UNT joins Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities

UNT announced today that it will join 20 of the nation's top research universities in the formation of the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities to increase opportunity for those historically underserved by higher education. The universities represent every university that has been both categorized as R1 (very high research activity) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education and designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The HSRU Alliance aims to achieve two key goals by 2030: Double the number of Hispanic doctoral students enrolled at Alliance universities and increase by 20% the Hispanic professoriate in Alliance universities. "As a Hispanic-Serving Institution deeply dedicated to helping all students thrive, UNT is proud to be part of a group that is focused on creating access and equity for our Hispanic students," UNT President Neal Smatresk said. "In addition to increasing the number of enrolled Hispanic doctoral students, we also are committed to growing a diverse faculty that more closely resembles our student demographics and is best suited to help facilitate our students' aspirations.".

Collaboration Spotlight
Providing Girls STEM Camps

UNT and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History are collaborating on STEM camps for middle and high school girls from underrepresented communities in North Texas. Girls SURGE into STEM XR Camp is led by Aleshia Hayes, assistant professor in the College of Information Department of Learning Technologies, along with a group of UNT undergraduate and graduate students. Hayes runs the Simulation User Research Game Experience Lab (SURGE Lab) at UNT, which focuses on researching ways extended realities and game technologies can help resolve key educational and social challenges, while improving entrepreneurship and STEM learning among diverse communities. The June camps at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History will introduce girls to emerging technology tools (like augmented and virtual realities) for STEM education. Students will learn and apply transferable skills including design thinking, user experience testing and prototyping. They will even have an opportunity to be published co-authors on an academic paper about user experience testing, increasing their self-efficacy in STEM.

Research News
New Leadership

Pamela Padilla, dean of UNT's College of Science, has been appointed vice president of research and innovation. Padilla succeeds Mark McLellan, who recently retired. A professor of biological sciences, Padilla joined UNT in 2002. She previously worked as associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Science and was permanently appointed UNT's associate vice president for research and innovation in October 2019, after serving one year as interim. In 2010, she earned the UNT Early Career Award for Research and Creativity, and she was a Faculty Leadership Fellow from 2015 to 2016. She also was part of a UNT team that recently received the Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (G-RISE) grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a diverse pool of Ph.D. scientists for careers in the biomedical research fields.

Helping Texas become a leader in transforming mobility

UNT is committed to finding solutions for transforming mobility. From researching connected and autonomous vehicles to exploring the ways autonomous cars can cooperate with unmanned aerial vehicles, more than 50 UNT researchers are working together through our Center for Integrated Intelligent Mobility Systems. With backgrounds in logistics, business, science, and health and public service, UNT's team is committed to making the state a leader in mobility. Construction will break ground later this year on the UNT Advanced Air Mobility (UAAM) Test Center, a meshed test facility at Discovery Park that will allow researchers to conduct field tests in all weather conditions in full compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which regulates the testing of UAVs flown in open air space. It also will have ground-based equipment designed to test autonomous cars together with UAVs for vehicle-to-vehicle communications, information sharing and cooperation in autonomous operations.

Supporting Those with Aphasia

Aphasia, which can be caused by stroke, trauma and other brain injuries, is a debilitating communication disorder that impairs language abilities. But few people living with aphasia in North Texas are accessing the support and services that may be available to them, and researchers in UNT's College of Health and Public Service are changing that. Gloria Olness, associate professor of audiology and speech-language pathology, is working with a group of research speech-language pathologists and Liam O'Neill, associate professor of rehabilitation and health services, to lay the foundation for The Aphasia Collaborative — a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary and interpersonal network to provide help. Read about their research, which is funded by the Josephine Simonson Aphasia Trust Fund at the Southwestern Medical Foundation.

Informing Better Water-wise Irrigation Techniques

UNT researchers are using high-quality satellite and aerial imagery to study how farmers in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley are using water resources and how their irrigation methods have changed over the decades. The team — Lu Liang in the Department of Geography and the Environment; Xiaohui Yuan in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering; and graduate and undergraduate students, including students in the new GIS+CS bachelor's degree program — will produce data that will support decision making for future water conservation at a national level. Funding for the work comes from NASA, the United States Geological Survey and a UNT seed grant.

Goldwater Scholars

Two students from UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science were named 2022 Goldwater Scholars — Neel Shanumgum and Anay Gupta. Shanumgum worked with chemistry professor William Acree to characterize environmentally friendly chemical solvents. He placed fourth internationally in the biochemistry portion of the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair for research studying a PARP-1 cancer variant and potential inhibitors. Gupta worked in the research laboratory of Regents Professor of Chemistry Thomas Cundari and others from the Broad Institute and Stanford University to investigate the relation between genomics and drug resistance with a computational analysis of 25 different cancerous cell lines treated with a wide variety of chemotherapy drugs at different doses, predictive deep-learning modeling and methane functionalization. The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards in the country awarded to students pursuing careers in math, science and engineering. Since 1996, UNT has produced 70 Goldwater Scholars — more than any other Texas university.

Research on Tap

The Division of Research and Innovation is partnering with Denton-based Dan's Silverleaf to host When the Well Runs Dry: The Worth of Water, the fourth of a series of discussions on Research on Tap. Grab a beverage from 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, and hear Rudi Thompson, assistant vice president for digital strategy and innovation, talk about the importance of water conservation. Or watch on Facebook Live, where you can also see a video of previous talks.

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