Monthly Update From the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development


NIH Awards $440,000 to U of A Neurobiologist for Gene Research

Timothy A. Evans, assistant professor of biological sciences. Photo by Emma Schock, University of Arkansas
The National Institutes of Health has awarded $440,613 to a U of A neurobiologist to study how a gene develops specific nerve connections throughout the body, a key step in developing ways to stimulate regrowth of nerve connections after an injury or degenerative disease.

Timothy A. Evans, an assistant professor in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, said the three-year grant will support his research of the gene known as robo2 in the common fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

Drosophila serves as an important model for investigating the mechanisms of neural development, because genes like robo2 play similar roles in embryonic neural development in humans,” Evans said. “The more we learn about robo2 in the fruit fly, the better equipped we are to understand the roles of its human counterparts in the contexts of development, neurodegenerative disease and repair after injury.”

Robo2 is a nerve cell protein that controls the growth of nerve fibers during development of the fly.

NSF Awards CAST $900,000 to Lead Effort to Expand Geospatial Education

A CAST researcher uses the center's RazorVue to use google Earth, which uses GIS data to georeference specific locations.
The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies will lead a statewide effort to integrate industry-specific geospatial technology skills into existing degree and certificate programs at community colleges in rural areas.

The National Science Foundation, through its Advanced Technical Education program, awarded CAST a three-year grant for $898,073 for the Opening Pathways to Employment through Nontraditional Geospatial Applications in Technical Education, which will be known by the acronym OPEN-GATE.

Geospatial technologies include computer-based mapping and data acquisition and analysis using geographic information systems. The U.S. Department of Labor has listed it as a high-growth industry and a major area of job creation in the next decade. A recent survey found a need for technicians, especially those who can store, create and manage data.

The program’s goals are to increase use of geospatial technology statewide, expand access to geospatial education and training and improve existing employee skills while expanding the workforce.

U of A Geoscientist to Help Determine Greenhouse Gas Guidelines

Jason Tullis, associate professor of geosciences. Photo by University Relations
Jason Tullis, an associate professor of geosciences in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, will help refine international guidelines for greenhouse gas inventories that will be considered for adoption by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The panel, known as IPCC, was created to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Tullis is an expert in analyzing satellite imagery and other geospatial data to evaluate a country’s land base and detecting land use conversions, such as from forest to farmland. He will travel next month with 10 other U.S. scientists to participate in an IPCC “scoping meeting” in Minsk, Belarus. The meeting will start and accelerate the formal process of updating the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.

“Rapidly advancing geospatial science, including remote sensing and geographic information systems, is an essential component in national inventories and will be an important factor in the refinement of the guidelines,” Tullis said.

Not All 'Front-of-Package' Nutrition Information Produces the Same Effect

Photo by University Relations
Marketing researchers at the U of A and their colleague at the University of Mississippi compared nutrition information labels on the front of packaged food products to understand which labels help consumers choose more healthful items. Their conclusion: It depends.

“Our research suggests that there is no single, ‘one-size-fits-all’ front-of-package nutrition label that is suitable for all the different types of situations in which consumers are evaluating and choosing products,” said Elizabeth Howlett, professor of marketing in the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

Shoppers often find it daunting to decide which packaged food products are the healthiest. The researchers found that different formats worked better in different situations. 

A front-of-package label that provided specific, objective and quantitative information was more suited to a non-comparative choice, the instance in which a consumer is evaluating a single product. Front-of-package labels that provided evaluative information were more suited to a comparative task, when customers were evaluating multiple products.

The researchers’ study was published recently in the Journal of Consumer Research.




Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development
205 Administration Building
1 University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701

The Office of Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development has added several electronic distribution lists relating to subjects of interest to the University of Arkansas research community. More information about the types of lists and registering for them can be found here.

The following is a sampling of the top grants awarded to faculty and staff in July, with the principal investigator, the award amount and the sponsor. An asterisk (*) indicates the continuation of a previous award.

  • Debra Hurd, $3,030,090, Arkansas Department of Human Services
  • Tara J. Dryer, $851,062, Arkansas Department of Higher Education
  • Matthew J. Patitz, $499,954, National Science Foundation
  • Malcolm Williamson, $115,783, EAST Initiative
  • Claire Terhune, $114,769, National Science Foundation