dumb.” Beck believes her research experience will improve her science teaching at the secondary school level after she graduates this year. “It has helped me learn how to set up an experiment and know there is not just one process. We like to take away the ‘the’ — so it’s just ‘scientific method’ — because it’s an overall process, not just point A to point B.” Baum sees learning that process as the biggest area of growth for undergraduate researchers. Her emphasis is on critical thinking and analysis, which makes the students better prepared and more attractive to future employers. Even if they try research and realize it is not for them, they benefit from the experience. In a given year, Baum will take on five to seven undergraduates in addition to several graduate students. It turns out the timing of monarch butterfly research matches up well with the start of the fall semester. Fall monarchs arrive in Oklahoma in mid-August with their migration peaking in late September or early October. When the next wave of young researchers emerges at OSU, Kristen Baum and her butterflies will be waiting.

“I have learned a lot from working directly with undergraduates from diverse backgrounds. Where did they come from, where do they want to go, what do they want to do?” - Kristen Baum, associate professor of integrative biology


Monarch butterfly populations have been in decline for 20 years because of a loss of habitat for milkweed, a plant the butterfly depends on to survive.

Firing up food safety BY M E L A N I E JAC K S O N

Whether they’re deep-fried in batter, sautéed with mushrooms or a raw garnish on a hamburger or taco, onions are a staple on most menus. Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center (FAPC), a part of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, is teaming up with Unitherm Food Systems Inc. in Bristow, Okla., to focus on onion food safety.


This widely consumed, versatile vegetable is susceptible to environmental insults because it’s grown in and on the ground for long periods, says Peter Muriana, FAPC food microbiologist. “They’re out there in the open, possibly to receive any kind of fecal contamination from birds, rodents, deer, rabbits, you name it,” Muriana says. “The produce is out there for weeks or months at a time before it’s harvested, so there is plenty of opportunity for bacteria to get onto these products.” While food safety has always been a major concern for producers and consumers, the 2011 Listeria monocytogenes outbreak in cantaloupe prompted extra vigilance in preventing the bacteria in other fruits and vegetables. “Listeria is known to make biofilms in food-processing environments,” Muriana says. “They are also likely to make biofilms on produce. The concern is, just like any type of pathogen disseminated in animal feces that can get on produce, if Listeria were to do the same,


it has additional significance because it can also make biofilms. Biofilms are difficult to eliminate because they can resist the effects of sanitizing agents.” Unitherm Food Systems, a market leader in innovative equipment technologies for pasteurization, cooking and chilling of raw, partially cooked and fully cooked food and agricultural food commodities, developed a gas-fired flame grill to help reduce bacteria in products. Onions are moved along a conveyer belt and hit with flames to burn the outer layer where the bacteria would reside. A secondary system with a wet scrub brush is used to remove the ash residue from the onions. “The motivation to develop the process was a direct result of recalls of contaminated onions in Washington and California,” says David Howard, Unitherm’s president and chief executive officer. “The research has already proven beneficial both domestically and internationally.” Muriana collaborated with Unitherm for microbial validation of the system. The research team looked at yeast, mold and Listeria on red, yellow and white onions and quantified how much bacteria remained after going through the system. To address potential contamination by pathogens, the research team inoculated onions with a non-pathogenic Listeria — Listeria innocua. “The knockdown we get, the drop in numbers, should be similar to what there might be if L. monocytogenes was on that product,” Muriana says. This system ensures the onions are cleaned without physical manipulation or yield loss.


Books Published by OSU Faculty OSU Research Matters magazine provides a sampling of books authored by OSU faculty in 2016. This listing is not intended to be comprehensive, but is provided to show a selection of the breadth of work produced at OSU.

The Death Penalty in China Bin Liang, co-editor, Sociology Columbia University Press Essays follow changes in the theory and policy of China’s death penalty

Research at Oklahoma State University |

“They can provide intact onions with the outer layers removed that can be shipped or further processed in a safer manner than if you were to cut pieces off,” Muriana says. Eliminating the bacteria on the outer layer is important for consumers, too. Preparing onions for consumption typically involves cutting, and if Listeria is on the outside of the onion, it is dragged to the inside or onto the cutting surface with each slice. “I think our data is going to validate that their process works well in what it is intended to do,” Muriana says. “It provides Unitherm with an opportunity to provide a piece of equipment to onion processors to make their products safer for consumption.” The validation has already helped Unitherm Food Systems provide this food-safety process to companies around the world. “Simplot in Tazmania has installed a 20,000-pound-per-hour process, Cleaver Onions in Washington is installing their second system for 30,000 pounds per hour, and we also have systems pending in the Netherlands, Spain and Poland,” Howard says. “It is proof that food safety lethality steps backed up with scientific evidence are in demand for products that can be contaminated with pathogens.”


Peter Muriana (right), FAPC food microbiologist, works with Chuck Willoughby (left), FAPC business & marketing relations manager, and graduate student Manish Aryal, in the lab preparing onions to be run through a flame grill designed to burn the vegetable’s outer layer to eliminate the harmful bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. The system was tested by FAPC for the manufacturer.

Denk Mal! Deutsch ohne Grenzen, 2nd Edition Karin Schestokat, co-author, German; Vista Higher Learning

Excerpt from the Doctrine of Reason: Georg Friedrich Meier; Lawrence Pasternack, co-series editor, Philosophy; Bloomsbury Academic

A textbook for teaching intermediate level students of German

For scholars of Kant, Locke and the German Enlightenment, this translation presents the richest source of information on Meier and his 18th-century work

The win-win of industry/ university research partnerships BY J E F F J O I N E R

at the Spears School of Business work with companies like Oklahoma-based Love’s Travel Stops on data mining and customer relations systems. OSU engineers develop advanced materials that are the basis for business startups (OSU technologies are licensed from the university, which provides research funding). These are just a few examples of collaborations that benefit both industry and the university. PHOTO/JEFF JOINER


Oklahoma State is committed to spreading knowledge to the citizens of Oklahoma, the nation and even the world. One way it does that is by working with the private sector. Research partnerships allow companies, large and small, to access OSU expertise while providing OSU faculty and students with funding and real-world experience. “Partnerships already in development and the successes we’re seeing are exciting because they show the connectedness of the university with those who can use the research to benefit society,” says Kenneth Sewell, OSU vice president for research. Sewell went on to say that one of OSU’s newest partnerships is with the GE Oil & Gas Technology Center, facilitated by OSU Research Foundation President David Waits. “David led the effort to involve the GE folks in NESI-SES (the industry group that supports OSU’s National Energy Solutions Institute), and that connection has begun to blossom,” Sewell says. The OSU and GE collaboration is developing unmanned systems for the oil and gas industry. GE is interested in unmanned aircraft to monitor oil and gas facilities. (See Q&A opposite) “We are in charge of autopilot development and platform integration, and we’re working directly with GE on integration of their ground control software,” says Jamey Jacob, OSU professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. The company is expected to license the technology from the university. Nearly every research discipline at OSU collaborates with industry. Scientists at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences work with pharmaceutical companies Merck and Zoetis to develop and test drugs to protect animal and human health. Faculty

OSU is partnering with the new GE Oil & Gas Technology Center in Oklahoma City.


