Category Archives: Faculty

Inclusive research validity gives us the whole truth about the systems we study and their diverse users

A guest post by Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson, professor and chair, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Picture of Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson

Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson

All systems are human systems, and human-systems engineering cannot advance effectively without knowledge of multicultural factors that influence system design and evaluation.

Many of us have used research designs that do not focus on the potential contributing factors that are associated with multicultural users, multicultural contexts, or multicultural ecosystems. Inclusive research validity rests on the premise that the researcher is conducting research activities, analyzing data, and translating results that, when generalized, speak truth for diverse users and ecosystems.

This is discussed extensively in many documents, one of which is a well-intentioned book by me and my co-authors (Resnick and Johnson), titled “Cultural Ergonomics: Theory, Methods, and Applications.” If the target users are diverse (gender, age, generation, ethnicity, nationality, race, religion, geographic region, etc.), then it is our responsibility as scientists and engineers to pay due diligence to inclusive research validity.

This applies to almost every system we design. I cannot think of one system where all users are exactly the same on all human attributes – impossible. Yet we continue to conduct analyses that are not telling the whole truth, and we continue to publish work (under peer review) that is accepted without reporting the sample demographics or testing for individual or important group differences.

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N.C. A&T to lead $5 million USAF research project on controlling teams of unmanned military vehicles

A $5 million grant from the U.S. Air Force will fund a research team led by North Carolina A&T State University that will develop control systems for a new dimension in battlefield strategy: large teams of unmanned vehicles.

The five-year project will expand the use of autonomous vehicles, such as drones, to a larger and more diverse scale.

The vision is to manage future battlefields with autonomous vehicles working together in the air, on the ground and/or underwater. The vehicles could be controlled remotely by human operators or they could maneuver autonomously in complex environments. Teams of autonomous vehicles working in concert with soldiers, sailors and fliers would be capable of a variety of cooperative missions, such as surveillance and reconnaissance.

“The concept of systems of vehicles is new,” says Dr. Abdollah Homaifar, Duke Energy Eminent Professor of computer engineering at N.C. A&T and leader of the project. “It’s about teaming and cooperation among the autonomous vehicles.

“Teams of these vehicles could provide an advantage on the battlefield, but we need to learn how to move beyond controlling, for example, one drone at a time, and how they can work together. These are complex systems that will operate together in extreme conditions.”

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New IEEE chapter in Triad led by N.C. A&T engineer to focus on communications and signal processing

Headshot of Dr. Aghah

Dr. Fatemeh Afghah

A new chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) has been established in the Piedmont Triad, led by Dr. Fatemeh Afghah, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina A&T State University.

The new group is a joint chapter of the IEEE Communications Society and IEEE Signal Processing for the Central North Carolina Section.

IEEE is the world’s largest association of technical professionals for the advancement of technology with more than 400,000 worldwide. The Central North Carolina section covers the Piedmont Triad area, including Greensboro, High Point and Burlington.

As a part of the chapter’s activities, leaders in communications and signal processing societies will be invited to present recent advances in communication and signal processing technologies to students, electrical engineers and professional members in the Piedmont Triad area. The chapter will receive up to $7,000 and support from IEEE to organize technical and professional lectures.

To become a member or to learn more about chapter activities, contact Afghah or go to http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r3/cnc/index.html.

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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Welcome back! Here’s a summer news recap: Hypoallergenic peanuts, EPICS, NC TraCS & more

To all who were gone over the summer, welcome back. Here’s a rundown of the top research-related news at A&T since May:

Faculty members, department chairs, and deans: We want to write about your research, scholarly and creative activity!  Let us know about it; click here for email.

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.