Monthly Archives: January 2014

Bioenergy seminar: New Catalytic Approaches for the Production of Renewable Fuels and Chemicals

Seminar hosted by the Department of Energy and Environmental Systems and the NSF CREST Bioenergy Center:

Title: Process Development and Design of New Catalytic Approaches for the Production of Renewable Fuels and Chemicals

Where and when: Thursday, February 6, 11 a.m. to noon, New Science Building, Room 200

All EES CREST and Sustainable Bioproducts students must attend this seminar.  Others are welcome as well to hear this accomplished catalysis engineer and scientist.

Dr. George W. Huber

Huber

Speaker: Dr. George W. Huber, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Huber’s research focus is on breaking the chemical and engineering barriers to lignocellulosic biofuels.  He is the co-founder of Anellotech, a biofuel company focused on commercializing catalytic fast pyrolysis, a new technology developed by Dr. Huber’s research group to convert biomass into gasoline-range aromatics.  His discovery of Raney-NiSn catalyst for hydrogen production from biomass-derived oxygenates was named as one of top 50 technology breakthroughs of 2003 by Scientific American.

Abstract: This presentation discuss different approaches for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals that are being developed in the Huber research group.  The presentation will highlight some of the challenges and future opportunities for future process development and design of new catalytic approaches.

Renewable aromatics and olefins can be produced from biomass by catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP). The aromatics can be used as a feedstock to make renewable polymers including polycarbonates, polyurethanes, polystyrenes, and polyethylene terephthalates.

CFP involves the direct production of aromatics from biomass in a single catalytic step. Solid biomass is fed into a fluidized bed reactor, where the solid biomass thermally decomposes. The biomass vapors enter a zeolite catalyst, where a series of dehydration, decarbonylation and oligomerization reactions occur to form aromatics, olefins, CO, CO2, coke and water. Coke is formed from homogeneous decomposition reactions or catalytic reactions inside the zeolite.

Fundamental catalytic studies with model compounds combined with in-situ and temperature-programmed techniques have aided in the design of improved zeolite catalysts for CFP. Hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) is a platform technology used to convert liquid biomass feedstocks (including aqueous carbohydrates, pyrolysis oils, and aqueous enzymatic products) into alkanes, alcohols and polyols. In this process the biomass feed reacts with hydrogen to produce water and a deoxygenated product using a bifunctional catalyst that contains both metal and acid sites. The challenge with HDO is to selectively produce targeted products that can be used as fuel blendstocks or chemicals and to decrease the hydrogen consumption.

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A&T at the North Carolina Research Campus: Finding new ways to keep healthy food healthy

Dr. Leonard Williams on foodborne illnesses:

“Pathogens cause a lot of deaths, sickness and hospitalization, which results in a tremendous economic burden with loss of work and doctor visits and on the food industry with recalls and lawsuits. It exponentially compounds itself to where it’s (foodborne illness) probably one of the most costly to treat. It is something we hope to help find a remedy for through the research in this center.”

From a video interview and news report at the website of the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, home of the N.C. A&T Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies.

Atherosclerosis, insulin resistance and diet

This week’s Engineering Research Center-Bioengineering Joint Seminar, Friday January 31, 11 a.m., McNair Hall, Auditorium:

Topic: Atherosclerosis in Insulin Resistant Pigs Fed a High Fat – High NaCl Diet

Speaker: Timothy C. Nichols, MD, Professor of Medicine, Pathology & Lab Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Nichols is the Director of the Francis Owen Blood Research Laboratory.  The lab focuses on bleeding, thrombosis and atherosclerosis through the study of  genetically determined animal models. He is a board-certified adult cardiologist with experience as an invasive and interventional cardiologist. His research and clinical interests are hemorrhage, hemostasis, thrombosis, and atherosclerosis research in animal models and in clinical medicine.

Abstract: The increasing prevalence of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes is likely to be attended by a significant increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD). Insulin resistance (IR) is defined as a decreased biological response to normal concentrations of serum insulin that over time leads to compensatory hypersinsulinemia.

Insulin resistant and diabetic humans often develop diffuse coronary atherosclerosis involving long arterial segments and including multiple distal lesions.  These patients require intensive medical therapy, and their lesions are less amenable to angioplasty, stent placement, surgical reconstruction, or bypass.  Often disease progression outside of the stented segment of the coronary artery or bypass insertion site limits the duration of benefit in patients with IR and diabetes, and even the most aggressive medical treatment regimens do not lower the risk for CVD to the non-diabetic level.

These findings strongly suggest that available treatments are not addressing key pathophysiological mechanisms that, when activated in these patients, augment the development of atherosclerosis. Thus, we developed a relevant pig model of insulin resistance that also exhibits severe and diffuse coronary and aortic atherosclerosis for future mechanistic-oriented and intervention studies.

