August 30, 1996 Newsmakers

sealPurdue News

A crew from CNN's "Future Watch" was on campus early this month to interview the following researchers about their work: Maribeth Cousins , professor of food science, on a test for mold-safe food; Victor Ransom , professor and head of the School of Nuclear Engineering, on the school's test facility for a new design of nuclear reactor; Eva Sevick-Muraca , associate professor of chemical engineering, on fluorescence lifetime imaging; Peter Muriana , assistant professor of food science, and Rakesh Singh , professor of food science, on pasteurizing eggs; and Gary Krutz and Kamyar Haghighi, both professors of agricultural engineering, on the design of basketball floors.

"It's almost as if you begin with a bunch of random tiles on the floor and then, starting on one side of the room, this beautiful parquet floor sort of spreads itself across," is how Don Ready , professor of biological sciences, described the process by which a fly's eye attains its precise array hexagons in a recent article in Discover Magazine . The article, titled "Secrets of a Fly's Eye," focused on a wide range of studies that use the eyes of flies to answer fundamental questions about how cells and genes function during development. Ready's group at Purdue studies how cells become different during development and how these differences are used to build functional neural assemblies. (smg 8/96)

Stock buybacks are a popular maneuver in corporate America, but David Denis , associate professor of management, tells Business Week magazine that while popular, the option isn't always the right medicine for what ails a struggling company. "It's hard to get confirmed results," Denis says. "Buybacks aren't a cure-all for everyone."

Activist funds -- which tie executive compensation to stock price and use other similar measures to keep managers on their toes -- apparently have no significant impact on corporate profits and stock value, says a study by a Krannert School of Management faculty member. Catherine Daily , assistant professor of management and one of four co-authors of the study, says there may be good reasons for such funds even if they don't affect performance. In an article in Newsday , Daily says adjustments such as tying compensation to the company's stock price may leave companies better able to handle crises, because executives would have more of a personal monetary stake in dealing with problems. "It is like an insurance policy," she says. (960903 ler)

Parents Magazine tapped the expertise of Michael Lynch for an article on children and music. The assistant professor of audiology and speech sciences commented on infants' musical abilities. "Until the past decade, no one knew if infants remembered music in any way," says Lynch. "We now know that newborns can even recall music they've heard before birth." (8/26/96 baf)

When news broke that a person's happiness might be genetically predispositioned, Howard Weiss , associate professor of psychological sciences, took issue with the finding. "Though no one is disputing a part of your satisfaction in life is due to genetic factors, we don't really know yet if it's 25 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent," said Weiss. The story appeared first in the New York Times and was also published in papers including the Atlanta Constitution and Denver Post . (8/26/96 baf)

In today's on-line world, business professionals are finding more and more hotels that serve as offices away from the office. Carl Braunlich , assistant professor of restaurant, hotel, institutional and tourism management, recently told Nation's Business that many major hotel chains are going to great lengths to accommodate business travelers. Hotels are including computer hookups, fax machines, telephones with voice mail and, in some cases, a small workstation in the rooms. "In gaining a competitive edge, it's a way to make frequent travelers choose a certain hotel," Braunlich says.

A review of the book "Soulfires," which appeared in the the (Portland) Oregonian, took note of the book's essays written by Lewis Gordon , assistant professor of philosophy and African-American studies. Gordon's "Ruminations on Violence and Anonymity in Our Anti-Black World," was described as an "intellectual and emotional perspective on the problem of remaining sane and nonviolent as a black in America." (8/26/96 baf)

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