2017 Auburn Talks Presentations


Presenter / College / Title 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM Auburn Talks Presentations

Karen Rabren

Karen Rabren

College of Education

9:30 AM - TRANSITIONS: WHY ARE THEY SO DIFFICULT FOR SOME?

Everyone experiences many transitions throughout their lives. These transitions can be challenging for those engaged in the process, as well as for their loved ones. This is especially true for one group of individuals. People with disabilities have the same hopes, desires, and aspirations as those without disabilities. They want to work, live independently, and become engaged members of their communities; however, for some, their disabilities pose significant barriers in their quest for integrated and productive lives. Learn how research, outreach and instruction at Auburn University is building brighter futures for persons with disabilities.

Maria Soledad Peresin

Maria Soledad Peresin

School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences

9:45 AM - RETHINKING THE USE OF TREES: ADVANCED MATERIALS FROM NANOCELLULOSE

Produced by chemical, mechanical, or enzymatic processing of lignocellulosic feedstock, nanocelluloses are nanosized cellulose particles with remarkable properties and are very appealing for multiple novel applications in materials science. 
Colloidal suspensions of nanocellulose exhibit steady gel-like structure at low solids content, suitable to be incorporated in formulations for thickeners, emulsifiers for food, cosmetics and paints. Moreover, they present good film-formability with high barrier properties after drying which is attractive for applications such as packaging, biosensors, membranes, OLED displays and biosensors. Also, their exceptional mechanical properties make nanocellulose a very appealing alternative for engineering of renewable, strong light-weight materials.

Haroldo Toro

Haroldo Toro

College of Veterinary Medicine

10:00 AM - UNDERSTANDING NATURAL SELECTION IS ESSENTIAL FOR VIRAL DISEASE CONTROL

Poultry meat and eggs constitute the most important protein source for human consumption worldwide. Preventing viral diseases by vaccination in commercial poultry assists in maintaining poultry products at an affordable price for the consumer. Vaccine development poses significant challenges. One of most relevant obstacles is “antigenic variation” among viral strains, i.e., viruses rapidly change their “look” and successfully escape defense responses induced by vaccination. The evolutionary mechanisms, originally proposed by Darwin, explain how viruses remain the most relevant problem affecting human and animal health. Understanding these mechanisms is essential for virus disease control. 

David Cicero

David Cicero

Harbert College of Business

10:15 AM - FORE! AN ANALYSIS OF EXECUTIVE SHIRKING

Economists emphasize performance-based compensation because we believe that people work harder (and better) when they have “skin in the game.”  But it’s challenging to test this theory empirically, because people avoid being observed “shirking” their responsibilities. In this talk, I will discuss new evidence suggesting that this principle is not only true, but often neglected, in the upper echelons of corporate America. Evidence of the costs imposed by under-incentivized executives is made possible by our analysis of a novel measure of executive leisure consumption: the amount of golf they play. 

Barbara Barker

Barbara Baker

College of Liberal Arts

10:30 AM - A GENDER COMPARISON OF HBCU'S AND PWI'S IN THE SOUTHEAST

This study examines twenty-five doctoral granting land grant institutions in the southeastern Unites States in order to compare hiring, rank, and salary by gender and by university type: Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). The comparison—drawn from raw data reported by the institutions to the National Center for Education Statistics between 1980 and 2011—indicates surprising differences related to rank and salary between men and women. While gender disparities in salary and promotion persisted at both institution types, these gaps widened more significantly at PWIs than at HBCUs.

Randall Clark

Randall Clark

Harrison School of Pharmacy

10:45 AM - EMERGING SYNTHETIC DRUGS: DESIGNERS AND DINOSAURS

New synthetic drugs of abuse are appearing at a greater rate than ever before in our history. The origin of these new psychoactive substances is a mixture of newly designed molecules and older re-purposed drugs. These synthetic substances can exist in a number of different forms sharing similar analytical signatures yet differing in biological activities and legal status. The ability to distinguish between controlled and imposter forms of drug substances is extremely important in forensic drug identification. Our work involves characterization and differentiation of these imposter molecules creating boundary issues at the interface of the synthetic processes, the analytical signature and the nature of the legal control. This talk will describe examples of synthetic opiates, cannabinoids and cathinone drug classes.

