2019 News Archives

Yang and Zhang Pitch Technologies at Launch Greensboro Event

Around 150 attendees visited N.C. A&T’s Alumni Foundation Events Center for Launch Greensboro’s Annual Reverse Pitch event. A handful of area companies presented challenges for which they seek solutions, and two A&T professors shared their research in need of commercialization partners. Dr. Guochen Yang, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, presented his research on the micropropagation of plants as an efficient and affordable way to speed-up production. Dr. Lifeng Zhang at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering explained how polyacryonitrile nanofibers from electrospinning prevents fungal growth on a wide variety of surfaces.

Information Gained at Ground Level

Imagine you are a food writer for a magazine, sent to a city for a day to discover and report on local cuisine. You have three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) over which to gather information and maximize your visit to create the clearest impression for your readers. As you come into town, you have a decision to make. Will you visit familiar, fast food and chain restaurants, or, will you seek out new, undiscovered eateries to paint your culinary picture? 

DORED’s Annual Report Is Here

We are pleased to announce the arrival of this year’s annual research report! Designed by Nikki Pressley in University Relations, this year’s booklet showcases FY 2019 research initiatives covering a broad spectrum of expertise from autonomous control, the mitigation of food deserts in North Carolina, diabetes research, the integration of mushroom farming and cattle production and more! Please take some time to familiarize yourself with the outstanding work being done by the tremendously gifted faculty who lead N.C. A&T’s research efforts. Congratulations all! 

First Annual Southeast Urban Sustainability Summit a Resounding Success

In mid-August N.C. A&T welcomed 150 sustainability professionals from across North Carolina to commemorate the first annual Southeast Urban Sustainability Summit (SEUSS). Academic researchers from 14 universities, sustainability directors and leaders from numerous North Carolina municipalities and representatives from industry were all on hand to form a convergence research network to guide future research. After opening ceremonies and keynote addresses, attendees broke-out into smaller focused “urban systems” for sharing and brainstorming: energy, transportation, water, housing, health and safety and food/agriculture. Each urban system identified grand challenges and barriers. By involving academic, government and industry voices, the research initiatives that come from SEUSS will be user-inspired, representing the best ideas which are both practical and bold. 

N.C. A&T Begins Recruiting its First Cohort of PrIDE Scholars for Fall 2020

N.C. A&T’s College of Engineering was the recent recipient of a $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant designed to test the educational research proposition that an engineering curriculum featuring innovation and leadership development will promote academic performance and stimulate entrepreneurship in engineering students. 

Exposing Students to High-Frequency Data Science

Dr. Manoj Jha, an associate professor in A&T’s Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering, has teamed with researchers from Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt University to expose students to real world high-frequency data. The data, primarily environmental in nature, will be collected in real time at labs on the Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt campuses and shared with students in their coursework. 

Researchers Studying Child Exposure to Beach Pollution

Dr. Alesia Ferguson is an Associate Professor and Interim Chair at N.C. A&T’s Department of Built Environment in the College of Science and Technology. As Co-Pi, she joins Principal Investigator Dr. Helena Solo-Gabriele of the University in Miami in the research project Beach Exposure and Child Health Study (Beaches) which is funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Institute. The 1 million dollar grant (N.C. A&T’s portion is $300k) is designated to explore the effects of petroleum pollution and its effects on children in the Gulf of Mexico, and also involves the University of Texas. 

Building Capacity to Enhance Student Writing Proficiency

Frances Ward-Johnson, dean of N.C. A&T’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, was successful in her quest to secure grant funding to expand Aggie student access to high quality writing programs and resources on campus. The university received $500,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to expand its University Writing Center and the Department of English’s writing program to develop a robust writing curriculum including experiential learning opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. “Our goal is to serve the writing development needs for all students, not just those in arts and humanities,” explains Ward-Johnson. “Students from across our campus can take advantage of robust programming and tutors to help them expand their capabilities in this area.”

Watching What We Cannot See

When the Cold War ended, the United States no longer needed vast quantities of nuclear materials and a new direction took shape: cleaning up the nation’s Cold War legacy and downsizing its nuclear complexes. Nuclear sites across the country were closed down, and their materials sent to a South Carolina site for safekeeping. Supporting these safekeeping measures are the thrust of one of N.C. A&T’s research efforts. Three A&T scientists are using unmanned autonomous robots and vehicles to assist Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the present-day site manager, in its storage, handling and maintenance of the radioactive materials in the facilities. 

