|UNT System: Resource magazine >> Alumni spotlight|
Zambian women who have tested positive for HIV are learning about methods to prevent spreading the virus, thanks to the work of Deborah Jones, Ph.D., who received her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from UNT in 1998. She was recently awarded a $1.2 million five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to set up group interventions in the central African nation. The women will learn about new types of protection for their sexual partners and receive free products that help reduce transmission of the virus. The women’s sexual partners will meet in separate groups.
"To say that HIV is a problem in Zambia is a huge understatement," Jones says. "Of the 2 million people who live in the capital city, approximately 600,000 between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected with the virus. There’s also a 13.6 percent infection rate in rural areas."
Jones has been involved in HIV prevention education since 1985, working in western Australia and Berlin before entering UNT to earn her doctoral degree.
She and her team and other U.S. researchers hope that Zambian researchers will become interested in their work and involved in setting up interventions.
"We want to teach them to do what we’re doing," Jones says. "Changing sexual behavior and helping people become more comfortable with sexual barrier products is a life-and-death issue."
Since Annita Verstappen Bens, Ph.D., took all but one of her classes for her UNT doctorate in biological sciences at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth, she considers the UNT Health Science Center her alma mater.
While completing her degree, which she received in 1993, Bens worked as a researcher at Alcon Labs and helped develop surgical therapeutic agents and ophthalmic drugs to treat glaucoma and allergies. Today, she’s a consultant for researchers in various fields in her work for MedTrials Inc., a Dallas-based consulting firm and clinical research organization.
"We supplement the staffs of pharmaceutical and medical device companies and assist them with all aspects of clinical research," she says.
Bens uses her training as a pharmacologist to help expand scientific knowledge and make an impact in the world of medicine.
"Researchers don’t make discoveries in a vacuum; together, we form a highly skilled team driven to apply our knowledge to make a difference for others," she says.
Scarborough, Ph.D., who earned his M.B.A. in 1981 and his doctorate in
management in 1995 from UNT, worked as a research analyst in human resources
for several large corporations in the Dallas area while going to school.
Now working for Unicru, a provider of hiring management systems based in Portland, Ore., Scarborough has combined his professional research and his dissertation on the use of artificial neural networks — artificial intelligence — for employee selection. Recently, he and a design team at Unicru filed patents for the first commercial application of this technology for behavioral prediction in the workplace.
Unicru’s system allows applicants to enter their own employment application data directly into a computer network at minimal cost to the employer. The system identifies statistical markers of successful workers and incorporates this "learning" to recommend superior applicants.
"The use of information technology and artificial intelligence techniques to conduct behavioral research in the workplace is probably the single most important innovation in employee selection in decades," Scarborough says.
He believes that within the next 10 years, most employers will hire people using computer decision support.
"Just as IT revolutionized accounting, finance, logistics and other areas of business, intelligent hiring systems will revolutionize employment practices," he says.