Oklahoma State University Beef Cattle Manual, 7th edition – David Lalman, Beef Cattle Production Systems, Damona Doye, Farm Management, editors; Oklahoma State University

Women Presidents of Latin America Farida Jalalzai, author, Political Science Routledge

An updated resource of the latest research-based information for beef cattle producers, Extension professionals, veterinarians and others in the industry

Analyzes four women presidents gaining office since 2006

Research at Oklahoma State University |


An interview with C. Michael Ming, General Manager, GE Oil & Gas Technology Center Q: What are your expectations for opportunities to collaborate with Oklahoma universities? A: “The days of (a company) purely inventing something internally are probably coming to an end. No matter if you partner with somebody or buy somebody or go to universities for that expertise, we are much more amenable to those external partnerships.” Q: Are there opportunities for GE to tap into university expertise through research collaboration? A: “There’s actually a fair amount that we’ve identified between OU, OSU and TU where you find valuable laboratory facilities and the expertise to run them. So, what we want is to build capacity here in areas we’re really good at and we’ll collaborate with someone like a university in areas where it really wouldn’t make sense for us build that capacity here.

A: “STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is our lifeblood. A STEM company needs people trained in STEM. We’re looking to be a center that provides an entry point for anybody in the STEM field to get into GE as a company. We’re also looking for critical thinking abilities, which in engineering is invaluable.” Q: Are there particular technologies being developed at OSU that GE is interested in? A: “Unmanned platforms and automated systems provide opportunities to spot check facilities 24/7. We’re already long past the point where a person can look at something 24/7 or you have to get into maybe dangerous places or maybe just covering more ground. We’re looking at inspection services and places where you can send some type of robotic device into a place where a person can never go. You can put a man on the moon but you really can’t put a man down on the sea floor in 15,000 feet of water. We see a whole new field of opportunity with these kind of systems.”

Q: What are some of OSU’s strengths that GE could find useful in collaborations? A: “All local universities have their core areas of expertise and OSU is known for its expertise in the engineering side and engineering has a pretty high correlation with the needs of the oil and gas industry. I also know some of the hires that OSU has made on the geoscience research side are pretty top notch. The ecosystem of a university in Oklahoma, with it being an energy state, is just a different mindset.”



“There’s also the notion of open innovation for technology development in the pre-commercialization stage. Advancing technologies (in early stages) may not make sense for an individual company, but a rising tide will float all boats. Sharing early stage risk of technology development between companies and universities makes sense for GE in certain areas.”

Q: What does GE need in terms of a skilled workforce?

The partnership is developing an unmanned aerial vehicle to be used in oil fields other facilities.

Madame de Maintenon: Proverbes dramatiques Perry Gethner, co-editor, French Classiques Garnier

American Militarism on the Small Screen Stacy Takacs, co-editor, American Studies Routledge

Playlets written for girls at Maintenon’s school for the daughters of the impoverished nobility

Chapters and their intersections reveal the multiple ways entertainment television has grappled with American militarism

Writing the Rules of the Universe BY B RYA N T R U D E


Built in 1952 by a consortium of 12 European nations, the European Organization for Nuclear Research laboratory occupies a large space near Geneva, Switzerland. Better known as CERN (a French abbreviation for the European Council for Nuclear Research, the group that founded the lab), it is home today to some of the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerators and decelerators, including the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest and most powerful accelerator built by human hands.


Research at Oklahoma State University |


Physicist Joseph Haley with his laboratory students on the OSU campus. The group includes (from left) M.R.D. Madhuranga Thilakasiri and Evan Van de Wall, graduate students, Haley, Leland Palmer, a sophomore, Cameron Racz, a junior/senior, and David Mayes (front), a senior. A CERN scientist in Switzerland (below) works on the inside of the ATLAS cryostat, which cools liquid argon to minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit.


esearch at CERN has led to some of the largest and most significant discoveries in particle physics in human history, expanding mankind’s understanding of space and time. In Stillwater, a team of Oklahoma State University scientists and students help push humanity’s knowledge of reality forward. Joseph Haley, assistant professor of physics, serves as the point man for a team of OSU faculty, students and postdoc researchers working with scientists and institutions from around the world on the ATLAS Experiment. Short for “A Toroidal LHC Apparatus,” ATLAS is an experiment aimed at utilizing the energy output available from the Large Hadron Collider to observe phenomena not previously observable through lower-energy colliders. The goal is to illuminate theories of particle physics beyond the “Standard Model,” a formulation developed in the mid-1970s that attempts to explain how matter behaves at the subatomic level. “The basic idea is that it boils down to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity,” Haley says. “It works well, but we know it has problems. … It explains almost every measurement we’ve done, it’s the best tested theory in history, but if we use it to calculate what should happen at higher energies, certain calculations give nonsense answers, such as probabilities greater than 100 percent.” As matter approaches the speed of light, Haley says, Newtonian mechanics begins to break down, so Einstein’s Theory of Spatial Relativity is used to predict how matter will behave at near-light speeds. The Standard Model serves a similar function in particle physics, allowing scientists to say how particles will behave at certain energy levels. As interactions begin to take place at higher and higher energy levels, however, the Standard Model begins to no longer fit, so a new theory is needed. ATLAS was created to help discover that theory. Along with Fiera Rizatdinova and Alexander Khanov, Haley leads a small team of assistants and scientists searching for new particles created in the collisions produced at CERN by the LHC facility. Members of the group work both on-site at CERN and from facilities in Stillwater.



A technician stands on a platform to show how large the ATLAS particle detector is. The collection of instruments that makes up ATLAS is 82 feet in diameter.


The allure of working with such a globally recognized facility such as CERN and the LHC proved to be a big draw for some of the younger assistants. Currently, three undergraduate students, two graduate students and two postdoctoral researchers work in Haley’s group. “I got involved my freshman year when I decided to start doing research, and I sought out Dr. Haley,” says sophomore Leland Palmer, an undergraduate assistant on ATLAS. “I heard about CERN in high school, and I was very interested in it. [Haley] had me read many things for background at first, but after a month or so, I began doing more complicated things.” For many researchers, including Haley and his team, working at CERN is both a big draw and a source of pride, especially considering the lab’s place in popular culture following the completion and first test of the LHC in 2008. Even today, the LHC and CERN remain popular tabloid fodder for conspiracy theories ranging from secret weapons tests to the creation of black holes and portals to hellish realms.

“It is kinda funny, because when you get down to the nitty gritty of it, it’s just a bunch of scientists — not really the most glamorous people — who just want to get some science done,” Haley says . One of the biggest benefits of participating in ATLAS, in Haley’s opinion, is the camaraderie and experience of being immersed in a global scientific culture, with people from all nations working together for the benefit of humanity. “I would love to send students to CERN,” says Haley, who has been there as a postdoc researcher. “I think that would be so awesome. … If you can stay there a couple of months, you can start to do real research and be part of the culture.” David Jamin, an OSU postdoc researcher stationed at CERN, remembers the feeling he had the first time he set foot on the lab’s Swiss campus, after finishing his Ph.D. work in Marseille, France. “I got my diploma, [broke up] with my girlfriend, and left the city where I spent four years to do my Ph.D., a switch that happened in two days,” Jamin says.

Research at Oklahoma State University |



OSU postdoctoral researchers, Josu Cantero (left) and David Jamin work in the ATLAS control room at the station that monitors the central tracking detectors. A team of OSU scientists and students work at the ATLAS experiment in Europe.

“Packing my life in to a truck, driving 400 kilometers to start a new life.” Through the work of Jamin, Haley, Palmer and the rest of the OSU ATLAS team, Cowboy scientists get to indulge in the history of human advancement and help break new boundaries and have a hand in new discoveries. “Spending time at CERN is a little like visiting a museum. It makes me very proud and motivated to make great things,” Jamin says. “I get to see the building where the World Wide Web was born, the bubble chambers from past experiments. The most impressive thing I’ve seen is the underground chamber for the ATLAS detector on the LHC. “We can explore new areas of physics, thanks to the unique collider there. … Here, we can access and test the limit of the boundaries of human knowledge. This is a work that makes every day unique, different, sometimes hard and sometimes magic.