Can Mushrooms Improve Cattle Farming?

Drs. Uchenna Anele, Omon Isikhuemhen, Felicia Anike and Obed Quaicoe are researchers in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences who are working on integrating mushroom and cattle production.  The team recently received a three-year, $500k grant from the United States Department of Agriculture through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) as part of its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program. The AFRI program is the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences. The team is using its AFRI grant to explore how the use of a mushroom-based feed supplement might improve how U.S. farmers feed their cattle.

Understanding How Biological Systems React to the Introduction of Nanoparticles

A researcher at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) is working with RTI International to study whether exposure to nanoparticles provokes a toxic response in biological systems. Nanotechnology is a relatively new scientific discipline, which is why health and safety effects of exposure to nanoparticles is not yet fully understood. Dr. Shyam Aravamudhan’s research interests lie at the intersection of micro/nanotechnology and life sciences, with an overarching goal to question and better understand how biological systems function, and what levels of exposure to nanoparticles may be acceptable.

Jaeschke Named New Director of Sponsored Programs

Mrs. Sarah Jaeschke has joined DORED as the new Director of Sponsored Programs. Sarah comes to us from Clemson University where she was most recently its Pre-award Manager. Before her role at Clemson, Sarah served as Grants Coordinator at Tidewater Community College and Grants and Contracts Administrator at the Old Dominion University Research Foundation. She completed her undergraduate work at Christopher Newport University, and received her Master’s in Higher Education Administration from Old Dominion University. Sarah is joined in Greensboro by her husband Scott and daughter Eleanor. Her interests outside of work include cycling, tennis, and perpetually re-teaching her dog the same tricks.

The Healing Power of Agriculture

Dr. Crystal Kyle wears several hats in her quests to keep farmers safe, bring farming to veterans and veterans to farming. She works for N.C. A&T’s Cooperative Extension Program, is its coordinator with the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute and also the director of the North Carolina AgrAbility Program. It is this last role which presents many opportunities to discover strengths and improve lives. The North Carolina AgrAbility Program is a federally-funded project through the USDA/NIFA that provides disabled individuals with the education and assistance they need to live successful, safe, and productive lives in production agriculture or agriculture-related occupations.

Linker Earns Federal Contract Manager Certification

Tim Linker, DORED’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Administration, has earned his Certified Federal Contract Manager certification. The certification is administered through the National Contract Manager’s Association, of which Mr. Linker is a member. Though most of N.C. A&T’s federal funding is oriented towards grants and cooperative agreements, federal contracting is an area of growth through sponsors such as the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.  Having a staff member who understands the entire spectrum of federal contracting bolsters DORED’s ability to support faculty. Linker is also a member of the Society of Research Administrators International, for whom he teaches on topics such as federal contracting and research negotiation.

Understanding and Mitigating North Carolina’s Food Deserts

The existence of areas with low accessibility to healthy foods, known as food deserts, have been identified as a serious issue contributing to food insecurity in both urban and rural regions in the United States, especially in areas where minority populations reside. North Carolina is greatly affected by this issue, which is why integrated, interdisciplinary research is underway to examine and understand the multi-dimensional and complex problem. A team of North Carolina researchers is one year in to their three and a half-year $750,000 NSF Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems grant.

 Six N.C. A&T Faculty Members Honored For Outstanding Research Contributions

The Division of Research and Economic Development at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is proud to announce the 2019 winners of the university’s research awards. Fifteen N.C. A&T researchers were considered for awards this year, with six faculty members being honored for their research contributions at the university’s annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence ceremony and banquet.

Karimoddini Using Drones to Inspect Aging Civil Infrastructure

How do you inspect a bridge for signs of hazardous weakening or deterioration? It’s not easy! Chances are you’d need to close traffic lanes, lower inspectors on ropes, raise them on scaffolds or use specialized trucks or cranes with long, extending arms. The process of inspecting bridges is costly, dangerous and creates traffic disruptions. Labor costs, public inconvenience and the safety hazards of lane closures are only a few of the factors which had North Carolina’s Department of Transportation (NCDOT) looking for a better way.

