Discover Magazine 2017

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a biomedical engineering

decades of breaking ground

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merger boosts research

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Vines are taking over the world’s rain forests — and impairing the forests’ ability to curb climate change. A close-up look at globally significant research conducted at Marquette and in Panama.





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When collaboration and creativity ignite change Welcome to the 2017 edition of Discover magazine! One of Marquette University’s Guiding Values is to “embody a spirit of interdisciplinary curiosity, research, innovation, entrepreneurship and application to change and improve ourselves, our community and our world.” As you’ll see from the work highlighted here, this spirit is thriving at Marquette. Collaboration is critical to our efforts. For many years, Marquette’s biomedical engineers have collaborated with colleagues at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Today the two campuses are building on this foundation through a departmental merger that will provide enhanced opportunities for research growth as well as for the education of the next generation of biomedical engineers. Dr. Robert Fox from the College of Education has a long-standing collaboration with colleagues at Penfield Children’s Center in Milwaukee, and together they are creating model strategies for treating very young children with serious behavioral issues. Dr. Stefan Schnitzer and his team from the Department of Biological Sciences are involved in groundbreaking international research that is delineating how fast-growing liana vines are impacting the carbon-reducing capacity of Panama’s rain-forest canopy.

a scholarly leader in examining the life experiences of Arab and Muslim Americans. Dr. Marieke Gilmartin from the College of Health Sciences is exploring how the brain creates associations between sensory cues and outcomes that are separated in time, with potential applications in understanding addiction and posttraumatic stress disorder. There is so much to share about research and innovation at Marquette. Additional short features introduce you to a few more of our talented faculty, recent books are listed on the “Bookshelf” page, and the “Spark” section describes some of the innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives on campus. The Marquette Strategic Innovation Fund continues to provide seed funding for projects from students, faculty and staff across all areas of campus. One exciting result of the innovation fund has been the student-led design of a new campus innovation space — the 707 Hub — which will house the Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship and the Social Innovation Initiative. Check out and for more news and updates. Dr. Jeanne M. Hossenlopp Vice President for Research and Innovation

We are also featuring the work of Dr. Louise Cainkar from the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences,

Editor Stephen Filmanowicz Art director Sharon Grace Editorial team Sarah Koziol Jennifer Russell Megan Knowles (intern)

Illustrations Tangled: Michael Mullen; Crosstown Exchange: William Rieser Editor’s note: Faculty titles in this issue of Discover are current as of its March 2017 publication, but some featured faculty members may be promoted to new positions effective fall 2017.

We appreciate your feedback on Discover. Please send all comments to the editor at

table of contents 0 2 C ROSSTOWN EXCHANGE A departmental merger with the Medical College of Wisconsin creates advances in biomedical engineering.



A LONG LEGACY OF HEALING Groundbreaking treatment pioneered at the Behavior Clinic helps children.

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TANGLED Vines are taking over rain forests — and reducing the forests’ absorption of atmospheric carbon. SIDEBAR: MASTERS OF DISASTER Using scientific analysis and modeling to understand the causes and consequences of natural disasters.

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L IFE BEHIND THE LABEL Dr. Louise Cainkar’s body of work explores the challenging daily realities of being Arab and Muslim in America.


F EAR FACTORS A novel technique reveals the brain structures involved in conditioned responses that process fear.


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ESEARCH IN BRIEF R Diagnostic methods for diseases; from pollution to fertilizer; relocation and employment; voices in contraception coverage; rethinking crime and punishment; improving care for breathing tube patients; campus inventors; extending dental sealant treatments; and renewing the role of moral theologians.



2 6 S PARK Innovation at Marquette: closing the health gap; a location for entrepreneurial collaboration; and new Strategic Innovation Fund projects.



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By Erik Gunn

Through a departmental merger with a major medical college, Marquette grows its biomedical engineering research prospects. On the second floor of the Translational and Biomedical Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette’s Dr. John LaDisa, Eng ’99, Grad ’01, ’04, and his MCW colleague Dr. Andrew Greene are studying how to make safer stents.

professor of biomedical engineering. That means more graduate students assisting in ongoing research at MCW, and seamless access for Marquette engineering students and faculty to MCW clinicians and researchers and their real-world resources.

Every year physicians insert the tiny, flexible tubes into the blood vessels of millions of people nationwide to prevent or relieve blockages in the flow of blood. They save countless lives, but stents sometimes do damage of their own.

The joint department is built on years of Marquette and MCW collaboration. “The organizations knew each other well,” says Olson. A set of fortuitous circumstances — including a strong working rapport between Marquette President Michael R. Lovell and MCW President John R. Raymond, Sr., M.D. — took them from joining forces to joining hands.

One potential cause is “shear stress” — what cells in the blood vessels experience when blood passes over them. Ordinary shear stress is a benign constant in the body, but abrupt changes in the inner surface of a blood vessel can cause cells to react in adverse ways, even ending in abnormal growth or the death of cells. It’s like a joint in your household plumbing, explains LaDisa, associate professor of biomedical engineering. Where the connection isn’t smooth, gunk can build up, slowing the flow through the system. In the bloodstream, that buildup can take the form of increased plaque deposits inside the blood vessel. Where that happens, spiking shear stress can damage or kill cells in the vessel walls. Stents cause adverse shear stress in about one patient out of 10 who receive them. LaDisa, Greene and other members of their team aim to cut those risks. “John’s research is very, very relevant to building a better stent,” Greene says. After working together for years, LaDisa and Greene are more than just crosstown collaborators: They share membership in a single academic department — the new joint biomedical engineering department of Marquette’s Opus College of Engineering and the Medical College of Wisconsin. Greene even serves as the department’s interim vice chair of clinical and research affairs. One semester out from the completion of the merger, the partner institutions are already reaping its benefits, reports the department’s interim chair, Dr. Lars Olson, Marquette associate

In merging, “our mission was really to foster collaborations between the basic medical sciences and the clinical sciences to translate discoveries into practical solutions,” says Greene.

“ O ur mission was really to foster collaborations between the basic medical sciences and the clinical sciences to translate discoveries into practical solutions.” Dr. Andrew Greene

The partnership between LaDisa, Greene and other colleagues is just one example of the crosstown collaboration that is strengthening the new department. Over a decade-long collaboration with MCW researchers on the body’s fluid dynamics, LaDisa discovered that Greene shared his interest in the shear stress experienced in blood vessels. Soon they were providing each other

crosstown exchange

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with new views of the problem. “Before Andy and I started talking, I would look at shear stress in the whole system of arteries,” LaDisa says. “Andy’s view was more localized — a microscale understanding.” Two years ago, at Greene’s invitation, LaDisa took up an office at MCW and began dividing his time between the two campuses. With their team they’ve studied blood flow in plastic replica blood vessels made with a 3-D printer. Now with specialized 3-D printing using cellular material, they’re building actual test blood vessels. They hope the knowledge gained can improve both stent surgery and stent design, helping tens of thousands of patients a year. Their ongoing collaboration reflects a considerable evolution in research culture, the researchers agree. The Lone Ranger scientist who works in isolation is fading; the new model is a posse that brainstorms together on questions that at first may be only vaguely defined. In the combined department, “I’m expecting this kind of collaboration will expand,” LaDisa says. An unappreciated side of biomedical engineering as a discipline is its breadth. The term may bring to mind devices like stents that support the body or gadgets like imaging machines to examine the body. But the field also encompasses using engineering tools and concepts to understand how the body’s many parts work together and the impact that changes at the molecular level can have on health. This field, often referred to as systems biology, is the research specialty of Marquette-based Dr. Said Audi, Eng ’98, Grad ’90, ’93, and MCW-based Dr. Ranjan Dash, who have been collaboratively studying acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, a condition that fills the lungs with fluid, limiting their ability to send oxygen to the bloodstream. Sepsis, bacterial and viral pneumonia, blood transfusions and severe burns can all trigger it. “ARDS is one of the main causes of admission to intensive care units,” says Audi, a professor of biomedical engineering, whose interest in the syndrome grows out of his broader focus on lung disease over nearly 15 years. Clinical tools for early detection of and effective therapies for ARDS are urgently needed. Audi’s interests converged with those of Dash, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, who has been studying the body’s cellular processes with computer modeling. In more than two years of work together on ARDS, they have zeroed in on the apparent role of mitochondria — tiny organelles in each cell that produce the energy the cells use

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to function. In short, mitochondrial dysfunction appears to play a key role in the disease process. Rather than examining cells under, say, electron microscopes, Dash and Audi use computers to model the organs of rats, then study their metabolic pathways — and how and why those pathways fail and trigger ARDS. By understanding its mechanism, they hope to uncover both prevention measures and more effective treatments. A team before the merger, they’re now collaborating in a new way as fellow faculty members — developing the new department’s doctoral program. They see much more teamwork ahead. “Having a joint department ... is going to break down a lot of barriers,” Audi says. The merger also expands the new biomedical engineering department’s footprint beyond those of its predecessors — and beyond the borders of either campus. Three of the top-five medical device manufacturers are within 60 miles, Olson points out. Poised to add more faculty researchers, the new department is positioned “to grow biomedical engineering innovation in the region.”