Joseph Haley, assistant professor of physics.

Supercomputing power grows at OSU BY JA M I E H A DW I N



High performance computing (HPC) became a national priority with the issuance of a 2015 executive order to create a federal strategy for HPC research, development and deployment through the National Strategic Computing Initiative. Luckily for Oklahoma State University, it is already ahead of the HPC curve. Not only has OSU emerged over the last decade as a leader in national HPC community building efforts, but the university is also preparing to install a new supercomputer named Pistol Pete.

The OSU supercomputer Cowboy at the High Performance Computing Center (HPCC). Cowboy will soon be joined by new supercomputer Pistol Pete.

OSU’s High Performance Computing Center (HPCC) facilitates a wide range of advanced computing research services to researchers throughout the state, including a series of progressively more powerful supercomputers. OSU’s current supercomputer, Cowboy, was funded by a 2011 National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant, making it, at the time, the largest externally funded supercomputer in the state. Today, installation of the Pistol Pete supercomputer is underway following a second NSF MRI grant awarded in 2015. HPCC staff are busy working with construction teams to remodel a new data center to house the supercomputer system, which should be operational later this year. “In computer years Cowboy is old,” says Dana Brunson, OSU assistant vice president for research cyberinfrastructure and director of the HPCC. “Cowboy can do 48 trillion calculations per second. I expect us to be able to increase that four times (with Pistol Pete) and provide more than ten times the data storage.” High performance computing systems meet the emerging demands of a diverse and growing community of computational and data-driven researchers. One field experiencing a critical need for HPC is bioinformatics, which finds itself analyzing increasingly larger and complex biological datasets. When HPCC hired bioinformatics specialist Brian Couger in 2015, it was a welcome relief for OSU’s bioinformatics researchers. “There’s been a tremendous uptick in researchers from a variety of disciplines that need advanced computing and data resources,” Brunson says. Another example of research aided by high performance computing is the work of OSU computational chemist Chris Fennell, who studies large-scale


ARE 5 Review Manual for the Architect Registration Exam Steven O’Hara, co-author, Architecture Professional Publications, Inc

Those Who Haunt Ghosts: A Century of Ghost Hunter Fiction Tim Prchal, editor, English (visiting professor) Coachwhip Publications

Provides a complete and comprehensive review of the content areas covered on ARE 5.0 divisions

A collection of ghost hunter fiction – 28 short stories and novellas from the 1820s to the 1920s

Research at Oklahoma State University |


condensed matter simulations. “We have thousands and thousands of atoms and potential molecules in a given simulation,” Fennell says. “You have this enormous problem with thousands and thousands of molecules and suddenly you’re doing a million interactions, and if you want to propagate motion you need to do this millions and millions of times. “Using supercomputer nodes with more processors and memory lets you break up your problem using hundreds of computers (nodes) instead of trying to do a million calculations on one (desktop) computer.” Though the large supercomputer systems get a lot of attention, HPCC offers other advanced computing resources. In 2014, an Oklahoma EPSCoR Track I award funded an initiative to improve climate variability research in the state. The funding established The Interactive Graphical Environment for Research (TIGER ), which allows researchers to interact with software through a familiar Windows-based environment. HPCC also hired another support specialist to manage the resource. TIGER uses servers and virtual machines to access open-source software and programming platforms that may overwhelm a researcher’s personal computer. TIGER improves collaboration and data storage for projects such as analyzing the Oklahoma LiDAR (light detection and ranging) data that is used with the climate variability research. OSU is also at the forefront of HPC community-building efforts through its co-leadership in the OneOklahoma Cyberinfrastructure Initiative, a statewide, all-inclusive collaboration providing access to and education about advanced digital services to more than 100 Oklahoma institutions and organizations.

HPCC director Dana Brunson (left in photo above) shows Cowboys components to OSU Grandparents University participants. A student (left) attends a class on using advanced computing resources.

The success of the Oklahoma model has led to OSU and the University of Oklahoma co-leading the national XSEDE (Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) Campus Engagement program, which aids institutions throughout the country with connecting their researchers and educators to advanced digital resources for research and teaching. Outreach and education are also at the heart of the center’s mission. HPCC hosts training sessions, including Software Carpentry workshops, where researchers are taught basic computing skills to aid with their research. Brunson is teaching her third semester of an HPC undergraduate Honors College course. Students from the first semester of the course went on to establish the first HPC student organization at OSU, and the students plan to enter a supercomputing competition later this semester. Last year, Brunson even introduced supercomputers to preschoolers by demonstrating a simulation of stars in a galaxy over millions of years using a “baby” supercomputer. “It’s never too early to start,” Brunson says. For more information about the HPCC, visit https://

The Body Double Lisa Lewis, author, English Georgetown Review Press

Driving Without a License Janine Joseph, author, English Alice James Books

“Lisa Lewis’ fierce, unselfconscious poems are acutely honest, bristling with beauty, and terribly real.” – Ada Limon

Renders the tactics and the fears of immigrant families who live in fear of the law


Decades of CVHS research targets viral diseases Searching for Answers at OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences BY D E R I N DA B L A K E N E Y

Clinton Jones joined Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences in 2015 as the Sitlington Professor of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology. He brought with him more than 25 years of research expertise in the field of bovine herpes virus 1 (BHV-1) and 17 years studying herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). During that time, Jones and his colleagues made important discoveries.


“About 15 years ago, we discovered that the genes expressed during latency by BHV-1 interfere with the virus killing neurons,” Jones explains. “And specifically, this gene, a protein encoded by the virus that is expressed during latency, interferes with program cell death. This form of programmed cell death is called apoptosis. We then looked for a similar function in genes that are expressed in latently infected neurons of HSV-1 and found that HSV-1 genes expressed abundantly in latently infected neurons also encode a product that

Photo/Gary Lawson

Clinton Jones, Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences Sitlington Professor of Infectious Diseases.

interferes with program cell death.” According to Jones this is important because both viruses, when they establish a latent infection, need to keep the neuron alive for latency for two reasons. “One, the virus has to stay there,” he says. “And two, neurons are terminally differentiated cells. They can never divide. So if the virus kills that cell, then it no longer has a place to have a long-term latent infection.” Jones and his team continue today to try to understand how this influences a long-term latent infection and how to utilize this information to make vaccines, especially against BHV-1, that protect animals from infection but prevent latency from occurring. “Most of our efforts are working on an animal herpes virus,” Jones says. “However, a lot of things that we find in that animal herpes virus are directly related to how human herpes viruses behave. It’s a much better system because you can use the natural host (the cow) to do experiments with. And we have discovered things in that system (BHV-1) that are very similar for HSV-1. Most of the time, the virus has utilized the same kinds of pathways in the cell to achieve a latent infection or to produce virus in permissive cells. “We work on herpes and try to understand how the virus persists in the peripheral nervous system. We are trying to develop better vaccines and understand how the virus is able to hide from the immune system while it establishes and maintains this latent infection.” Research shows that bovine respiratory disease causes significant health concerns in the cattle industry and can result in at least $1 billion in lost production annually. BHV-1 is one of the more important viruses associated with bovine respiratory disease. BHV-1 and HSV-1 can lead to upper respiratory tract disorders, conjunctivitis and in the case of HSV-1, can lead to corneal scarring that can progress to vision loss. BHV-1 can cause genital disorders and bovine respiratory disease.

