K-State researchers had good year

By The Mercury

University researchers have year’s worth of intriguing studies

At Kansas State University, 2012 was a productive year full of research and discoveries.

For the 2011-2012 fiscal year ending June 30, researchers were awarded 910 grants, totaling more than $137.4 million in funding — the second highest funding level ever received at the university. The funding supported studies that ranged from improving animal health to increasing our understanding of the world. Here is a look at some intriguing and fun university research in 2012.

Words speak louder than actions. Amy Hageman, assistant professor of accounting, co-authored a study that found that the more information companies disclose about their sustainable practices, the more they are viewed as being environmentally friendly — even if their actual environmental performance is not strong.

Researchers found that companies with the worst environmental performance have the best environmental reputation.

A place to play.  Chelsey King, recent master’s graduate in landscape architecture, St. Peters, Mo., worked with Katie Kingery-Page, assistant professor of landscape architecture, to design a playground where elementary school children with autism could feel comfortable and included. The playground included a music garden to help with sensory aspects; an edible garden for hands-on interaction with nature; and a variety of alcoves for children.

A picture is worth a thousands warnings. Eugene Vasserman, assistant professor of computing and information sciences, and Gary Brase, associate professor of psychology, are developing an online warning system that would show novice computer users an easily understandable, relatable visual warning if the website the user wants to visit could pose a risk to his or her online safety or computer’s security. The visual warning would prompt a gut-level good choice from the user without the user having to understand technical details.

Switching light sources brightens shelf life for meat. Kyle Steele, a recent graduate student in animal sciences and industry, Silver Lake, found that using light-emitting diode, or LED, lights in refrigeration units both saves energy for meat retailers and extends the color shelf life of some beef products.

Once cut, meat slowly becomes discolored by light sources.

Using LED lights slowed the discoloration. Steele worked with Elizabeth Boyle and Melvin Hunt, both professors of animal sciences and industry.

Being the weak link leads to better workouts.

Brandon Irwin, assistant professor of kinesiology, found that when individuals exercise with a teammate they perceive to be better, they increase their workout time and intensity by as much as 200 percent.

According to Irwin, those who felt they were the weak link put more effort into the workout than they normally would doing it alone.

Cleaning and conflict. Sarah Riforgiate, assistant professor of communication studies, looked at what happens when roommates and romantic partners have different levels of tolerance for housework left undone.

She found that those with lower tolerance levels for a mess often clean it up first — which can lead to those tasks being regarded as that person’s job. That leads to no longer feeling grateful for a partner’s work or compensating.

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