Science & Research

Science & Research Roundup: Sept. 24, 2014

By
Science & Research Editor
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Appearances deceiving in salt marsh recovery 

Once-depleted salt marshes in Cape Cod may be growing green and tall now, but that does not mean they are protecting the land from erosion, according to a new study by University researchers.

These results concern ecologists because “the metric of a recovered habitat should not be ‘Does it look like a recovered habitat?’ but ‘Does it restore the ecosystem services?’” said Mark Bertness, professor of biology and senior author of the study, in a University press release.

Bertness worked with two former students to measure a wide array of Cape Cod salt marshes’ abilities to protect the land behind them. They set up chalk posts and noted how much the chalk waned after waves passed through the salt marshes in order to model the erosion of the land behind the marshes. They next compared the results to the biomass and height of the marsh grass in front of the area.

The results, published in the journal Biological Conservation, indicate that the marshes’ protection ability has increased more sluggishly than plant mass and height in these areas, which has implications for how conservationists should approach protecting Cape Cod’s shores, according to the release.

“We need to prevent the die-off or understand the recovery enough to do management conservation tasks, such as fertilization, that would enhance the recovery,” Bertness said in the release.

 

Private intensive care unit rooms for infants boost health, study suggests

Though many hospitals boast intensive care units with lines of beds facing the center, a new study led by University researchers suggests that private family rooms in neonatal intensive care units may have a positive impact on the health of the babies leaving the hospital.

Infants hosted in private rooms generally needed fewer medical procedures, displaying increased attention as well as “less lethargy and less pain,” the researchers wrote. Additionally, underweight babies leaving the hospital from private rooms tended to be heavier and showed more rapid weight gain than those in communal rooms.

The researchers came to these conclusions after comparing the medical and behavioral outcomes of 403 infants born below the weight threshold of 3.3 pounds. Some of these babies received care in large, non-private rooms, while others stayed in single-family intensive care unit rooms.

“In a room, you have privacy, the lighting you want, nurses who work one-on-one with the moms. It’s relaxed, it’s calm,” Barry Lester, lead author of the study and director of the University’s Center for the Study of Children at Risk, told the New York Times.

 

Richard Gold receives Physician of the Year award 

Associate Professor of Diagnostic Imaging Richard Gold was celebrated for his patient care and contributions to medicine with the Miriam Hospital’s 2014 Charles C.J. Carpenter, MD Outstanding Physician of the Year Award, according to a Lifespan press release.

In addition to his position as a University faculty member, Gold serves as radiologist-in-chief at the Miriam Hospital. Gold has worked at the hospital for 20 years, and assumed the position of chief of radiology just four years after joining the staff.

“It is a privilege to interact with and get to know patients and have the opportunity to help them with their health problems,” Gold said in the release.

The award recognizes Gold’s excellence in leading the radiology department, the work of which is critical because “interpreting medical imaging is many times the first step toward addressing patients’ critical health concerns,” said Thomas Tracy Jr., vice chairman of the Alpert Medical School’s department of surgery, who also serves as chief medical officer and senior vice president at the hospital, in the release.