University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Edinburg, Texas, United States
Recent publications
Background Vocational rehabilitation (VR) engagement is a vital component for successful rehabilitation outcomes. Purpose The purpose of this study is threefold: First, we investigated the item clarity of the Vocational Rehabilitation Engagement Scale (VRES); second, we explored the factorial structure; third, we examined the measurement invariance of the VRES across gender and education level for culturally diverse and bilingual clients in public VR program (i.e., clients speak English as a second language). Given the positive effects of client engagement in health and rehabilitative care on outcomes, it is important to validate this brief instrument to measure VR engagement for culturally diverse and bilingual clients. Method Data, collected from 16 VR clients who completed the original VRES in the focus group, were subjected to content analysis, and data, collected from 264 clients who completed the eight-item VRES and Working Alliance Inventory Short Form (WAI-S), were subjected to confirmatory and multigroup confirmatory factor analysis (MGCFA). Results Based on the feedback from the focus group, the first item was revised to increase clarity. However, the preliminary results indicated that the revised item had very low community value, and therefore, we removed the item from the subsequent analysis. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) results provided support for a unidimensional structure for the eight-item VRES. Measurement invariance across gender and education level was achieved after correlating error terms. The scale had strong reliability, and scores from the VRES were significantly moderately correlated with working alliance. Conclusion The eight-item VRES is a reliable and valid measurement tool to use with culturally diverse and multilingual participants.
We examine the effect of corruption control on efficiency and its implications for efficiency spillovers by a stochastic frontier model. Our dataset covers 102 countries from 1996 to 2014. We find a positive relationship between corruption control and efficiency. If neighboring countries have difficulty in handling corruption, the country would be negatively affected by its neighbors' corruption through efficiency spillovers. We then compare the efficiency differences across countries for three time periods: 1996–2002, 2002–2008, and 2008–2014. On average, technical efficiencies slightly increased in the second period compared to the first period. In the third period, the efficiencies declined, particularly in China.
Background: Despite evidence demonstrating that lung cancer screening (LCS) decreases mortality, widespread implementation is lagging. Efforts to identify and recruit patients for LCS are in need. Candidacy for LCS is based on identifiable risk factors, many of which overlap with those of head and neck malignancies. Thus, we aimed to evaluate the prevalence of candidacy for LCS in the head and neck cancer patient population. Methods: We performed a review of anonymous surveys collected from patients who presented to a head and neck cancer clinic. Variables collected from these surveys included age, biologic sex, smoking history, and head-and-neck cancer history. Patients' candidacy for screening was determined, and descriptive analyses were performed. Results: 321 patient surveys were reviewed. Mean age was 63.7, and 195 (60.7%) were men. 19 (5.91%) were current smokers, and 112 (34.9%) were former smokers, having quit an average of 19.4 years prior to completing the survey. Average pack-years was 29.3. Of the 321 patients surveyed, 60 (18.7%) would qualify for LCS using current guidelines. However, among those 54 patients who qualified for LCS, only 15 (25%) patients had been offered screening and only 14 (23.3%) had been screened. Conclusions: We have importantly demonstrated both a substantial prevalence of candidacy for LCS in the head and neck cancer population as well as disappointingly low levels of screening utilization in this group of patients. We have identified this setting as a key patient population which ought to be targeted for information about and access to LCS.
Risks associated with dust hazards are often underappreciated, a gap between the knowledge pool and public awareness that can be costly for impacted communities. This study reviews the emission sources and chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of airborne soil particles (dust) and their effects on human and environmental health and safety in the Pan-American region. American dust originates from both local sources (western United States, northern Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina) and long-range transport from Africa and Asia. Dust properties, as well as the trends and interactions with criteria air pollutants, are summarized. Human exposure to dust is associated with adverse health effects, including asthma, allergies, fungal infections, and premature death. In the Americas, a well-documented and striking effect of soil dust is its association with Coccidioidomycosis, commonly known as Valley fever, an infection caused by inhalation of soil-dwelling fungi unique to this region. Besides human health, dust affects environmental health through nutrients that increase phytoplankton biomass, contaminants that diminish water supply and affect food (crops/fruits/vegetables and ready-to-eat meat), spread crop and marine pathogens, cause Valley fever among domestic and wild animals, transport heavy metals, radionuclides and microplastics, and reduce solar and wind power generation. Dust is also a safety hazard to road transportation and aviation, in the southwestern US where blowing dust is one of the deadliest weather hazards. To mitigate the harmful effects, coordinated regional and international efforts are needed to enhance dust observations and prediction capabilities, soil conservation measures, and Valley fever and other disease surveillance.
