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Endeavors 2009

Annual online reseach feature looks at the work of 14 extraordinary professors

Endeavors 2009

Architect Fred Oberkircher, new president of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, is convinced that we can have both energy-efficient light bulbs and ones that sparkle.

Endeavors 2009

Annual online reseach feature looks at the work of 14 extraordinary professors

The stories in Endeavors, an online magazine, were selected by the office of the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and represent a cross section of the research conducted at TCU. They were chosen to present the depth and breadth of inquiry in the seven colleges and schools.

Go to www.endeavors.tcu.edu for the full text of the stories and additional information regarding research and creative scholarship at TCU.

Light fantastic
Architect Fred Oberkircher, new president of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, is convinced that we can have both energy-efficient light bulbs and ones that sparkle.

Scrutinizing the messages around us

M. Francyne Huckaby ’96 (MEd), assistant professor of curriculum studies in the College of Education’s Center for Urban Education, analyzes the impact of words and phrases in documentaries, TV shows, songs, images and even a Norman Rockwell painting.

Diversifying communication
Public relations was a much simpler profession when Doug Newsom started her career in the 1950s. Now, a single person and a computer can wreak havoc on a corporation. The result: PR is now strategic communication and crisis management. The Internet has not only brought more power to the public, it has added breadth to communication.

Analyzing income gaps
A study coauthored by William L. Cron, Neeley’s associate dean of graduate programs and the J. Vaughn & Evelyne H. Wilson Professor in Business, explains the reasons for income gaps between male and female veterinarians.

Juggling molecules
Chemistry has moved light years away from alchemy, says TCU chemist Jean-Luc Montchamp. But has it, really? Aren’t chemists still performing a kind of magic, switching the basic building blocks of matter around to make stuff that didn’t exist before? 1660s alchemist Hennig Brand Brand went looking for compounds; Montchamp makes them himself.

Touching lives
Despite years of research showing its benefits, we live in a hands-off culture with a deeply rooted aversion to touch, say Karyn Purvis and fellow researcher David Cross of The Institute of Child Development at TCU. In a new DVD, the two social scientists discuss the hows and why of “safe” touch.

Verifying effectiveness
Accounting professor Mary Stanford developed empirical measures for determining the effectiveness of Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 131.

Teaching from a script
Radio-TV-Film professor Richard Allen was asked to write an original musical for a local high school’s inaugural Fine Arts Festival. In six months, Allen came up with “Return to Planet Zoloft,” a romantic comedy about high school students putting on a musical.

Dispelling assumptions
When nursing professors Linda Cox Curry, Charles Walker ’77 (BSN ’83) and Mildred Hogstel looked into the effects of moving older adults to long-term care facilities, they discovered that assumptions didn’t connect to reality. In fact, their research revealed just the opposite — such a move often provides relief from worries and improves quality of life.

Examining judicial systems
Argentina’s judges strike down laws whenever a president is about to leave office. Bulgaria’s court must worry about acid attacks from political rivals. But the United States court system is the real oddball. Nowhere else will you find judges appointed for life. Political science professor Mary Volcansek is putting the finishing touches on a new book that takes a comparative look at courts around the world and generates new theories on how the justice system operates outside of a North American context.

Honoring native tongues
Donald Frischmann, professor of Spanish, began studying the native language of Nahuatl in ancient Mexico in the 1970s. His new three-volume critical anthology of prose, poetry and plays showcasing 33 indigenous writers and the 13 languages they write in took nearly a decade to translate and edit.

Easing language barriers
What if your native tongue suddenly didn’t compute, and you couldn’t speak it? Right now, over a million Americans live with such a condition, called aphasia, and this year another 100,000 people will join them. For bilingual patients, it is even more difficult, says Maria Muñoz, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders.

Composing emotion
In the last few years, Blaise Ferrandino, associate professor of music theory and composition, has composed a Christmas carol, a three-movement cello symphony and a tuba ensemble piece, a work for piano, a duet for double bass and bassoon, several choral works and a piece for trumpet and marimba, the xylophone-like instrument that hails from Central America.

Resetting the balance of nature
Dean Williams, ecologist and assistant professor of biology, is studying invasive species hydrilla and purple swamphens that have relocated from other countries and reproduced so quickly in the U.S. that they’re squeezing the native species out. His partner biology assistant professor Amanda Hale works to save indigenous plants and animals. The husband and wife team fight to preserve biodiversity by tapping into the genetic code, using DNA sequencing to investigate endangered and invasive species alike.