UNITED, THEY TARGET IMPROVED HEALTH Since a summer 2016 merger, biomedical faculty from Marquette’s Opus College of Engineering and the Medical College of Wisconsin are members of the same department. Faculty members with ongoing Marquette-MCW research projects serve as models of collaboration. They include: MCWbased Dr. Ranjan Dash and Marquette-based Dr. Said Audi, second and third from left, modeling metabolic systems that fail during acute respiratory distress syndrome; and MCW-based Dr. Andrew Greene and Dr. John LaDisa (Marquette-based with an office at MCW), second and first from right, working to better understand shear stress to improve stent surgery and stent design. Contributing technology to GE Healthcare’s Revolution CT machines, Dr. Taly Gilat-Schmidt (based at Marquette but on sabbatical at the MCW Eye Institute), left, signifies the new department’s partnerships with the region’s medical device makers. And Marquette’s Dr. Lars Olson, seated, helps to steer the new department as interim chair.

One Marquette researcher leading the way is Dr. Taly Gilat-Schmidt, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, whose work on medical imaging has been incorporated into CT machines made by one of those manufacturers, GE Healthcare. In collaboration with GE, her colleagues and students, Gilat-Schmidt is developing methods to reduce the radiation exposure of patients receiving CT scans. Her team has also written software code that helps select the clearest, most motion-free images of the coronary arteries from the numerous images generated by a single CT exam. For more confident diagnoses, a radiologist needs the least-distorted image possible. Getting there depends not just on the multimilliondollar machine but on planting the right algorithms in

its electronic brain. GE now touts this “Smart Phase” technology in marketing its latest machines. Gilat-Schmidt is on a yearlong sabbatical at the MCW Eye Institute, studying how to image the eye using light. For her, the merger ratified the long history of the two institutions working together. “Students were already going back and forth,” she says. “The joint department is going to make some of that easier. The biggest thing it’s going to do is show the outside world how connected we are.” She feels fortunate to be a living example and beneficiary of that connectivity. “I’ve always wanted more,” GilatSchmidt says. “When you get a clinician and an engineer together and they start talking, that’s where the greatest projects happen.”

See how the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered the Marquette-MCW merger: crosstown exchange

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A long legacy of healing Driven to adapt his pioneering and proven treatment methods in new ways, Dr. Robert Fox keeps expanding his influence on young children with behavior problems.


GROUNDBREAKING A PIONEER Fox introduced familybased, in-home young child behavior treatment. 0 6

The Behavior Clinic customizes treatment to preschool-age children, once assumed to be too young for treatment.

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A new grant secured by Fox and Penfield Children’s Center will help the clinic expand its trauma-focused treatment by serving 400 children annually in Milwaukee County.

In 2014 Fox launched Early Pathways, an online course that trains mental health professionals in the Behavior Clinic’s proven assessment and treatment methods.

By Ann Christenson

The $1.93 million grant supports research that adapts Early Pathways treatments for the unique needs of Latino families.

Fortunately the child’s case lands in the hands of the Behavior Clinic, a nationally recognized partnership of Marquette’s College of Education and Milwaukee’s Penfield Children’s Center. The clinic specializes in serving children ages 5 and under experiencing serious behavior problems — including those resulting from trauma — matching them with the family-based, in-home treatment sessions pioneered by the center’s founder and consulting psychologist, Dr. Robert Fox. According to Fox, a professor of counselor education and counseling psychology, this child actually showed the “classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder,” including nightmares, staring into space and wetting herself when a man was nearby. After nine months of weekly sessions tailored to her needs, in consultation with family members and caregivers, Fox says the child was symptom-free. Although those months were not setback-free, her story ended encouragingly because of the clinic’s groundbreaking treatment — custom-fit to a child of the preschool population once assumed by counseling and psychology professionals to be too young for treatment. Those perceptions began changing in the 1980s, but research into pediatric behavior issues, including those linked to trauma, didn’t really take off until the early 2000s, says Fox, who arrived at Marquette and saw his career path simultaneously trace and

Founded in 2003, the Behavior Clinic continues to grow in impact and influence. In September, Fox and Penfield secured a five-year $1.93 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that will enable the clinic to expand its trauma-focused treatment by serving 400 young children annually in Milwaukee County. It also gives a welcome boost to Early Pathways, the online course Fox launched in 2014 to train mental health professionals in the Behavior Clinic’s assessment and treatment methods. The course also addresses the effects of living in poverty, says Fox. A coup for Fox and his team, the grant secures the Behavior Clinic’s staying power and green lights Fox and his graduate students for more research addressing pediatric mental health needs, including those of Latino families. “We are conducting a trauma trial now with Latino children as one of my student’s dissertations,” says Fox, who recently published findings in the Journal of Latina/o Psychology on a randomized controlled trial involving treatment based on a version of the Early Pathways course culturally adapted for Latino children in poverty. With the Early Pathways model proving to be “the most effective program available for young children in poverty,” the next step in Fox’s goal fulfillment is for it to be embraced on a regional or national level. To this point, the program’s reach has been limited mostly to Wisconsin, says its creator, but recent requests, numbering in the hundreds from around the world, call for adaptations supporting a more “broadly disseminated” program. “That is our next plan,” he says. The benchmark Behavior Clinic approach of working in the homes of young children with behavior problems isn’t widely practiced. “I recently heard of one child having 147 play-therapy sessions in a clinic with no change in the mother’s original concerns about her child’s behavior,” says Fox. “This type of ineffective therapy needs to rethink what it’s doing.”

Professor, Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology


She witnesses her father physically abusing her mother. When her mother decides enough is enough and the family unit severs, the parents engage in a two-way tug-of-war with the girl’s hands and feet. For her, the ramifications of this altercation are much deeper than her scratches and bruises.

Dr. Robert Fox

This little girl, however, is getting a lesson in something no 4-year-old should learn — terror.

accelerate this evolution in the counseling field. A budding child-behavior specialist early in his career, he offered parenting classes to middle-class families before shifting his focus to families on the poverty line. The subsequent decades have been busy, productive and influential for this unassuming scholar, the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and 11 books — a record that earned him the 2016 Lawrence G. Haggerty Faculty Award for Research Excellence, Marquette’s highest research honor.


The girl from Milwaukee’s north side was only 4, an age when childhood development models say she is just beginning to learn the concepts of counting and sharing with others.

Learn about Marquette’s honoring of Fox and the Penfield Children’s Center with its 2016 Community Engaged Partnership Award: a long legacy of healing

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Vines are taking over the world’s rain forests — and impairing the forests’ ability to absorb atmospheric carbon. A close-up look at globally significant research conducted at Marquette and in Panama.

By Kurt Chandler

His fieldwork evolved into leading-edge experiments in Panama. By 2015, just after becoming Mellon Distinguished Professor of Biology at Marquette after a dozen years at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, he had published studies that broke new ground in understanding how lianas cut into the carbon-reducing capacity of a rain-forest’s canopy. The implications drew a straight line to climate change, garnering headlines in The New York Times and Smithsonian, and drawing major grant funding. “The reason why this is a big problem is that the capacity of tropical forests to continue taking up

Professor, Biological Sciences

Last May, Schnitzer received a four-year $900,000 continuing grant from the National Science Foundation that will allow him to maintain a team of graduate and postdoctoral students in Panama and at Marquette, who will help collect and analyze data on the relationship between woody vines and tropical forests. When he’s not teaching or writing grant proposals, Schnitzer spends a third of the year on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal waterway, his home away from home and living laboratory for the past 20 years. The fieldwork is his favorite part of the job.

