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Oklahoma State University

Three win OSU President’s Fellows Award for research projects

Friday, March 1, 2019

Drs. Sheri Vasinda, Joshua Ramsey and Amy Payton

Three Oklahoma State University professors were recently named 2019 President’s Fellows Faculty Research Award recipients.

Drs. Sheri Vasinda, Amy Payton, and Joshua Ramsey each received $20,000 for their proposals.

“OSU faculty experts are conducting cutting-edge research in many areas, and the results can improve people's lives in tangible ways,” said Dr. Kenneth Sewell, OSU vice president for research. “We are fortunate to have the support of the President's Fellows to propel these important projects forward.”

Deans nominate a faculty member to submit an application that is reviewed by a committee.

Vasinda, an associate professor of literacy education in the School of Teaching, Learning and Educational Sciences, wants to help struggling second- through fifth-graders learn to read better by transcribing their personal stories in digital books using speech recognition apps.

“This award will allow me to study the most personalized reading approach, the Language Experience Approach, and make it a viable option for busy teachers through speech-to-text software and digital publishing apps,” Vasinda said. She proposed training 12 reading specialists from six area schools in this approach and equipping them with iPads, microphone headsets and a digital publishing app to use with their students.

“Pairing this approach with speech recognition software offers the potential for struggling students to develop digital libraries of their stories, giving them a meaningful context to develop additional reading skills such as phonics and fluency.”

Payton, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, will use the funding to help find ways to ease the stressors faced by early childhood educators.

It turns out that early childhood programs expel students at a rate three times higher than K-12. While these expulsions are often caused by children’s behavioral problems, it’s the caregivers who institute the actions. Payton believes that offering mentoring and group reflection opportunities to caregivers will reduce their stress levels, extending their empathy and understanding with their subjects.

“The $20,000 will allow me to pilot my CALM (Composed, Aware, Listening = Mindful) intervention ... and collect data on its effectiveness in reducing teacher stress,” Payton said.

She also plans to collect saliva from caregivers and have it tested to help measure physiological impacts of the program.

Ramsey, associate professor in the School of Chemical Engineering, is continuing his project on targeted drug therapy.

The idea behind the project is getting a treatment for a disease such as cancer down to a molecular level and targeting it to specific cells in the body.

Most importantly, he said, the treatment would have to be narrowly focused on the affected cells and wouldn’t be “wasted or cause side effects on off-target cells.”

“The focus of the proposed project is on developing smart material-based nanoparticles that will be designed to deliver therapeutic proteins by responding to unique conditions in the local environment of the targeted cells,” Ramsey said. “The broad impact is the expectation that the techniques developed as part of this project will enable us to develop nanoparticles for delivery of therapeutic proteins for treating a wide array of diseases.”

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