Collins Named Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor of Outreach and Economic Development

Please join DORED in congratulating Dr. Laura Collins on her new role as Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor of Outreach and Economic Development. She replaces Wayne Szafranski, who retired from N.C. A&T after 13 years of service. Laura has been N.C. A&T’s Director of Intellectual Property Development for eight years and spent the 10 prior years as a patent agent with an IP law group in San Diego, supporting patent litigation, patent prosecution, and IP business strategy counseling for clients. In her new Interim AVC role, Laura will lead the economic development and technology transfer efforts for DORED, including shepherding collaborations and agreements (e.g. NDA/MTA) with university collaborator and the business sector. Laura has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill, completed her post-doc at San Diego State University and taught as an adjunct professor at San Diego State University, University of San Diego, and San Diego Mesa College. In addition to her role on campus, Laura currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship.

Anwar Harnessing Social Media to Study Opioid Epidemic in North Carolina

Dr. Mohd Anwar is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina A&T State University. Dr. Anwar is a current RTI University Scholar who began collaborating with Dr. Kevin Conway (SRD) and Dr. Steven Cohen (DSDS) in the fall of 2018, to study the extent to which social media data can be harnessed as an indicator of the opioid epidemic. With more than 50,000 opioid-related overdose deaths estimated in 2017 in the United States, the opioid epidemic has emerged as a major health crisis.

Ofori-Boadu Receives NSF CAREER Research Award

Dr. Andrea Ofori-Boadu, assistant professor of Construction and Construction Management in N.C. A&T’s Department of Built Environment within its College of Science and Technology, has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. The award period starts on March 15, 2019 and ends February 29, 2024, and is expected to total $559,991. The NSF CAREER award program is a foundation-wide activity that offers NSF's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty like Ofori-Boadu who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the missions of their organizations.

Homaifar Named Langley Professor

Dr. Abdollah Homaifar, professor in N.C. A&T’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the newly appointed Samuel P. Langley Distinguished NASA Langley Chair Professor at the National Institute of Aerospace. The Langley Professorship, funded by NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, is dedicated to an N.C. A&T faculty member who works at the institute and leads university-based research and technology thrusts of substantial interest to NASA. Under this prestigious award, Homaifar will continue to focus his attention and research on the development of tools for Autonomous Unmanned Systems, bringing together top researchers to address grand challenges and investigate problems of significant national interest.

N.C. A&T Uses Drones to Bring “Smart Agriculture” to the Aggie Farm

A team of N.C. A&T researchers led by Dr. Ali Karimoddini received a three-year, $600K grant from the National Science Foundation to fly a team of drones above the university’s 492-acre farm, located off McConnell Road on the east side of Greensboro, for crop health monitoring, a revolutionary step toward smart agriculture. Unlike traditional crop management methods that use farmers or ground vehicles for assessing crop health status, using autonomous technology to perform aerial monitoring of agricultural fields saves time and money, while preventing damage to crops.

Dr. Beni Using UAVs for Flood Mapping and Management

Dr. Leila Hashemi Beni, an assistant professor in the Geomatics Program in the Department of Built Environment in the College of Science and Technology, is using unmanned autonomous vehicles as remote sensing mechanisms to develop flood mapping in the state of North Carolina. Supported by a three-year, $300K grant through the National Science Foundation, Beni’s project is designed to gain a fundamental understanding of UAV data processing and to develop a research program on remote sensing data processing for environmental management. The NSF grant provides programming support for research experiences impacting both high school and undergraduate students, whose research will be further integrated into new undergraduate and graduate curriculum at the university. 

DORED Bids Farewell to Wayne Szafranski

Wayne Szafranski, DORED’s Assistant Vice Chancellor of Outreach and Economic Development is leaving the university after 13 years of service. Wayne received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in chemistry from Clarkson University in New York. His career path included stops at the Eastman Kodak Company, Ciba-Geigy and Konica Minolta. He moved to Greensboro 30 years ago with his wife and two daughters, joining the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship in 2005. He came to N.C. A&T as director of Technology Transfer in 2007, and became its Assistant Vice Chancellor of Outreach and Economic Development in 2010. Wayne’s next role includes business development responsibilities for Gateway Research Park’s South Campus in Greensboro. Godspeed Wayne, and thank you for your service!

N.C. A&T’s “Energy Days” Event April 9 & 10

More than 100 scientists, N.C. A&T faculty, graduate students and staff will be on hand to guide more than five thousand students and members of the public through this year’s Energy Days event. Duke Energy, the primary event sponsor, will feature a drone demo inside the BB&T Football Stadium showing how the utility uses drones to help communities recover from storm damage. They will also perform a safety demonstration which educates citizens about the dangers associated with downed power lines.