Dr. Stefan Schnitzer

Research on the woody vines had been limited, going back only to the mid-1980s. Intrigued by lianas and the ecology of tropical forests, Schnitzer soon found himself on a remote island in Panama, immersed in research. As part of a small team of scientists, Schnitzer tested conventional theories about the lianas’ role in species diversity and forest regeneration.

carbon would change dramatically if vines increased in abundance relative to trees,” he says. “All the data suggest an increase.”

Going back 15 years, Schnitzer’s early studies of the island’s ecosystem focused on the relationship between increasingly abundant lianas, the replacement of trees that die and fall to the ground, and the rain forest’s famed but perhaps threatened reputation for harboring diverse plant species.


Ecologist Stefan Schnitzer first heard about liana vines while working on his doctorate in 1996. The spindly, fast-growing vines were rapidly infesting the planet’s tropical rain forests, he learned, robbing trees of water and nutrients at their roots, blocking sunlight at their crowns and causing them to topple.

Previous studies on the island had found that liana infestation had increased from 32 percent in 1968 to


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Photo credit: Smithsonian Institutution.

Schnitzer spends about a third of each year on the grounds of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. At right, he points out how woody lianas compete with, weaken and often topple trees, reducing the overall biomass of the forest.

47 percent in 1979. By 2007 infestation had grown to nearly 75 percent. The liana blight had wide-reaching ramifications. As trees died and fell, the vines seemed to crowd out and stifle tree regeneration by rapidly dominating the resulting gaps in the forest. But because the thin vines had a much smaller biomass than the trees they replaced, he suspected they would far from compensate for the trees’ lost carbon uptake. To test the hypothesis, in 2008 Schnitzer and his team began staking out several lush test sites in the rain forest, measuring and identifying all rooted plants, nearly 50,000 in all, to establish a comprehensive database. On another site, the team sectioned off 16 plots of equal size. On eight of the plots, lianas were cut and removed, from the ground to the canopy. On the remaining eight plots, lianas remained intact. The 16 plots were surveyed in 2011 after the liana removal, and again in 2014. For three years, researchers measured the growth of the lianas and trees. On plots where lianas were absent, trees thrived, growing in treefall gaps. On plots where lianas remained, researchers collected and weighed the leaves and branch litter that fell from the canopy. By the third year, the forest biomass had been reduced by 76 percent per year on plots where lianas were present compared to where lianas had been removed. In other words, “you have about 76 percent more carbon-capture per year when lianas are absent,” says Schnitzer, who notes the confirmation of similar

infestations in tropical forests and subtropical forests in South and North America. “This carbon figure is alarming. If lianas increase even by a little bit, they’re going to lower the capacity of tropical forests to uptake carbon. That’s the pattern we see.” Armed with the NSF grant, new questions will be explored as Schnitzer’s research moves forward. This year, another full survey of the vines and trees will begin. Of the various vine species that have increased in mass and number, scientists will look for a shared set of traits that signal an advantage. They will then grow these hardy vine species and subject them to various tests — exposing them to drought conditions (which could be a factor in the liana’s rise) or high levels of carbon dioxide or nitrogen — to see precisely what might trigger the advantage. Schnitzer frequently labels himself an ecologist, a scientist who studies the diversity, distribution, biomass and population of organisms, as well as competition and cooperation. Through that lens, he hesitates to offer solutions to the liana problem. Removing them is not feasible, nor sensible. Vines connect the canopy and allow arboreal animals to travel through the forest. The fruit, flowers and leaves provide food to certain species. “We would not know what the effects of losing the vines across large areas in the forest would be.” Science eventually will answer the question of how to manage the infestation. Meanwhile, “I’m just here to figure out what’s happening,” Schnitzer says, at once concerned and fascinated by the liana vine.

Explore the Smithsonian Institution’s coverage of Schnitzer’s research, including a video:

Photo credit: Reuters.

Were war-related farm desertions behind a tragic 2015 dust storm in the Middle East, as popularly reported? A research team from Marquette found evidence to the contrary.

Masters of disaster Two innovators use science and modeling to better understand hazards such as dust storms and sea-level rise.

extremely hot and dry conditions coupled with cyclonic winds, followed by an unusual reversal in wind direction. Above-average vegetation levels in 2015 further refuted theories that agriculture abandonment was a factor in creating more dust.

A massive dust storm in 2015 killed at least a dozen people and sent scores more to hospitals, while covering parts of the Middle East in a historic haze. Media reports blamed land-use changes linked to regional military conflict — deserted farmland, reduced irrigation and military vehicle traffic.

Compared to potentially reversible conflict-related conditions, the storm’s actual causes raise more long-term concerns. “If such dust storms result from aridity and atmospheric conditions that could be significantly affected by climate change, then prolonged impacts in the Middle East may be unavoidable,” says Parolari.

An environmental engineer specializing in ecosystem-water cycle interactions, Dr. Anthony Parolari, assistant professor in the Opus College of Engineering, knew how to test that theory. He and his team studied measured surface-air temperatures, humidity levels and measured wind speeds, and used meteorological weather simulation models to study the storm’s atmospheric circulation patterns. The more likely causes, they found, were

Starting with a focus on another natural-world hazard, Dr. Ting Lin also uses simulation modeling in her research to influence the design of tall buildings to withstand earthquakes. Lin’s latest collaboration with the Southern California Earthquake Center uses earthquake ground-motion simulations to assess how such structures respond to tremors. Simulations, she finds, have significant advantages over exclusive

reliance on alternatives such as recorded motions and probabilistic seismic hazard assessments. A fellow assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, Lin foresees extending this earthquake-engineering framework to multihazard risk assessments for both natural and constructed environments — especially coastal regions subject to challenges from climate change. Another novel framework Lin is developing, Probabilistic Sea-Level Rise Hazard Analysis, accounts for uncertainties in sea-level rise projections from emission scenarios and prediction models, improving projections in ways that are “critical for defining the target for adaptation of coastal infrastructure,” says Lin. It also supports potentially holistic hazard planning. “This research ... opens up conversations for an all-hazards investigation. Through the science of hazard analysis, engineering of performance evaluation, and policy of planning and response, we can achieve multihazard sustainability.” SARAH KOZIOL

Read’s coverage of Parolari’s dust storm research:


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A researcher’s growing body of work explores how prejudice, discrimination and state policies affect the daily realities of Arab and Muslim Americans.

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Dr. Louise Cainkar Associate Professor, Social and Cultural Sciences


By Guy Fiorita

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Dr. Louise Cainkar was completing her doctorate in criminology when a trip to Morocco changed her career. “I was fascinated by everything I saw and I asked myself, ‘How could it be that I have a bachelor’s degree, two master’s and I am nearly finished with a Ph.D. and I have never learned anything about this part of the world?’” Since then Cainkar has dedicated herself to Arab American and Muslim American studies, focusing on the daily realities of being Arab and Muslim in America. In recent decades — and especially since the horrific attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by the jihadi group al-Qaida — that daily reality has been a complex and difficult one for many people in these groups. “Much of my research focuses on prejudice and discrimination against Arab and Muslim Americans, the faulty logics and media portrayals that have produced these, and their impacts on the quality of life for Arab and Muslim Americans,” observes Cainkar, an associate professor of social and cultural sciences and director of Peace Studies. Her 2009 book, Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience After 9/11, plumbed these waters. Based on extensive surveys and interviews

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with Chicago-area subjects, it is recognized as one of the most thorough ethnographies of a religious and ethnic minority that is growing in numbers and in the attention it garners across our society. A review on the Law and Politics Book Review website of the American Political Science Association called the book “groundbreaking due to its inclusiveness.” And it was an honorablemention in the Arab American National Museum’s 2010 Book Awards. Today, Cainkar continues moving research in this field forward, while teaching courses and serving in a number of leadership positions such as president of the Arab American Studies Association and board member and treasurer of the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies. A recent work, a chapter she contributed to the 2015 Handbook of Arab American Psychology, provides clinical therapists and psychology researchers key demographic

Cainkar with her 2010 book, a comprehensive ethnography and honorable-mention recipient in the Arab American National Museum Book Awards.


