Liberal Arts and the Natural Connection
with NIH Funding
Biology, biomedical engineering, nutrition science — disciplines like these have a
natural connection with cancer research. But grants from the National Institutes of
Health (NIH) for liberal arts faculty may bear some explanation.
“A lot of funding goes to examining the physical property with human and living organisms,” says Hyunyi Cho, a professor of communication and associate dean for research and
graduate education in the College of Liberal
Arts (CLA). “But NIH recognizes the importance of culture and context in disease prevention behavior and behaviors that increase risk.
Toward improving the nation’s health, CLA
faculty offer a broad range of expertise in areas
such as culture, values, identity, worldviews,
policy, communication, and social interactions/
relationships/networks/systems, all of which
have important implications for mental as well
as physical health.
Cho’s area of expertise, for instance, is risk
communication and health communication.
Her current research investigates effects of
communication on judgments and actions relevant to environmental risk and health risk
and the role of messages and the media in social change and behavior change processes.
The latter is the focus of her National Cancer Institute R01 grant, “Media Literacy Inter-
vention for Indoor Tanning Prevention.”
“The media disseminates information and entertains us, but not all messages are
healthful,” she says. “A lot of them are unhealthy — tobacco ads, junk food advertising,
alcohol ads, sexual content.” Ultimately, she hopes her research could inform vari-
ous disciplines how media literacy and community-based participatory actions could
empower community members to resist harmful media effects and social norms.
Along with Cho, a number of other CLA researchers have worked on NIH-funded
research projects, including Jill Suitor
(sociology), who, since 2001, has led the
Within Family Differences Study; Kenneth
F. Ferraro (sociology), who is currently
engaged in National Institute on Aging
funding for his project examining the links
between childhood misfortune and adult
health; and Sherylyn Briller (
anthropology), who recently completed a National
Institute of Child Health and Human
Development-funded study on bereaved
These are just a few examples, Cho says:
“We have great strengths in the College
of Liberal Arts, with a number of faculty
members making unique contributions to
improving public health.”
Three Purdue University professors have
been named fellows in the National Academy of Inventors (NAI): Jan Allenbach, the
Hewlett-Packard Distinguished Professor
of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Graham Cooks, the Henry B. Hass
Distinguished Professor of Chemistry; and
Phil Low, director, Purdue Center for Drug
Discovery and the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. They join
Mike Ladisch, director of the Laboratory
of Renewable Resources Engineering and
Distinguished Professor of Agricultural
and Biological Engineering; and Rakesh
Agrawal, the Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering; who were elected last year. Former
Purdue Provost Tim Sands was a charter
fellow in 2012.
Election to NAI Fellow status is a high
professional distinction for academic
inventors who have made a tangible
impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.
Three other Purdue faculty members
have been named fellows in the American
Physical Society. Ahmed Hassanein, the
Paul L. Wattelet Professor and Head of
Nuclear Engineering; Ernesto E. Marine-ro, professor of engineering practice; and
Kevin Webb, professor of electrical and
computer engineering; have received the
distinction, which recognizes outstanding
contributions to physics.
Purdue, Whirlpool Unveil RENEWW House
A 1920s bungalow in West Lafayette is now a net-zero energy structure, thanks to a partnership between Purdue and Whirlpool Corporation.
In September, officials unveiled the ReNEWW (Retrofitted Net-Zero Energy, Water and
Waste) house, retrofitted by Purdue graduate students with energy- and water-saving
features along with solar and geothermal technologies. Systems in the home harvest
waste heat from appliances and gray-water from showers and sinks.
“Net-zero energy means that over
a certain time line — usually an entire
year where you take an entire cooling
and heating season — energy production equals energy consumption,” says
Eckhard Groll, the Reilly Professor of
Mechanical Engineering and director of
Purdue’s Office of Professional Practice.
Purdue researchers and Whirlpool will
use data collected from the home in the
first year for educational purposes and to
specify the retrofit measures.