Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement

A new $2 million grant aimed at increasing participation and diversity in Ph.D. science and engineering programs focusing on research relevant to human health will be put into action at UNT this fall. The Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (G-RISE), sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, will develop a diverse pool of Ph.D. students for careers in the biomedical research fields at UNT. The program will provide financial and mentoring support and other professional development resources for UNT students from historically minoritized groups in the biomedical research sciences. Additionally, training will be provided for doctoral advisors across disciplines to better support students as researchers. The program will be led by Lee Hughes, associate professor of biological sciences, Pamela Padilla, dean of the College of Science, Warren Burggren, University Distinguished Research Professor of biological sciences, Andrés Cisneros, professor of chemistry, (pictured with students) and Vijay Vaidyanathan, chair of biomedical engineering.

Collaboration Spotlight
Biodiversity Through Sustainable Ranch Management

A collaboration between UNT biological sciences researchers and the Dixon Water Foundation is helping to create sustainable ranch practices and further basic science about biodiversity. The foundation, which promotes healthy watersheds through sustainable land management, owns and operates several working cattle ranches, including two outside of Decatur, just west of Denton. Associate professor David Hoeinghaus is studying the biodiversity of the ranches' aquatic habitats, and assistant professor Elinor Lichtenberg is looking at pollinator insect populations on the ranches.

Research News
Researcher Receives Prestigious DARPA Young Faculty Award

Ifana Mahbub, assistant professor of electrical engineering, is the first UNT recipient of a prestigious Young Faculty Award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Mahbub will use the two-year $500,000 award to work on the development of a wireless power transfer network of unmanned aircraft systems that would allow drones to be charged wirelessly in the field by other drones. The objective of the prestigious award program is to identify and engage rising research stars with the long-term goal of developing the next generation of academic scientists and engineers to focus a portion of their career on Department of Defense and national security issues.

Engaging Students in STEM

Students across North Texas have explored science, technology, engineering and mathematics at camps this summer sponsored by UNT faculty. UNT Girls Surge XR Camp spearheaded by Aleshia Hayes, assistant professor of learning technologies, taught underrepresented female students skills such as user experience and prototyping (pictured in photo). Two summer camps geared toward teaching young adults with disabilities about STEM were part of a collaboration between UNT WISE, based in the College of Health and Public Service, and the College of Engineering. Faculty in College of Engineering organized a virtual K-12 STEM Catch Up program for area students falling behind due to the pandemic.

Developing Sensors for Safer Nuclear Waste Storage

Thanks to a three-year $800,000 grant from the Department of Energy, Haifeng Zhang, mechanical engineering professor, is researching new and safer ways to store nuclear waste. Nuclear waste is stored in stainless steel containers, which radiate extreme amounts of heat that can cause cracks in the container and waste to leak. Zhang is working to create a new sensor that could monitor the container's pressure and temperature while withstanding high amounts of heat and signal when the container may be reaching a breaking point.

Teaching Jazz Improvisation in Egypt

Dave Meder, assistant professor of jazz piano in UNT's College of Music, recently received a Fulbright Visual and Performing Arts Award, which will take him to Egypt next spring to explore and refine his own teaching methodology of improvisation with students at the Cairo Conservatoire. Meder, an award-winning jazz pianist and composer, also studies the development of jazz improvisation teaching methodology. While the plethora of academic books written about the subject over the last few decades have played a beneficial role in college music classrooms, he believes it's about time teaching the core skill of jazz reclaims more of its roots. (Photo courtesy of Jess Carlton)

Managing Drone Traffic

Kamesh Namuduri, professor of electrical engineering, is developing safer and more efficient ways to move people and cargo as the demand for using unmanned aerial vehicles in urban, suburban and rural areas continues to grow. Collaborating with Hermes Autonomous Air Mobility Solutions Corporation, he is developing an airspace hazard identification and alerting service for advanced air mobility applications. Focusing on weather and obstruction hazards as well as communication dead zones, the cloud-based system will alert drones so they can adapt and respond accordingly for temporary or permanent changes in real-time. The project is part of NASA's Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign.

Cultivating Industry Collaborations

Elizabeth Skellam, assistant professor of chemistry (pictured in photo), was one of only seven U.S. researchers to receive a grant from Bayer Crop Science's Grants4Ag Initiative, thanks in part to her partners on campus. Jessica Watts, executive director of corporate and foundation relations in the Division of University Advancement, and Steven Tudor, director of licensing in the Division of Research and Innovation, worked behind the scenes to navigate the collaboration. Watts and Tudor recently spoke with Halo Science about how the two UNT divisions work together to cultivate partnerships with industry to grow the university's research enterprise.

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