N.C. A&T Hosts Regional Diabetes Symposium

N.C. A&T has joined forces with North Carolina's three translational science institutes (UNC-CH, Duke and Wake Forest), to lead the North Carolina Diabetes Research Collaborative. For the second consecutive year, A&T will host the Regional Symposium, inviting researchers from North Carolina and surrounding states to meet to develop translational, cross-institutional projects in the realms of diabetes, obesity and metabolism. Friday, March 15, 2019, the President-Elect of the American Diabetes Association will present a keynote address on the status of diabetes, followed by presentations regarding diabetes research advancement. Researchers interested in contributing to the advancement of diabetes research are welcome to learn more and register.

Cook Awarded Biological Collection and Analysis Support

Dr. Marc Cook, an assistant professor of exercise science in the Department of Human Performance and Leisure Studies, has secured microbiome research support from uBiome in the form of biological sample collection kits and corresponding sample analysis. Dr. Cook uses samples like these to study the interactions between gut microbial composition and cardiovascular health risks, such as hypertension in African-American college athletes. Read more about his research interests including exercise immunology, racial disparities in endothelial dysfunction and subsequent cardiovascular disease, gut dysbiosis and vascular disease.

Dr. Robert Newman Shows Us That Cells Never Rest

The human body is composed of trillions of cells, the basic building blocks of all living things. Our cells perform many diverse functions, including converting nutrients from food into usable energy, promoting growth, and preventing infection and disease. Each of these cellular functions involves a series of coordinated biochemical reactions and, in order for cells to function efficiently, they must “know” which reactions to “turn on” and which ones to “turn off” in the face of an ever-changing environment.

Dr. Luster-Teasley Partners with Triad Growth Partners to Leverage Research

Dr. Stephanie Luster-Teasley’s research involves chemical oxidation, water and wastewater treatment and remediation. Her patented RemRx™ treatment technology supports the sustainability efforts of Triad Growth Partners (TGP) in Greensboro. TGP is developing innovative solutions for the $60 billion remediation market to decrease cost, increase efficacy and restore water and land in a sustainable manner. AxNano (the technology development group of TGP) is designing these advanced solutions as part of Luster-Teasley’s RemRx™ treatment technologies platform. RemRx™ brings together advanced technologies to create proprietary and highly tunable products that safely address the needs of global development leaders and industry looking for sustainable solutions.

DORED Celebrates Issuance of European and U.S. Patents

A European patent was recently issued to faculty researchers in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. Dr. Mohamed Ahmedna, Dr. Jianmei Yu and Dr. Ipek Goktepe are the proud recipients of European counterpart to U.S. Patent No. 8,211,485 issued in July 2012. The researchers’ claims are generally directed to a method for reducing the allergenic protein content of a blanched or roasted peanut kernel by contacting the kernel with at least 0.001%(w/w) of an endopeptidase enzyme; such enzymes include pepsin, trypsin or alpha-chymotrypsin. In addition, Dr. Yeoheung Yun and Dr. Youngmi Koo in the College of Engineering have received U.S. Patent No. 10,128,512, entitled “Paper-based Magnesium Battery and the Use Thereof,” which relates generally to paper-based magnesium batteries such as those found in wearable or point-of-care devices.

DORED Unveils 2018 Annual Report

Please take a few moments to revisit and celebrate the research success that N.C. A&T faculty brought to the university in Fiscal Year 2018. From autonomous vehicles, to engineering a better food bank, to additive manufacturing, to exploring the medicinal uses of ginger, Aggie researchers are advancing education, fostering community engagement and catalyzing economic development. Enjoy these stories about innovative solutions that address the challenges and economic needs of North Carolina, the nation and the world!

Dr. Beni Using UAVs for Flood Mapping and Management

Dr. Leila Hashemi Beni, an assistant professor in the Geomatics Program in the Department of Built Environment in the College of Science and Technology, is using unmanned autonomous vehicles as remote sensing mechanisms to develop flood mapping in the state of North Carolina. Supported by a three-year, $300K grant through the National Science Foundation, Beni’s project is designed to gain a fundamental understanding of UAV data processing and to develop a research program on remote sensing data processing for environmental management. The NSF grant provides programming support for research experiences impacting both high school and undergraduate students, whose research will be further integrated into new undergraduate and graduate curriculum at the university.