Category Archives: Biotechnology

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. 


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

Sen. Hagan tours Engineering Research Center, promotes her bill to support innovation at HBCUs

Sen. Hagan speaking to reporters

Sen. Kay Hagan speaks to reporters at the Fort IRC.

Sen. Hagan and news media photographers in research lab

Sen. Hagan listens to Wayne Szafranski of A&T in the Engineering Research Center’s  Material Processing and Characterization Lab.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is promoting innovation at historically black universities, and on Monday she brought the news media to N.C. A&T for a close-up look at what she’s talking about.

Accompanied by a group of national and local reporters and, photographers, and videographers, Sen. Hagan toured the NSF Engineering Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials and then held a news conference to talk about her bill to create a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Innovation Fund.

The Engineering Research Center is developing an advanced magnesium alloy to make screws, plates, and other implantable devices that could hold broken or surgically repaired bones in place for healing and then dissolve and pass out of the body when they’re no longer needed.

The technology could eliminate the need in many cases for either surgical removal or for patients to carry metal parts in their bones for a lifetime.

Sen. Hagan was joined in her news conference by Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. and two A&T bioengineering grad students, Adrienne Daley and Roman Blount.

Continue reading

Visiting Fulbright biochemical engineer to speak: Bio-inspired look at energy and environment issues

What: “A bio-inspired journey through some research challenges of energy and environment,” a lecture by Dr. Ramkrishna Sen, Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Columbia University.

When, where, etc: Tuesday April 15, 2014, 11 a.m. to noon, Fort IRC, Room 410. There is no charge for the workshop.  Fulbright campus representatives and interested faculty are encouraged to attend.  To reserve a seat please email Brendan McKennedy.

Background: Dr. Ramkrishna Sen is an associate professor in the Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. He is currently working as Fulbright Visiting Faculty in the Department of Earth & Environmental Engineering, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Sciences at Columbia University.

Dr. Sen is a biochemical engineer by training and profession. He has been engaged in R&D in energy and the environment and healthcare. His team has been working on the process development and optimization for antitumor, broad-spectrum antimicrobial and biofilm-disrupting biosurfactants of marine bacterial origin; biosurfactant-enhanced remediation of heavy metals and polyaromatic hydrocarbons; biosurfactant-mediated MEOR and nano-particle synthesis; bioethanol from lignocellulosic biomass; biodiesel from microalgal lipid and non-conventional vegetable oils and algae based CO2 capture & sequestration (CCS) from flue gas coupled with waste water treatment.

The Outreach Lecturing Fund allows Fulbright Visiting Scholars who are currently in the United States to travel to other higher education institutions across the country.  Each year some 800 faculty and professionals from around the world receive Fulbright Scholar grants for advanced research and university lecturing.  The fund allows these scholars to share their specific research interests; speak on the history and culture of their home country; exchange ideas with U.S. students, faculty and community organizations; become better acquainted with U.S. higher education; and create linkages between their home and host institutions and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.

The metallic biomaterials revolution will be televised and it’s going to be on tonight, actually, on UNC-TV

Screenshot of UNC-TV webpage with video

Watch it tonight on UNC-TV or why not watch it now by clicking the picture to go to the network’s website.

UNC-TV is offering viewers of “North Carolina Now” an inside look at the revolutionary developments being fomented in the Engineering Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials.  Next-generation implantable medical devices … bioresorbable magnesium alloys … A&T faculty and student researchers … great stuff.

The report will air tonight on the program, which is on at 7:30 on UNC-TV stations across the state.

But those of us who live in the 21st century and are no longer accustomed to waiting around for TV shows to come on can watch it now at the UNC-TV website.  Note: The video works just fine on most browsers (including Android, Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari), but your results may vary on Firefox or the Lotus Notes Browser.


Clean-energy developer Adewuyi, other faculty honored with 2014 Research Excellence Awards

A nationally recognized pioneer in clean-energy development has been named Senior Researcher of the Year at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Over a career of more than 25 years, Dr. Yusuf “Debo” Adewuyi has skillfully fused chemical engineering and environmental science to explore new dimensions of energy production, including the use of nanoscale materials and sound-wave technology for pollution control.

Dr. Adewuyi is one of five individual researchers and one research team selected this year for N.C. A&T’s highest research honor, the Research Excellence Awards. In addition to Dr. Adewuyi, the honorees are:

  • Dr. Justin Zhan, Department of Computer Science, Outstanding Junior Researcher;
  • Dr. Stephanie Kelly, Department of Business Education, and Dr. Lifeng Zhang, Department of Nanoengineering at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, co-winners of the Rookie of the Year award;
  • Dr. Salil Desai, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Intellectual Property Award; and
  • The NSF CREST Bioenergy Center, Interdisciplinary Team Award.

They were chosen from a field consisting of faculty members selected as researchers of the year by their colleges and schools. The winners and nominees will be honored Friday April 11 at the annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence.

Details on the winners follow the jump.

Continue reading