Protecting the Environment

With an eye toward ensuring the world's natural resources are sustained for the future, UNT researchers are creating solutions to combat climate change, biodiversity concerns and air pollution. Shengqian Ma, chemistry professor, is working on the development of a prototype low-cost system for capturing carbon dioxide waste from manufacturing emissions and cleanly converting it into ethanol. Calvin Henard, an assistant professor of biological sciences and a researcher at UNT's BioDiscovery Institute, is working to convert methane to bioplastics, biofuels and other valuable products normally derived from petroleum using microbiology. And Elinor Lichtenberg, assistant professor of ecology and a researcher with UNT's Advanced Environmental Research Institute, is studying how grazing practices impact pollinators. Read more about how these researchers and others at UNT are searching for solutions to mitigate environmental problems from global warming to air pollution.

Collaboration Spotlight
Impacts Through Commercialization

UNT's technology commercialization efforts are demonstrating that the university is a leader in applied research, creating impacts around the world. UNT researchers are approaching their work in new and creative ways and producing intellectual property that is solving problems. The Research Commercial Agreements unit in the Division of Research and Innovation is exceeding peer institutions across the country for its impact, faculty served and licenses executed. Bodies in Motion, a program developed by Trent Petrie and Dana Voelker at UNT's Center for Sport Psychology, is just one example of a successful commercial license that also is addressing societal issues. Part of an ongoing study sponsored by a grant from the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the program helps support positive body image in female college athletes. Provided free of charge during the cancelled 2020-21 athletic season, it has since been licensed to athletic programs around the nation. Read more in UNT's Research Commercialization Agreements FY 2021 Annual Report.

Research News
Next-Generation Nuclear Power

UNT has teamed up with a national lab and industry to develop safer, more efficient storage for next-generation nuclear reactors. With funding from the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Jincheng Du, professor of materials science and engineering, and his collaborators will develop a safer and more efficient method of containing and recycling molten salt nuclear waste from nuclear reactors &8212; a critical link in making these plants feasible. The waste will be reprocessed and the salts and metals reused, ultimately reducing the amount of waste that will have to be stored.

Exploring Protein and Cellular Engineering

Clement Chan, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, recently received a $1.5 million National Institutes of Health Maximizing Investigators' Research Award to study protein and cellular engineering. The new funding allows Chan the opportunity to discover and design new functions and properties in biological proteins to, ultimately, generate new biological behavior. In doing so, Chan will be able to engineer cells so they can detect a series of environmental signals with the goal of developing cellular devices that can be used for industrial, biomedical or environmental applications.

Improving Communication for Those with Disabilities

Inspired by a former student who uses a wheelchair and is unable to speak due to cerebral palsy, Mark Albert, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, and his Ph.D. student Riyad Bin Rafiq created a prototype of an application called TalkMotion. The app will improve communication for people who are unable to speak and also have severe motor disabilities that impact their ability to sign or type. The app works with a wearable device like a smart watch to preprogram common phrases to match movements of the device. The wearer can then use the device in conversation rather than having to tap out messages on a tablet.

Trapping Gases Released During Nuclear Fuel Treatment

UNT Chemistry Professor and Welch Chair Shengqian Ma led a multi-institutional team that published a recent article, "Self-Adjusting Metal-Organic Framework for Efficient Capture of Trace Xenon and Krypton" in Angewandte Chemie, one of the top international journals for chemistry research. This groundbreaking article was featured as a highlight in the February 13, 2022 issue of Chemical & Engineering News: "MOF catches xenon and krypton." The article addresses the capture of xenon and krypton from nuclear reprocessing off-gas &8212; an essential process in the treatment of radioactive waste.

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