Presenter / College / Title 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Auburn Talks Presentations

Bill Walton

William (Bill) Walton

College of Agriculture

1:00 PM - IMPROVING THE (OFF) BOTTOM LINE: RESEARCHING BETTER WAYS TO GROW OYSTERS

As a shellfish biologist, I am used to thinking in terms of survival, growth and yield but shellfish farmers think in terms of profits, losses and return on investments. In Alabama and across the southern US, off-bottom oyster aquaculture is taking hold, and these new oyster farmers are looking to ways to improve profits as they create jobs and produce world-class oysters. As researchers, how do we craft our research to give stakeholders the most relevant information that they can use?

Tony Overfelt

Tony Overfelt

Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

1:15 PM - MANUFACTURING IN ALABAMA: YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW!

Although the underlying principles of chemistry and physics that control manufacturing have not changed since the first metal components were produced thousands of years ago, the ways we understand and control manufacturing processes are changing rapidly.  Today, manufacturing processes can be accurately controlled by state-of-the-art production systems to precisely build metal structures for aerospace, orthopedic and automotive applications that were not imaginable just 10 years ago.  This talk will look at the history of manufacturing in Alabama across the years and explore some of the rapid developments occurring in Alabama as 3D printing and additive manufacturing take their place as mature production technologies.

Xavier Vendrell

Xavier Vendrell

College of Architecture, Design & Construction

1:30 PM - 20K HOME: BEAUTIFUL, AFFORDABLE, EFFICIENT, DURABLE AND WELL-BUILT

In Rural Studio’s 20K Home project students are faced with the challenge of designing a house that can be built quickly and affordably by a contractor in a market-rate economy. In taking the 20K House from “Project to Product,” Rural Studio has expanded its engagement to include outside consultants to aid in aligning the design with the International Residential Code as well as FHA, USDA, and HUD guidelines. The goal of this project is to offer up these documents free of charge to anyone who wishes to procure a housing product that is dignified, affordable, and sustainable.

Elizabeth Schwartz

Elizabeth Schwartz

College of Sciences & Mathematics

1:45 PM - IMPACT OF INFECTION AND IMMUNITY ON METABOLISM AND THE MICROBIOME: DISCERNING THE MECHANISMS OF SICKNESS

The symptoms of illness associated with infectious disease have a profound effect on the productivity of the host and more broadly, on the work force.  Fever, body aches, nausea, and fatigue are metabolically demanding and can markedly restrict the performance of the host. Many of these symptoms stem directly from the host’s immune response and are regulated in part by the microbiome.  The goal of our project is to define how specific components of the immune response and gut microbiota contribute to the systemic metabolic profile of illness. The insights provided by this study will inform the design of therapeutics to ameliorate these symptoms.

Veena Chattaraman

Veena Chattaraman

College of Human Sciences

2:00 PM - AI BOTS ENABLING INTELLIGENT CONSUMER DECISIONS

Consumption decisions are quintessential aspect of human existence. Rational choice theory predicts that consumers can make choices to maximize their desired attributes. Despite this, sub-optimal decisions for food, homes, and health insurance underscore a variety of our nation’s problems today. Our research designs, develops, and evaluates intelligent, naturalistic decision aids (bots) that are built on a solid science base of psychological theories combined with an experiential understanding of consumer decision-making. These bots use natural language to infer human thinking, adapt to user- and object-triggered decision strategy use, and arrive at informed choices by augmenting the natural way in which humans make decisions.

Linda Gibson-Young

Linda Gibson-Young

School of Nursing

2:15 PM - THE POWER OF SYNERGY: EMPHASIZING COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS TO IMPROVE CHILD HEALTH

Alabama has the second highest obesity rate in the U.S., and diabetes and hypertension have exploded, particularly in children less than 18 years of age.  The purpose of this AU talk is to highlight synergy among child health as we introduce a new project titled TigerCHAT. Synergy is the interface of multiple partnerships to generate a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. TigerCHAT is a comprehensive health education project provided to rural, school-aged children focused on behaviors associated with poor child outcomes. The focus is placed on sustainability of this project through the power of synergy.