Volume 16 - 2006

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Alumni Researchers

Gabriel Brostow
Postdoctoral fellow, Cambridge University

Gabriel Brostow, a former undergraduate research assistant at UNT and 1993 TAMS graduate, specializes in the computational perception of motion - analyzing it in video, modeling it and synthesizing it. Think of it as finding, identifying and tracking individual needles in a moving haystack.

Gabriel Brostow

Photo by Julien Fauqueur

Researchers in England, Tel Aviv, Glasgow and Singapore who focus on group dynamics are interested in his studies.

"We started developing an automatic system that can detect individuals in large crowds some time before the terrorist attacks in London in 2005," Brostow says. "We're now focusing on systems that will automatically follow individuals as they move through the views of multiple tracking monitors."

Brostow completed his doctorate in computer science at the Georgia Institute of Technology before going to Cambridge University in England as a Marshall Sherfield Fellow. He's conducting research there at the Vision and Robotics Group with Roberto Cipolla, "using the power of complex mathematical algorithms."

Brostow's techniques can be applied to police work other than tracking. For example, he recently presented a paper on the forensics of blood spatters.

"Traditionally, the study of blood spatters at a crime scene involves stretching hundreds of threads from individual blood stains to determine trajectories," he says. "We've developed a program that can eliminate all that time-consuming work, making the job of crime scene analysts much easier."

Not all of his research is crime-related. Other applications of his techniques will allow investigators to study the movements of multiple blind cave fish to help determine how they are able to "map" caves, or to study chickens in large roosting farms where long periods of calm are interrupted by occasional stampedes and pecking wars.

"My research extends to fields as diverse as artificial intelligence, biomechanics, games, special effects and zoology," Brostow says.

William Dwyer
System manager for the International Space Station, NASA

William Dwyer, who earned a bachelor's degree at North Texas in 1968 and a master's in 1973, works at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, but what he works on orbits 220 miles above the Earth. Dwyer is the system manager for the command and data handling system computer hardware aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He says his job can be a challenge.

William Dwyer

Photo by Beryl Striewski

"I come from a math and physics background," he says. "I was not a systems guy - this was a real education."

There are 31 computers on board the ISS, and four more were scheduled to go up this fall.

"By 2010 [the year construction is due to be completed and NASA plans to retire the Space Shuttle fleet], there will be 50 computer systems controlling everything from life support to guidance and navigation, and from electrical power to payload control," Dwyer says.

The ISS is a joint project of five space agencies: NASA, the Russian Federation Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Association, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency. Much of Dwyer's work focuses on joint projects with the European Space Agency. He says the two groups have different approaches to getting things done, and they have to work together.

"For example, the European Space Agency defines the project at the very beginning to cut down on the possible need for changes. With 13 countries involved, changes reverberate," he says. "Meanwhile, we make changes all the time on our end of the project. We recognize this in each other. They become less rigid, and we give them enough advance warning that a change is coming. It's a great relationship - they have a good attitude and spirit."

Evelinn Borrayo
Associate professor of psychology, Colorado State University

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer for Hispanic women living in the United States, and these women are more likely to die of the disease than other women because it was not detected at an early stage.

Evelinn Borrayo

Photo by John Eisele

Evelinn Borrayo, who earned her master's degree at UNT in 1997 and her doctorate in 1999, is working to change the mortality rate by understanding why these women are significantly less likely to engage in screening behaviors for cancers than other women. An associate professor of psychology at Colorado State University, Borrayo researches women's health, caregiving for the elderly and cultural health beliefs among ethnic minorities.

She says the low percentage of Hispanic women who do not get mammograms "has to do with social structures."

"These women tend to be of lower socioeconomic status and may not qualify for health insurance," she says. "The U.S. healthcare system is also not congruent with their cultural beliefs."

For instance, she points out that mainstream campaigns for breast cancer screening focus on finding the cancer on time and thus preventing death - messages that scare Hispanic women away.