Background Posttraumatic anger is a commonly reported emotion among people who have experienced traumatic events. The current study aimed to demonstrate the reliability and validity of the South Korean version of the DAR-5 (DAR-5-K). The DAR-5 is a single scale with 5 items which measures posttraumatic anger. The DAR-5 is composed of five items that measure anger frequency, intensity, duration, aggression, and its interference with social relations. Methods Data were collected from 814 South Korean adults who had experienced traumatic events and participated in the study and analyzed via the combination of exploratory factor analysis (n = 405) and confirmatory factor analysis (n = 409). Results Results supported the one-factor structure, as reported in previous validation studies. The scale demonstrated robust internal reliability and concurrent validity with measures of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, depression, anxiety, and self-esteem. The DAR-5 cut-off score of 12 that was established in the original validation study successfully differentiated high from low scorers with regard to PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety, and self-esteem. Conclusion The results confirm that the DAR-5-K is a brief and psychometrically robust measure of anger that can be used to examine South Korean adults who have experienced traumatic events.
The current study examined the effects of COVID-19 death and infection stressors on posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and the moderating role of resilience and coping in the association between the COVID-19 stressors and PTSS in Hispanic young adults. On average, COVID-19 death led to higher PTSS than COVID-19 infection. Among participants with relatively high resilience, higher engagement coping, or lower disengagement coping, the magnitudes of the impacts of COVID-19 death and infection on PTSS were similar, suggesting the buffering role of resilience and coping. Resilience and engagement coping may protect Hispanic individuals from elevated PTSS in response to traumatic experiences.
Background and Objectives Previous studies suggest lower mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number (CN) is associated with neurodegenerative diseases. However, whether mtDNA CN in whole blood is related to endophenotypes of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and AD related dementia (AD/ADRD) needs further investigation. We assessed the association of mtDNA CN with cognitive function and MRI measures in community-based samples of middle-aged to older adults. Methods We included dementia-free participants from nine diverse community-based cohorts with whole-genome sequencing in the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program. Circulating mtDNA CN was estimated as twice the ratio of the average coverage of mtDNA to nuclear DNA. Brain MRI markers included total brain, hippocampal, and white matter hyperintensity volumes. General cognitive function was derived from distinct cognitive domains. We performed cohort-specific association analyses of mtDNA CN with AD/ADRD endophenotypes assessed within ±5 years (i.e., cross-sectional analyses) or 5 to 20 years after blood draw (i.e., prospective analyses) adjusting for potential confounders. We further explored associations stratified by sex and age (<60 vs. ≥60 years). Fixed-effects or sample size-weighted meta-analyses were performed to combine results. Finally, we performed Mendelian randomization (MR) analyses to assess causality. Results We included up to 19,152 participants (mean age 59 years, 57% women). Higher mtDNA CN was cross-sectionally associated with better general cognitive function (Beta=0.04; 95% CI 0.02, 0.06) independent of age, sex, batch effects, race/ethnicity, time between blood draw and cognitive evaluation, cohort-specific variables, and education. Additional adjustment for blood cell counts or cardiometabolic traits led to slightly attenuated results. We observed similar significant associations with cognition in prospective analyses, although of reduced magnitude. We found no significant associations between mtDNA CN and brain MRI measures in meta-analyses. MR analyses did not reveal a causal relation between mtDNA CN in blood and cognition. Discussion: Higher mtDNA CN in blood is associated with better current and future general cognitive function in large and diverse communities across the US. Although MR analyses did not support a causal role, additional research is needed to assess causality. Circulating mtDNA CN could serve nevertheless as a biomarker of current and future cognitive function in the community.
