Two faculty leaders among 40 Leaders Under 40

Two outstanding faculty members holding their plaques

Dr. Kelly Graves and Dr. Salil Desai

An industrial engineer working at the nano level and a clinical psychologist working at the community level represent N.C. A&T in the Triad Business Journal’s 2015 class of 40 Leaders Under 40 for the Piedmont Triad area.

The selection of faculty members Dr. Salil Desai and Dr. Kelly Graves was announced this week.  The program sponsored by the weekly business newspaper has now honored six A&T faculty and staff members in the past five years.

Dr. Salil Desai

Desai is an associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. He was honored for his research in collaboration with high-tech nano and bio companies that has the potential to revolutionize the fabrication of regenerative tissue scaffolds, bio-chem sensors and functionally gradient materials that lead to next-generation devices and systems.

Desai patented a major advance in nanomanufacturing, a process that can fabricate selective features at both the micro- and nano-scale. The ability to fabricate structures from the micro-scale to the nano-scale with varied geometry and high precision in a wide variety of materials is important in advancing the practical impact of micro- and nano-technology in the semiconductor, biotechnology and industrial sectors.

He has collaborated with NanoTechLabs of Yadkinville to apply his technology to the fabrication of flexible Thin-Film-Transistors for aerospace technologies. Their team has received Small Business Technology Transfer funding from the U.S. Air Force. The innovation was supported by the Oak Ridge National Lab as a disruptive technology.

Desai was awarded the National Science Foundation CAREER award to investigate fundamental phenomena for developing innovative nano/micro scale processes ($400,000, 2009). The CAREER Program “offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research…”

He also serves as an affiliated faculty member of the bioengineering program, an affiliated faculty member of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, an adjunct faculty member at the Wake Forest University Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and co-leader of research in cardiovascular devices for the NSF Engineering Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials at A&T. Desai is director of A&T’s Integrated Nano & Bio Manufacturing Laboratory, a clean room in which his students conduct fundamental research toward developing novel nano/bio manufacturing processes for a variety of applications. He is an active researcher and educator in the interdisciplinary fields of nano/micro and bio manufacturing.

Dr. Kelly Graves

Graves is executive director of N.C. A&T’s Center for Behavioral Health and Wellness, an interdisciplinary group of professionals in counselling, criminology, health education, peer support, psychiatry, psychology, public health, social work, substance abuse counselling, and wellness coaching. They provide community-focused, evidence-based, and culturally competent behavioral health services.

Graves created the Center to bring the community a new level of trauma-focused services. Since it was established in 2012, she has grown the center’s staff from four to more than 20 and secured over $2.5 million in funding. She has led the development of partnerships with 42 public and private organizations – including the Greensboro Police; Guilford County Schools; Guilford departments of public health and social services, and other state and local public agencies; and 20 private agencies such as Family Service of the Piedmont, Guilford Child Development, and the Women’s Resource Center.

The center serves Greensboro and Guilford County by providing mental health and substance abuse services with a particular specialty in trauma recovery. Its current projects include:

  • The Greensboro Child Response Initiative, a partnership with the Greensboro Police Department to provide advocacy services and resource linkages to children and families experiencing violence or trauma.
  • Guilford County Child Trauma Task Force, a project co-led by the center and the Department of Social Services to create a systemic approach to prevention, education, and awareness about child trauma.
  • Project I-CARE, a collaboration with Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine to offer co-located, integrated physical and behavioral health services for uninsured patients. Services are also available in Spanish.

Graves is a tenured faculty member in the Department of Human Development and Services in the School of Education. She teaches at the masters and doctoral level. She also trains professionals across the country on the implementation of evidence-based practices in behavioral health settings.

Graves conducts research on the integration of behavioral and physical health, integration of co-occurring disorders into treatment, trauma, poly-victimization and other topics. She shares her expertise nationally as a consultant with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and through her books and articles.

A&T biology professor honored by White House

Dr. Gregory Goins

Dr. Gregory Goins

Dr. Gregory Goins, associate professor of biology at North Carolina A&T State University, has been named a White House Champion of Change.

He is one of 11 faculty and staff members from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) who will be honored in Washington today for effectively promoting college completion and student success at HBCUs.

Goins organized the Integrative Biomathematical Learning and Empowerment Network for Diversity (iBLEND) program at N.C. A&T. iBLEND represents a partnership between faculty mentors from various science, mathematics, and engineering disciplines working together to retain undergraduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

In addition, iBLEND mentors help students prepare for future post-graduate opportunities and careers primarily at the interface between biology and mathematics. Since 2010, over 100 undergraduates from North Carolina A&T State University have completed research internships collaborating with iBLEND.

