Tag Archives: National Science Foundation

N.C. A&T researchers go airborne to study the unexplored complexities of winter air pollution

N.C. A&T researchers on the wintertime pollution study

N.C. A&T researchers on the wintertime pollution study, left to right: Dr. Marc Fiddler, Steven G. Blanco Garcia, and Jaime Green

Members of the N.C. A&T Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Group are working with researchers from 14 other institutions this winter to investigate the little-known dynamics of wintertime air pollution.

The project is the Wintertime INvestigation of Transport, Emissions, and Reactivity (WINTER) campaign in the Mid-Atlantic Region. It will provide detailed, aircraft-based measurements to explore how chemical processes in the atmosphere vary by season.

Pollution occurs throughout the year, but the chemistry that determines the impact of pollution in the winter has been largely unexplored. Most research has focused on warmer seasons.

In winter, for example, short-lived pollutants like sulfur dioxide dissipate more slowly, so they affect wider areas downwind from the source of the pollution. Sulfur dioxide can cause respiratory problems and can turn into acid rain.

“Levels of oxidant pollution, such as ozone, are smaller in the winter due to decreased sunlight and emissions from plants,” said Dr. Marc Fiddler, an A&T research chemist working on the project.  “These conditions produce a different and much more uncertain picture of what happens to sulfur dioxide in the winter.”

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Latest trend seen in comments from NSF reviewers: Give more specifics on how mentoring is assessed

NSF logoPrincipal investigators, take note: Your next NSF proposal may need considerably more detail on mentoring than you’ve provided before.

Blogger Female Science Professor spotted the trend in proposals recently rejected by NSF. From Inside Higher Ed:

“Female Science Professor wrote that it’s no longer ‘enough to have a record of success advising grad students, undergrads, and postdocs in research — you have to understand and explain your advising techniques and you have to have a plan for assessing and improving.’

“She said that even data related to student degrees, publications, conference publications and employment upon graduation weren’t ‘sufficient’ for some reviewers.

“ ‘They want something different,’ she said. ‘Apparently, unless you change something, you are not improving and therefore are not being transformative, or something.’”

Consider yourself warned. The whole piece is here. The original item from the very interesting Female Science Professor blog is here.

Econ students to get a new kind of help with math

Educator and researcher in the study of teaching

Dr. Scott Simkins, director of the Academy for Teaching and Learning at N.C. A&T

For any student who has struggled with getting the math to come out right in economics courses, help is on the way from N.C. A&T.

Dr. Scott Simkins, director of the Academy for Teaching and Learning at N.C. A&T, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of $247,901 to develop online tools that students can use to improve their math skills in economics courses.

The project, “The Math You Need, When You Need It: Modular Student Resources to Promote Successful Integration of Quantitative Concepts in Introductory Economics Courses,” is led by Simkins, with co-investigators Dr. Mark H. Maier of Glendale Community College, Glendale, California, and Dr. Jeffrey Sarbaum of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

This NSF grant is the fourth in a series that Dr. Simkins has been awarded since 2000, totaling more than $1 million.  Simkins and Maier have collaborated on each of the projects, which focus on the development, implementation, and sharing of innovations in economics.  Much of their work has focused on adapting teaching innovations originally developed in other disciplines for use in introductory economics courses. 

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N.C. A&T Bioenergy Center awarded $5 million to make advanced biofuel production more affordable

An interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has launched a five-year, $5 million project to make the production of advanced biofuels more efficient and affordable.

The NSF CREST Bioenergy Center’s goal is to make biomass a more viable source of renewable energy by developing the basic science and technology that will make energy conversions more efficient and costs more affordable.

The center is conducting fundamental research toward the development of advanced thermochemical biomass conversion technology to produce liquid transportation fuels and hydrogen.

The project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program.

The center’s research will specifically target the production of high quality synthesis gas from biomass gasification, nanocatalysts for the conversion of syngas to bioethanol, and the production of high purity hydrogen for fuel cell applications.

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NSF awards $15 million in Big Data project grants; N.C. A&T on a winning team with UNC-CH, Harvard

The NSF was up early this morning, announcing that it has awarded $15 million in grants to advance its Big Data initiative. Among the winners: A UNC-CH/Harvard/N.C. A&T team and its project, “DataBridge – A Sociometric System for Long-Tail Science Data Collections.”  UNC-CH is the team leader.

Dr. Justin Zhan of the Department of Computer Science is the A&T investigator on the project.  The short description:

 “The sheer volume and diversity of data present a new set of challenges in locating all of the data relevant to a particular line of scientific research. Taking full advantage of the unique data in the ‘long-tail of science’ requires new tools specifically created to assist scientists in their search for relevant data sets. DataBridge supports advances in science and engineering by directly enabling and improving discovery of relevant scientific data across large, distributed and diverse collections using socio-metric networks. The system will also provide an easy means of publishing data through the DataBridge, and incentivize data producers to do so by enhancing collaboration and data-oriented networking.”

NSF webinar on accelerating innovation

National Science Foundation logoThe National Science Foundation will host a webinar on its Partners for Innovation: Accelerating Innovation Research solicitation on Wednesday July 25.  From NSF:

“The aim of the webinar is to outline the key requirements of the two choices available within the PFI: AIR solicitation – Technology Translation and Research Alliance.

“What distinguishes one choice from the other is not the subject matter, but the participants, i.e., the persons or groups involved. Both of these choices are designed to accelerate innovation that results in the creation of new wealth and the building of strong local, regional, and national economies.”

The webinar will be held on Wednesday July 25, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. EDT. Registration is not necessary. For the URL and other details, go to the NSF web page.  Before the webinar, participants are strongly encouraged to review the solicitation.