Agents of their outcomes Professor’s scholarship upends stereotypes of Arab and Muslim women.

“ Much of my research focuses on prejudice and discrimination against Arab and Muslim Americans, the faulty logics and media portrayals that have produced these, and their impacts on the quality of life for Arab and Muslim Americans.” information about Arab Americans and shines revealing light on how stereotypes that members of this group endure complicate their ability to develop positive social identities. Currently Cainkar is researching a new book covering the experiences of transnational Arab American teenagers and children who are sent to Palestine,

Jordan and Yemen for high school. “These children live with stereotypes from a very young age, so a surprisingly large number of parents do this to give their children knowledge of their own culture and, with it, a sense of dignity. Many of the kids expect to find a land full of terrorists, tents and backward people. Discovering the truth about these places and their family heritage helps them build self-esteem.” Supported by a three-year Strategic Innovation Fund award, Cainkar will take Marquette students to Detroit on an Islam immersion and service trip. “Research shows that the best way to counter stereotypes is to increase knowledge and build relationships, so those are the goals of this project, which align well with our Jesuit mission,” she adds. In a different vein, Cainkar is also working to create a Middle East and North African studies major, with Dr. Philip Naylor, Grad ’72, ’80, in history, Dr. Irfan Omar in theology, Dr. Richard Taylor in philosophy and Dr. Enaya Othman, Grad ’09, in foreign languages (see sidebar). “It’s part of a larger conversation about our need to offer a race, ethnicity and indigenous studies program at Marquette,” she says. “In studying Arabs, Muslims, Latinos, and African and Native Americans ... we can all increase our capacity to understand human experiences comparatively and do great work on campus.”

Learn more about Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience after 9/11 at

In October Dr. Enaya Othman, assistant professor of Arabic, published her first book, an analytical examination of American Quaker schools in Palestine and how being educated in these schools helped young women change their positions within their society’s power structure. “As an Arab Palestinian Muslim woman, I want to contribute to scholarship relating to the history and situations of Arab and Muslim women,” says Othman of her book, Negotiating Palestinian Womanhood: Encounters between Palestinian Women and American Missionaries, 1880s–1940s. “Their contributions are often underrepresented and they are nearly always portrayed as victims when in reality I have found these women always use their agency to advance their situations.” Othman is working on her second book, a study of the marriage patterns of Muslim women in the United States over the past six-plus decades. Despite the time and distance separating her subjects, Othman sees similarities: Arab and Muslim women in various settings throughout history have developed strategies to better their situations.“They did this in Palestine and they are doing it today in Milwaukee — making changes to their gender roles and claiming places of importance in their family, community and society as a whole. I want to show how women are using various strategies to reshape the institution of marriage, thus gaining access to decision-making.”

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fear factors How do we perceive a sudden twig snap as a possible threat? Dr. Marieke Gilmartin turns on and off different parts of the brain to solve this mystery. The snap of a nearby twig on a solitary forest hike is enough to put anyone on high alert. Our brains go into modes of fear and preparation because we recognize that an unexpected sound can often be followed by danger. The sound itself is not dangerous, of course, and the danger — a predator, for example — may not present itself for some time afterward, if at all, but our brains still associate the sound with the potential consequence. We assume these reactions to be natural and instinctive, but according to Dr. Marieke Gilmartin, they’re actually a learned behavior, crucial for human adaptation to our world.

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Dr. Marieke Gilmartin

Assistant Professor, Biomedical Sciences

By Jesse Lee

Gilmartin, assistant professor of biomedical sciences, received an $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study how such associations are created and retained, specifically when there is a gap in time between the cue and the consequence.

This activity in these additional brain structures suggests a fundamental process for learning how to predict a future event amid certain cues — it’s a preparatory state in which the brain is actively learning that a cue leads to an outcome. In this case, a tone leads to a shock.

“In most responses of this kind, sensory cues and outcomes happen at the same time,” Gilmartin says. “We see a red-hot stove burner, we touch it and we immediately get a burn. That teaches us that stoves can be hot and potentially dangerous. We know a lot about how the brain puts these two things together. But we still don’t know how the brain puts together cues and outcomes that are separated by a length of time.”

Gilmartin says that in this temporal gap conditioning, all three brain structures prove essential. Using a technique for manipulating neuronal activity called optogenetics (see sidebar), she can stop activity in one structure or in the specific connections between them to test their involvement.

In her lab, Gilmartin uses a conditioning technique, similar to one made famous by Ivan Pavlov and his dogs, in order to test her learned-behavior hypothesis that there are two key brain structures involved in this learning process, in addition to the amygdala or fear center. A specific tone is followed by a light shock administered to rat subjects. The delay between tone and shock is only seconds, but it’s long enough to initiate a brain response that differs from the immediate form of conditioning. Eventually, the subjects associate the tone with the shock the same way we associate a snapping twig with danger. “We expect to see activity in the amygdala, since this is where the brain processes fear,” Gilmartin says. But in their experiments, her team found that the prefrontal cortex — the thinking brain — was activated. And in longer intervals between cue and outcome, so was the hippocampus, which helps process emotions and memories.

“If we shut down any one of the three structures — the amygdala, hippocampus or prefrontal cortex — during the cue and outcome phase, we observe that the behavior is not learned,” she says. “Only when all three are working together do we see memory retention.” In addition to her NSF grant, Gilmartin also received $225,000 in funding from the Whitehall Foundation, and a smaller Marquette research grant. All three grants will help her lab focus on how the brain creates and retains memory, which could provide insight into the cognitive deficits observed in mental illnesses, like addiction, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. “We’ve observed that manipulating prefrontal activity during cue-outcome learning can change the fear memory,” says Gilmartin, providing an example. “We’d like to explore the idea that PTSD may tap into similar mechanisms, promoting an inappropriate, enhanced fear response. Additional funding will allow us to explore these additional questions and observations that arise from our core research.”

What is Optogenetics? The short answer is: technology that gives scientists unprecedented control over the brain, allowing them to “turn on” or “turn off” neurons in real time using light. With roots in genetics, biology and engineering, it helps researchers study complex behaviors at the cellular level. Here’s how it works: 1. A light-sensitive gene is packaged inside a virus and delivered directly into the brain. 2. Received into neurons, the gene generates a unique channel protein that resides in the cell membrane. 3. T he channel stays closed unless a pulse of blue light is delivered to the brain tissue via a fiberoptic implant. Then the channel opens, causing the neuron to turn on. Other types of channels are available to turn off the neuron. 4. This mechanism works like a light switch controlling neuronal activity to the millisecond — the same amount of time neurons use to communicate with each other.

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INSTRUMENTAL ARRIVAL When a newly arrived professor helped upgrade a key device, his wasn’t the only research that benefited. When biophysicist Dr. Brian Bennett arrived to chair the Physics Department in 2014, he was pleased to find a researchgrade electron paramagnetic resonance spectrometer, donated just six months prior. Valued for providing detailed information on the geometric and electronic structure of molecular and solid-state materials, the spectrometer nevertheless came equipped with difficult-torepair analog technology that offered somewhat limited applications.

Professor and Chair, Physics

Assisted by Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Dean Richard Holz, Bennett — a 25year veteran of EPR research — secured funding from the National Science Foundation to rebuild the instrument with new digital components. The upgrade extended the device’s life expectancy by 20 to 25 years, Bennett says, and added a modern low-temperature cooling system that doesn’t require liquid helium.

