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Investigator Spotlights

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Dartmouth researchers were awarded $14.6 million during July, including $6.6 million in new and competing awards. Click here to view the complete list of awards, as reported by the Office of Sponsored Projects. Here, Vox spotlights four investigators and their work.

Catherine Joy Norris, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences

C Norris(Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Northwestern University
Translating Affective Science to Predict Outcomes of Behavioral Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder

Why: “Up to 40 percent of depressed adults show no reduction of symptoms when treated with non-medicinal cognitive behavioral therapy,” says Norris. “There are no reliable factors that accurately predict specific outcomes for select individuals. By using behavioral, neural, and physiological measures, the study aims to improve treatment by better predicting how individuals with major depressive disorder will respond to the behavioral therapy.”

Next steps: “In the past I’ve studied the negativity bias, which is the propensity to respond much more strongly to an aversive stimulus, such as a snake, than to an appealing stimulus, such as food, in healthy undergraduates. We have also previously looked at how the negativity bias differs for individuals with major depressive disorder. This new grant will not only allow us to track the bias at the outset but to track changes over the course of treatment.”

Collaborators: Graduate student in psychological and brain sciences Kristin Wood and professors at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

Brian Chaboyer, professor of physics and astronomy

Brian Chaboyer(Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

National Science Foundation
New Models of M Dwarf Stars

Why: “The goal is to create new theoretical models for M dwarf stars—the most common type of star in the universe—that can reproduce the observed properties of these stars,” says Chaboyer.

Promise: “Recent discoveries have shown that planets are common around M dwarf stars, and it is likely that the first earth-mass, exosolar planets will be found around M dwarfs,” he says. “Better theoretical models of these stars will help us determine if such planets are suitable for the development of life.”

Challenges: “Low-mass M dwarf stars are difficult to model as they are much cooler and denser than larger stars like the Sun. This leads to more complicated atomic interactions within the stars, which need to be understood to obtain accurate theoretical models,” he explains.

Collaborators: Physics and astronomy graduate student Greg Feiden, as well as undergraduate research assistants.

Elsa Garmire, the Sydney E. Junkins 1887 Professor of Engineering; and Ashifi Gogo, Holekamp Family Ph.D. Innovation Fellow

Elsa Garmire(Photo by Douglas Fraser)

Ashifi Gogo(Photo by Bruce Cook Photography)

Clinton Global Initiative University
Freedom From Fake Drugs in West Africa
Funding from the Pat Tillman Foundation

Solutions: The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) estimates that 30 percent of the drugs sold in developing nations are not genuine. Advised by Garmire, Gogo developed technology that allows consumers in developing countries to authenticate their pharmaceuticals by using cell phones. It’s basic but effective technology: text messages send an item-unique code to a website, which verifies the purchase. Gogo has tested the process in Ghana, and he plans to test it further in Nigeria and India.

Global Health: Gogo’s project was one of 11 recognized with an Outstanding Commitment Award in the category of Global Health, and it received the highest monetary commitment.

Connections: Garmire served as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the State Department last year. “We worked on international communications and information policy,” she says. “There was an initiative to support governments who were investigating how cell phones can improve the quality of life in developing countries. This coincided nicely with Gogo’s project.”

Last Updated: 1/11/10