Research at Oklahoma State University |


Jean d’Offay, professor of virology, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences


“Bovine herpes virus and herpes simplex virus are becoming a bigger problem than they were 25 to 30 years ago,” Jones continues. “People are using modified live vaccines of bovine herpes. Although they are effective in preventing disease in adults (cows), it is also clear that they are responsible for increasing the incidence of abortions in pregnant cows. And that still continues to be a real problem.” Jean d’Offay, professor of virology in the center’s Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, agrees that vaccine-induced abortions are a problem. He has been researching bovine herpes virus since he joined the faculty in 1986. For the last 30 years or more, d’Offay has been looking at the genetics behind the disease. “I’m just interested in virology,” d’Offay says. “I’ve worked with different viruses including AIDS-like virus in baboons. I think it’s fascinating to try and understand the genetic basis for disease. We have analyzed many BHV-1 strains — some of them are not so virulent, while others will cause serious disease. We look at the genetics between them and find out what genes might be responsible for the increased virulence of some BHV-1 strains.” D’Offay says that understanding that and what it is that gets the virus to cause serious disease will allow researchers to develop a better vaccine. “A number of years ago, veterinarians around the country realized that the vaccine that was commercially


A microscopic image of the bovine herpes virus.

available for BHV-1 could have caused abortions in cattle under certain conditions,” d’Offay says. “But nobody could really prove that. It was just the fact that these animals had received the vaccine during pregnancy and then they aborted a few weeks or months later. So we started trying to understand whether we could identify the difference between the vaccine strain that was given to cattle and the wild type, which is the virus that circulates throughout and causes disease.” D’Offay and his research team realized that most of the BHV-1 vaccines available commercially can cause abortions. “Although the vaccine can reduce the incidence of the disease, under certain circumstances, it can cross the placenta and kill the fetus,” he says. “Additionally, when the vaccine is used in feedlots, the vaccine virus can predispose cattle to bacterial infection and results in bovine respiratory disease outbreaks.” Bovine herpes virus 1 is easily transmissible. Cattle that are latently infected and in a feedlot setting can start secreting bovine herpes virus when stressed, which can easily spread to other cattle in the pen. “Sometimes they get the virus very early in life like in the case of humans with cold sores who can keep having the sores throughout their lives,” d’Offay continues. “The same thing with bovine herpes virus 1. They are often infected earlier on in life and remain latently infected. When they enter the feedlot, if they are stressed, they start secreting the virus. Now if the animals around them have never been infected, they will become sick and spread the virus to the others resulting in outbreaks of severe respiratory disease. “I think by looking at the genes from viruses that cause severe disease and those that don’t, and looking at the genes that are present in vaccine viruses, we may get a better understanding of what is it that determines the ability of a virus to cause severe disease and what can we do to attenuate the virus to use as a good vaccine that is not going to cause abortions and not going to predispose the cattle to respiratory disease in feedlots,” d’Offay says. And through the efforts of both researchers and their teams, perhaps the future for the cattle industry will look a little brighter as discoveries related to bovine herpes virus and herpes simplex virus continue. For more information on Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, visit www.

Research at Oklahoma State University |

The Men Behind the Research Photo/Gary Lawson

Clinton Jones earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., and his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Kansas. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Viral Carcinogenesis at the Linus Pauling Institute of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif. He became interested in viruses as a graduate student and has been working with them ever since. Married for nearly 40 years, Jones has four children — one nurse, two teachers and a researcher who is working at the University of Colorado School of Medicine studying the herpes virus that causes chicken pox and looking at how this virus causes all kinds of problems in elderly people, such as shingles. Jones enjoys watching college football and fishing occasionally.

Clinton Jones

Photo/phil shockley

Jean d’Offay earned his BVSc (DVM equivalent) from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, a diploma in tropical veterinary medicine from the University of Edinburgh, and his Ph.D. in virology from the University of Missouri. He is also a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists. He started working on bovine herpes virus while earning his Ph.D. and during his postdoctoral training in molecular virology at the University of South Alabama. He extended his work into the genetics behind the virus when he came to OSU. His hobbies include carpentry. While he says he doesn’t produce fine furniture, he enjoys working in his workshop, where he can do almost anything. D’Offay also works on his truck and scooter and sails from time to time. He likes to keep in shape and regularly exercises. And to keep his mind in shape, he reads, looking for things that are interesting to study and explore.

Jean d’Offay


Sleep and academic success BY J U L I E B A R N A R D

Sleep is essential for promoting positive outcomes during adolescence and later. Indeed, chronic sleep deficiency has been identified as a key predictor of a variety of physical and mental health problems such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, depression and substance abuse.


College of Human Sciences associate professor in human development and family science Michael Criss believes poor sleep quality, which has been linked to learning difficulties, cuts adolescents’ potential for academic success. “Given the physical and neurological transformations, sleep may be especially critical during adolescence,” Criss says. “I am interested in how adolescents’ relationships with their friends and parents impact their sleep.” Criss used a sample of 171 girls ranging in age from 12 to 16 years who came from families with an average yearly income of little more than $27,000. During daily telephone interviews, the teens reported sleeping on average 7.89 hours per night. Participants slept nine hours or more only 30 percent of the time. As expected, they slept more on weekends than on weekdays. Although there was some variation in the amount of sleep the adolescents got each night, the daily and overall weekly averages were much less than the nine to 10 hours of sleep suggested by many health experts. Criss wanted to discover whether peer and parent involvement and openness were related to the number of hours the adolescent slept during the two-week period. It turned out that, “If the adolescents had warm and open relationships with their parents and spent a lot of time with them, they tended to have good sleeping habits, at least with respect to total hours slept,” Criss says. However, the results from the peer relationships were more complicated. Teens with open communica-

tion and warm and close relationships with friends tended to get less sleep. “I think it’s possible that teens who have open and warm relationships with their friends are probably texting their friends a lot at night, which is decreasing the amount of sleep that they get each night,” Criss says. Adolescents who slept more each night tended to be less depressed and do better in school. High levels of adolescent sleep were related to low levels of depressive symptoms and high grades, but only among adolescents going through puberty. In other words, sleep may be especially important during puberty. He is now examining the link between texting and bedtime. In preliminary analyses using a sample of 13- to 16-year-old girls and boys and their parents, Criss collected sleep, media use and texting information through daily telephone interviews over seven days. In this sample, he found some adolescents were sending and receiving around 400 to 600 texts across the seven days. Moreover, time and duration for texting peaked on Friday nights, accompanied by poor sleep. “Adolescents going to bed after 1 a.m. reported significantly higher levels of total texts compared to youth going to bed between 9 and 11 and 11 and 1, respectively,” Criss says. “Although these are just preliminary findings, they suggest that adolescents who spend many hours in the evening watching TV, playing video games and texting tend to have later bedtimes and sleep less.”


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Research at Oklahoma State University |

“Although these are just preliminary findings, they suggest that adolescents who spend many hours in the evening watching TV, playing video games and texting tend to have later bedtimes and sleep less.” — Michael Criss, associate professor in human development and family science, OSU College of Human Sciences

He expects the information learned from this and upcoming projects will be part of future intervention and prevention programs focusing on adolescent electronic communication, parent-teen relationships and adolescent sleep.

“Concentrating on these critical issues may decrease antisocial behavior during adolescence. Effective intervention programs also may decrease the amount of money the state spends on incarceration and mental health treatment,” Criss says.

