College of Human Sciences research projects are expanding human potential

AMES, Iowa -- While the Iowa State University academic year is now complete, College of Human Sciences faculty continue their work on research projects that relate directly to the college's mission to expand human potential. Three such projects may make good feature story prospects.

OPENING MORE HOUSING DOORS -- Over the past five years, Mary Yearns has led an Iowa State team that designed "Kwik-change Kabinets" -- modular cabinet units with adjustable cabinet and kitchen countertop components that can be easily changed to fit any person's height in as little as 10 minutes with a simple screwdriver. That effort earned Yearns the National Institute of Senior Housing (NISH) Sid Spector Memorial Award for Excellence in Senior Housing Services this spring at the annual conference of the National Council on Aging in Washington, D.C. A professor of human development and family studies, Yearns is now serving on the program committee for the Sixth Annual International Conference on Smart Homes and Health Telematics (, which Iowa State will host June 28-July 2. It is the first time the conference will be hosted in the United States. Carl Chang, ISU professor and chair of computer science -- which is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and conducts research in its smart house lab -- is the chair of the conference, titled "Gerontechnology: Enhancing the Quality of Life for Rural Elders." It will feature presentations by international leaders in smart home and assisted-living design for older and disabled residents. CONTACTS: Yearns, (515) 294-8520,; Chang, (515) 294-6516,

MEN OF NIA -- ISU graduate students Terrence Frazier, John Gardner, Gia Mason and Noreen Siddiqui presented a study they conducted examining the lives of 20 collegiate black males from ISU to the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators' annual conference this spring. They determined four themes about why black males struggle at predominantly white institutions, finding that black men need: a greater awareness of programs and events, more interaction with other black men, positive images of black men on campus, and the opportunity to deal with and address the issue of pride. "I think across the board nationally, it's the same thing -- these are trends that colleagues I've spoken with are facing too," Frazier said. The ISU researchers also presented a template for a program called "Men of Nia" -- "nia" being Swahili for purpose -- to try and improve conditions for black male students in predominantly white schools. The program is designed to connect incoming African-American men with current black male leaders on and off campus -- providing them more positive relationships with their peers, faculty and staff. "We think this program could work at any university -- large or small, private or public. It's just a matter of the resources they want to put toward it," Frazier said. The project was part of his doctoral research in ISU's education leadership and policy studies. CONTACT: Frazier, (515) 294-4143, (765) 228-5061 (c),

PUSHING OLYMPIC PERFORMANCE -- Rick Sharp will proudly tell you that swimmers wearing Speedo's new LZR RACER swimsuit have set 37 world records since it was unveiled in mid-February. The professor of exercise physiology in Iowa State University's kinesiology department would know. He played a key role in the design of the new suit. It is expected to be worn by most of the top swimmers at both the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, June 29- July 6, at the Qwest Center Arena in nearby Omaha, Neb., and the Beijing Olympics in August. Sharp is planning to attend both events as a guest of Speedo. But he soon won't be alone in the department in conducting Olympic-related research. Philip Martin, professor and chair of the kinesiology department at Penn State University, will assume that same title at ISU on July 1. His research focuses on the mechanics and energetics of locomotion -- factors affecting preferred rates of movement in cyclic activities, especially related to walking, running and cycling. Martin's research has received sponsored funding totaling more than $2.7 million from several organizations, including the U.S. Olympic Committee. CONTACTS: Sharp, Kinesiology, (515) 294-8650,; Martin, Penn State University Kinesiology, (814) 863-2140,