BUILDing SCHOLARS is proud to announce the inaugural class of faculty summer sabbatical recipients. Summer 2015 fellows include faculty from Western New Mexico University (WNMU), Texas Southern University (TSU), Northern New Mexico College (NNMC), and (UTEP). This year's participating research partner institutions include The University of Arizona, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, and The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing.
Congratulations to this year's awardees and mentors. We thank the NIH for making these collaborative efforts possible.
Miguel Narvaez, Ph.D., Western New Mexico (WNMU)
Dr. Narvaez is an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology, Chair of Allied Health, and Director of the Kinesiology. His research and academic interests include concussions in children practicing contact sports, injury mechanisms in martial arts, fitness field-testing in martial arts, and community-based and service-learning experiences.
Bijan Najafi, Ph.D., The University of Arizona (U of A)
Dr. Najafi is affiliated with the departments of Surgery, Medicine and Biomedical Engineering. He serves as Associate Professor of Surgery and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Consortium on Advanced Motion Performance (iCAMP). He has over a decade of experience in designing bio-inspired sensors for the objective evaluation of the healthy state of patients with locomotor dysfunctions.
The team’s objective is to study the incidence of sport injuries and their long-term socio-economic effects. Some of the factors to be analyzed include type of sport (contact/non-contact), gender, age, skill level and severity of the injury (e.g., by loss of days of practice or work). As part of the collaboration, they expect to produce at least one publication or presentation from this effort within a year of completing their research.
Huan Xie, Ph.D., Texas Southern University (TSU)
Dr. Xie is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Director of Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Pharmacology core. She has a background in nano-formulation and targeted drug delivery, with a specific focus and expertise in cancer therapy applications.
Xiaohong Bi, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)
Dr. Bi is an Assistant Professor of Nanomedicine and Biomedical Engineering. She has developed optical spectroscopy and imaging techniques for disease detection. Dr. Bi’s current funded projects include bone quality evaluation, diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease and cancer imaging.
The team plans to develop a new type of nano-construct that combines the advantages of gold nanorods/anti-carbonic anhydrase IV and SERS to achieve image-guided photothermal cancer therapy. Successful completion of the project will generate new insights into a novel type of nano-construct and provide imaging information for detection. It will also enhance the research environment and offer a high-caliber opportunity for minority student training and engagement in an area of biomedical research with exceptional future potential.
David Torres, Ph.D., Northern New Mexico College (NNMC)
Dr. Torres is an Associate Professor and Chair of Mathematics and Physical Sciences. His interests are computational fluid dynamics, parallel programming optimization and honey bee modeling.
Judy Cannon, Ph.D., University of New Mexico (UNM)
Dr. Cannon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology. Her areas of research are molecular regulation of T cell migration, chemokine signaling in T cells and the role of signaling molecules in infectious disease. She and her colleagues focus on defining and understanding the fundamental mechanisms that control T cell migration to, and within, lymph nodes. Dr. Cannon also serves as Dr. Torres’s BUILD supermentor.
The team’s purpose is to employ a genetic algorithm to identify a set of genes that are correlated with the progression of acute lymphoblastic leukemia into the central nervous system (CNS). Recognizing a set of genes that is highly correlated with CNS infiltration would be useful in identifying a treatment regime for leukemia patients, especially since such treatments can have significant side effects.
Yok-Fong Paat, Ph.D., LCSW, University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP)
Dr. Paat is an Assistant Professor of Social Work and a licensed clinical social worker. Her scholarship focuses on how family ecology (e.g., social environment, social structure, culture and resources), as well as family process (e.g., acculturation, parenting and relationship dynamics) shape family well-being, health behaviors and social integration over the family life cycle in both immigrant and non-immigrant communities.
Christine Markham, Ph.D., The University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston (UTHealth)
Dr. Markham is an Associate Professor and Associate Director at The Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research. She has over 20 years of experience in the development, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of child and adolescent health promotion interventions for diverse populations and settings, including school-, clinic- and family-based interventions.
The team’s purpose is to examine the contextual effects of family, school and neighborhoods on teens’ and young adults' risk and protective factors for sexual health and behaviors. They plan to develop three manuscripts related to youth sexual risk behavior and dating violence prevention.
Lucas Gonzales, Ph.D., Northern New Mexico College (NNMC)
Dr. Gonzales is an Associate Professor of Nursing Education. His expertise is in medical-surgical, emergency, peri-operative and school nursing.
Tracie Harrison, Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing (UT Austin School of Nursing)
Dr. Harrison is an Associate Professor of Nursing with advanced training in gerontology, disability, health disparities and health policy. She has extensive expertise in successfully mentoring students, both undergraduate, graduate and peers locally and abroad (South Africa and Mexico).
The team’s goal is to investigate the health literacy needs of Latinas with severe visual impairment by conducting in-depth interviews that will include quality-of-life questions, as well as assessing their access to health care information. Data gathered from the inquiry will be submitted in a grant publication and published.