After spending a year with the NSF, Dr. Goins offers a few words from the front lines on grant proposals

WHAT: A grant proposal development event, “NSF Funding Opportunities: A Few Words from the Front Lines – Highly Competitive Proposals and the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education.”

PRESENTER: Dr. Gregory Goins, Associate Professor of Biology. He just returned from a one-year appointment at NSF as the division’s program director.

WHEN & WHERE: Wednesday, September 10, noon to 1:30 p.m., Fort IRC, Room 410.

DETAILS: This workshop will focus on the latest news, programs and funding from NSF’s Division of Undergraduate Education with special focus on the new Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program, which replaced the former TUES, WIDER and STEP programs.

REGISTRATION: Register by August 31 by clicking here. Lunch will be provided, so, yes, you ought to register early.

Mid-summer is here, and that means Tomato Festival

A line of tomato tasters at the 2012 festivalIt’s a highlight of every Aggie summer: The Great Tomato Festival.  This year it’s this Saturday, 8 a.m.to noon, at A&T’s University Farm on McConnell Road. It’s gotta be the best thing happening in Greensboro on Saturday morning. And probably the whole weekend.

It doesn’t matter whether you just like to eat them or if you grow them, slice them, cook them, give them to friends, etc., the festival will have something for you, tomato fan:

  • Extension specialists and members of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences research faculty with advice on growing and cooking tomatoes.
  • Activities for children.
  • Tours of University Farm research plots, including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables produced in high tunnel greenhouses, on plastic mulch and with drip irrigation. Tours will begin at 8, 10 and 11 a.m.

And don’t forget: Winners of the Great Tomato Festival recipe contests for best tomato salad, tomato main course, tomato dessert and tomato salsa will be announced.

Latest trend seen in comments from NSF reviewers: Give more specifics on how mentoring is assessed

NSF logoPrincipal investigators, take note: Your next NSF proposal may need considerably more detail on mentoring than you’ve provided before.

Blogger Female Science Professor spotted the trend in proposals recently rejected by NSF. From Inside Higher Ed:

“Female Science Professor wrote that it’s no longer ‘enough to have a record of success advising grad students, undergrads, and postdocs in research — you have to understand and explain your advising techniques and you have to have a plan for assessing and improving.’

“She said that even data related to student degrees, publications, conference publications and employment upon graduation weren’t ‘sufficient’ for some reviewers.

“ ‘They want something different,’ she said. ‘Apparently, unless you change something, you are not improving and therefore are not being transformative, or something.’”

Consider yourself warned. The whole piece is here. The original item from the very interesting Female Science Professor blog is here.

Aggieland is part of a #NationOfMakers

Group photo of the students behind the Sophisticated Genius clothing line

Co-founder and A&T student entrepreneur Romel Reaves, left, and the team that makes the Sophisticated Genius clothing line

This is part of the deal at a land-grant university: We make things.

We make things you can hold or touch, like hypoallergenic peanuts and asphalt that requires less petroleum. And we make things you can’t hold or touch, like biometric software and carbon nanotubes (and history, which is something else you can’t hold that Aggies make).

We design and build things. And we grow things, which is another very old and very powerful way of making.

N.C. A&T’s motto is “Mens et Manus”: Mind and Hands. Those words set us on a course more than 100 years ago that we’re still traveling. Today, that course brings us together with President Obama and more than 150 other universities to celebrate a Nation of Makers (#NationOfMakers on Twitter).

“On Wednesday, June 18, President Obama will host the first ever White House Maker Faire and meet with students, entrepreneurs and everyday citizens who are using new tools and techniques to launch new businesses, learn vital skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and fuel the renaissance in American manufacturing. The President will also announce new steps the Administration and its partners are taking to support the ability of more Americans, young and old, to have to access to these tools and techniques and brings their ideas to life.

“America has always been a nation of tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. In recent years, a growing number of Americans have gained access to technologies such as 3D printers, laser cutters, easy-to-use design software, and desktop machine tools. These tools are enabling more Americans to design and build almost anything.

“The rise of the Maker Movement represents a huge opportunity for the United States. Nationwide, new tools for democratized production are boosting innovation and entrepreneurship in manufacturing, in the same way that the Internet and cloud computing have lowered the barriers to entry for digital startups, creating the foundation for new products and processes that can help to revitalize American manufacturing.”