Remarkable Dinah Cox, author, Creative Writing (visiting professor) BOA Editions

The Seen, the Unseen, and the Unrealized: How Regulations Affect Our Everyday Lives Per Bylund, author, Entrepreneurship Rowman & Littlefield

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The real effects of regulations on everyday lives


Poetry as the building blocks of engineering BY C H E L S E A R O B I N S O N


Quite the juxtaposition of words, yet exactly those used as inspiration by James Manimala, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Manimala discovered a correlation between the two subjects while analyzing the poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth. The fourth line of its second stanza reads “A host, of golden daffodils”. In reflection on that particular phrase, Manimala focused on the long “o” repeated throughout the line and how the subtleness of the sounds impacted the overall effect of the piece. Poets and writers refer to this literary device used as a building block of verse as “assonance.” In that moment, he realized the same principle could be applied to his research in mechanical metamaterials. Just as the soft sound of the long “o” created a desired rhythm, he could make repeated alterations within existing materials to achieve the desired effect he sought. Manimala’s research focuses on introducing internal features into materials to get a desired transformation across structures. In practical terms, if a host material can be altered through “clever little dynamics” to change the material, then existing materials can be transformed to realize unprecedented dynamic characteristics. He compares the process to crafting a recipe that has a complicated list of exotic ingredients, but he gets to determine how much of which ingredients to use and in what way to control the flavor of the dish. When applied to metamaterials, this is a groundbreaking approach based on integrating mechanical assonance and inertance. Such metamaterials can steer, focus, disperse or even reject mechanical disturbances and also act as “tuned mass participants”, which have a relatively small

static mass but a dynamic mass presence a few orders of magnitude greater. The uniqueness of Manimala’s research is one of the characteristics that sets it apart. The foundations of his theory were published recently in the Journal of Applied Physics and the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. The publications led to his receiving the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award, which provides $498,000 over two years with the possibility of a $500,000 follow-on director’s fellowship. DARPA historically funds high-risk, high-payout projects that have the potential to alter the footprint of modern technology. Due to the nature of DARPA, Manimala’s research will focus on defense applications, including microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The basic technology of MEMS has existed since the 1980s and has since been utilized for atomic clocks, inertial sensors for missiles and even for micro-robots in biomedical applications.

Manimala’s research with metamaterials involves using an anechoic chamber where his group performs transmission loss testing of materials with various acoustic treatments.

Research at Oklahoma State University |


“Poets and writers refer to this literary device . . . as ‘assonance.’ In that moment, he realized the same principle could be applied to his research in mechanical metamaterials.”

Manimala will use his mechanical assonance principle to explore mechanical encryption for crucial military devices. In other words, he will encode the device in a way that can only be decoded through his specific type of signal processed through mechanical assonance. This development, if successful, will transform the way MEMS are used for defense purposes. Through this project, OSU will partner with such universities as Stanford and Purdue. Manimala’s experiments require highly specialized types of materials and miniaturized manufacturing that are only available at those academic institutions or at national labs such as Sandia. Manimala’s project will also build relationships with a variety of Department of Defense agencies through site visits and communicating with warfighters and defense technologists. He also anticipates working with a handful of national laboratories and defense suppliers due to the specific nature of his research. Over the course of the two-year project, Manimala and his team will perform experiments on a microscopic level. They will utilize the Solid and Structural Dynamics Lab (SSDL) on OSU’s campus to analyze the effects of vibrations on metamaterials up to the microscale — about the width of a human hair. By the end of the project, Manimala expects to have a device prototype for DARPA to review. Manimala’s groundbreaking theory also has prac-


The mechanical and aerospace engineering professor discusses a project with students Andrew Chambers (center), a master’s student, and Alex Svetgoff, a senior.

tical application outside of defense purposes. He says the principle is scalable and can be applied to macroscale areas such as space and nuclear infrastructure as well as the medical field. In space, Manimala says mechanical assonance can be applied during launch situations where the event is typically forceful and violent. “When launching a device into space, you need to isolate sensitive payloads from adverse vibrations,” he says. “These payloads have to survive the launch. Assonance-based vibration isolators provide a means to sequester or redirect undesirable mechanical disturbances to protect such valuable assets during their journey into space.” The same idea is used when considering the applications for nuclear infrastructure. For example, the earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 caused serious concern for the nuclear power plant located on the island. Through the utilization of mechanical assonance, the materials used to build a nuclear power plant could be altered to manipulate and reject the energy of the waves caused by a natural disaster, rendering the structure more secure. Manimala also recognizes the potential for energy harvesting through his principle. He uses the medical field as an example, specifically ongoing research on pacemakers. These devices are implanted in the body through an invasive surgical procedure. The battery life currently only lasts six to 10 years, meaning someone struggling with a severe health issue must go back under the knife. Mechanical assonance may provide a solution by creating a harvester that can cope better with fluctuations in the heart’s vibrations. In other words, the human heart is constantly beating and producing kinetic energy but there is variability depending on the heart rate. Manimala’s application of assonant metamaterials within the pacemaker could provide the passive-adaptive stability needed to harvest energy from the person’s beating heart to power the device indefinitely. This technology could drastically change the quality of life for millions of people who live with the device. Manimala’s theories and his future discoveries promise to bring forth results that will alter the footprint of structural materials. His work at OSU could affect society on a global scale and significantly alter the military, space and energy industries. Five simple words with three long o’s could be the key to a new era of metamaterials engineering.

Research at Oklahoma State University |

“This is a groundbreaking approach based on integrating mechanical assonance and inertance. Such metamaterials can steer, focus, disperse or even reject mechanical disturbances.�


Testing of a metamaterial waveguide experiment that is part of the research of Prateek Kulkarni, a graduate student in Manimala’s lab.

Building a Better Battery Oklahoma State University-Tulsa researchers are working to improve the technology that powers our lives BY K I M A R C H E R

As society becomes more reliant on electronic devices such as cellphones, laptops and tablets, scientists are scrambling to develop lithium-ion batteries that are more powerful, safer, longerlasting and lightweight. The advent of popular smartphone apps that drain batteries, like the Pokémon Go game, and reports of batteries overheating in cellphones and other devices have only raised the stakes. Despite recent research suggesting lithium-ion batteries are nearing maximum energy capacity, Okla-


homa State University-Tulsa faculty and graduate student researchers in the School of Materials Science and Engineering are making strides on increasing power and extending battery life. At the Helmerich Research Center (HRC) in Tulsa, Pankaj Sarin, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, and graduate student researcher Swathiha Lakshmi Kumar, have zeroed in on specific changes, including the use of different processing methods and materials.

