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A unique place for research

John RuizUNT faculty members and graduate students showed off their research in a unique setting – the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.

Seven exhibitions were part of the newly opened museum’s Social Science night June 21, when the doors were open to adults only.

Some of the exhibits drew good crowds – such as “Does Whom You Marry Matter For Your Health?,” by John Ruiz, assistant professor of psychology. The presentation featured an interactive experience in which participants could see how other people could evoke physiological reactions, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure.

The project is part of Ruiz’s research that shows marriage is associated with a range of health benefits, including lower early mortality rates, and optimistic emotions spread from one partner to another.

Ruiz said he received lots of questions, ideas and stories from participants. They also encouraged Ruiz to explore same-sex and parent-child relationships, and the positive health effects of divorce from a bad relationship.

“It was a lot of fun, although there were a few instances of impromptu marital counseling,” he said.

Perot MuseumOther exhibitions from UNT included:

  • "Relating DNA to Individual Vulnerability to Disease" — The interactive exhibit led by Qunfeng Dong, assistant professor of biology, showed how genes relate to genetic and infectious diseases. Right, biology graduate student Huaiying Lin talks to a guest about how a single change in the DNA of a certain gene can alter the shape of a person's red blood cells, causing sickle cell anemia.
  • "rePhoto: Relating Urban Ecology to Participatory Culture" — Ruth West, associate professor, in collaboration with other researchers, created a mobile application that helps people collect imaging data about the urban ecology in their communities.
  • "ATLAS in silico" — West helped present an interactive 3-D experience that uses a participant's movement to trigger life-size audiovisual effects created using data from the Global Ocean Sampling Expedition.
  • "Multi-Agent Collaborative Exploration with Robots" – Led by Kamesh Namuduri, associate professor of electrical engineering, this exhibit showed off autonomous robots that followed visitors and roamed the hallways.
  • "Relating People to Their Government" — Exhibitions led by Jesse Hamner, manager of the Research and Visualization Environment, examined patterns of repression across the world, death squad violence in El Salvador and protest and political violence in Africa.
  • "Relating Population Characteristics to the Spread of Disease" — Led by computer science and engineering professor Armin Mikler, researchers from the Center for Computational Epidemiology and Response Analysis use novel methods to create computational simulations of disease outbreaks that can help public health professionals control and respond to real-life disease outbreaks.

(Above, John Ruiz, assistant professor of psychology, discusses his research with museum guests. Bottom, the social conflict exhibit was seen by, from left to right, Art Goven, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Yuka Nakahara-Goven; Idean Salehyan, associate professor of political science; and Jesse Hamner, manager of the Research and Visualization Environment. Photos by Jason Janik/Perot Museum)

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Posted on: Thu 11 July 2013

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