Category Archives: Grant of the Month

3 diverse new research projects at N.C. A&T explore blood-brain barrier, risk management, wheat bran

Three new research projects at N.C. A&T aim to explore the weakening of the blood-brain barrier in  Alzheimer’s disease patients, to apply risk management to supply chain logistics, and to find a way to make dietary fiber taste better.

The projects are the first ones funded at A&T for each of the three principal investigators. All were funded in October.  They were among 29 new or continuing projects receiving external funding during the month, totaling more than $10 million.

The complete list of projects receiving external sponsored funding in October

The projects are (click the links for one-page summaries):

  • “Brain pericyte and amyloid-beta peptide interaction,” Dr. Donghui Zhu, Department of Bioengineering, $142,000, National Institutes of Health. One hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease is a compromised blood-brain barrier  characterized by significant reductions in critically important pericyte cells on the exterior walls of endothelia.  Our long-term goal is to determine the role of brain pericytes in the development of Alzheiner’s disease and to develop drugs to preserve pericytes functioning in Alzheimer’s patients.
  • “Understanding Risks and Disruptions in Supply Chains and their Effect on Firm and Supply Chain Performance,” Dr. Mahour Mellat-Parast, Department of Applied Engineering Technology, $200,000, National Science Foundation. This project provides the first comprehensive view of managing risks and disruptions within supply chains in different industries with respect to the stage and scope of the risk. As such, it facilitates the formation and establishment of an integrative discipline (risk engineering/risk management) utilizing engineering, technology, and management foundations.
  • “Modification of Wheat and Corn Brans by Microfluidization Process,” Dr. Guibing Chen, Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies, N.C. Research Campus, $299,000, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Numerous studies indicate that dietary fiber plays a protective role against obesity, but it’s difficult for anyone eating a typical Western diet to consumer adequate fiber.  Research is needed to improve sensory properties of high-fiber foods and to enhance the fiber ingredients’ nutritional value. We propose to modify physicochemical and nutritional properties of wheat and corn brans using a microfluidization process. This technique will significantly improve palatability and nutritional value.

5 major new research projects at N.C. A&T

An array of new research, education and community engagement projects at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University will result in new services for young victims of trauma, research on preventing colon cancer, and a new joint program in astronomy to be conducted with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  New programs in social computing and bioengineering are also under way.

Five  of the top new research projects funded recently at North Carolina A&T:

The complete list of projects receiving external sponsored funding in September

The N.C. A&T grant of the month for August 2012: Health Informatics Security and Privacy Program

NSF logoThe Sponsored Funding Report for August:

N.C. A&T received 13 grants totaling $6.59 million in August.

The complete list of grants received in August.

One highlight of the month’s funding was $29,640 from the National Science Foundation toward a $329,000 grant to Dr. Dorothy Yuan of  the Department of Computer Science.  The project is titled, “Targeted Infusion Project Grant: Developing Health Informatics Security and Privacy Program.” Working with Dr. Yuan on the project are Drs. Gerry Dozier of the Department of Computer  Science; Hong Wang, Department of Management; Jinsheng Xu, Department of Computer Science; Justin Zhan, Department of Computer Science; and Kossi Edoh, Department of Mathematics.

The issue: Health informatics is one of the economy’s largest growth areas. With the government’s growing interest in electronic health records and with the growing investment by healthcare organizations in technology, there is an increasing demand for health informatics and health information technology professionals. To make health information systems secure,  the systems’ designers and administrators must be well educated in information assurance, with an understanding of security, privacy, integrity and reliability.

Abstract: The goal of this project is to establish a concentration in Health Informatics Security and Privacy in the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program. This interdisciplinary project will be a  joint effort of  the departments of Computer Science,  Management, and Mathematics.

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The N.C. A&T grant of the month for July: $239,000 to increase minority engineering grads

US Dept_of_Education_LogoThe Sponsored Funding Report for July:

N.C. A&T received eight grants totaling $512,946 in July.  One highlight of the funding was a grant worth $239,950 from the U.S. Department of Education to Dr. Stephanie Luster-Teasley of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering.  Other faculty members involved in the project are Clay Gloster, Leotis Parrish, Matthew McCullough, and Ronnie Bailey.

