MSU Alumni Magazine - Spring 2017 Digital

News and Current Events

2017-04-20 07:45:48

FACIAL RECOGNITION SYSTEM AIDS STUDY OF LEMURS By Kim Ward, MSU Facial recognition systems can do more than catch criminals. Anil Jain, a biometrics expert and distinguished professor at MSU, realized they could also help endangered lemurs in the jungles of Madagascar. Jain and his team modified their human system to create LemurFaceID, the first computer facial recognition system that identifies individual lemurs with 98.7 percent accuracy. Researchers have often relied on “soft ” identifiers to recognize individual lemurs, such as differences in size and shape or injuries and scars. However, this can make it difficult for different researchers to identify the same lemur over time. The new system will allow for more long-term studies of the mammals to better inform conservation efforts without using invasive, costly “capture and collar” identification methods. Long-term studies can provide crucial data about how long individuals live, how frequently they reproduce, mortality rates, and population changes. Jain believes LemurFaceID can be used for other species as well. “Facial recognition technology has the potential to help safeguard our society,” he said. “Adapting it to help save endangered species is one of its most inspiring uses.” AND THE WINNER IS: SPARTANS SCORE AT THE OSCARS Several Spartans snared Oscars at February’s 89th Annual Academy Awards ceremony. Winners are: Hacksaw Ridge Co-producer: Bill Mechanic, ’73 College of Arts and Letters 6 Academy Award Nominations 2 Oscars: Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City MSU Student-Produced Documentary Bronze Medal at 43rd Student Academy Awards Producer: Liv Larsen Director: Elise Conklin Director Photography: Izak Gracy Lead Editor: Lauren Selewski Gaffer: Jenna Ange STUDY QUESTIONS STOCK MARKET’S PREDICTIVE POWERS By Andy Henion, MSU It turns out that, contrary to what many business leaders believe, investors aren’t the most reliable predictor of how a new product will perform, a study co-authored by an MSU marketing expert found. The research examined short-term market returns following the preannouncements of 208 vehicles in the U.S. auto industry between 2001 and 2014. It found that investors successfully predicted a product’s performance only 48 percent to 55 percent of the time. “It’s really a flip of a coin,” said Ahmet H. Kirca, associate professor of marketing in the Eli Broad College of Business. Consider the Chevrolet SSR, a retro-style pickup with a retractable roof. The market reaction was positive following the truck’s preannouncement in 2003, boosting the value of parent General Motors, but the SSR never took off and was discontinued after three years. On the other hand, the Honda Ridgeline pickup has survived since its preannouncement in 2005, despite investors’ initial negative reaction. “Given that companies use short-term stock market reactions as a surrogate for decision making and budget allocation purposes,” Kirca said, “our findings caution managers against the use of these market reactions as a sole yardstick to assess future performance of product preannouncements with highly uncertain outcomes.” UNIVERSITY NETS $1M GRANT TO NURTURE STEM CAREERS By Eileen Gianiodis, MSU A team of MSU researchers has landed a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to recruit, nurture, and graduate students for careers in the STEM fields of food, energy, and the environment. Too few students are graduating to meet current and projected workforce demands in these fields, and thousands of jobs are going unfilled. The grant will provide scholarships to 24 high-achieving, low-income high school students who are interested in animal science, crop and soil sciences, forestry, entomology, fisheries and wildlife, food science, or horticulture. The cohorts will include Lansing School District, Lansing Community College, and MSU students who haven’t declared a major. “Though many people want to know where their food comes from, there seems to be a disconnect in recognizing that science, technology, engineering, and math are integral to the careers associated with food production, processing, packaging, and delivery,” said Eunice Foster, MSU crop physiologist and the grant’s principal investigator. Researchers will assess why so few students enter these career fields, which have high job demand and good salaries. They’ll use that information to further design and assess effective recruitment programs. MSU FUNDING SNAPSHOT The legislature’s support of higher education is vital for MSU’s mission but has been diminishing over the past several decades. Michigan ranks 47th out of 48 reporting states for change in appropriations over 10 years. Since the Performance Funding model was implemented 2012, MSU has been more adversely impacted than any institution complying with each tuition restraint provision for a loss of $8 million. Credit: MSU Office of Planning and Budget RESEARCHERS CREATE SMART FABRIC USING INKJET PRINTER By Andy Henion, MSU MSU engineering researchers have developed a stretchable integrated circuit made with an inkjet printer, raising the possibility of inexpensive mass production of smart fabric. Imagine an ultrathin smart tablet that you can stretch from miniature to extra large or even fold and put in your pocket, a rubber band-like wrist monitor that tracks your heartbeat, or wallpaper that functions as an electronic display. These are some potential applications of the fabric developed in the lab of Chuan Wang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. And because the material can be produced on a standard printer, it has a major potential cost advantage. “We can conceivably make the costs of producing flexible electronics comparable to the costs of printing newspapers,” Wang said. The smart fabric is made of several materials fabricated from nanomaterials and organic compounds. These compounds are dissolved in solution to produce electronic inks, which run through the printer to make the devices. From the ink, Wang and his team have successfully created the elastic material, the circuit, and the organic light-emitting diode, or OLED. The next step is combining the circuit and OLED into a single pixel, which Wang estimated will take one to two years. A NEW APPROACH COULD HELP SMOKERS QUIT By Kristen Parker, MSU Anti-smoking campaigns would do well to replace gruesome pictures and dire warnings with more positive, nostalgic messages that tug at smokers’ heartstrings, MSU researchers found. Advertisers oft en evoke nostalgia to sell goods, and the tactic may also help encourage healthy behaviors, said Ali Hussain, a doctoral candidate in the School of Journalism, and Maria Lapinski, professor in the Department of Communication. “A lot of no-smoking messages are centered around fear, disgust, and guilt,” Hussain said. “But smokers oft en don’t buy the messages and instead feel badly about themselves and the person who is trying to scare them.” Researchers studied smokers ages 18 to 39, exposing some to a nostalgic public service announcement and some to a control message. Those who viewed the PSA reported greater nostalgic emotions and displayed stronger negative attitudes toward smoking, especially women. Starting with images of childhood memories, the PSA included phrases such as “I remember when I was a boy,” and referred to familiar smells and tastes from bygone days. It ended with the narrator remembering when someone introduced him to cigarettes and a call to action. Nostalgia plays off of cherished personal memories, so viewers feel more engaged, the researchers said.

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