Dr. Brian Bennett

“We are the only research university in the Midwest with this capability,” says Bennett, who got the project over the goal line by covering additional costs with

With four partnering institutions — including the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he spent 13 years on the faculty — Bennett is now using the spectrometer to develop an accurate diagnostic method for mitochondrial disease, a severe and often fatal condition in children that has no cure, but responds to some treatments. Their first research paper was published last year. Although there is no established way to distinguish between two manifestations of the disease, which vary widely in risks posed to patients, Bennett says, “Our technique tells you very straightforwardly whether you’re getting a free radical buildup, which is very toxic, or whether it’s simply that the mitochondrial chain is not working to produce enough energy (as ATP) to fuel the body’s requirements.” Bennett’s other focus is a longtime NSF-funded collaboration to study the chemical mechanism of nitrile hydratase, an enzyme with high potential for making novel pharmaceutical components in an environmentally friendly way. Using a technique called rapid-freeze quench, researchers mix the enzyme with various chemicals for milliseconds and then use the spectrometer to provide “snapshots during the course of the reaction and conceptually build a movie of how it does the chemistry that it does.” PAULA WHEELER


his own research dollars and Marquette matching funds. Now, fellow pure- and applied-science researchers can conduct very low-temperature experiments on campus at “absolutely enormous” cost savings, he says, while regional research powerhouses may be paying up to $2,000 a week for liquid helium.

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Green machine

Visible in algae growth blooming like a green S.O.S. sign in so many ponds, lakes and other surface waters, pollution from phosphorus and other nutrients is a widespread, costly and elusive environmental problem in the United States. But what if the phosphorous concentrating in these surface waters could be recaptured and put to future use in agricultural fertilizer, where it’s needed? Supported by a five-year $500,000 CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation, the foundation’s most prestigious award for junior faculty, Dr. Brooke Mayer, P.E., assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, is working on this very question. The work of Mayer and her team — which, thanks to the grant, now includes a postdoctoral fellow and a graduate student making the project her dissertation topic — aims to take advantage of a paradox. Currently there’s too much phosphorus fouling surface waters, especially around the Great Lakes. Meanwhile phosphorous is a main ingredient in agricultural fertilizer, making it vital to global food production. Yet the available supply of the mineral on earth is running low. Worst-case models show that mineable phosphorus reserves could be depleted within a century.

Though it fuels conditions such as the oxygen-depleted summertime dead zone in Lake Michigan’s Green Bay, phosphorous is a main ingredient in agricultural fertilizer, making it vital to global food production.

With algae growth from phosphorous contributing to the more than 1,300 Wisconsin bodies of water considered impaired and in violation of state standards — many unfit for recreation — these are serious issues. Phosphorous even fuels such conditions as the oxygen-depleted summertime dead zone in Lake Michigan’s Green Bay. Mayer’s research uses a biochemical process incorporating a novel protein-based system that selectively binds phosphorus. This phosphorus-specific high affinity phosphate-binding protein captures the mineral, and Mayer’s lab is interested in using it to reversibly capture the phosphorus so it can be used again.

Dr. Brooke Mayer

Mayer is determining whether the proteins capture the phosphorus as efficiently as hoped, and allow it to be recovered in a form that can be recycled as fertilizer. She’s hoping to genetically modify the cells so they produce the protein on their surface instead of inside each cell.

Assistant Professor, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Brooke Mayer’s research aims to remove phosphorous spoiling waterways so it can be put to use where it’s needed — fertilizing farms.


This “direct exposure” of the protein to the phosphorousrich water is “one of the key motivations guiding this research,” says Mayer. “This makes it critical to modify the cells to produce proteins on the surface rather than inside the cells.” JOE DIGIOVANNI

Listen to Mayer on WUWM’s Lake Effect program:

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AFTER GETTING A PINK SLIP, CONSIDER HITTING THE ROAD Unexpected job loss and moving are two of life’s most stressful events. But can moving after the loss of a job pay off in the long run? New research from Dr. Nicholas Jolly, assistant professor of economics, says yes. Unsurprisingly, being displaced from one’s job is associated with negative outcomes in the labor market, including reductions in hours spent working and increases in time spent unemployed, Jolly says. Additionally, displaced workers also suffer from substantial long-term earnings losses.


Dr. Nicholas Jolly

Assistant Professor, Economics

In a 2015 study published in B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Jolly, a labor economist, analyzed data collected between 1968 to 1997 from the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which surveys households to collect longitudinal demographic and economic information, as well as data on location of residence and geographic migration. He found that one way workers can adapt to displacement is by migrating to another location.

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“By geographically broadening the job search, workers increase the probability of finding re-employment quickly,” Jolly explains. “With more re-employment opportunities available, workers can be more selective when choosing their new job. All of this helps workers by reducing earnings losses, increasing hours worked and reducing time spent unemployed.” Studies like Jolly’s can have important public policy implications. The government has already put forth policies, such as Trade Adjustment Assistance, which over more than 40 years has assisted 2.2 million Americans, helping some to seek and find jobs outside of their normal commuting areas. The findings in his study, Jolly says, support the overarching principle behind this program and possibly similar programs in the future. Jolly is currently expanding his research on job displacement to include its effects on the ability of workers to maintain health insurance coverage. CHRISTOPHER STOLARSKI

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“By geographically broadening the job search, workers increase the probability of finding re-employment quickly. With more re-employment opportunities available, workers can be more selective when choosing their new job.”

Control Issues

How did the press cover this subject that so often attracted the attention, and often condemnation, of political, social and religious leaders? And how did the coverage help shape the views of ordinary Americans?

But nothing happens in isolation. The birth control controversy occurred at a time when women were entering the workforce, pushing for the vote and challenging conventions, she says. They wanted choices and a say over their bodies, she observes. Although Comstock generated plenty of positive press coverage, the press focus shifted in the early 1900s when birth control advocates, such as Margaret Sanger, openly challenged the Comstock Act and the birth control movement started to take shape.

Journalism and Media Studies Chair and Professor Ana Garner, who studies issues of race and gender in the media, began asking those questions when she saw contraceptive coverage generating controversy as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2012, noting the heat the issue still could generate despite being a familiar part of many people’s daily lives. So she started poring over thousands of news stories, editorials, columns and published letters in the archives of three national publications —The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. The resulting monograph, “The Birth Control Divide: U.S. Press Coverage of Contraception, 1873–2013,” published in Journalism & Communication Monographs, starts in 1873 when firebrand crusader Anthony Comstock began campaigning against “public evils” including prostitution, pornography and contraception. His efforts led to the federal Comstock Act, which criminalized the publication of information on

Chronicling the evolution of that coverage into our current decade, Garner concludes that press coverage on the birth control debate has been dominated by men representing religious, medical and political institutions and ideologies. What’s missing are the voices of individual women — their experiences, stories and health concerns, she says. There’s a lesson for journalists, Garner adds. “Readers need context and a multitude of voices, not just representatives of powerful forces.” GEORGIA PABST

research in brief

Dr. Ana Garner

contraception. “Before Comstock there was an uneasy acceptance of contraception, but I think Comstock made it a moral and a cultural issue,” says Garner. “He and his followers helped criminalize it. He changed the rhetoric.”


For more than 140 years, the nation’s newspapers have covered birth control debates as they raged in houses, churches, meeting halls, government chambers and medical facilities.

Professor and Chair, Journalism and Media Studies

A professor finds a dearth of women’s voices in 140 years of newspaper coverage on contraception.

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Prison break As inmate populations and budgets skyrocket, a Marquette Law professor rethinks our approach to crime and punishment.


Michael O’Hear

Professor, Law

As crime rates rose across the United States from the 1960s through the 1990s, the response from many Americans and the politicians who wanted their votes was predictable: Send criminals to prison for a long time. As Marquette Professor of Law Michael O’Hear explains, getting “tough on crime” with stricter sentences made sense on an emotional level but wasn’t supported by research that existed at the time. Today, we are living with unintended consequences that include an overcrowded prison system, an explosion in state and federal corrections budgets and an erosion of the social fabric of poor neighborhoods. “There are some offenders who require long-term incarceration,” O’Hear says. “I’m not saying we should close down all the prisons tomorrow. But there are offenders who will do better if you deal with them in the community than if you send them away.” In his new book, Wisconsin Sentencing in the Toughon-Crime Era, O’Hear analyzes the root causes of mass incarceration in Wisconsin, examines its effects and draws conclusions that have applications beyond state borders.