The complete list of grants received in July.

The project: ENGAGE 2BE Engineers: Engaging the Next Generation of African-American Graduates Entering Biomedical, Biological and Environmental Engineering Careers

The issue: The numbers of under-represented minority engineering students continue to remain low in comparison to the representation in the general population. Despite efforts to increase the diversity of the engineering profession, at the national level African
Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics collectively represent only 11% of students completing BS level engineering degrees.  The total percentage of undergraduate students pursuing engineering degrees in the United States has increased very modestly over the last 10 years. Compared to other nations such as China and India, the United States falls significantly behind in production of BS level engineers. It is clear that engineering as well as other STEM fields must attract more students to meet the future demand for STEM professionals.

Abstract:  The goal of the ENGAGE 2BE Engineers proposal is to focus on providing mentoring, academic support, stipends and professional development for students at North Carolina A&T State University interested in pursuing careers in Biomedical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. The proposal seeks to develop a program within the College of Engineering focused on:

1) Increasing the number of minority students who complete college and are academically prepared to pursue graduate degrees in biomedical, biological and environmental engineering.

2) Provide support, mentoring and on-campus resources to increase retention and persistence of non-traditional and high-needs students who may have additional challenges — such as students with disabilities, students from low-income families, students from immigrant and migrant worker families, and students with children — enrolled in the departments of Chemical and Bioengineering (CBEN) and Civil, Architectural, Agricultural and Environmental Engineering (CAAE). This support will be in the form of academic mentoring, motivation, and advisement to assist their progression and acclimation at A&T and in the CBEN or CAAE

3) Implement data management methods to increase real-time advising and mentoring, and

4) Establish a sustainable mentoring program that will continue to serve students in CBEN and CAAE thus increasing the number of  underrepresented students and high-needs/non-traditional A&T students who graduate with STEM undergraduate degrees long-term.

N.C. A&T grant of the month: Monitoring strucutral integrity of armor, weapons

U.S. Army logoThe Sponsored Funding Report for June:

N.C. A&T received 23 grants totaling $17.19 million in June.

The complete list of grants received in June.

One highlight was a grant worth $616,956 from the Army Research Office to Dr. Mannur Sundaresan of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.  Dr. Albert Esterline of the Department of Computer Science also will work on the project.

The project: Prognostic Health Management of DoD Assets

The issue: Acoustic emission-based structural health monitoring techniques have great potential for determining the current state of health of critical structures, such as Army vehicles and weapons systems, and predicting their future performance.  However, current technology relies mostly on empirical approaches for interpreting AE signals, a technique that has been plagued by ambiguity and false positives.

With a better understanding of the physics of acoustic emission (AE) signal propagation and the development of signal processing techniques, AE-based techniques can play a larger role in developing highly efficient, adaptive, and survivable vehicles, armor, and machinery and the assurance of their safety and integrity.

Abstract:  This research will develop numerical models, experiments, algorithms, web architectures, and other tools applicable to prognostic health management. The research will address identification of critical damage states in composite structural elements and strategies for sensing such states with multiple sensors.

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N.C. A&T grant of the month for April and May: $131,000 for cell-based toxicity assay-on-chip

The Sponsored Funding Report for April and May:

N.C. A&T received 26 grants totaling $2.61 million in April and May.

The complete list of grants received in April and May.

Logo for Semiconductor Research Corp.One highlight of the funding was a grant worth $131,000 from the Semiconductor Research Corp. to Dr. Shyam Aravamudhan of the Department of Nanoenigneering at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.  Dr. Aravamudhan is an A&T faculty member.