And so we celebrate our researchers, like Dr. Salil Desai, Dr. Stephanie Luster-Teasley, and Dr. Jianmei Yu, who all have received patents recently for things they’ve made. And Dr. Ellie Fini and Dr. Ajit Kelkar, who have made things that they’ve been able to build businesses around.

And we especially celebrate our students, so many of whom aren’t waiting to graduate before they start making things. The students who compete in the annual Innovation Challenge … the students we feature on the Aggie Entrepreneurs webpage … and the many more we’ll meet this year and next and the year after that.

New products and processes that can help to revitalize American manufacturing: We’re working with America’s other makers on that. Join us. We can always use more minds and hands.

JSNN researchers go both broad and deep with new book on nanotechnology advances and applications

Cover of nanotechnology book produced by JSNN researchersThe Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering is a collaborative enterprise by nature, with two universities contributing faculty and students.* Its researchers have extended that teamwork with a new book on nanotechnology.

Nanoscience and Nanoengineering: Advances and Applications was written by researchers in both disciplines at the school and a small number of collaborators at other institutions. It was edited by the school’s leadership — Dr. Ajit D. Kelkar, chairman of the Department of Nanoengineering; Dr. Daniel J.C. Herr, chairman  of the Department of Nanosciences; and Dr. James G. Ryan, founding dean of the school.

The book focuses on emerging areas of nanotechnology. “To show the true interdisciplinary nature of nanotechnology, the authors wanted to address the breadth of the field, from research to manufacturing, while also providing sufficient depth that the reader would gain understanding of some of the most important discoveries,” the editors write in the preface.

Topics covered include nanoelectronics, nanobio, nano medicine, nanomodeling,  nanolithography and nanofabrication, and nanosafety.

“This book is intended to be used by students and professionals alike with a goal of sparking their interest to investigate more deeply into the technological advances achieved through manipulation of atomic building blocks,” the editors write.

The book is available online from the publisher, CRC Press, for $159.95 or $111.00 for the ebook. CRC also offers ebook rentals. Amazon lists the book for $143.63.  And if you hurry, you could be Amazon’s first online reviewer.

* If you aren’t from around here or deep into the nano world, the JSNN is a research and graduate-level educational institution operated by N.C. A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 

 

Eco-Core: N.C. A&T composite material for the Navy provides a productive use for problematic coal ash

Eco-Core in various forms

Eco-Core can be produced in a variety of forms for different uses.

Say you have a mountain of coal ash and you don’t know what to do with it. Nasty stuff. Just ask Duke Energy.

How about you turn it into a building material that’s lightweight, fire resistant, and blast resistant. And if that’s not enough, water resistant and nontoxic, too.

N.C. A&T’s Center for Composite Materials Research has done just that. The material is called Eco-Core, and you can read all about it and the years of work done by Dr. Kunigal Shivakumar, Dr. Robert Sadler and the center’s research team, right here in the News & Record.

“An estimated release of up to 39,000 tons of ash escaped from a Duke Energy storage pond in February, gushing through a ruptured drainage pipe and into the river, triggering great public outcry and a continuing political controversy.

“Since then, the powdery, grayish substance [Shivakumar and Sadler] see as full of potential has been portrayed widely as a health threat of monumental proportions.

“ ‘Everything has been bad-mouthing it,’ ” said Sadler, an adjunct research professor at the center. ‘And here we have made a miracle material out of it. … It’s got this rare combination of properties.’ ”

Off topic: Does football mean anything to students?

Screenshot of student surveyA student group distributed a survey over the weekend, seeking input on GHOE (homecoming, if you’re not from around here). It has come to this: They don’t even bother mentioning the football game in the context of favorite events. Or in the entire survey.

If other events are more popular with students, that’s understandable. Not everyone is a football fan or even a sports fan. But if football isn’t even in the conversation when students are talking about homecoming, it’s worth asking what football and intercollegiate athletics mean to students today.  Do they mean anything?

Considering the national conversation going on about the role of athletics in higher education … and the conversations at HBCUs about the role of athletics at historically black universities … it might be worth asking students how much or how little they care about sports.

And if the GHOE survey is any indication, the next question might be what the intercollegiate athletics program means to the university if it doesn’t engage the students.

Of course, at A&T one answer is obvious: Football provides a reason to have a band.  And with our band, that does matter.  But the day may be coming when someone needs to ask whether that’s all and whether that’s enough.