CBU faculty seek to make a difference with research

Riverside, Calif. (Feb. 22, 2024) - California Baptist University is working to increase its efforts and reach in research. From engineering and health science to social work and psychology, faculty members seek to make an impact in the world of research and in society.

Many of the professors at CBU have transitioned from larger universities, seeking a unique and fulfilling academic experience in a smaller environment while maintaining their desire to perform research. 

“What makes CBU stand out is the support we get from faculty and staff,” said Dr. Trevor Gillum, director of CBU’s exercise science program. “Research at CBU looks different than it does at larger universities in terms of scale and volume. CBU’s labs are as good as any UC or state school, with the most current equipment.”

Gillum, whose research is focused on environmental physiology – how the environment impacts different systems of the body – works with both graduate and undergraduate students who collect and analyze data. Gillum has five studies currently underway, including acclimating to hypoxia and preparing athletes to compete at different elevations.

“Teaching and researching go hand-in-glove when it comes to welcoming students into further research inquiry and deeper questions,” Gillum said. “Students first learn in the classroom and are then invited to be a part of the process as they learn how research impacts the world around them.”

CBU offers Internal Research Grants – up to $10,000 a year – for professors who propose research opportunities and demonstrate how they will bring students into the process. It is designed to support professors in connecting their discipline to the research. The grant program started in 2013.

CBU faculty seek to make a difference with research

Gillum and Dr. Matthew Rickard, professor of biomedical engineering, secured a CBU grant to pilot a research project that includes large-scale data collection on humans. The premise of the research: how do physical primers wo

rk together? For example, how does exercise impact glucose levels, blood pressure and eye pressure? The project combines Gillum’s research in environmental physiology and Rickard’s work as a research and development engineer.

Rickard is the developer of Blink frames — eyeglass frames embedded with cameras that view the ocular surface. The data collected can assist with treating a number of eye conditions. This drove CBU to fund the patent for the glaucoma version of the product. Blink frames has received $1.8 million from the National Science Foundation and subawards have been given to CBU for students to do human pilot studies with the frames.

Gillum and Rickard are working with students to gather initial data on test subjects. Next, exercise will be added to determine its impact.

Their collaborative, multidisciplinary research launched a health initiative collecting extensive pre- and post-exercise data. Together, Gillum and Rickard identified parameters that can improve understanding of patient health with regard to cardiac performance and risk of vision loss. Early observations link exercise to eye pressure and blood pressure changes in the pilot study of 25 subjects and help explain how exercise improves health, especially for at-risk patients. They have been invited to give a presentation of their research titled “Acute blood pressure and intraocular pressure response to brief aerobic exercise: Toward a scalable AI model for health prediction” at the annual meeting of The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in Seattle this May.  The association consists of 10,000 researchers from over 75 countries. 

“This research allows us to profile each person to predict systemic disease,” Rickard said. “The next steps are to scale the projects so we can gather more research. Let’s impact society!”

The research being performed by Gillum and Rickard has the potential to have large-scale impacts on measuring overall health through simple methods, like wearing the Blink frames. Additional studies that have come out of the CBU-funded research include identifying risks for glaucoma, amblyopia correction in children, myopia and dry eye. Rickard is currently writing about this research with the top dry eye expert in the industry, Dr. Stephen Pflugfelder with Baylor College of Medicine.

“CBU allows its professors to do the research and not be so tied to the grant writing,” Rickard said. “This allows us to become experts in our field and in our work.”

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski
Email: ameluski@calbaptist.edu

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504