September 28, 2010

Seven Female Profs Receive Affinito- Stewart Grants

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Seven Cornell professors were awarded between $1,000 and $12,500 in funding from the Affinito-Stewart Grants Program this year to finance proposed research projects, according to the University. The grants program handed out a total of $53,425 in awards to selected assistant professors.The 2010 grant recipients –– who were chosen by the President’s Council of Cornell Women, which is made up of approximately 300 Cornell alumnae –– were picked based on their “scholarly merit, research design, feasibility and likely relevance to promotion to tenure,” according to the University. The grants program, which received 16 proposals for funding, aims to further the teaching careers of women on the Cornell faculty by supporting them in research related to the tenure process.Several of the professors who received funding were excited about the award.Prof. Emily Owens, policy analysis and management, wrote a research paper entitled “Do Crime Victims Respond to Financial Incentives?” The work focused on data collection issues within the criminal justice system and the likelihood that crime victims will notify the police when state agencies reward them for cooperating with investigations. After contacting the Office for Victims of Crime, a unit of the U.S. Justice Department, through a Freedom of Information Act request, Owens gained access to a large amount of data regarding the ways that the Department spends its money.“We don’t really have a very good idea of what works and what doesn’t work in terms of encouraging crime victims to contact the police and cooperate with investigators.  This does not mean that governments don’t try to encourage victims to use the system, it just means no one has really studied whether or not anything governments do actually helps,” Owens said. Owens received a $3,000 grant for her research.“I used the Affinito-Stewart grant to pay a data entry firm to convert this box of paper into usable data, something which has apparently never been done before,” Owens said.Prof. Marla Lujan, nutritional sciences, won $7,943 for her research on “Ultrasound Characterization of Abnormal Follicle Dynamics in Women with Obesity-Related Amenorrhea.”According to Lujan, loss of menstrual cycles, or amenorrhea, has become a highly prevalent symptom of obesity in women. Amenorrhea can lead to infertility, and also compounds the risk of chronic disease in women. Understanding how nutritional cues change women’s ovulatory potential through Lujan’s study will be pertinent for developing preventive measures to improve the health of reproductive-age women.“My study investigates how follicle development is altered in overweight women with amenorrhea,” Lujan said. In doing so, Lujan hopes to identify key periods during the menstrual cycle in which follicle development is compromised, as well as key metabolic signals that are involved in the nutritional regulation of a woman’s ovulation.Since 1992, more than $749,000 has been awarded to 176 women researchers at the University through the program.“The Affinito-Stewart Program is a great opportunity for young investigators like myself, since it provides us with funds to perform important pilot studies. [These funds] are critical for securing external funding for future projects,” Lujan said.Other professors receiving the grant were: Prof. Melanie Dreyer-Lude, theatre, film and dance; Prof. Claudia Fischbach-Teschl, biomedical engineering; Prof. Ying Hua, design and environmental analysis; Prof. Hadas Kress-Gazit, mechanical and aerospace engineering; and Prof. Joann McDermid, nutritional sciences.

Original Author: Cindy Huynh