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N.C. A&T researchers go airborne to study the unexplored complexities of winter air pollution

N.C. A&T researchers on the wintertime pollution study

N.C. A&T researchers on the wintertime pollution study, left to right: Dr. Marc Fiddler, Steven G. Blanco Garcia, and Jaime Green

Members of the N.C. A&T Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Group are working with researchers from 14 other institutions this winter to investigate the little-known dynamics of wintertime air pollution.

The project is the Wintertime INvestigation of Transport, Emissions, and Reactivity (WINTER) campaign in the Mid-Atlantic Region. It will provide detailed, aircraft-based measurements to explore how chemical processes in the atmosphere vary by season.

Pollution occurs throughout the year, but the chemistry that determines the impact of pollution in the winter has been largely unexplored. Most research has focused on warmer seasons.

In winter, for example, short-lived pollutants like sulfur dioxide dissipate more slowly, so they affect wider areas downwind from the source of the pollution. Sulfur dioxide can cause respiratory problems and can turn into acid rain.

“Levels of oxidant pollution, such as ozone, are smaller in the winter due to decreased sunlight and emissions from plants,” said Dr. Marc Fiddler, an A&T research chemist working on the project.  “These conditions produce a different and much more uncertain picture of what happens to sulfur dioxide in the winter.”

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Undergrad researcher at N.C. A&T lab recognized for work on cancer prevention and wheat bran

N.C. Research Campus logoAn undergraduate research technician at N.C. A&T’s Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies has been named a finalist in the Undergraduate Student Research Symposium sponsored by the American Chemical Society.

The center is located at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. It is operated by the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

Nicholas Stone, a senior biology major at Davidson College, is one of six finalists chosen from an international pool of applicants. He will present his research on “Alkylresorcinols: Purification from wheat bran and quantification in whole grain wheat breads” at the 249th ACS National Meeting in Denver, March 22 to 26.

The symposium is conducted by the Agricultural and Food Chemistry Division of the ACS. It is open to all undergraduates conducting research in agricultural food chemistry.

Stone, who is originally from Winston-Salem, works in the lab of Dr. Shengmin Sang, associate professor and lead scientist for functional foods. Originally a summer intern, Stone quickly progressed from helping with small tasks like washing dishes to becoming a full-fledged member of the research team focusing on the study of alkylresorcinols (AR), a bioactive compound in whole grain wheat and rye.

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Energy & Environmental Systems weekly seminars

This spring, the Department of Energy and Environmental Systems will hold weekly seminars conducted by its doctoral students. All seminars will be held on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to noon. The location will vary between Fort IRC Room 410 and Gibbs 307.

The first seminar is this Thursday, Jan. 29, in Gibbs 307.

The seminars will cover a broad range of disciplines and topics, including carbon sequestration modeling, smart grid systems, sustainability in higher education, natural products’ immunotherapy effects on cancer, and topics relating to the NSF CREST Bioenergy Center and NSF Engineering Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials.

Dates and topics for the entire series follow the jump.

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N.C. A&T awarded $1.6 million to increase cybersecurity research and education

U.S. Department of Energy logoAs cyber attacks become more powerful and frequent, North Carolina A&T State University is again expanding its graduate-level cybersecurity program.

A national initiative announced Thursday will provide funding for the Department of Computer Science to expand enrollment in its master’s and doctoral programs. The growth comes just a year after the department admitted its first students at the Ph.D. level.

N.C. A&T will work with 12 other historically black colleges and universities and two national laboratories to dramatically grow the workforce of professionals, researchers and academics prepared to lead the nation’s defense against cyber attacks.

The project will be funded by the federal Cybersecurity Workforce Pipeline Consortium, a program to spark interest in cybersecurity in students from elementary school to graduate school.  The $25 million, five-year program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration.

A&T will be involved at the master’s and doctorate levels. Graduates from the other colleges and universities will study and conduct research at A&T.

Research will focus on cyber-identity protection and privacy in addition to cybersecurity in general.

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John Deere again offers lean training to students

Deere logoStudents in agriculture, business, engineering, and technology can apply now for the seventh annual John Deere/N.C. A&T Lean Academy. The 40-hour course will be held January 5-9 in Price Hall. It includes three days of instruction and project-based activities and a two-day visit to John Deere’s facility at N.C. State University.

The Lean Academy program teaches participants how to add value with lean processes and apply them throughout their careers. For a look at how one John Deere unit applies lean manufacturing and continuous improvement, click here.

More than 200 A&T students have graduated from the academy in the last six years. It is hosted by the Department of Applied Engineering  Technology in the School of Technology. Click here for the brochure and application.