Healthy Research

Posted on: January 18, 2013

With one of the worst flu seasons on record upon us, health is on the top of many of our minds right now. At the college, we take pride in our outstanding research— from our health and risk communication, to communication technology and our international communication research. We have a wide array of research projects underway in each of these categories, but I wanted to take a moment to recognize some of our timely health and risk projects that are gaining a lot of attention right now.
Dr. Maria Lapinski’s work was just published on hand washing in restrooms and has been a huge focus this flu season—as hand washing can help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. Lapinski and her team did a series of experiments surveying 252 college-aged males on campus, including special messaging posted in men’s public bathrooms. Their surveys concluded that the messaging did increase hand washing in men from 73 percent who claimed to wash hands before seeing the messaging, to 86 percent after reading the messaging. Dr. Lapinski’s work is published in the Human Communication Research Journal and is funded by Clemson (USDA).
Another recent health study contribution is Dr. Rahul Shrivastav’s research for early detection of Parkinson’s disease. His study relies on acoustic measurements to detect Parkinson’s symptoms within two seconds of speech at 93 percent accuracy. The measurements observe normal speech to detect speech patterns and auditory irregularities consistent with Parkinson’s and it is non-invasive, inexpensive, easy to administer and capable of being used remotely, according to Dr. Shrivastav.
Winner of "Most Innovative Game Award" at the 2012 Meaningful Play conference was our own Carrie Heeter for her game, "DNA Roulette." DNA Roulette is a game that helps to determine how genes and the environment together define risk. It allows the players to understand genetics and genetic testing to evaluate things such as genetic risk of diseases like Alzheimer's and diabetes, carrier status, drug response, physical traits and muscle performance. While genes are not necessarily destiny, they can improve the accuracy of prediction— when combined with environmental factors.
We also are in collaboration with the Colleges of Engineering and the College of Nursing for our Trifecta research partnership where we are seeking funding to study the use of communication technologies to provide health care to underserved populations. In addition, we began a NIH-funded research initiative called "One Health" which views health holistically with a transdisciplinary emphasis of human, animal and environmental health.
Such comprehensive research conducted by the faculty and students of our college brings applicable results to real-world health issues. It is so exciting to be a part of research that truly can aid in improving health, and in doing so, changes lives. To learn more about our other current research projects, you can view them on our website.

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