“This is important research because lithium-ion batteries are a primary power source in everything from cell phones to laptops. They are the most popular type of rechargeable battery and are used in most consumer electronics,” Sarin says. “The purpose of this project is to improve longevity and performance, lower costs and reduce the weight of lithium-ion batteries.” Raman Singh, OSU associate dean for the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology and HRC director, says the lithium-ion battery project is part of OSU-Tulsa’s overarching goal of building important connections with local industry. “Our faculty and graduate students work collaboratively with startup companies on research and development with the goal of commercializing a new product,” he says. “This research project is the kind that might catch the eye of an entrepreneur who would like to partner with OSU-Tulsa in bringing new lithium-ion battery technology to the market.” In the past, Sarin devised strategies for battery materials research and sought resources and personnel to translate them into action. Then Kumar applied to the master’s degree program in materials science and engineering and expressed a desire to conduct lithium-ion battery research. Around the same time, OSU-Tulsa was awarded a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, with Sarin as the co-principal investigator, to start a



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Research at Oklahoma State University |

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. As part of the program, Sarin offered battery materials as a research topic to prospective REU scholars, which was one of the most popular projects. Finally in June 2016, Kumar was able to launch the research project and act as a mentor to Elena Davidson, an undergraduate from Kansas State University. “Everybody always complains about how long batteries last on one charge and the length of time they stay charged as you cycle through the battery again and again,” Davidson says. “We researched novel methods to process battery materials and assembled the battery in a way that we believe nobody else has done.” As researchers and manufacturers continue to study ways to pack more power into lithium-ion batteries, safety has become a greater concern than ever. Most recently, faulty lithium-ion batteries have been blamed for blazes ignited in cell phones and self-propelled skateboards. A major cellphone manufacturer has recalled a popular model due to reports of smoke and fire, and several airlines have required they be turned off on flights. “The good thing is that no battery exploded during my research,” Davidson says with a laugh. Another issue in the quest for more powerful batteries is weight. People want smaller devices that are easy to carry around, and reducing weight can be critical. According to the military, the typical weight load for a U.S. soldier is more than 100 pounds of gear, due in part to massive lithium-ion battery packs needed to power equipment. “An average soldier on the battlefield carries 70 batteries, weighing around 16 pounds, to power GPS units, radios, night-vision goggles, tablets, smartphones and even helmet-mounted screens on a three-day patrol,” Sarin says. “Think about how difficult that is to carry all of that extra weight around.” To reduce the load and curtail injuries, the armed forces and the Department of Defense have spearheaded initiatives to reduce the amount of weight soldiers must carry and to adopt more efficient sources of energy while meeting the demand for increased power. Kumar found that by using a compound uncommon in commercial battery manufacturing, the weight of the exper-

OSU-Tulsa graduate student Swathiha Lakshmi Kumar


Pankaj Sarin, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at OSU-Tulsa, discusses research in his laboratory with graduate student Daniel Lowry.

imental battery was reduced while it still outperformed batteries on the market. “Our research is notable because we have shown that using inexpensive processing methods lithium-ion batteries can be made with novel compositions, which hold considerable promise to improve battery performance,” Sarin says. “This research project is just a beginning. It is something to build on.”

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Native American student thrives on research OSU student’s MIT experience shows growing influence of AIIP BY B R I A N P E T R OT TA

Pursuing a college degree was never going to be easy for Mariah Nacke. No one in her family had attended college nor was she raised in a particularly wealthy household. When she did decide to go to college, she shot for the moon, hoping for a ticket to Harvard or MIT. While the Tulsa native ultimately chose to study psychology at Oklahoma State University, Nacke made her MIT dream come true in the summer of 2016 when she earned one of the most competitive internships in the country. PHOTO COURTESY MARIAH NACKE


OSU student Mariah Nacke, with a poster from a research project, a first-generation college student, earned a prestigious internship last year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Coming out of high school, I was worried I just didn’t work hard enough to go to Harvard or MIT,” Nacke says. “But OSU has provided such a tremendous sense of growth and support I would not have had otherwise.” Early in her OSU career, Nacke found a home in DeMond Grant’s Laboratory of Emotion and Psychophysiology. Putting in extra hours to learn the intricacies of the electroencephalogram (EEG) quickly earned her the respect of her older peers. “When grad students trust an undergraduate, I know we have a good one,” Grant says. Buoyed by this foundation of research, Nacke applied for and was accepted into the American Indians Into Psychology (AIIP) summer scholars program, which recently received funding to continue for the 19th consecutive year. Equal parts Wichita and Chickasaw, Nacke earned an Indian Health Services (IHS) scholarship after attending this unique program. She was the first sophomore admitted to the program. “Given the success with Mariah, it encourages us to take a risk on other underclassmen,” says John Chaney, director of the AIIP program. The AIIP experience helped Nacke connect with her culture in a new way, giving her the confidence to affect change. “It’s really about coming together and preserving our history and heritage,” she says. Part of coming together in the long term meant leaving in the short term. In the summer of 2016, Nacke finally made it to MIT. She credits the Scholar Development office at OSU with tipping her off to the Amgen Scholar Program. Amgen provides summer scholarships


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Research at Oklahoma State University |


to undergraduates, matching accepted scholars with some of the world’s most renowned research scientists. She was told that of 2,500 Amgen alumni, she was only the 10th from Oklahoma. Having beaten the odds with the MIT internship, she reported to Jon Gabrieli’s cognitive neuroscience lab. Generally speaking, the project looked at how nutrition affects the brain in hopes that information could lead to a more holistic approach to the treatment of clinical conditions, especially in marginalized groups. “It might be better received by some groups who may distrust medical systems or government-installed programs,” Nacke explains. The potential to aid those who need it most drives Nacke. She sees a tremendous amount of need and therefore has tackled an intimidating workload. There was last summer’s “vacation” at MIT, the previous summer in the AIIP program, and even Spring Break offered her an outreach opportunity in inner-city Atlanta. There she witnessed extremely poor communities with no easy access to nutritional food. It deeply affected Nacke, who has spent years studying nutrition’s influence on the brain. “If children don’t have these resources, how are they ever going to be able to thrive during their developmental milestones and have the opportunities to go on and to be diversely represented across society?” Nacke asks. “Thrive” is a word Nacke uses often, though always in reference to wanting it for others. The word could easily describe her as well. Not only has she studied at MIT for a summer, excelled in the AIIP program, and found a home in Grant’s lab but she took on work in a second lab on campus with Winyoo Chowanadisai, an associate professor of nutritional science, when she was looking for an elective in neuroscience. Nacke will graduate in May 2017, with an eye on pursuing a doctorate in molecular science. Her studies have given her an academic language to articulate how

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Students in the 2015 AIIP Summer Enrichment Program: (front row, left to right) Lisa Wilson, Bethany Bruno, Mariah Nacke, and Sarah Byrd; (second row, left to right) Jacob Hemenway, program director John Chaney, and William Brown.

she was able to rise above her social conditions, and she quickly credits her family. “My family is very loving and supportive, which is a strong protective resilience factor for overcoming the odds,” Nacke says. She continues to foster relationships with her biological family, her AIIP family, her MIT family and her OSU family. Each group has provided life-changing support, and she is eager to produce returns on their investments. “The goal that I have for myself in everything I do is if you invest 100 percent in me, I am going to give 1000 percent back.” With words like that, it is difficult to imagine the chains of generational poverty were ever shackled to Nacke. She is spending her final year as an undergraduate working in both Grant’s and Chowanadisai’s labs while constructing her senior honors thesis, which focuses on how anxiety affects cognitive function. Nacke might not have been expected to attend college. But she is, she’s thriving, and she’s ready to lift others with her.

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Ensuring the success of science educators Mentoring future science teachers through research BY C H R I S T Y L A N G P H OTO S BY P H I L S H O C K L E Y


Julie Angle

Julie Angle’s commitment — for preparing future science educators, developing talented science teachers and inspiring adolescents to pursue STEM careers — drives her teaching, research and service. “Knowledge of scientific research is especially important for quality science teachers,” says Angle, an associate professor in the Oklahoma State University College of Education. “It’s important to understand science content, the methods and practices of science, and how scientific knowledge is generated. Science does not always come in a neat package; it is often messy. In actuality, you don’t just follow the steps. It’s unpredictable and creative.” Angle joined the OSU faculty in 2009 and leads the secondary science education program. She has been lauded for her teaching efforts, receiving the Oklahoma State University Regents Teaching Award in 2015. Angle is equally passionate about science and science education research. “For me, research, teaching and service are compiled together,” she says.  Angle’s philosophy of preparing science educators through a research lens using an inquiry-based approach is shaped by 25 years of experience teaching high school science, including coaching her students in science fair competitions. “I saw what (science fair competitions) provided for my students, how it challenged and pushed them further and gave them opportunities to meet people from all over the world,” she explains. At OSU, Angle has forged strong, collaborative relationships with science and engineering faculty, creating opportunities for her science education students to work closely with faculty and graduate assistants on semester-long research projects.