"A better message may focus on breast cancer screening as a healthy behavior for Hispanic women and their families, since their culture emphasizes family ties," she says.

In 2005, Borrayo was one of four recipients of the American Psychological Association's Presidential Latina Leadership Citations for Early Career Psychologists. She was recognized for her commitment to improving the quality of life for caregivers for the elderly as well as for her research.

Eddie Ramos
Postdoctoral fellow, Johns Hopkins University

Growing up in Dime Box, Texas, Eddie Ramos wondered how the world worked. Today, Ramos applies that childhood curiosity to his studies of genetics as a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University.

"It's exciting, it's new and you're on the cusp of really understanding in depth how processes in the cell occur," Ramos says.

Eddie Ramos

Photo by Keith Weller

At UNT Ramos became a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, gaining research experience through the program designed to encourage first-generation or underrepresented undergraduates to prepare for doctoral study. That paved the way for the rest of his research. After graduating from UNT in 1997, he earned a master's degree in molecular biology and a doctoral degree in genetics from Penn State University.

At Johns Hopkins, Ramos examines the organization of genes. His research with a protein class called insulators could be used in treating diseases such as cancer.

"Without these insulators, you would get miscommunication and things could go awry," he says. "The biggest driver for me is trying to understand the basics of what actually makes these things tick."

In the last 20 years, researchers have studied interactions with only one insulator and one gene type at a time, Ramos says. But his research focuses on the whole system of insulators.

"It's a more true look at what's actually happening in the cell," he says.

In his quest to determine how genes might go haywire and how to stop that from happening, Ramos is beginning to study stem cells in fruit flies.

"If we understand how insulators are working in stem cells, this can be used to study all kinds of diseases such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes and cancer," he says.

More Features

Geographer Harry Williams who studies sediments to uncover the patterns of ancient tsunamis

Core Studies

Coastal sediments reveal ancient tsunamis and hurricane storm surges.
- By Sara LaJeunesse

PATHS supports a health science club that introduces students to professionals in health care.

Health Science Careers

PATHS project creates interest in health fields for Hispanic students.
- By Cass Bruton

A new array of high-powered microscopes at the University of North Texas affords researchers a combination of tools nearly unique in the world.

High-Powered Combination

Few places on the planet have the lineup of microscopes available at UNT.
By James Naples

Cover Story - How much energy does it take to break apart a molecule?

Predicting Energies

UNT scientists reach the Holy Grail of computational chemistry.
- By Sally Bell

Eileen M. Hayes explores race, politics, popular culture, African American music and gender theories in the context of women-only music festivals in the United States.

In Cultural Context

Ethnomusicology research covers women's music festivals and African healing practices.
- By Cass Bruton

About 1,300 of 8,000 original works missing from the Iraqi Museum of Modern 
			Art in Baghdad have been retrieved and are being stored.

Lost Treasures

An art historian's quest for missing Iraqi art will help preserve a culture.
- By Ellen Rossetti

Edward Dzialowski's work may help explain how smoking or 
			certain drugs affect a developing human fetus.

Modeling Human Development

Zebrafish and chicken embryos shed light on hemophilia and heart defects.
- By Kim MacQueen

As a TAMS student at UNT, Desh Mohan placed fourth among the 
			individual finalists in the 2005 Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology.

Oxygen Deprivation

Student's award-winning research with nematodes may help treat cell damage.
- By Nancy Kolsti


President's Note

Research at UNT is student centered, broad based and far reaching.

News Briefs

UNT research ranges from brain tracking to eye tracking, RFID to VoIP, early college high schools to early music.

Student Researchers

Student research includes quantum mechanics, mathematical modeling, computer programming and linguistic profiling.

Alumni Researchers

Cultural health beliefs, computational perception of motion, space station hardware and genetics occupy these former UNT students.

Faculty Books

UNT authors write on emergency management, multiphase flows, structural equation modeling and entrepreneurship.

End Note

Miguel Acevedo's research makes environmental issues clear.