Monthly Update From the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development


Biologist Awarded ORAU Seed Grant for Stress-Defense Protein Research

Graduate student Rebecca Sides (left) and Assistant Professor Jeffrey A. Lewis observe yeast samples in Lewis' Microbial Stress Biology Lab at the University of Arkansas. Photo by Matt Reynolds

Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a leading national science and technology consortium comprised of more than 100 institutions, has awarded a University of Arkansas biologist a $5,000 seed grant to study stress-defense proteins.

Jeffrey A. Lewis, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, was one of 35 faculty members in the nation to win the competitive award. He will use his Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award to gain a better understanding of acetylation, a type of modification within cells that may help cells adapt to stress.

Defects in stress defense can damage cells and have been linked to human disorders ranging from cancer to neurodegenerative disease. Better understanding of the process and triggers of acetylation will help researchers better understand cell resiliency.

“Healthy cells rely on a delicate balance of many different and interconnected cellular processes,” Lewis said. “Disruption of any of these processes can lead to catastrophic effects on cellular physiology. Cells must be able to sense and respond to stressful situations that threaten this balance.”





Study Shows Consumers Prefer Meat Products Labeled From the United States

The 2002 and 2008 farm bills required U.S. retailers to provide country-of-origin labeling for most meat and poultry products. Congress is now considering repealing the requirement. Courtesy USDA

While Congress considers repealing a law requiring country-of-origin labels on packages of beef, pork and poultry, marketing researchers in the Sam M. Walton College of Business have found that such labels influence consumer perceptions about food safety and quality.
Researchers found that consumers preferred meat from the United States when provided only with information about where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered – and not given information about country-specific meat-processing standards.
“The country-of-origin requirement appears to provide consumers with additional information that has both direct and indirect effects on purchase intentions,” said Scot Burton, professor of marketing. “The requirement impacts inferred attributes, meaning that meat products from the United States are perceived to be safer, tastier and fresher than meat products from Mexico. Of course, these attributes, in turn, have positive effects on purchase decisions.”
Burton conducted the study with Elizabeth Howlett, professor of marketing, and marketing graduate students Christopher Berry and Amaradri Mukherjee. Their findings were published in the Journal of Retailing.


APEI, Frequent U of A Research Collaborator, Acquired by Cree

APEI’s high-performance, silicon carbide-based plug-in hybrid electric vehicle battery charger. Courtesy of APEI

A research development firm that frequently collaborates with faculty at the University of Arkansas on new technologies has been sold to the top-selling LED light manufacturer in the United States.
Cree Inc. has acquired Arkansas Power Electronics International Inc. (APEI), the largest company at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park. APEI will be renamed Cree Fayetteville Inc. and will continue to be based at the research park.
“This acquisition represents the culmination of years of dedicated research and development by APEI,” said Phillip Stafford, president of the University of Arkansas Technology Development Foundation. “It also serves notice that world-class technologies are being commercialized through public-private partnerships such as those developed by University of Arkansas researchers and APEI.”
APEI specializes in advanced, high-performance electronics for a variety of customers and applications, including the defense, aerospace and hybrid/electric vehicle markets. It specializes in silicon carbide semiconductors, multichip power modules, high-temperature packaging for electronic components and high-temperature circuits. 


Anthropologists Discovering the Past Through Fossils in Kanapoi

Peter Ungar is trying to understand the ecological backdrop of the Kanapoi site and the environments in which our ancestors lived and evolved at the time. Photo submitted

Peter Ungar, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology, and Luke Delezene, assistant professor of anthropology, are part of an international team working to identify fossils from Kanapoi, Kenya, with Mike Plavcan, professor of anthropology and co-director of excavations at the site.

Plavcan, co-director of the West Turkana Paleo Project, is the primary investigator on the National Science Foundation grant funding the research at Kanapoi with Fredrick Kyalo Manthi of the Kenya National Museums.

Kanapoi is a 4-million-year-old fossil site on the western shore of Lake Turkana, in the north of Kenya. Plavcan and his team have been excavating there for years, and have found numerous early hominins of the species Australopithecus anamensis (a human ancestor or near cousin).

The project is highlighted in the Field Notes feature in Research Frontiers.





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 June, with the principal investigator, the award amount and the sponsor. An asterisk (*) indicates the continuation of a previous award.

  • Mike Johnson, $700,000, Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council
  • Karan Burnette, $546,359, Arkansas Department of Human Services
  • David Stahle, $418,656, National Science Foundation
  • Roger Koeppe, $274,614, Arkansas Biosciences Institute
  • Juan Carlos Balda, $265,002, University of Central Florida