Research at Oklahoma State University |

As part of her Teaching the Nature of Science through an Inquiry Approach course, Angle matches her preservice science teachers (PSTs) with science faculty and graduate assistants at OSU. “My science education program would not be the success that it is if it were not for the OSU scientists and engineers who volunteer to mentor my students in learning to conduct authentic research,” Angle says. “Many faculty have embraced my PSTs coming into their labs. They understand that if we prepare quality science teachers, then they will prepare their future students to be better prepared college students.” As PSTs conduct research, they are also being prepared to transition their research into a middle school or high school science lesson. This allows researchers to reach an audience not normally on their dissemination radar. PSTs also present their research, in a poster format, to peers, faculty, graduate students, department heads and deans at the College of Education PST Research Symposium and Reception.

“I’m known for being demanding, but becoming a quality science teacher takes work,” Angle says. “So much of learning about science is through an investigative process. The beauty is that they are proud of their accomplishments. The work is worth it.” Each year, Angle takes her science education students to the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) national conference, where many of them have participated in science research competitions with graduate and undergraduate students from all over the country. In the last three years, Angles’ students have won awards in the conference’s Undergraduate/Graduate Mentored Research Poster competition:

2016 Shannon Beck, secondary science education (biology), third place, “The Painted Predicament: The Interaction Between Temperature and Food Limitation in Painted Ladies,” based on her work in Kristen Baum’s lab.


College of Education associate professor Julie Angle (photo left) leads a program to bring teachers and OSU students who will become teachers into the lab for hands-on research experience. A group of teachers (above) try their hand at experiments mentored by Angle.

“Knowledge of scientific research is especially important for quality science teachers. It’s important to understand science content, the methods and practices of science.” - Julie Angle



Cassandra Dowds, bachelor’s degree in science education 2016, first place, “The Effect of Embyronic Exposure to Predation Risk on Growth and Antipredator Behavior of Physa acuta,” working with Barney Luttbeg Cara Stephens, bachelor’s in zoology 2015, and science education 2016, first place in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning competition, “Relationship between Instructional Strategies and Student Focus in a Flipped, Introductory-Biology Classroom,” mentored by Donald French.

2014 Kaytlyn Goodwin, bachelor’s in secondary science education 2015, “The Effects of Shade on Setaria virdis, or green millet,” mentored by Andrew Doust. Angle has worked on grants with many science faculty members at OSU, including Doust “For science education students and undergraduates in science, it’s easy to learn content but difficult to learn the craft and really difficult to model that,” says Doust, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Biology, Ecology and Evolution.  “Education research suggests that just ‘doing’ science does not strengthen an individual’s understanding of the nature of science,” Angle explains. “Using their research experience as the lens to teach about the

nature of science has significantly increased preservice and in-service science teachers’ science literacy skills.” Doust leads a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Plant Genome Research Program for a project that studies genetic regulation of specialized branches in grasses known as “tillers.” He works closely with Angle to integrate high school science teachers into a research environment and help them gain a better understanding of how scientific knowledge is generated. Angle and Doust’s model of involving science teachers in research has added support for preservice teachers. Pairing a preservice teacher with an in-service teacher in a summer research experience and extending this working relationship through the following school year has earned rave reviews from the National Science Foundation.   “(We’re helping teachers) get away from the idea that science fairs are about asking only answerable questions; rather it’s about exploring what science is about, exploring the system,” Doust says. “It’s not necessarily about having a hypothesis. We don’t always know the question to ask.” The partnership has been really productive, and Doust says he has learned a lot from Angle. Angle also spearheads two annual events at OSU that reach high school students, the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) and the award-winning National Lab Day at OSU.

Research at Oklahoma State University |

33 Angle (left) brings 25 years of experience teaching high school science including coaching students in preparing for science fairs. Participating science teachers learn how to prepare lesson plans that challenge students.

The JSHS regional competition brings talented high school students from Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma to OSU each year to present their original research. STEM faculty serve as judges, and student winners advance to the national JSHS competition. During National Lab Day, faculty from five colleges (Education; Arts and Sciences; Engineering, Architecture and Technology; Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; and Human Sciences) welcome high school science teachers and their students to Stillwater

each May. High school students are paired with STEM research faculty, who expose them to research and STEM majors at OSU. In 2015, the project was awarded first place in the OSU President’s Cup Promoting Creative Interdisciplinary Instruction. “Julie’s enthusiasm carries these projects with teachers, students and science faculty,” Doust says. “She is very focused and organized and committed to her ideals. Those things make it work.”

Honoring Research Pacesetters 2016 Regents Distinguished Research Award recipients Oklahoma State University annually recognizes the scholarship and leadership of researchers who represent the best in their respective fields. The 2016 Regents Distinguished Research Award recipients were selected based on evidence of outstanding and meritorious research achievements and national and international recognition. PHOTOS/KEVIN MCCROSKEY

Francis Epplin, Professor and Neustadt Chair in Agricultural Economics Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Epplin is a leading researcher in the economics of biofuels and crop and livestock production systems. He has authored and collaborated on more than 200 journal articles, abstracts, book chapters, and experiment station bulletins and his work has been supported by more than $20 million in collaborative and multidisciplinary grants. Epplin has advised 17 master’s and 20 doctoral students, many of whom he recruited. His honors include being named a Regents Professor, receiving the OSU Sarkeys Distinguished Professor Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Agricultural Economics Association.


William Decker, Professor of English College of Arts & Sciences Decker is a recognized scholar of American literature, especially of the writings of Henry Adams and the study of American letter writing. Along with writing three books and editing a collection of essays, Decker has served on editorial boards for numerous journals and publishers, and has delivered 33 papers to professional conferences both nationally and internationally. He has been named a Fulbright Lecturer in Belgium, elected as a Corresponding Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and received the College of Arts & Sciences Junior Faculty Award for Scholarly Achievement.

Robert Burnap, Professor and Vaughn O. Vennerberg Chair of Bioinformatics & Molecular Genetics College of Arts & Sciences Burnap studies photosynthesis and how the process of converting light energy into chemical energy drives cellular metabolism. He investigates the water oxidation mechanism in photosynthesis and the development of DNA microarrays for the cyanobacteria Synechocystis. His research has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation since 1998. Burnap is recognized for mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, but also Oklahoma high school teachers who gain hands-on research experience in his lab through a College of Education STEM teacher development program.

Research at Oklahoma State University |

Ramesh Sharda, Regents Professor and Vice Dean of the Watson Graduate School of Management, ConocoPhillips Chair in Technology Management Spears School of Business Sharda is being honored with his second Regents Distinguished Research Award following his recognition in 2003 in the award’s inaugural year. Internationally known for his study of data analytics and decision support systems, Sharda has published more than 150 highly cited papers in academic journals, including one cited more than 1,000 times. Sharda has also authored and co-authored many widely-used textbooks. Sharda is known as a dedicated mentor for junior faculty and graduate students, including doctoral candidates in the Ph.D. in Business for Executives program, which he founded.

