Grant to Help Research Reading, Writing and Language Development in Children with Disabilities

Rollanda O’Connor, a professor at UC Riverside’s Graduate School of Education, was recently awarded a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to continue her research on reading, writing and language development in middle school children with learning disabilities.

The focus of the current project is on the acquisition and understanding of academic language, which is becoming increasingly important for students as they advance through the K-12 school system. O’Connor, who is the Eady/Hendrick Chair in Learning Disabilities at UCR, said children who receive special education need extra help with vocabulary development because they don’t read as much as their mainstream peers.

“Much of vocabulary learning occurs incidentally as students engage in wide reading, but poor readers don’t read much, so their vocabulary grows much more slowly than their peers. My aim with this project is to help teachers close the gap in academic language learning before it interferes with students’ success in all subjects,” O’Connor said.

Historian Awarded Fellowship to Study the Evolution of Seattle’s Landscape

UC Riverside Historian, Megan Asaka, has been awarded a Dumbarton Oaks Mellon Fellowship in Urban Landscape Studies by Harvard University to study the historical presence of migrant workers in the physical landscape of early Seattle.

Asaka, who joined the UCR Department of History in 2014, will spend fall 2016 at Harvard’s Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection to complete research for her book manuscript, “The Unsettled City: Migration, Race, and the Making of Seattle’s Urban Landscape.” The fellowship, approximately $30,000, will allow Asaka to conduct research at Dumbarton Oaks and in Seattle.

To read the full press release, visit UCR Today.

Black-Owned Businesses Growing at a Fast Rate

An analysis released on Wednesday, June 1 by the UC Riverside School of Business Administration Center for Economic Forecasting and Development, examined data from the U.S Census Bureau’s newest Survey of Business Owners, and found that ownership, revenues, and hiring are growing significantly faster among businesses owned by Blacks than they are among ‘total’ businesses in the United States, California, and the Inland Southern California region.

The analysis finds that from 2007 to 2012, the number of Black-owned businesses grew 40.4% in the U.S., 32.3% in California, and 24.3% in Inland Southern California. This compares to 3.4%, 5.0%, and 8.0% growth among total businesses in the three geographies, respectively.

To read the full press release, visit UCR Today.

Inspiration for a Tough Future: Mantis Shrimp

Researchers at UC Riverside and Purdue University are one step closer to developing super strong composite materials, thanks to the mantis shrimp, a small, multicolored marine crustacean that crushes the shells of its prey using a fist-like appendage called a dactyl club.

Their latest research, to be published in the journal Advanced Materials, describes for the first time a unique herringbone structure, not previously reported in nature, within the appendage’s outer layer. It is this tough herringbone structure that not only protects the club during impact, but also enables the mantis shrimp to inflict incredible damage to its prey.

Mantis shrimp, also called stomatopods, come in two varieties: ‘smashers’ and ‘spearers.’ While spearers kill prey by driving a spear into soft-bodied sea creatures, smashers kill hard-shelled prey such as crabs and snails by pulverizing them with incredible speed and force. The dactyl club can reach an acceleration of 10,000g, unleashing a barrage of impacts with the speed of a .22 caliber bullet.

For the past eight years, David Kisailus, the Winston Chung Endowed Professor in Energy Innovation in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, and his team have been studying smashers’ dactyl clubs and using them as inspiration in their development of next generation composite materials. Their research is already being translated into real-world products by Nature Inspired Industries, a recent startup led by Kisailus that spun out from UC Riverside’s Office of Research and Economic Development.

See these creatures in action.


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