Organophosphorus nerve agents are among the most toxic chemicals known and remain threats to humans due to their continued use despite international bans. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have emerged as a class of heterogeneous catalysts with tunable structures that are capable of rapidly detoxifying these chemicals via hydrolysis at Lewis acidic active sites on the metal nodes. To date, the majority of studies in this field have focused on zirconium-based MOFs (Zr-MOFs) that contain hexanuclear Zr(IV) clusters, despite the large toolbox of Lewis acidic transition metal ions that are available to construct MOFs with similar catalytic properties. In particular, very few reports have disclosed the use of a Ti-based MOF (Ti-MOF) as a catalyst for this transformation even though Ti(IV) is a stronger Lewis acid than Zr(IV). In this work, we explored five Ti-MOFs (Ti-MFU-4l, NU-1012-NDC, MIL-125, Ti-MIL-101, MIL-177(LT), and MIL-177(HT)) that each contains Ti(IV) ions in unique coordination environments, including monometallic, bimetallic, octanuclear, triangular clusters, and extended chains, as catalysts to explore how both different node structures and different linkers (e.g., azolate and carboxylate) influence the binding and subsequent hydrolysis of an organophosphorus nerve agent simulant at Ti(IV)-based active sites in basic aqueous solutions. Experimental and theoretical studies confirm that Ti-MFU-4l, which contains monometallic Ti(IV)-OH species, exhibits the best catalytic performance among this series with a half-life of roughly 2 min. This places Ti-MFU-4l as one of the best nerve agent hydrolysis catalysts of any MOF reported to date.
Bone metabolism and repair are directly regulated by arachidonic acid metabolites. At present, we analyzed the dose-response effects of a selective cysteinyl leukotriene receptor type-1 antagonist during bone repair after tooth extraction and on non-injured skeleton. Sixty-three 129 Sv/Ev male mice composed the groups: C-Control (saline solution); MTK2-2 mg/Kg of Montelukast (MTK) and MTK4-4 mg/Kg of MTK, daily administered by mouth throughout all experimental periods set at 7, 14, and 21 days post-operative. Dental sockets were analyzed by computed microtomography (microCT), histopathology, and immunohistochemistry. Femurs, L5 vertebra and organs were also removed for observation. Blood was collected for plasma bone and liver markers. Histopathology and microCT analysis revealed early socket repair of MTK2 and MTK4 animals, with significant increased BV/TV at days 14 and 21 compared to C. Higher plasma calcium was detected at days 7 and 21 in MTK4 in comparison to C, while phosphate was significantly increased in MTK2 in the same periods in comparison to C and MTK4. No significant differences were found regarding plasma ALP and TRAP, neither for local TRAP and Runx2 immunolabeling at the healing sockets. Organs did not present histological abnormalities. Increased AST levels have been detected in distinct groups and periods. In general, femur phenotype was improved in MTK treated animals. Collectively, MTK promoted early bone formation after tooth extraction and increased bone quality of femurs and vertebra in a time-dose-dependent manner, and should be considered as an alternative therapy when improved post-extraction socket repair or skeleton preservation is required.
NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) continue to take more responsibility in Natural Resource Management (NRM). This requires in-depth analyses of the roles NGOs play in NRM. Collaborative NGO Analysis (CNGOA), whereby scholars take an expert role and partner with an NGO to study the organization, its impacts/activities, and its partnerships, can provide new insight into NGO roles in NRM. Existing collaborative studies in NRM primarily apply participatory and community-based approaches whereby researchers partner with organizations to study a problem, such as climate change. However, few studies use CNGOA. This research note addresses this gap by presenting three cases that use CNGOA. CNGOA can create new opportunities to apply theoretical constructs and open spaces for NGO reflexivity. Flexible agreements that include conditions for NGO involvement and anonymity support the approach and can protect the NGO and address some equity concerns. Findings lay the groundwork for additional studies that apply CNGOA in NRM.