A&T Research Excellence Award nominations open

Group photo: the 2013 winners

The 2013 Research Excellence Award winners: (top row, left to right) Dr. Justin Zhan, Dr. Paula Faulkner, Dr. Osei-Agyeman Yeboah, Dr. Lifeng Zhang, and (front row, left to right) Dr. Inez Tuck, Dr. Kelly Graves, Dr. Rosalyn Lang-Walker, and Dr. Schenita Davis Randolph.

North Carolina A&T’s most outstanding researchers are recognized each April with the Research Excellence Awards.  For 2014 there again are five categories:

  • Senior Research of the Year: Recognizing outstanding research and/or creative activity by tenured faculty members who have been at the university at least three years.
  • Outstanding Junior Researcher of the Year: Honoring tenure-track faculty members in at least their third year of service at A&T and who are currently involved in research and show promise of making a significant contribution to their field.
  • Rookie of the Year: Recognizing the work of a tenure-track faculty member in his or her second year of service at N.C. A&T.
  • Intellectual Property Award: Recognizing researchers’ work to disseminate, commercialize or publish intellectual property created in the course of their research or creative activity.
  • Interdisciplinary Team Award: Honoring research projects that break down the traditional boundaries of academic disciplines.

Deadlines and key dates:

  • Departments must submit all nominees to to colleges and schools by close of business Monday February 24, 2014.
  • Colleges and schools must submit all of their nominees to the Division of Research and Economic Development by close of business Monday March 3.
  • Winners will be announced Tuesday, April 1.
  • Winners will be recognized at the Research Excellence Awards dinner  on Friday April 11.

Click here for details, including eligibility, guidelines, and nomination forms.

McNair Commemorative Symposium 2014

McNair 2014 flyerThe Annual Ronald E. McNair Commemorative Celebration commemorates the life and accomplishments of the late Dr. Ronald E. McNair, N.C. A&T class of 1971.  The Symposium provides undergraduate and faculty scholars the opportunity to present research findings; hear and view cutting edge research findings; and network with other scholars and grad school representatives.

This year’s speakers:

  • Dr. Calvin Mackie, managing partner, Channel ZerO Group, LLC
  • Dr. Julian Earls, executive in residence, Cleveland State University, and Director,  NASA Glenn Research Center
  • Dr. Robin N. Coger, Dean of the College of Engineering, and
  • Dr. Barry Burks, Vice Chancellor, Division of Research and Economic Development.

Click here for more information.

Weekly Biology seminar: Nanobioelectronics

This week’s Department of Biology weekly seminar,  Wednesday January 29, noon, Barnes Hall, Room 221:

Topic: Nanobioelectronics: Convergence of Microsystems, Nanotechnology and Bioengineering

Speaker: Dr. Shyam Aravamudhan, Assistant  Professor, Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering

Abstract: Nanobioelectronics is an emerging field at the intersection of semiconductor nano/microfabrication, biology, and electronics, with the goal of novel devices for disease diagnostics, regenerative medicine, and even for advanced computing. In this talk, Dr. Aravamudhan will present the current work being done in the lab in this emerging field with a particular emphasis on (a) multi-modal diagnostic device-on-chip, (b) microsystem-based regenerative tissue engineering and (c) methods to understand toxicity of engineering nanomaterials.

Self-plagiarism: Is there really a problem with it? (Spoiler alert: Yeah, there is, and it’s a serious one)

Title page of self-plagiarism white paper from iThenticate“Writers often claim that because they are the authors, they can reuse their work, either in full or in excerpts, over and over again. How can republishing one’s own work be defined as plagiarism if the author has only used his or her own words and ideas?”

It depends on the kind of writing you’re doing. In marketing, for example, the best way to stay consistent and on-message is to use the same words over and over when you write, say, a webpage, a brochure, and your boss’s presentation for a trade show.

But you are a scholar, a researcher. You’re held to a different and higher standard. There’s an expectation that everything you publish is not only your own work but also new, fresh, and original. And that makes it an entirely different matter.

To make it clear just how different, the Office of Research Compliance and Ethics has posted a white paper on self-plagiarism on its website. The paper was produced by iThenticate, a producer of professional plagiarism detection and prevention software (it compares manuscripts against a database of over 43 billion web pages and 130 million content items). The quotes above and below are from the white paper.

“This white paper explores the definition of self-plagiarism, how it crosses into copyright laws and ethical issues, and the different ways an author can avoid this increasingly controversial act of scholarly misconduct.”

N.C. A&T uses iThenticate as a check against plagiarism, accidental or not, selfie or not, on research proposals.  It has helped a number of researchers avoid problems.

Click here for the white paper. And be careful out there.