O’Hear also works to clear up two common misconceptions: While truth-in-sentencing laws and similar restrictions have contributed to mass incarceration, so has the discretion of judges and prosecutors; and while the war on drugs was another contributing factor, drug crimes account for less than 20 percent of the national prison population. Today, O’Hear says the country is spending more than $80 billion a year on prisons. Wisconsin’s budget for corrections exceeds the budget for its state universities. The social cost, though, is much greater. “It’s important to think about mass incarceration not only as a financial issue, but also as an ethical issue, as a social justice issue,” O’Hear says. “Incarceration has a tremendously damaging effect on people’s lives, and it’s not just the offender himself or herself, but also family members.” O’Hear has collaborated with Marquette Law School Poll Director Charles Franklin and Dr. Darren Wheelock, associate professor of social and cultural sciences, to examine public attitudes toward sentencing issues. “Politicians have an ability to shape public opinion by the way they frame the issues,” O’Hear says. “If less punitive policies are presented in the right way, I think our data show there would be quite a bit of support.” CHRIS JENKINS

Read more in Marquette Lawyer magazine, including Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack’s preliminary inquiry into race and sentencing in criminal courts at

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Speechless Improving care for patients on breathing tubes.

Through a Marquette faculty research grant, Guttormson is developing and testing an online program to provide the training most nurses lack in alternative communication strategies. The grant also will help make devices such as iPads and communication boards available to nonverbal patients in the ICU shared by Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin. Her hope for the study is twofold: to provide guidance for the successful implementation of communication training programs for nurses; and to use the results to support a larger, multisite grant application to investigate the impact of increased use of alternative communication strategies on patient outcomes such as patient satisfaction and patient anxiety. CLARE PETERSON


Dr. Jill Guttormson, assistant professor in the College of Nursing, has focused much of her research on the care of patients who find themselves in this frustrating condition. “Anxiety, fear, frustration and stress are very common feelings experienced by mechanically ventilated patients. Add a sudden illness or traumatic injury on top of that and it’s not an ideal situation,” says Guttormson. In a 2014 article in the journal Heart and Lung, Guttormson documented the “delusional memories” and other stressors noncommunicative patients experience in the ICU.

Dr. Jill Guttormson Assistant Professor, Nursing

Imagine the stress of waking up in an intensive care unit with a breathing tube in your throat, preventing you from speaking with the doctors and nurses who are trying to understand your symptoms and help you make care decisions.

Inventors Welcome Here Accomplished inventors on campus now have an organization of their own — Marquette’s new chapter of the National Academy of Inventors. Recognizing outstanding contributions in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, impact on society and support for innovation, the NAI welcomed to the chapter 15 faculty members who hold issued patents. They were celebrated at a September event on campus. Prominent among this group are two existing fellows of the academy, nominated by their peers for that honor. Inducted in the academy last March, Dr. Joseph Schimmels, Eng ’81, the Robert C. Greenheck Chair in Engineering Design and professor of mechanical engineering, has authored five patents, including one for a user-responsive bionic ankle. Preceding him by three years as a fellow, Marquette’s inventive President Michael R. Lovell holds seven patents and 14 provisional patents for his research in mechanical engineering. How’s that for setting an inventive example?

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Dr. Christopher Okunseri’s research affirms Pamela marries inthe secret, from Samuel Richardson’s valueaofscene the School of Dentistry’s own novel, Pamela (1740). Engraved by L. Tuchy, 1745. outreach programs, which include free


Dr. Christopher Okunseri

Professor, Dental Clinical Services

sealants and other dental services to lowincome Wisconsin children.

Equal-OPPORTUNITY SMILES Advances such as dental sealants keep children’s teeth healthy, but how well are we doing at extending these treatments to poor children? The modern innovation known as dental sealants — plastic coatings fused onto children’s molars and other biting surfaces — has been shown to help prevent cracks and cavities that lead to tooth decay. As a result, they’ve become a regular part of preventive dental care and, most importantly, reduced the risk of children ending up in emergency rooms, missing class or being kept up at night by severe oral pain, says Dr. Christopher Okunseri, Grad ’10, professor of dental clinical services. But how well has this treatment — and these benefits — extended beyond the affluent to poor children at greatest risk for negative consequences of tooth decay? These are the kinds of answers Okunseri often seeks as a researcher bridging the worlds of dentistry and public health, and ones he addressed specifically through a recent study funded by a $314,000 National Institutes of

Health grant that examines the effects of a 2006 change in Wisconsin’s Medicaid policy. The change allowed dental hygienists to bill for dental sealants in public health settings such as schools. And while it had little demonstrated effect on hygienists, Okunseri’s analysis of vast billing databases revealed the change indirectly led dentists to perform the procedure more frequently — perhaps through increased awareness of competition. As a result, the number of poor children of color who’ve had the preventive dental procedure has increased significantly since the policy change. As he prepares to publish his findings in an upcoming issue of Health Services Research, Okunseri observes, “Kids also socialize better when they don’t have to deal with discomfort of the oral cavity. It improves their quality of life.” EDGAR MENDEZ

Read more about Okunseri’s research in Marquette’s Dental Images magazine:

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Teaching moralists to converse and counsel A theologian explores new roles made possible by Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia. The role of the moral theologian has long focused on rendering judgment, often relating to medical and sexual ethics, or doctrines on individual morality. Following the release of Amoris Laetitia, an apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis in spring 2016, Dr. Conor Kelly, assistant professor of theology, invites moral theologians to shift from this traditional focus to a more personal role as a counselor of conscience. In shifting attention to “the ethics of ordinary life,” Kelly calls for prioritizing engagement in discernment ahead of “the definition of the rules.” In his December 2016 paper, “The Role of the Moral Theologian in the Church,” published in Theological Studies, he writes, “By embracing this goal, moral theologians will go a long way toward forming consciences instead of replacing them.” Working at the crossway of fundamental Catholic moral theology and applied ethics, Kelly specializes in ethical methodology and social, sexual and health care ethics, with research focusing on the process of moral discernment in ordinary life. His latest work suggests a renewed three-part role for moral theologians: giving special attention to the process of moral deliberation; defining the role and meaning of the ideal in Christian moral life; and embracing a new calling to attend to ethical questions that arise in people’s everyday lives. Argues Kelly, “Without these three changes, there is little hope of removing the vestiges of a system that expected the moral theologian to provide definitive judgments on behalf of other people.” JOE DIGIOVANNI

The number of Milwaukee Public Schools teachers expected to receive certification in computer science instruction over the next three summers through an innovative program targeting the dearth of such instruction in the district. Initiated by Drs. Dennis Brylow and Marta Magiera, mathematics, statistics and computer science associate professors, the project is supported by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Contacted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Joe Kmoch, an officer of the Wisconsin chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association, called the project a potential game-changer.

Read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s coverage of the project at

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A look at some novel ways the Marquette community is igniting innovation and entrepreneurship.

Beyond pure peer-reviewed research, innovation in all of its forms is becoming an essential part of Marquette’s DNA. This spark is exciting to witness — an array of seed funds, entrepreneurial resources and collaborative networks fueling academic and community-based partnerships that pursue solutions to pressing challenges in our community and around the world. Read on: Yours could be the next imagination to catch flame.

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Closing the health gap

Collaboration station

Change agents

Two professors address oft-overlooked developingworld health crises with smart innovations honed at Marquette.

Bring your ideas and ingenuity to the hot new space on campus dedicated to entrepreneurship and social innovation — 707 Hub.

Another year’s worth of great projects put into motion through Marquette’s Strategic Innovation Fund.

marquette university discover 2017

Closing the Health Gap Smart innovations for developing-world crises that otherwise cry out for attention. 1 Two Marquette professors are working to help people overcome disease in rural areas of the developing world with new diagnostic and treatment tools specifically developed for such environments.

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cause the disease. Among devastating parasitic diseases, this one is second in impact only to malaria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Depending on the parasite, the disease either affects the intestines, The approximate causing fever, severe number of people, diarrhea or impaired worldwide, that cognitive growth in are infected with children, or it attacks the two main the bladder, causing parasitic worms severe discomfort that cause and bleeding. It recurs schistosomiasis. without treatment and can lead to death.

Dr. Nilanjan Lodh, assistant professor of clinical laboratory science, has developed an easier and more accurate way to diagnose schistosomiasis — a debilitating waterborne parasitic disease common in impoverished areas of Africa and other continents. Up to 300 million people are currently infected with S. mansoni or S. haematobium, the two main parasitic worms that

$26,000 he received from the Thrasher Research Fund, Lodh faces the need to attract more funding to reach goals such as developing a less-expensive DNA extraction method, making the technology more widely available, and adapting the method for other diseases.

