Indiana University  Research & Creative Activity Spring 2002 • Volume XXIV Number 3

R&CA A b s t r a c t s

With a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation, IU is creating an innovative facility for analyzing and visualizing vast amounts of data produced by new generations of scientific instruments used in fields such as biology, chemistry, and physics. The facility, known as AVIDD, will have three main components: a high-performance data analysis cluster distributed over three campuses—one portion at IU Bloomington, one at IUPUI, and a third portion at IU Northwest; a massive data storage facility; and a network of 8' x 6' display walls and other smaller systems that will support 3-D visualization, collaborative research, and distance education.

Digital Tao.
IUPUI psychology professor Jeff Rasmussen has translated the ancient text of the Tao Te Ching into a paperback book, Spirit of Tao Te Ching; transformed it into a multimedia CD-ROM and a highly rated Web site; created a song described as “a whimsical mix of Mandarin and English Taoist text accompanied by African percussions and bluesy trumpet, violin, and flute”; and produced a mystery/comedy/philosophy miniseries movie on CD-ROM called “I’m Not a Taoist, but I Play One in Life.”

High Mass.
The American premiere of “High Mass” by Professor of Composition Sven-David Sandstrom took place at IUB in November. Sandstrom, a native of Sweden, has a catalog of more than 90 published and performed compositions. His “High Mass” has been compared to Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and the mass settings of Bruckner.

Leafhopper Lingo, Treehopper Talk.
The sounds may suggest squeaky wheels, out-of-tune tubas, or emergency alarms to humans, but to another plant-feeding insect, they may be the perfect pickup line. Randy Hunt, assistant professor of biology at IU Southeast, studies the role of communication in the mating behavior of leafhoppers and treehoppers. These tiny insects, which feed on the tissue of plants, produce vibrations using an organ in their abdomens called a tymbal. Hunt records the sounds to learn more about insect mating strategies. For instance, he has found that males precisely alternate their “songs” when trying to attract a female, avoiding overlap of their calls. When a female signals her interest, the leading male has a mating advantage. With a recent grant from the National Science Foundation, Hunt and other collaborators will explore how changes in mating signals may affect the formation of new species. Hunt is also exploring how knowledge of leafhopper mating signals may help curb the spread of certain plant diseases. Leafhoppers transmit plant pathogens; understanding their mating systems may lead to better monitoring of the insects and improved predictions of how and when they may spread the disease.

Newborn Disorder.
In a study appearing in the Journal of Pediatrics, IU School of Medicine researchers have confirmed a link between erythromycin, a commonly prescribed antibiotic, and the subsequent development of pyloric stenosis, a condition that affects one in 500 newborns. Pyloric stenosis is a blockage of the outlet of the stomach. Using clinical data from the Regenstrief Medical Record System, Barbara E. Mahon, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine, and other IU researchers studied 14,876 babies. They found that, if given erythromycin during the first two weeks of life, babies were 10.5 times more likely to develop pyloric stenosis than babies who were not given the antibiotic. The study also showed that babies who received erythromycin eye ointment, a common treatment for conjunctivitis, did not have a higher risk of pyloric stenosis.

Turtle treasures.
For more than a decade, Frank Paladino, professor of biology at IPFW, has studied leatherback sea turtles—huge, heavy reptiles who teeter close to extinction due to beachside development, egg poaching, and fishing capture. Paladino and others work in the Las Baulas (leatherback turtle) National Park in Costa Rica to protect the population of turtles and learn more about their nesting biology. The project involves beach census work as well as fending off poachers and predators, measuring turtles, counting eggs, and taking the temperature of nests to determine hatchling sex. Paladino and his teams also meet with local and government officials to supply them with nesting data and provide conservation advice. For more, see

Virtual Ruins.
Explore decaying temples, castles, and courts. Look into hidden nooks and crannies. Listen to traditional music. And you don’t have to be there. A multidisciplinary team of professors and students, led by Susan Tennant, clinical assistant professor of new media at IUPUI, is preserving endangered archaeological sites digitally. The project is called Cultural Digital Library Indexing Our Heritage, or CLIOH. Tennant and her team have visited two Mayan sites in the Yucatan Peninsula, where they took more than 1,000 photographs; conducted interviews with archaeologists, government officials, and Mayan descendants; and shot time-lapse film of the environment. With the help of various IU departments, the team compiled a digital library that eventually will be available through the Internet, allowing researchers around the world to access the information or take virtual tours of the ruins together.

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