Category Archives: Grant of the Month

The N.C. A&T grant of the month for November: Improving availability, reliability of data centers

Old Dominion Freight Line logoThe Sponsored Funding Report for November:

N.C. A&T received 16 grants totaling $2.16 million in November.  One highlight of November’s funding was an equipment grant worth $183, 200 from Old Dominion Freight Line of Thomasville to Dr. Larry Burton of the Department of Electronics, Computer and Information Technology and co-investigators Dr. Ibraheem Kateeb, Dr. Robert Cobb, Dr. Craig Rhodes, Dr. Cameron Seay, Dr. Li-Shiang Tsay, and Dr. Tony Graham.

The project:  Improving the Availability, Reliability and Cost Efficiency of Data Centers

The issue: In the last decade, leading edge enterprises adopted server consolidation to address the growing pains of constantly expanding enterprise data centers. In server consolidation, the operating system and applications of a computer server installation are emulated by a single software program known as a virtual machine. Consolidation comes when several virtual machines run on a single computer, yielding dramatic reductions in data center costs. The most recent trend is to extend the use of virtual machines to emulate desktop computers. A few to several thousand virtual machines can run on groups of connected computers, called clusters, to share computer processing power. The resultant amortization of processing demands yields both cost and performance benefits; such installations are called computer clouds. Leveraging virtualization and cloud computing demands similar performance enhancements in computer networking, especially in wireless mobility.

Abstract: This project aims to improve data center management techniques for better information availability, reliability, security, and cost effciency. The broader impacts of this project include development of advanced IT skills in the Triad workforce. This project will enhance learning outcomes of enterprise computing technology students at N.C. A&T, area community colleges, and high schools by engaging students in applied research and providing hands-on experienced-based learning. Additionally, availability of a skilled IT workforce will expand the Triad economy by assisting the expansion of existing enterprises and attracting new information technology dependent enterprises to relocate to the Triad.

Growth at Old Dominion Freight Lines (ODFL) necessitates the relocation of the present Disaster Recovery (DR) center in Greensboro to a newly constructed center located in Thomasville. The present DR site is fully functional and equipped with modern equipment comparable to most other corporate DR sites. The relocation provides a unique opportunity for ODFL and N.C. A&T. This project proposes that ODFL make a grant of the existing DR center to NCA&T SU and to Davidson County Community College (DCCC) for the purpose of establishing a state-of-the-art IT data center research and experience-based learning labs. The grant to DCCC is separate from this proposal, but the two labs are expected to collaborate in research on best practices of remote data replication and security.

A primary goal of this project is to involve undergraduate students in applied research. To this end, students will dismantle the existing DR center under the supervision of the investigators, then re-assemble the equipment on the N.C. A&T campus in a research and teaching lab in Smith Hall. The lab will be constructed as a standalone facility, independent of the campus IT network. This isolation allows the researchers to experiment with alternative network, power, and security configurations, without disruption to the production network. On occasion, qualified configurations may be installed in the campus data center for long term evaluation.

This project proposal is an equipment-only request. The establishment of a dedicated data center laboratory for research will provide researchers a competitive edge to request additional funding for support of additional investigations. As such, ODFL will be a catalyst for sustained research at N.C. A&T with measurable impact to the Triad economy and beyond.

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

The N.C. A&T grant of the month for October: Nano iron vs. contamination, hog manure odor

The Sponsored Funding Report for October:

N.C. A&T received 23 grants totaling $5.65 million in October.  That total includes supplemental funding for two major research projects, the Center for Aviation Safety ($785,000 from NASA) and the Center for Advanced Studies in Identity Sciences ($485,000 from the Army Research Office).

One highlight of October’s s funding was a grant worth $299, 928 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to Dr. Muchha Reddy of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design.

The project:  Remediation of Contaminated Soils and Water and Swine Manure Odor Reduction Using Nano Size Iron Particles

The issue: The contamination of soil and water renders them unfit for human use as well as animal and plant dependence.

Abstract: Several forms of Fe have been tested to reduce and remove chromates. Zero-valent iron (ZVI) particles are effective in the remediation purpose. The approach in solving the above said problem is unique as we synthesize the metal powders using liquid polyols such as ethylene glycol under microwave hydrothermal conditions. Microwaves have been used to synthesize ceramics and metal powders. The process is eco-friendly and low input demanding, yielding high purity metal particles.

Remediation of contaminated soils and water using nano metal particles synthesized in this fashion is an innovation in itself. Another novel approach in this project is the application of ZVI particles to swine manure to reduce NH 3 emissions from composting there by eliminating the foul odor. This will encourage establishment of more swine units to help small farmers and at the same time eliminate the taboo of applying swine manure to crops. Nano particles will be synthesized using microwave system (MARS 5). Synthesized nano particles will be characterized using XRD (X-ray diffraction), SEM (Scanning electron microscopy), and TEM (Transmission electron microscopy) to establish their phase formation.

Performance is evaluated through lab and field studies by measuring contaminant levels at different stages of the remediation process. Contaminated soil and water samples collected will be analyzed for contaminant level before treating with the nano particles and reanalyzed for the same contaminants after the treatment period. Comparing the analysis results will help in determining the effectiveness of the nano particles. ZVI particles will be mixed with swine manure to reduce the offensive odor and to monitor gaseous (odor) emissions different treatment levels and control samplers will be setup with periodic measurements taken for data collection and analysis.

