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.

Hypoallergenic peanuts developed by N.C. A&T licensed for use in food products, immunotherapy

Hypoallergenic peanuts, peanut butter, and other peanut products are a step closer to grocery stores with the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement for the patented process that reduces allergens in peanuts by 98 percent.

Head shot of Dr. Yu

Dr. Jianmei Yu

N.C. A&T signed the agreement with Xemerge, a Toronto-based firm that commercializes emerging technologies in food, agriculture, and a variety of other fields. Xemerge has opened an office at the Gateway University Research Park south campus in Greensboro.

“This is one of the best technologies in the food and nutrition space we have seen,” said Johnny Rodrigues, Chief Commercialization Officer of Xemerge.

“It checks all the boxes: non-GMO, patented, human clinical data, does not change physical characteristics of the peanut along with maintaining the nutrition and functionality needed, ready for industry integration from processing and manufacturing to consumer products.”

The process was developed by Dr. Jianmei Yu, a food and nutrition researcher in A&T’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, and two former A&T faculty members, Dr. Mohamed Ahmedna and Dr. Ipek Goktepe, both of whom are now at Qatar University.

“Treated peanuts can be used as whole peanuts, in pieces or as flour to make foods containing peanuts safer for many people who are allergic,” Dr. Yu said.

“Treated peanuts also can be used in immunotherapy,” she said. “Under a doctor’s supervision, the hypoallergenic peanuts can build up a patient’s resistance to the allergens.”

Research funding was provided by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Continue reading

NIH seeks input on racial disparities in R01 grants

National Institutes of Health logoFrom Dr. Richard Nakamura, director of the NIH Center for Scientific Review:

“We want you to know NIH is working on multiple fronts to get to the bottom of unexplained racial disparities in R01 grant funding and to maximize fairness in NIH peer review. Since the problems and the solutions are bigger than NIH, we have reached out to the scientific community and other concerned citizens for help. Now armed with a team of experts and a set of new initiatives, we’d like to tell you about our efforts to address this important issue –- particularly an exciting opportunity for you to submit your input.”

Click here to read Dr. Nakamura’s entire statement. And don’t overlook the comments, which range from insightful to shocked — “absolutely shocked” — that anyone would even suggest that bias exists in the peer review system.

Rhetoric note: There’s really nothing like using five exclamation points at the end of a sentence to underline the thoughtfulness of your argument.