Human Environmental Sciences

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Apparel Merchandising and Product Development
Research in the apparel merchandising and product development area focuses on textile science. Emphasis is on value-added products from renewable/recyclable resources. Kenaf value-added products have been developed in the textile science laboratory for utilization in the Arkansas craft industry. Some of these products are rope baskets, spun yarn for use in knitted and crocheted hats and sweaters, plus marbleized paper.
Another emphasis of the textile science research program is related to environmental degradation of fabrics. These fabrics have included cotton, polyester and polypropylene spunbonded nonwovens; cotton, rayon and Tencel wovens; and kenaf, acrylic having a microbial finish, plus organic cotton needle-punched nonwovens. These fabrics are utilized within the automotive, medical and other nonwoven product industries. Because Arkansas is the "Natural State," such nonwoven products should be environmentally friendly, biodegradable and/or renewable.
Chemical, enzymatic and biological kenaf retting methods are being explored. Biological retting takes about six weeks to complete the separation of kenaf fiber from the bark/core. If chemical and enzymatic methods could be developed to reduce time and energy efforts, the textile industry would be the major benefactor, as well as the state of Arkansas. Kenaf could become a viable alternative cash crop for the state.
Research findings related to these projects may be found in the Textile Research Journal, Textile Industries, the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists Book of Papers, and at the USDA web site.
Human Development and Family Sciences
Research in Human Development and Family Sciences focuses on quality of life issues regarding children and families. The range of research projects is broad and covers the life span and various aspects of family and community life.