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

The N.C. A&T grant of the month for September: $563,000 to study nanowires in novel devices

The Sponsored Funding Report for September:

N.C. A&T received 27 grants totaling $4.45 million in September.

One highlight of September’s funding was a grant worth $563,497 from the Army Research Office to Dr. Shanthi Iyer of the Department of Nannoengineering.  Dr. Iyer is on the faculty of both the College of Engineering and the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.

The project:  A Study of GaAsSb Nanowires by Molecular Beam Epitaxy for near IR Applications

The issue: The inherent one dimensionality of semiconductor nanowires (NWs) allows them to exhibit unique properties that can be exploited to engineer novel electronic and optoelectronic devices. Benefits include potentially inexpensive, flexible, tunable LEDs and lasers, which are not easily obtainable in thin film devices, in the infrared regime for infrared countermeasures and gas sensing applications, as well as integration with silicon based microelectronics for novel optoelectronic device structures.

Abstract:  In this research program, we propose to study the synthesis of catalyst-free GaAsSb-based heterostructure NWs grown by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), building upon an existing program and expertise in MBE growth of mixed arsenide-antimonide dilute nitride semiconductors at North Carolina A&T State University (NCA&TSU). The influence of growth parameters on the physical attributes of the NW heterostructures, defects in the NWs and interfaces and the resultant photoluminescence (PL) intensity will be used to develop fundamental knowledge. Emphasis will be on a better understanding and manipulation of the defects in the NWs and interfaces, leading to defect free heterostructure devices with superior structural and optoelectronic properties. Effects of the AlGaAs confinement layers radially and axially on the PL peak emission and its dependence on the NW diameter will be studied. The maximum Sb composition that can be used before the miscibility gap sets in will be determined and the synthesis of corresponding dilute nitride NWs will be examined.

The successful completion of the above work is expected to lead to novel, next-generation and inexpensive multifunctional optical devices in the near infrared regime for defense applications. The investigators from NCA&TSU and North Carolina State University (NCSU) have significant expertise in the areas of material growth and characterization, share the same vision, have a history of involving undergraduates in state-of-the-art research and bring complimentary resources to the table. The laboratories will provide an excellent training ground for the students to the state-of-the-art material synthesis and characterization, and provide a natural entry into the nanostructure community at large from other universities, government labs and industry.

The complete list of grants received in September.

The N.C. A&T grant of the month for August: $198,000 for social network analysis, simulation

The Sponsored Funding Report for August:

N.C. A&T received 18 grants totaling $4.93 million in August.

One highlight of August’s funding was a grant worth $198,482 from the National Science Foundation to Dr. Zhijun Zhan of the Department of Computer Science.  His co-investigator on the project will be Dr. Noshir Contractor, a distinguished professor at Northwestern University.

The project:  Social Network Analysis and Simulation Systems

The issue: The ability to conduct extensive analysis of social networks is needed by a wide variety of corporations, universities, hospitals, and government agencies. With the use of the mathematics of networks, scientists can begin to formulate the extremely convoluted, complex, nonlinear, and chaotic systems of social phenomena. It is only with such scientific understanding of social networks that we can even begin to optimize them for efficiency and productivity for social order and our economy. It is highly desirable to optimally address the resource geographical boundaries that lead to the optimal allocation of food and essential supplies, trade and the flow of capital, and the optimization of the access to education, etc.

Abstract: The research objective of this project is to build a social network analysis and simulation system through extensive study of different social networks using network entropy spectral metrics, fast cluster analysis algorithms, and eigenvalue analysis. The research explosion concerned with network theory and applications has made us aware that the understanding of networks is essential to the understanding and optimization of the vast range of social structures. Networks are pervasive as communication linkages, transportation systems, utility systems, financial transactions and currency flows, electrical computer circuit networks, biological networks, linguistic and anthropological cultural structures, and a spectrum of other composite and derivative networks often involving geospatial distributions. In this project, we will extensively study different social networks and develop a web-based Social Network Analysis and Simulation (SONAS) system.

The educational objective of this project is to produce significant education outcomes by integrating the following components into SONAS system project: (1) to establish a modern Social Network Simulation Laboratory in North Carolina A&T State University, (2) to recruit, train, and mentor motivated undergraduate students in social network analysis and simulations, and 3) to attract underrepresented students to pursue a career in computer science.

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

The N.C. A&T grant of the month for July: $803,000 for research in health disparities

The Sponsored Funding Report for July:

N.C. A&T received 11 grants totaling $1.55 million in July.

One highlight of July’s funding was a grant worth $803,177 from the National Institutes of Health, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, to Dr. Goldie Byrd of the Department of Biology. The funding is the fourth grant in support of a five-year, $4 million project.

The project: Expanding Research and Research Training Infrastructure at NCA&TSU

The issue: The emphasis of this proposal is on developing collaborative junior faculty members and students to become independent researchers and thought leaders in eliminating health disparities.

Abstract: Objectives of this project are to: 1) Create a focused environment in which minority students remain in the biomedical science pipeline and become thought leaders for eliminating health disparities;  2) Create a mentored and collaborative environment for health disparities research; 3) Develop a centralized community model for educating minorities about health disparities and for recruiting minorities into health disparities research; and 4) enhance the administrative, technical and research resources that facilitate health disparities research.  This project will develop a research niche in cancer biology, develop a core facility for genomics and informatics research tools, develop a core resource for subject ascertainment and education outreach, enrich student training and development through a bridge to the master’s degree, and provide meaningful assessment and feedback to developing researchers.

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