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Release: June 14, 1999

Five UI researchers win grants for studies of children and family

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Five University of Iowa researchers have won grants from the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies for studies involving children and their families. These Center for Advanced Studies Spelman Rockefeller (CASSPR) grants are supported by the UI Laura Spelman Rockefeller Fund and by the UI Office of the Vice President for Research. This year's award recipients are Amy C. Butler, social work; James A. Hall, social work; Stephen E. McGowan, internal medicine; Lisa M. Oakes, psychology; and Steven J. Luck, psychology.

Butler's study, "The Relationship Between Welfare and Premarital Childbearing in Social and Economic Context," seeks to determine whether high welfare benefit levels increase the likelihood that young, low-income women will bear a child before marriage.

Hall will extend his previous research on substance abuse with a study on "Identification and Network Analysis of Ancillary Services for Adolescents in Substance Abuse Treatment." He will study health and human service agencies that offer substance abuse treatment for adolescents in Johnson County to determine whether coordinated efforts to curb substance abuse are effective.

McGowan plans a study on "Effects of Vitamin A Deficiency on the Recovery of Airway Function after a Viral Respiratory Infection in Children." Marginal Vitamin A deficiency affects 250 million children worldwide, particularly those in socio-economically deprived countries. McGowan will study how this deficiency impairs the body's ability to repair damaged airways, contributing to prolonged airway injury which increases the severity and duration of respiratory illness.

Oakes and Luck will collaborate on a study of "The Capacity of Short-Term Memory in Infants." An important component in an infant's learning is the ability to remember objects and events from one moment to the next. Oakes and Luck will study four- and six-and-a-half-month old infants to assess how many items they can keep active in their short-term memory.

Jay Semel, director of the Obermann Center, said that in recent years CASSPR grant recipients have gone on to win grants from the National Institutes of Health and the March of Dimes and have published research findings on asthma and on premature infants.

Local community and professional groups may invite any of these researchers to speak at their meetings about these projects. Contact the Obermann Center at (319) 335-4034.