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McMurry University Faculty Receive Sam Taylor Fellowships


ABILENE, Texas – Eleven McMurry University faculty members have been chosen to receive the Sam Taylor Fellowship for the 2011-2012 academic year. Given annually by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church, the Fellowships are for research projects or continuing education. Recipients of the award and their plans for the funding are:

Chris Andrews will be completing doctoral work at Texas Tech. It will pay for software to complete his dissertation research and travel to Lubbock to meet residency requirements.

Gae Lynn McInroe will be data collecting and writing her dissertation. The title is Teacher Candidates’ Readiness to Teach and To Assess Elementary Students’ Reading. The focus of this research will be on the university student as they progress through our capstone Reading course in which they tutor an elementary student. It will look at the teacher candidate’s perceptions of readiness to teach reading and to assess reading to individual students.

Dr. Greg Schneller will be studying use of various types of prayer (thanksgiving, petition, praise, etc.) and how they relate to religious commitment and faith maturity.

Dr. Brenna Troncoso will be working on a project which will provide the foundation for a long-term examination of efforts to address human trafficking in Texas, including legal approaches, law enforcement strategies, and provision of services to victims of human trafficking in rural West Texas and the Big Country and how these compare to the rest of the state, keeping in mind that needs identified and addressed in urban areas may be very different from those identified and addressed in rural areas.

Danh Pham will be completing research into the history of the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra. They are arguably the world’s most famous wind band, and one of the pioneers of the professional wind ensemble movement. Through Pham’s research of their history, he uncovered a Western link that serves as a thread through many centuries of history that includes Japanese music education, religion, and artistic direction.

Dr. Tierney Brosius: In crime scene investigations insects are an invaluable resource. They can be used to corroborate testimony, show victim drug use, show possible wound locations, and to estimate post-mortem interval, or, time since death. The Sam Taylor grant will be used to investigate what chemicals

associated with decomposing tissue serve as an attractant for a forensically important group of flies. This project not only provides our current students with hands on research experience, it will also complement McMurry University’s interest in a future forensic science degree. This study will benefit the forensic entomology community through improved efficiency of blow fly diversity studies, and providing a method for standardizing methodology. Such a new technique will allow for geographic diversity studies which are important in determining the species that may be found at crime scenes and will ultimately aid in post mortem interval estimations. This grant will also provide the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from the University of Nebraska. Conducting research in both Nebraska and Texas will strengthen the results and potential applications of the research.

Dr. Anna Saghatelyn is working on an analysis to determine the connections between and evolution of floras on the southernmost boundary of Texas.

Dr. John Eric Swenson: The Sam Taylor Fellowship will fund two research projects. Below is a summary.

Title of Study: Peace and Joy: Two Fruits Of The Spirit That Have Withered On The Vine Of Psychological Research

Inward peace and joy, as defined by Christianity, are two constructs that have received very little research emphasis. The present study involves a qualitative and quantitative analysis of inward peace and joy from a Christian perspective. The relationship of inward peace and joy to types of communication with God (adoration/praise, thanksgiving, confession, supplication, and receptive/contemplative prayer), positive and negative attitudes toward God, religious commitment, and faith maturity will be explored.

Title of Study: Attributions and God: How People Explain Their Actions In Relation to God

There is very little psychological research examining how people make attributions to God about their own actions. For example, if a person is a Christian and he ends up stealing from the company he works for, how does he make attributions to God regarding his behavior? Did God have anything to do with his behavior? For example, he might make an external attribution similar to this: “If God had blessed me with more money, I would not have stolen.” He might also make an external attribution such as “The devil tempted me.” He could also make an internal attribution (e.g., “I was just plain stupid for doing such a thing.”). This research will attempt to focus on how Christians make attributions to God about their own actions. Additionally, he plans to use this research to help explain how Christian psychotherapists attempt to explain the actions, whether good or bad, of their clients in relation to God.

Ann-Marie Lopez will be using the Fellowship funds for doctoral studies.

Dr. Hyunshun Shin is working on two research questions: How to (1) reduce tumor or cancer cell proliferation by investigating arginine biosynthesis and histone deacetylase activities, and (2) kill or reduce the growth of bacterial cells in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) biosynthesis with new compounds. Cancer is the second most common cause of death for Americans and accounts for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths in the US. An estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the US during 2011; about 2,140 new cases are expected in men. Targeting the polyamine pathway has been studied in possible therapeutic approaches. One of the most promising areas for the development of novel anti-cancer therapeutics is polyamine biosynthesis. The finding that inhibitors of polyamine biosynthesis can prevent or limit cancer cell growth, together with the fact that polyamine concentrations are elevated in multiple cancer tissues, has made polyamine metabolism a promising target for cancer chemoprevention and therapy. The proposed project would directly involve two undergraduate students for one summer of research. We will design and synthesize small molecules that target arginine biosynthesis. We will continue to modify these molecules based on 3-D structures of both arginase and ODC enzymes. We will screen these novel compounds against the purified human arginase and ODC enzyme to confirm inhibition of enzyme activity in collaborative works with other institutes.

Dr. Perry Kay Haley Brown will be developing a project on Dispute Resolution: Mediation in Education. Mediation training is offered by many institutions and organizations across Texas. The focus of the project will be the development of mediation modules that can be used to teach mediation skills to pre-service educators, student teachers, colleagues, and university student teacher supervisors. Educators are seeing more cases of bullying, aggressive behavior, immorality, defiance of authority, physical assaults, and other serious behavior problems. It is critical that educators have the skills to foster cooperation, resolution, and logical solutions to ever increasing serious disputes. In order to prepare prospective educators, current educators, and administrator to deal with the issues they see on a daily basis, the training will give educators the tools they need to be successful in mediating and resolving disputes.

These eleven professors represent the largest number of McMurry professors to have been awarded Sam Taylor grants in many years.

The will of the late Sam Taylor set aside funds to be used for continuing education and development for faculty members of United Methodist-related colleges and schools in Texas. These grants may be used for graduate study or post-graduate research. Funds are limited and the fellowships are competitive. The Division of Higher Education of the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry administers the endowment.