Drawing from an ethnography with mixed-status families residing in Mexico, we examine what we term transborder literacies of (in)visibility, or diasporic people's innovative interactions around texts that prepare them to move across incompatible mononational institutions divided by borders. Through close attention to the literacy practices families engaged in as they applied for their children's U.S. passports from Mexico, we demonstrate how these literacies were not just about expanding authentic ways of reading and writing to include both U.S. and Mexican ways, but instead required unique transborder literacies across mutually unintelligible, racializing mononational systems so that children could (re)access their rights on both sides of the border. We argue that recognizing families’ complex transborder literacy practices of (in)visibility could offer a novel anti-oppressive lens to transform how educators make sense of the complexity of immigrant families’ literacies, movements, and educational supports across borders and national schooling systems.
Introduction: Type 2 diabetes (T2D), the fastest growing pandemic, is typically accompanied by vascular complications. A central hallmark of both T2D and vascular disease is insulin resistance which causes impaired glucose transport and vasoconstriction concomitantly. Those with cardiometabolic disease display greater variation in central hemodynamics and arterial elasticity, both potent predictors of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, which may be exacerbated by concomitant hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia during glucose testing. Thus, elucidating central and arterial responses to glucose testing in those with T2D may identify acute vascular pathophysiologies triggered by oral glucose loading. Aim: This study compared hemodynamics and arterial stiffness to an oral glucose challenge (OGC: 50g glucose) between individuals with and without T2D. 21 healthy (48 ± 10 years) and 20 participants with clinically diagnosed T2D and controlled hypertension (52 ± 8 years) were tested. Methods: Hemodynamics and arterial compliance were assessed at baseline, and 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 min post-OGC. Results: Heart rate increased between 20 and 60 post-OGC in both groups (p < 0.05). Central systolic blood pressure (SBP) decreased in the T2D group between 10 and 50 min post-OGC while central diastolic blood pressure (DBP) decreased in both groups from 20 to 60 post-OGC. Central SBP decreased in T2D between 10 and 50 min post-OGC and central DBP decreased in both groups between 20 and 60 min post-OGC. Brachial SBP decreased between 10 and 50 min in healthy participants, whereas both groups displayed decreases in brachial DBP between 20 and 60 min post-OGC. Arterial stiffness was unaffected. Conclusions: An OGC alters central and peripheral blood pressure in healthy and T2D participants similarly with no changes in arterial stiffness.
In U.S. music education, the elementary music program is the level most likely to include all students, before music becomes an elective choice in secondary schools. As students approach adolescence, however, their interest in general music may decline, particularly if they are not engaged in activities they find meaningful. Although past research suggests activities that upper elementary students may prefer, much U.S. research was completed over two decades ago. In this research-to-practice series, we demonstrate how teachers can structure activities for upper elementary (grades 3–5) students based on students’ preferences. In this first article, we briefly review previous scholarship related to elementary students’ music class interests as well as work that supports the idea of building relationships with students. Then, we present ideas to help teachers get to know learners’ preferences using different types of survey materials. Suggestions for understanding and conducting research are also provided for teachers interested in engaging in action research in their settings.
The positive results of life satisfaction among university students have been well studied in the literature. However, the forecasters of the phenomenon have not been thoroughly investigated. In the current study, multiple models were tested to investigate the mediating role of perceived stress in the relationships between virtues and life satisfaction to fill this gap. When testing the model, the effect of demographic variables was controlled. Data were collected through an online survey from a sample of 235 undergraduates. The participants responded to measures of character strengths, perceived stress, and life satisfaction. The findings reveal that perceived stress partially mediates the relationship between leadership, wisdom and life satisfaction controlling for age and gender. The leadership skills of students can be improved, and age and gender should be considered when studying life satisfaction.
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4,363 members
Mark Zlojutro Kos
  • South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute
George Yanev
  • School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
Ruby Charak
  • Department of Psychology
Chu-Lin Cheng
  • Earth, Environmental, & Marine Sciences; Civil Engineering
Mircea Chipara
  • Department of Physics
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Head of institution
Dr. Guy Bailey President