Bert Jacobson, Regents Professor and M.B. Seretean Endowed Professor College of Education Jacobson’s research in health and human performance includes examination of caffeine use and performance, sleep quality and efficiency related to bedding surfaces, and the development of a patented antiballistic garment. The invention of an apparatus to assist the elderly with balance and stability is awaiting patent approval. Jacobsen has published more than 135 journal articles and 50 peer-reviewed abstracts and has served on the review boards of a number of journals. In recognition of his research, Jacobsen has been named a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Balabhaskar Balasundaram, Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Balasundaram conducts research into developing theories and algorithms for mathematical optimization problems involving large-scale data networks. He has been published in 33 peer-reviewed journals, proceedings and handbooks with his articles having been cited more than 400 times. Balasundaram has secured more than $3.5 million in competitive research grants. His honors include two Research Excellence Awards from the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology, the Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Operations Research from the Institute of Industrial Engineers, and the Halliburton Outstanding Young Faculty Award.

Hailin Qu, Regents Professor and William Davis Endowed Chair College of Human Sciences Qu’s internationally influential research evaluates service quality and consumer benefit in hospitality and tourism management. His 102 peer-reviewed papers have been cited 4,100 times. Qu is the 15th leading researcher for publishing in three top-tier journals in the field and is also founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Quality Assurance in Hospitality and Tourism. His honors include the OSU Regents Distinguished Teaching Award, the College of Human Sciences Outstanding Engagement Award, the OSU Eminent Faculty Award, and the School of International Studies Education Faculty Excellence Award.

Richard Eberle, Professor of Molecular Virology Center for Veterinary Health Sciences Eberle is an internationally recognized expert in simian herpesviruses, especially monkey B virus (BV). For decades, Eberle has studied the extreme neurovirulence of this virus and is considered one of two leading authorities in the world. He has mapped the BV genome and developed a murine model of BV to test anti-viral drug efficacy against infection providing physicians with model-tested data.


Unlikely collaboration creates artistry in motion Talents of faculty from different worlds come together BY C AT H E R I N E W I L S O N

Lee Brasuell, production manager and technical director in the Department of Theater, and Henry Segerman, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics, met three years ago during a new faculty orientation. Segerman noticed Brasuell drawing sketches and spoke to him after the meeting. “Henry mentioned he had been developing concepts for some circus apparatuses and asked if I would look over them,” Brasuell says. “We eventually met to start talking about how to integrate circus performers into them.” Segerman’s interest in designing new devices for circus performers was sparked when he met with internationally renowned circus artist Marco Paoletti in 2011. PHOTO/JEFF JOINER


OSU faculty Lee Brasuell, theatre (left), and Henry Segerman, math, used their respective talents to design an apparatus for use by circus performers.

The two discussed a rolling apparatus that would allow performers to move continuously within the structure. “The design for the Tao-Line came out of those ideas of a rolling apparatus,” Segerman says. “In the Tao-Line, the performer can roll in a straight line along the stage but at certain points can go off on a different path by shifting their body weight.” Segerman gave Brasuell a 3D computer model of the Tao-Line, which allowed him to analyze its technical aspects. The model also provided Brasuell the opportunity to share the concept with others. “Henry was gracious enough to give me the blueprint of the design and a 3D printed scale, and I took that to different performers I knew across the country,” Brasuell says. “Initially, it was designed as a ground apparatus, but we discovered it would also work as an aerial apparatus.” As the concept of the Tao-Line continued to develop, Brasuell began to search for funding. “We were doing a lot of great research on the movements and balance points, but we didn’t have any funding,” Brasuell says. “I started writing proposals. I received a DaVinci Fellowship, and that was the seed money to get us going.” The team also received a Technology Business Development Program “gap funding” grant from the OSU Technology Development Center to help with prototype development. After receiving funding, the next challenge was to find a manufacturer capable of building a working model. The Tao-Line has no square corners, making it difficult to build. Eventually, Brasuell found the Chicago


Crimea and the Black Sea: An Environmental History Carlos Cordova, author, Geography I.B. Tauris & Co. First modern study in English on the environmental history of a significant region

Visualizing Mathematics with 3D Printing Henry Segerman, author, Mathematics Johns Hopkins University Press Pulls higher geometry and topology out of the realm of the abstract for anyone fascinated by relationships of shape

Research at Oklahoma State University |

Fly House, a company able to produce the prototype. Over the summer, Brasuell made a few trips to Chicago to ensure production was on schedule. In October, the Tao-Line prototype was delivered to campus. Since its delivery, the Tao-Line has been tested by performers and evaluated. Brasuell admits there is still work to be done. “As an aerial apparatus, there’s a lot of structural analysis we have to do to the hardware and the splicing so when it’s up in the air it will take the shock loads put on it by the aerial artists,” Brasuell say. “It’s going to take time because none of this is off-the-shelf. It’s all custommade.” Although there might not be a large market for the Tao-Line apparatus, that was never the purpose for its development. “The goal for me was to just get it out to the circus and performer community so they had something new and unique,” Brasuell says. “I already have a few who want to use it for specific shows, and I think people can use it to tell a story.”



A pair of performers (top) test the design of the Tao-Line, which can be rolled with performers inside or suspended and spun like a top. Sketches (above) show design concepts. As a mathematician, Segerman put his passion for three dimensional geometric objects to work creating the design while Brasuell brought his skills with acrobatic performance to the partnership.

Unnaturally Delicious: How Science and Technology are Serving Up Super Foods to Save the World; Jayson Luck, author, Agricultural Economics St. Martin’s Press

A Life Made With Artists: Doris Littrell and the Oklahoma Indian Art Scene Julie Pearson-Little Thunder, author, OSU Library, visiting professor; The RoadRunner Press

How technology and agriculture can work together in a healthy and innovative way

An Oklahoma gallery owner who helped make possible the contemporary Oklahoma Indian Art Movement

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Malicious Insiders Beware insider sabotage BY A R I E L W E S T

Malicious employees may want to sabotage your business — are you at risk? We all know that one employee who’s narcissistic and disgruntled, but did you know that employee could take down an entire company? The biggest problem in information security has been malicious insider threats. These insiders have the knowledge and access to organizational resources to easily launch attacks on the organization, even causing more damaging impact compared to outsiders. By using a database of problems collected from various business organizations, intelligence agencies and military units, Oklahoma State University associate professor David Biros and Ph.D. student Peter Liang, in Spears School of Business, were able to discover some common themes to help pinpoint security threats. “In our data set of 700, we used text-mining to analyze more than 133 real-world cases of offenders in various organizational settings to find what malicious insiders look like and found significant characteristics,” Biros said. “A vast majority of the malicious offenders were narcissistic, anti-social, displayed avoidant behavior, were disgruntled and typically had substance abuse issues.”

Their article, “An Empirical Validation of Malicious Insider Characteristics,” published in the Journal of Management Information Systems, was timely. An independent, nonprofit information security association, ISACA, released a survey of more than 3,000 information security professionals that cited the main concern of organizations was insider threats. In the past, research and data in this area has had little prominence due to small sample sizes. With Biros and Liang’s results and larger sampling size, research in the field of information security became even more important. So, what causes insiders to turn malicious? “A lot of the times, the insider is disgruntled; they have some emotional issues toward the organization. It can vary, but a lot of the times the motivation is money,” Liang said. “A lot of the times, the employee is just so narcissistic and disgruntled about the company that he or she feels the need to ‘get back at’ the organization.” Biros and Liang plan to continue this research by comparing malicious insiders versus benign insiders such as CEOs and presidents of the organization, who may be narcissistic but not malicious.

OSU Research Matters 2017