July 2013

Probing for Answers

Julie Stenken, Twenty-First Century Chair in Proteomics

Proteomics is the large-scale study of the structure and function of proteins. Julie Stenken, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is leading a research team that received a four-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the “foreign body” response to implants.

The challenges scientists have faced in developing reliable implantable glucose

sensors are two-fold: the sensors must deal with the foreign-body reaction, where a person's body attempts to wall off the implanted material from healthy tissue, and just as importantly, blood chemistry and tissue vary from person to person. After a week, these natural phenomena cause erratic glucose readings from sensor implants, Stenken said.

“The whole foreign-body reaction drives a series of immune responses that then serve to encapsulate the sensor away from healthy tissue,” Stenken said. “This sensor is measuring glucose in an encapsulated ‘bag’ around the sensor rather than being able to sense what is out in healthy tissue. That becomes an extremely dangerous situation clinically, because if you dose with insulin when you don't need to, the person can go into diabetic coma or eventually death due to an inaccurate reading from the sensor.”

Stenken is a leading expert in the area of in vivo (in the body) collection of proteins known as cytokines using a technique called microdialysis sampling. Her aim is to understand the inflammatory response caused by cells called macrophages to implanted foreign materials.

Stenken is collaborating on the grant with Jeannine Durdik, professor of biological sciences and assistant dean for research in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, and Liping Tang, professor of bioengineering at the University of Texas at Arlington.

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University Honors NSF CAREER Award Winners


The University of Arkansas held a reception at Wallace W. and Jama M. Fowler House on June 5 for faculty who have been awarded funding by the National Science Foundation through the Faculty Early Career Development Program, better known as a CAREER award.

The office of vice provost for research and economic development sponsored the event, which honored university faculty who received CAREER awards. The university has received 27 CAREER awards since the program's inception in 1992, and is currently home to 19 awardees.

The CAREER award is one of the highest honors given by the foundation to junior faculty members. Recipients are selected based on high-quality research and the integration of that research with education initiatives in the context of the university's mission. The award provides a minimum of $400,000 support for five years, or five years and $500,000 for those in biological sciences or polar programs.

Faculty who have received CAREER awards who are currently at the U of A, listed in alphabetical order: Laurent Bellaiche, physics; Luca Capogna, mathematical sciences; Greg Dumond, geosciences; Julian Fairey, civil engineering; Ingrid Fritsch, chemistry and biochemistry; Colin Heyes, chemistry and biochemistry; Russ Meller, industrial engineering; Lin Oliver, physics; Xianghong Qian, chemical engineering; Doug Spearot, mechanical engineering; Julie Stenken, chemistry and biochemistry; Susanne Striegler, chemistry and biochemistry; Jak Tchakhalian, physics; Paul Thibado, physics; Feng Wang, chemistry and biochemistry; Ranil Wickramasinghe, chemical engineering; Shui-Qing “Fisher” Yu, electrical engineering; David Zaharoff, biomedical engineering; Nan Zheng, chemistry and biochemistry; and Min Zou, mechanical engineering.


Genders Communicate Consent to Sex Differently

Kristen Jozkowski

A University of Arkansas researcher’s work on the way men and women communicate their consent to have sex could lead to improved sexual assault prevention programs on college campuses.

Kristen Jozkowski, assistant professor of community health promotion in the College of Education and Health Professions, surveyed 185 students at Indiana University, where she earned a doctorate in health behavior. She wanted to examine how college students define consent and how they express and interpret consent in real-life sexual interactions.

Her study found that the use of nonverbal cues to interpret consent to sexual intercourse could lead to miscommunication and, in some cases, could result in unwanted sexual advances and sexual assault. She found significant differences in how men and women communicated their consent to intercourse with women using more verbal strategies and men using more non-verbal strategies. She found men also relied more on non-verbal indicators when interpreting their partner’s consent and non-consent than women did.

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Low-Temperature Water Transition Identified


Feng Wang

Researchers at the University of Arkansas have identified that water, when chilled to a very low temperature, transforms into a new form of liquid.

Through a simulation performed in “supercooled” water, a research team led by chemist Feng “Seymour” Wang, confirmed a “liquid-liquid” phase transition at 207 Kelvins, or 87 degrees below zero on the Fahrenheit scale.

The properties of supercooled water are important for understanding basic processes during cryoprotection, which is the preservation of tissue or cells by liquid nitrogen so they can be thawed without damage, said Wang, an associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

The findings were published online July 8 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Wang wrote the article, “Liquid–liquid transition in supercooled water suggested by microsecond simulations.” Research associates Yaping Li and Jicun Li assisted with the study.


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Probing for Answers

University Honors NSF CAREER Award Winners

Genders Communicate Consent to Sex Differently

Low-Temperature Water Transition Identified


Puzzled About Polls 101

Nursing Professor Honored for Journal’s Best Research Article

Space Photonics Awarded Contract


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Grant Award Winners

The following is a sampling of faculty awards in June, with the principal investigator, the award amount and the sponsor. An asterisk (*) indicates the continuation of a previous award.

• Frank Millett, $1,042,877, National Institutes of Health*
• Fisher Yu, $300,002, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
• Fran Hagstrom, $223,078, Arkansas Department of Workforce Education
• Daniel Lessner, $210,630, National Science Foundation
• Fred Limp, $135,000, Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council


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