Ogden College of Science & Engineering awards Noah Ashley with Research/Creativity Award for sleep studies
- Erin Woggon
- Monday, November 12th, 2018
Chosen for outstanding contributions in Research/Creativity within the Ogden College of Science and Engineering, Dr. Noah Ashley received the Faculty Award in the spring of 2018. “I know there’s many, many good professors and researchers out there, so I was just delighted to receive it,” Dr. Ashley said in reference to the award.
Dr. Ashley’s research primarily focuses on two different projects, both involving sleep. One of his projects looks at the consequences of sleep apnea. In this study, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Ashley exposes mice to sleep fragmentation, looks at inflammatory responses in the brain, and seeks to understand why that inflammation occurs.
In his second project, which is supported by the National Science Foundation, Dr. Ashley travels to northern Alaska to study birds that stay and breed there during the summer. During this time, the sun never sets above the Arctic Circle. As a result, the circadian rhythms of these birds are altered. The study examines the birds’ sleep and then manipulates sleep to investigate if this impacts the different survival abilities of these birds.
This study also involves collaboration from other entities. Each year Dr. Ashley brings students from SkyTeach to schools in southcentral Kentucky to teach a week-long curriculum comparing Alaska to Kentucky. These students also accompany Dr. Ashley to the northern-most town in the United States, Barrow, Alaska, where they will teach the same curriculum in the high school there.
In addition to SkyTeach students, Dr. Ashley employs local Barrow High School students and Gatton Academy students to work on the project. “I always bring up two to three Gatton students to Alaska, so they get a taste for what field research is like,” Dr. Ashley said. These spots are chosen via an application process that begins with interviews late fall. Selected applicants complete research along with Dr. Ashley at no expense to the student.
This student involvement is important to Dr. Ashley’s work. “All my projects are student-centered. I try to involve not just undergraduates but also Gatton students. I have a bunch of graduate students that work with me,” Dr. Ashley said. “If you train correctly, almost anyone can do some sort of research. It’s important to be inclusive and try to involve as many people as possible.”
Dr. Ashley’s interest in sleep began during his last post doc. Drawing from his time at The Ohio State University where he began his studies on sleep, Dr. Ashley has incorporated this interest in birds into his new studies. Through both of his studies, Dr. Ashley seeks to understand the causes of sleep loss and how some organisms can cope. By examining this, Dr. Ashley hopes to better understand the impacts of our own sleep loss and what therapeutics can help treat the conditions that result.