While effective treatments exist, common diagnostic methods are difficult to implement in developing-world countries because they require handling feces or urine samples carefully and transporting them from remote rural locations to labs.

Dr. Lars Olson, associate professor of biomedical engineering, had the inspiration for another muchneeded medical innovation while chaperoning Marquette students on a mission trip to El Salvador more than a decade ago. In major cities in the country, he saw sufferers of respiratory disease waiting in long lines for treatment after traveling long distances from their villages. The reason — rural areas lacked (and still lack) electricity to power nebulizers, devices that turn lifesaving medicines into an inhalable mist.

Lodh’s breakthrough is a DNA test with urine samples collected using filter paper that is dried — weighing almost nothing — and easily transported. Unlike traditional tests, it checks for both parasites simultaneously and is more accurate. Building on

Working with teams of student engineers, Olson pioneered a humanpowered nebulizer, which uses a hand crank instead of electricity to generate a medicinal mist. Weighing about nine pounds with the footprint of a letter-sized sheet of paper, each device

costs about $250, although the price will drop if made in larger quantities, Olson says. Nebulizers are used to treat conditions such as asthma, lower-respiratory diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the third-leading cause of death in the world.

Salvadoran health workers test the Marquette-developed nebulizer, using their arms to generate a medicated mist. The device brings relief to patients with breathing problems living in areas lacking electricity.

With 35 devices built and clinical trials showing their effectiveness, Olson targets new funds — such as a $50,000 award from Marquette’s Enterprise Seed Fund — to make and distribute many more. “The mission statement of our group is ‘life and breath for the poor,’” he says. “With a million units in the hands of community health workers, we could create a huge dent in respiratory illness in poor countries.” JEFF BENTOFF

Watch WITI-TV’s coverage of the human-powered nebulizer project: spark

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Collaboration Station Students drive the creation of an accessible and impressive new incubator space. 2 Ideas are powerful, but they require the right environment to reach their full potential. Following an ambitious, early-2017 overhaul of space in Marquette’s 707 Building, the 707 Hub is providing students with that environment.

“This is truly an incubator space,” says Megan Carver, Comm ’08, associate director of the Kohler Center for

Entrepreneurship. With its focus on promoting idea generation, fostering new business ventures and encouraging innovation and creative cross-collaborations, the Kohler program has a highly compatible roommate in the hub. It’s joined by Marquette’s Social Innovation Initiative, which helps students and community organizations build capacity to tackle social issues. Mentoring, workshops, speaker series, funding and community partnerships are all parts of the hub package — “all the connections and resources students need to grow their ideas,” says Carver. SARA RAE LANCASTER

“ Social innovators can learn a lot from entrepreneurs about business practices and bringing ideas into action, and entrepreneurs can learn a lot from those who are passionate about social issues.” Kelsey Otero, Grad ’14, associate director, Social Innovation Initiative

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STUDENT-POWERED INNOVATION Meet two seniors in the College of Business Administration, Sam Wesley and Creighton Joyce, whose successful CoLab project was the catalyst for the 707 Hub. Funded by Marquette’s Strategic Innovation Fund, CoLab aimed to create an accessible, wellresourced work space for student innovators of all backgrounds. In collaboration with Kohler Center and Social Innovation staff, the CoLab partners hosted focus groups that determined fellow students crave opportunities for collaboration, regardless of college or major. Informal “pop-ups” outside the Alumni Memorial Union even allowed students and faculty to evaluate furniture choices and share thoughts on space layout options.

A signature sculpture, aglow at night, serves as the hub’s creative beacon.

GAME-CHANGING NEW DIGS An arm of the university’s Office of Research and Innovation, the Kohler Center’s former space on the fourth floor of the 707 Building became a laboratory for CoLab’s student-driven ideas. Writeable walls, funky furniture, open meeting spaces and a cutting-edge resource center transformed the once dark, corporate-looking space. But a problem remained. “Being on the fourth floor — it’s a hard place for people to stumble upon,” Wesley says. As the CoLab helped inspire the hub concept, attention turned to first-floor space occupied historically by a bank and insurance offices, and most recently, the men’s lacrosse team and its equipment lockers. This high-visibility location will be “a game-changer,” Carver says. “It will intrigue and engage people we wouldn’t have reached otherwise.”


LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Ground-floor space fronting Wisconsin Avenue gives the 707 Hub coveted visibility, especially since plate-glass windows replaced translucent glass block, giving passersby ample views of innovation in action.




Working individually or in small groups, the 707 Hub users can take advantage of open collaborative work spaces, small meeting spaces and quiet nooks perfect for refining their creative thoughts.

One of the 707 Hub’s most feature-rich spaces is a large resource area equipped with computers, design software, 3-D printers, sewing machines, hand tools, GoPros and VR headsets. Glass, moveable and partial walls maintain the balance between openness and privacy.

A stage serves as a versatile setting for guest speakers, workshops, pitch competitions and classroom space.

Learn the latest on the 707 Hub and its late-March debut at spark

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Change Agents More great ideas put into motion through an innovative Marquette fund. 2016 STRATEGIC INNOVATION FUND AWARDEES

3 In its second year, Marquette’s Strategic Innovation Fund used a pool of approximately $2 million to seed 26 new

student-, faculty- and staff-initiated ideas. From research ventures to academic tools and community collaborations, the projects enrich education at Marquette and aim to improve lives beyond campus. Here’s a sampling of the fund’s Class of 2016:

Building an identity for engineers

With an engineer for a father and a teacher for a mother, it’s only natural that Karlie Hornberger, left, a sophomore in engineering, is drawn to educating others about the subject she’s studying. Eager to reduce the underrepresentation of women and diverse students in the field — the STEM gap — Hornberger and senior Maureen Mikkelsen meet weekly to lead a group of 11 other engineering students to the Milwaukee Academy of Science, a middle school just blocks from Marquette’s campus. There, they talk about what it means to be an engineer and help the students work through a STEM-based curriculum. However, the program’s benefits extend beyond the younger students: Hornberger believes this mentorship program is equally impactful as an identity-shaping tool for Marquette students. “The experience of walking into a classroom and saying, ‘I’m an engineering student — that’s what I’m working toward.’ It’s really affirming to be able to say that to a group of people,” says Hornberger.

Going for research gold

There’s no shortage of opportunities for students to engage in faculty-sponsored research — yet too many students find out about these opportunities late in their Marquette journeys. Enter the newly minted MU4Gold Scholars program, led by Dr. Rosemary Stuart, left, professor of biological sciences, and Dr. Amelia Zurcher, below, associate professor of English and director of the University Honors Program. By targeting research-oriented freshmen applicants for scholarships, leading them through a one-credit seminar, and pairing them with faculty research mentors, Stuart and fellow project leaders aim to build Marquette’s cultural research reputation both on campus and with high-achieving applicants. “We want to groom this cohort not only to be productive and have a fantastic learning experience, but to move on to applying for prestigious fellowships and scholarships and being more prepared and competitive for these opportunities,” says Stuart, a recipient of Marquette’s top faculty research and teaching honors. “I suppose we thought about winning these scholarships as ‘winning gold.’”

