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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

2010 in Review – The Research

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KINGSTON, R.I. – January 7, 2011 – The University of Rhode Island made national and international news throughout 2010 with innovative, significant and controversial research in a number of different areas.

Many of the breakthroughs announced in the last year have the potential to impact life as we know it. Whether it was a decade of research by professor Terry Bradley leading to genetically enhanced rainbow trout (pictured at left) or graduate student Michelle Pelletier developing a self-healing concrete that has garnered national acclaim, the research conducted at URI got a lot of attention.

Here’s a look at some of the top research projects revealed in 2010.

Fish with six-pack abs: In announcing his development of transgenic rainbow trout with enhanced muscle growth, Terry Bradley, professor of fisheries and aquaculture, unveiled the ability to produce trout with 15- to 20-percent more muscle mass than standard fish. Bradley’s “six-pack ab” fish could potentially boost the commercial aquaculture industry.

Healthy solutions in maple syrup and bird diets: Pharmacy Professor Navindra Seeram proved his expertise on healthy eating through multiple studies last year. In March, he announced the findings of 13 newly discovered healthy compounds found in pure Canadian maple syrup. The same month, Seeram and Scott McWilliams, professor of wildlife ecology and physiology, revealed their findings of berry-related research. By tracking the diet of migratory birds stopping on Block Island, Seeram and McWilliams discovered the potential of the arrow-wood berry, which has more anti-oxidants than 11 other berry species found on the island.

Self-healing concrete: The work of graduate student Michelle Pelletier on self-healing concrete was so well received last year that Public Works magazine tabbed her as a 2010 Public Works Trendsetter. Pelletier, who finished her master’s degree in chemical engineering in 2010, developed concrete that can extend the life of roadways, bridges, foundations and sidewalks.

URI energy initiative: With its three-year energy initiative in partnership with NORESCO, URI significantly reduced its carbon footprint. By saving nearly 9 million kilowatthours, 14,000 gallons of heating oil and 750,000 cubic feet of natural gas, the University did the equivalent of removing 1,900 cars from roadways or planting 2,400 trees. All at no cost to the school.

Turn off the TV, improve your health: Millions of viewers watch medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy and House, but they could be unwittingly hurting their mental health. Yinjiao Ye, assistant professor of communications studies, released a study that showed viewers of such shows increase their awareness of health-risks, leading them to believe they a greater likelihood of being victimized by the inflictions.

Eye on currents aids lobster, oyster catch industries: With his SeaHorse tilt current meter, Vitalii Sheremet is able to measure currents near the bottom of bays, rivers and other shallow waters. The associate marine research scientist at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography has been able to aid federal fisheries lean more about lobster catch rates and help aquaculture farmers identify best sites for farming oysters.

Oxygen in the Earth’s mantle: Findings by Assistant Professor of Oceanography Katherine Kelley have gone a long way toward resolving a long debate among geologists about the availability of oxygen in the Earth’s mantle. Kelley’s analysis of erupted rock from Agrigan volcano in the Western Pacific found it to be highly oxidized, eventually delivering more oxygen to the mantle.

Harvesting heat: Roads that don’t ice over during cold winters? Street lights powered by solar heat that also illuminates street signs? All possible through the process of harvesting heat produced by asphalt roadways across the country, according to K. Wayne Lee, professor of civil and environmental engineering.