The project: Cell-based toxicity assay-on-chip for the next-generation CMOS technology

The issue: It is recognized that the unique quantum properties of engineered nanomaterials (ENs) strongly influence their physico-chemical properties, resulting in novel electrical, optical, thermal and magnetic properties not present in their corresponding bulk counterparts. For example, nanostructures’ huge surface area to volume ratio make them not only more reactive and but uniquely applicable for next-generation devices, including for implantable CMOS. This large surface area is just one of the many factors that alter nanostructures’ biological interfaces. Other aspects include their size, shape, surface functionality, charge, composition (organic, inorganic or hybrid), aggregation, solubility. Because of the widely tunable sizes and compositions, ENs can dynamically modify under different biological and environmental conditions, thus limiting options for uniform nano-bio interactions and standardization.

Abstract:  The objective of this project is to establish a robust, rapid throughput and high-content screening platform to study biological interactions of ENs implemented on a beyond-CMOS substrate, including their potential toxicities due to their unique physico-chemical properties at the nano-scale. Towards this objective, we propose a multi-faceted exercise beyond the traditional singular-focus efforts involving a multi-disciplinary group of researchers from nanoengineering, nano-biophysics, nanochemistry and toxicology. An over-arching goal is to develop a new approach of scientific integration where nano-ESH is an integral part of EN design rather than a post facto add-on.

The N.C. A&T grant of the month for March: $148,000 for autonomic small satellite systems

NASA logoThe Sponsored Funding Report for March:

N.C. A&T received 12 grants totaling $381,947 in March.

One highlight of March’s funding was a grant worth $148,078 from NASA to Dr. William Edmonson, Langley Professor of Electrical Engineering, for research in support of the cooperative agreement for the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA).

The complete list of grants received in March.

The project:  Edmonson is founder of the NIA Center for Reliable Autonomic Small Satellite Systems. The center performs research to increase the reliability of small satellites in the pico/nano/micro-class and to reduce the design-build-launch cycle from roughly 10 years to perhaps two.  Such satellites could weigh 50 kilograms or less.  They could perform a variety of functions, including earth monitoring, disaster management and space science.

One possible benefit could be providing cost-effective access to space due to the small volume and mass, thus allowing universities to develop, build, and launch such satellites as part of their research program.

NIA is a non-profit research and graduate education institute that conducts aerospace and atmospheric research and develops both new technologies and the next generation of scientists and engineers. In addition to N.C. A&T, its member institutions are Georgia Tech, Hampton University, N. C. State University, the University of Maryland, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation. NIA is a partner of the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

The N.C. A&T grant of the month for February: Improving computational fluid dynamics

Logo: National Institute of AerospaceThe Sponsored Funding Report for February:

N.C. A&T received 21 grants totaling $1.45 million in February.  One highlight of February’s s funding was a grant worth $115,258 from the National Institute of Aerospace to Dr. Nail Yamaleev of the Department of Mathematics.

The complete list of grants received in February.

The project: Improvements of Unstructured Finite Volume Solutions for Turbulent Flows

The issue: Current computational fluid dynamics solutions provide insufficient accuracy in predicting complex turbulent flows involving, for example, flow separation and shear layers. The flow separation entails significant energy losses and limits the performance of many aerodynamic systems. Reliable prediction and control of flow separation is absolutely critical for meeting targeted vehicle aerodynamic efficiency, especially at off-design conditions. Widely recognized limitations of current computational and optimization approaches are deterioration of accuracy of gradients and finite-volume solutions on curved highly anisotropic grids typical for high-Reynolds-number flow computations and large computational and storage costs associated with solution of the primary and adjoint flow equations.

Accurate and efficient prediction and optimization of separated flows can lead to significant reduction in the lift-to-drag ratio, thus improving performance, reducing fuel consumption, extending the flight envelope, and enhancing aircraft survivability. Improved accuracy and efficiency of turbulent flow solutions will lead to practical computational tools that are capable of capturing the complex physics present in various aerodynamic applications that are of interest to NASA including rotary and fixed-wing vehicles across all speed regimes.

Abstract: Research to be performed on this project will be directed to enhance the state-of-the art unstructured Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation and optimization methodologies implemented in NASA’s code, FUN3D. The overall efforts focus on improving accuracy and efficiency of unstructured finite-volume methods and reduced-order models.