Stopping abuse in its tracks An associate professor in the College of Nursing, Dr. Abir Bekhet often explores the effects of abusive relationships in her courses, but a new partnership with the One Love Foundation allows her to spread awareness beyond the classroom through the foundation’s “Escalation” workshops. The One Love Foundation was created to honor the memory of Yeardley Love, who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend just weeks before her college graduation in Virginia. “The goal of this workshop is to prevent others from experiencing such a devastating loss through educating as many young people as possible about the warning signs of abusive relationships,” says Bekhet. Each campus workshop is composed of a discussion and a video depicting scenes of abusive relationships. Bekhet and her team use pre- and post-discussion themes to document how the workshop affects both potential victims and bystanders. By educating both groups, Bekhet aims to create a cohesive community of students who are well-educated about domestic violence and know how to diffuse and, ultimately, stop it before it begins. KATE SHEKA

Learn more about these and other funded projects:

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Marquette Bookshelf Seekers and Dwellers: Plurality and Wholeness in a Time of Secularity, edited by Rev. Philip Rossi, S.J., professor of theology, is a collection of essays that explore philosophical and theological aspects of disjunctions in the Catholic Church between those who seek new ways of living out Christianity and those who dwell in already established traditions. Obamacare Wars: Federalism, State Politics, and the Affordable Care Act, co-authored by Dr. Philip Rocco, assistant professor of political science, examines how the Affordable Care Act has shaped the politics of implementation, looks at opposing forces who argued against it, and clarifies the controversial law. A Christian Guide to Mental Illness, Vol 1: Recognizing Mental Illness in the Church and School by Dr. Stephen Saunders, professor of psychology, takes an in-depth look at common mental illnesses, including symptoms, risk factors and effects. It focuses on the necessity of professional mental health treatment and how to encourage people to seek it. A Shared Spiritual Journey: Lutherans and Catholics Traveling Toward Unity by Sister Susan Wood, S.C.L., Ph.D, Grad ’86, professor of

theology, and Dr. Timothy Wengert, professor emeritus, Lutheran Theological Seminary, is co-authored by a theologian and historian from Catholic and Lutheran traditions who together seek to understand the ecumenical challenges to resolving the issues that divide Lutheran and Catholic faiths. On the Road to Vatican II: German Catholic Enlightenment and Reform of the Church by Dr. Ulrich Lehner, professor of theology, seeks to clarify the little-known historical debates of the most important Catholic Enlighteners in order to better understand and interpret Vatican II. The Christian Schism in Jewish History and Jewish Memory by Dr. Joshua Burns, associate professor of theology, examines how ancient Jews perceived the emergence of Christianity and its evolving relationship with Judaism during the early centuries of the Common Era. Dismantling Solidarity: Capitalist Politics and American Pensions Since the New Deal by Dr. Michael A. McCarthy, assistant professor of social and cultural sciences, explains the marketization of old-age security,

arguing that the key driver was policymakers’ reactions to capitalist crises and their political imperative to promote capitalist growth. Octavia E. Butler by Dr. Gerry Canavan, assistant professor of English, illuminates the life and career of the acclaimed science fiction writer and her impact on the genre. As Good as Gone by Dr. Lawrence Watson, visiting professor of English, is a novel that tells the story of a gruff cowboy who is called upon to help look after his estranged son’s children and consequently confronts his past. An Examination of Black LGBT Populations Across the United States: Intersections of Race and Sexuality, co-authored by Dr. Angelique Harris, associate professor of social and cultural sciences; Dr. Juan Battle, professor of sociology, public health and urban education, City University of New York; and Dr. Antonio Pastrana Jr., associate professor of sociology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, uses surveys and personal narratives to discuss different experiences of the African-American LGBT community.

Open your ears and your mind.

In Marquette’s podcast series Illuminating Intellect, Provost Dan Myers leads conversations on research and life with some of Marquette’s most accomplished faculty members. Start listening at

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Marquette Research News

CAREER consistency Dr. Jier Huang’s NSF grant continues a stellar streak When Dr. Jier Huang, assistant professor of chemistry, received a $555,600 CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation this winter, she became the fifth faculty member at Marquette with an active research project supported by NSF’s most prestigious award program for junior faculty. At his annual university address in January, President Michael R. Lovell proudly The number of hailed this as Marquette faculty the first time members to receive university a CAREER NSF grant faculty had in a five-year period, achieved this a first in the distinction. university’s history. With her Also the number of award, Huang years that Huang will will conduct a be conducting her five-year study study using the funds examining from the grant. the potential for porous structures — known as photoactive zeolitic imidazolate frameworks or ZIFs — to be used as catalysts in solar energy conversion. Composed of metals like iron, cobalt, copper or zinc, ZIFs potentially could be used as catalysts in photocatalytic reactions, and Huang’s research could kick-start more interest in the use of porous materials for sustainable energy. “Our goal is to develop new, efficient materials that can be used in solar power,” Huang says. In Marquette’s Chemistry Department, Huang is joined by two associate professors

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who are CAREER recipients, Drs. Qadir Timerghazin and Adam Fiedler, Arts ’10. (At work on it since 2011, Fiedler actually completed his award in February.) Others with active CAREER awards are Dr. Marta Magiera, associate professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science, and Dr. Brooke Mayer, P.E., assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering (see story on page 19). When it comes to CAREER success, Marquette has actually left little to chance. Five years ago, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs began a CAREER Cohort program, which coaches junior faculty members on CAREER application requirements and NSF best practices, encouraging them to start preparations early enough to ensure competitive submissions. Could Marquette possibly receive more than one award per year and have more than five active at a time? “That’s the goal,” says Kathy Durben, ORSP executive director.

UPDATES Cleaning up the antibacterial soap mess The Food and Drug Administration’s September decision to ban common antibacterial agents such as triclosan and triclocarban in soaps and body washes caught many people off guard. After all, the personal care industry had spent years on a marketing blitz promoting germ-zapping products.

But followers of the research of Dr. Patrick McNamara, Eng ’06, assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, were primed for the decision. Readers of Discover first met McNamara in 2014, when he was newly returned to Marquette from earning his doctorate at the University of Minnesota. At that time, he and colleagues were studying triclosan’s disruption of the microbial communities used in wastewater treatment facilities. Published in Environmental Science & Technology later that year, his team’s findings showed that triclosan washed down the drain with soap suds caused a spike in the presence of genes in sewagedigesting bacteria that help them defend against both triclosan and common antibiotics. A study published in the same journal in 2016 indicted triclocarban (common in bar soaps) for playing a similar role in antibiotic resistance. Faculty colleagues from engineering, Dr. Daniel Zitomer, and biological sciences, Dr. Krassimira Hristova, co-authored that study, along with then-doctoralcandidate Dr. Dan Carey. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributing 23,000 deaths annually to antibiotic resistance, this research contributed to the FDA’s decision. It also made McNamara a go-to source for resulting global media coverage, including a story in the Guardian shared 27,000 times and viewed several times that number. “Since (these chemicals) do not offer added

benefits when washing hands, their use is not worth their environmental risk,” McNamara told the Guardian.

But don’t assume a quick resolution here. Triclosan and triclocarban resist degradation during wastewater treatment, “making them pervasive in rivers, lakes, sediment and soil after they are sent down the drain,” notes McNamara. And antibacterial products are back on shelves, with banned ingredients replaced by lesser-known substitutes such as benzalkonium chloride that “still have a documented history of promoting cross-resistance to Dr. Patrick McNamara antibiotics,” write McNamara and Stuart Levy, M.D., professor, Tufts University School of Medicine, in a commentary in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy published in October.


Since (these chemicals) do not offer added benefits when washing hands, their use is not worth their environmental risk.”

Conclude the pair, “Any new chemical should demonstrate documented benefits, and ‘safe’ alternatives should be demonstrated to be safe. Behavior that promotes antibiotic resistance needs to be stopped immediately when the benefits are null.” RESEARCH NEWS COMPILED BY STEPHEN FILMANOWICZ

Listen to McNamara discuss antibiotic resistance on WUWM’s Lake Effect:

At Marquette, there is no shortage of great ideas. Here, problem-solving, research and innovation are part of who we are. But support is needed for great ideas to be realized and breakthroughs to be made. With a gift to support research and innovation at Marquette, you can be part of something that’s moving toward greatness — that will Be The Difference. To support big ideas at Marquette, contact Andrea Petrie at 414.288.4781 or

Marquette UniversityP.O. P.O.Box Box1881, 1881,Milwaukee, Milwaukee,Wisconsin Wisconsin 53201-1881 53201-1881 USA Marquette University, USA

IN GOOD COMPANY. At Marquette, we are finding more ways to collaborate with others to solve problems and create opportunities. A shared vision for human performance with Aurora Health Care, academic programming with the Medical College of Wisconsin, research efforts throughout the university and at the Global Water Center, supporting entrepreneurs and innovators, and improving a community as part of the Near West Side Partners — all these partnerships share a purpose: to improve the world around us. We’re proud to be doing more, together, because the company we keep allows us to Be The Difference.

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