B1G: More Than Athletics

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The Big Ten - More Than Athletics


A year after the University of Nebraska-Lincoln officially became a member of the Big Ten Conference and its academic cohort, the prestigious Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), it's obvious that the conference gives academics a whole lot more than lip service, and UNL has been welcomed as a partner and a leader in CIC efforts. Here's a small sampling of ongoing academic collaborations with other Big Ten universities:

Digital Humanities

The CIC's Digital Humanities Initiative is benefiting from pioneering work of UNL faculty associated with the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities – a joint initiative of the UNL Libraries and the College of Arts and Sciences – and UNL faculty are taking leadership roles in the new initiative. For example, Katherine Walter, UNL Libraries professor and co-director of the CDRH is co-leading the CIC's Digital Humanities Collaboration Committee, which organized the group's first Digital Humanities Summit in April 2012 in Lincoln. The summit was co-hosted by UNL and the CIC and participants identified collaborative research opportunities.

UNL will host the international conference, Digital Humanities 2013, in July 2013.

Walt Whitman Archive

Kenneth Price, who holds the Hillegass University Professorship of American Literature and is co-director of UNL's Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, continues to collaborate with the University of Iowa's Ed Folsom in co-directing the Walt Whitman Archive. The Archive is an electronic research and teaching tool that sets out, for the first time, to make the vast work of America's most influential poet easily and conveniently accessible to scholars, students and general readers. The Archive draws on the resources of libraries and collections from across the United States and around the world.

Family Communication

Dawn O. Braithwaite, Willa Cather Professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies, has a longstanding collaboration with the University of Iowa's Leslie A. Baxter authoring several studies on communication in stepfamilies, communication and family rituals, and communication in voluntary (fictive) families. One of their books, "Engaging Theories in Family Communication," won the 2011 National Communication Association Family Communication Division Book Award. Braithwaite also has collaborated with Northwestern University's Kathleen Galvin on publications addressing family communication.

Big Ten Forensics Tournament

Aaron Duncan, director of Speech and Debate, worked with Northwestern University's Yan Lauth to establish the inaugural Big Ten Forensics (Speech) Tournament, which was held last fall and won by UNL. Duncan is currently a member of the tournament organizational and hosting committee. Speech and Debate is part of the Department of Communication Studies.

Traumatic Brain Injury Research

A joint effort of the CIC and the Big Ten Athletic Conference, the Traumatic Brain Injury Research Collaboration aims to better understand the causes and effects of sport-related concussion and head injuries. UNL's Dennis Molfese, the Mildred Francis Thompson Professor of Psychology, leads this effort, working with labs across the group's 13 institutions to come up with a standard set of tests for researchers to use in testing athletes across sports. He also is working with the CIC to develop a centralized data storage system to pool their concussion data. More information can be found at the CIC/Big Ten Traumatic Brain Injury Research Collaboration page: http://www.cic.net/Home/Faculty/BrainInjury.aspx

Role of Social Media

Senior advertising and public relations major Makayla Hipke has teamed with College of Journalism and Mass Communications graduate chair Frauke Hachtmann for an Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experiences (UCARE) project titled "Game-Changer: The Role of Social Media in Big Ten Athletic Departments," a qualitative case study that will gather information about social media use in athletics. The research team will conduct interviews with athletic department personnel in marketing and communications at Big Ten member institutions before analyzing answers for recurrent themes and messages. The pair hopes to uncover information about social media and brand loyalty that will help current advertising and public relations professionals understand more about what makes effective communication strategy.

Child Care and Youth Training and Technical Assistance Project

Young children of military families face special challenges from pre-school through adolescence, especially if they live off base where services and support for their unique situation are lacking. UNL Extension and Pennsylvania State University are among states collaborating on a $7 million Child Care and Youth Training and Technical Assistant Project, funded by the Department of Defense, that ultimately will train about 28,000 professionals in 13 states to make sure these kids are ready to succeed throughout their early school years. Training of extension educators now is under way. UNL's role is to develop content and provide programming for this project, Penn State's is to deliver content through its existing Better Kid Care Program.

Language and Reading Research

The Language and Reading Research Consortium (LARRC) is a multi-university consortium of researchers at The Ohio State University, University of Kansas, Arizona State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Lancaster University in the United Kingdom. Funded by the Department of Education, IES, a 5-year national study is being conducted focused on comprehension development and understanding for children from preschool through third grade using a nationally representative sample of 1,200 children (300 in Nebraska) followed longitudinally over five years, coupled with teaching trials and efficacy studies. An English Language Learner (ELL) study at the ASU site focuses intensively on reading comprehension among ELLs.

Genetics of Alcohol Treatment Response

Scott Stoltenberg, assistant professor of psychology, is working with colleagues in the Psychiatry Department at the University of Michigan on a pilot project involving the genetics of alcoholism treatment response. This pilot project will be funded by the University of Michigan Psychiatry Department and is based on a larger project funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Stoltenberg's lab will extract DNA from 750 saliva samples collected from participants and genotype them for several genetic polymorphisms believed to be involved in alcoholism risk.

Nanostructures/Rare Earth Metals/Surface Magnetization/Ferroelectrics

Evgeny Tsymbal and Alexei Gruverman, professors in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, are working with groups led by professors Chang-Beom Eom and Mark Rzchowski at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their research focuses on electronic transport in nanostructures and polarization control. Such materials science research continues to yield new threads of possibilities for the advancement of technology. Peter Dowben, who holds joint appointments in the departments of chemistry and physics and astronomy, is involved in some of their work. He also has longstanding collaborations with other researchers in Madison studying rare earth metals and compounds; with University of Minnesota researchers to understand surface magnetization; and with researchers at Penn State studying organic ferroelectrics.

Soybean Research

UNL is collaborating with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on several agricultural research projects, including one that seeks to improve management of soybean cyst nematode, the most yield-limiting disease of soybeans in the United States. The joint project is funded by the North Central Soybean Research program through soybean check-off funds.

Big Ten Speakers Series

The College of Law's Big Ten Speakers Series invites prominent law professors from Big Ten law schools to speak on campus about a recent research project. During 2012-13, professors from five schools will participate, including Dean Daniel Rodriguez from Northwestern, an administrative and public law expert, and Matt Finkin from Illinois, a nationally recognized labor and employment law scholar.