In Task 1, novel effective computational approaches will be studied to provide significant improvements in accuracy of gradient reconstruction and finite-volume solutions with no appreciable increase in complexity.

Task 2 will be concerned with development of efficient and scalable convergence acceleration methods that significantly reduce the turn-around time required for practical large-scale aerodynamic simulations.

Task 3 is aimed at reduction of the storage and computational costs by extending reduced-order models based the proper orthogonal decomposition to unsteady flows with shocks.

The N.C. A&T grant of the month for January: Dietary flavonoids vs. pathogenic link to diabetes

The Sponsored Funding Report for January:

N.C. A&T received 11 grants totaling $1.80 million in January.

One highlight of January’s s funding was a grant worth $489,884 from the USDA Agricultural and Food Initiative to Dr. Shengmin Sang of the Center for Excellence in Post Harvest Technologies, located ta the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis.

The project:  Dietary flavonoids inhibit the formation of advanced glycation end products by trapping reactive dicarbonyl compounds: An in vivo study

The issue: Increasing evidence has identified the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) as a major pathogenic link between hyperglycemia and diabetes-related complications.

Abstract: As the precursor of AGEs, methylglyoxal (MGO) and glyoxal (GO) are observed at relative higher levels (2-6 fold) in diabetic patients’ plasma than in healthy people’s plasma and are also found in many food products, beverages and cigarette smoke. Chronic intake of exogenous MGO has been demonstrated as the cause factor for the development of diabetes. Therefore, decreasing the levels of MGO and GO will be an effective approach to reduce the formation of AGEs and the development of diabetic complications. Our recent studies show that dietary flavonoids can inhibit the formation of AGEs by trapping MGO. Based on our previous and preliminary data, the hypothesis of this project is that dietary flavonoids can trap reactive dicarbonyls and thus inhibit the formation of AGEs and prevent the development of diabetes and diabetic complications under in vivo conditions. The present study will provide important information on the in vivo effectiveness of flavonoids in decreasing the levels of AGEs by trapping exogenous and endogenous MGO and GO.

The complete list of grants received in January (xlsx file)

The N.C. A&T grant of the month for December: Conservation agriculture in two Asian nations

FLAG -- CambodiaThe Sponsored Funding Report for December:

N.C. A&T received 10 grants totaling $581,095 in December.  One highlight of the month’s  FLAG -- Phillipinesfunding was a supplemental grant of $265,559 to Dr. Manuel Reyes of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design from the U.S. Agency for International Development through Virginia Tech University. Dr. Osei -Agyemang Yeboah is co-investigator on the grant.  This funding is for the third year of the five-year program.

The complete list of grants received in December (xlsx file).

The project:  Conservation Agriculture for Food Security in Cambodia and the Philippines

The issue: Degraded landscapes are expanding annually in Cambodia and the Philippines. Agricultural productivity is decreased, which, in turn, heightens food insecurity and exacerbates poverty. These conditions further stress and deplete the “last capital” for the poor, namely forest and soil.

Abstract: Through science-based research, we will show that conservation agriculture (CA) principles and practice of minimal soil disturbance, continuous mulching and diverse species rotations, constitute the best ‘tool box’ to create sustainable permanent cropping systems for annual crop production under wet tropical conditions. These reverse soil degradation, increase crop yield and profits and reduce the labor burden on women. To enhance the biophysical and socio-economic impacts of CA, pilot extension networks will quantify contributions of microcredit and mechanization access, farmer organizations and contract farming. In two years more than 200 households covering 200 ha will be practicing conservation agriculture in Battambang, Cambodia. In the Philippines, the Landcare-organized farmer groups with membership of >10,000 will facilitate wider acceptance of CA among smallholder farmers. This research will involve graduating 4 PhD and 4 MS students, and training 3 research technicians under the supervision of scientists from agricultural research institutions in Cambodia, Philippines, Europe and USA. Textbooks on CA will be prepared and a course on CA taught in Cambodia, the Philippines and the USA.

For more on the project, see Page 19 of the Spring 2011 issue of Evolution, the N.C. A&T research magazine.