Six faculty members were recognized for their work at the 2011 Annual Research Reception and Awards Ceremony hosted by the Office of Research and Economic Development.
Raj Banerjee, associate professor of materials science and engineering, won the new Special Recognition for Sustained Contribution to the Research Enterprise award for his role as director of UNT's Center for Advanced Research and Technology, used by researchers in the U.S. and abroad. He helped expand CART's nanoscale synthesis and characterization facility and helped win a $1 million National Science Foundation grant to renovate the center and make it part of the Nanofabrication Analysis and Research Facility.
Daniel Taylor, associate professor of psychology, won the Competitive Funding Award as the principal investigator awarded the most new funding in 2010-11. He received $1.6 million for his studies of how insomnia affects mental and physical health. With one grant from the National Institutes of Health, he is studying if insomnia affects response to the influenza vaccine. And with another grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, he is studying the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy of insomnia in active military members.
Guido Verbeck, assistant professor of chemistry, won the Early Career Award for Research and Creativity. Among his achievements, he has developed a nanomanipulator that allows scientists to image submicron particles with mass spectrometry, looking at complex molecular content — such as detecting a single illicit drug crystal on a single hair-like fiber. Researchers in the Signaling Mechanisms in Plants research cluster have used the instrument to analyze the composition of a single lipid droplet.
Pamela Harrell, professor of teacher education and administration, won the Teacher Scholar Award. As a researcher of teacher quality and effectiveness, Harrell has studied ways to improve teachers' instruction techniques, lesson planning and proficiency and has implemented pioneering teacher certification programs. She directs the UNT Robert Noyce Scholarship Program for Science and Mathematics Teachers.
Jeffrey Bradetich, Regents Professor of music and a master of the double bass, received the Creative Impact Award. He has performed some 500 concerts around the world in his 30-year career. He also has written a book, Double Bass: The Ultimate Challenge, and established the Bradetich Foundation to promote the instrument and its performers through concerts, competitions and tours. The foundation sponsored an international competition at UNT in 2010.
Angela Wilson, Regents Professor of chemistry, won the Research Leadership Award. An expert in computational chemistry, she has built her reputation upon the development of quantum mechanical methodologies. She also conducts research on the application of quantum mechanics on atmospheric and environmental chemistry, nanomaterials and molecular species with unusual bonding. She won a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and was named a National Associate of the National Academies by the National Research Council.
Faculty members in the Department of Political Science will produce their profession's most respected journal, the American Political Science Review, beginning in July 2012. Marijke Breuning, Steven Forde, John Ishiyama and Valerie Martinez-Ebers will serve as the editorial team for the journal, which is published by the 15,000-member American Political Science Association.
The publication covers American politics, comparative politics, international relations and political theory. The journal, which is moving from the University of California at Los Angeles, changes its editorial offices every four to six years.
The move marks the first time the journal has been edited at a university in the South or Southwest. The team's record as notable scholars in the discipline, along with the national academic reputation of the department, were key in bringing the journal to UNT. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the political science department's master's and doctoral programs in the top 100 graduate programs in the country.
Ram Dantu, professor of computer science and engineering, won an Innovation Corps award from the National Science Foundation to further develop his Mobile Life Guard system. It allows drivers to integrate their smartphones with their vehicle's on-board computer system to receive information about motorists' behavior and road conditions. The award comes with seed money and access to public- and private-sector experts.
Dantu serves as the principal investigator of the I-Corps team, which includes Alan Kushner, former chief technology advisor for the National Transportation Safety Board, and Brandon Gozick, UNT graduate student in computer engineering who serves as the entrepreneurial lead.
Gozick has been collecting data on driver behavior and road conditions as well as testing algorithms and sensor processing techniques, and will soon begin field trials. He says the team hopes to establish "Vehicle 2 Vehicle" communication that will help motorists become more aware of their driving and the quality of the roads and traffic.
Joseph Banowetz, professor of music, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra last year for his work on composer Paul Kletzki's Piano Concerto in D Minor, Op. 22, which he recorded with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra.
The music of the Jewish composer Kletzki was lost in Nazi Germany and uncovered through UNT's Lost Composers Project, directed by Timothy Jackson, professor of music. Then-doctoral student John Norine arranged the orchestral version of the piece.
This was Banowetz's second nomination, after receiving a nod in 2007 for Best Chamber Music Performance with pianist and alumnus Alton Chung Ming Chan for Balakirev and Russian Folksong.
Banowetz has recorded more than 30 records, performed as a recitalist and orchestral soloist on five continents and won the Liszt Medal from the Hungarian Liszt Society in Budapest.
Ohad Shemmer, assistant professor of physics, collaborated with an international team of astronomers to identify the earliest known epoch of the fast growth of supermassive black holes, coming a step closer to understanding the mysteries of the universe. Shemmer says the discovery is a missing link between black holes observed in galaxies today and the first black holes formed due to the explosion of the first stars.
The study is the culmination of a seven-year project led by scientists from Tel Aviv University. Shemmer says the research helps to determine the supermassive black holes' "meal schedule," or the time in which they grow in size by accreting matter from their host galaxies.
The team — which determined that the era of fast growth occurred when the universe was about 1.2 billion years old and lasted 100 to 200 million years — analyzed data using a method Shemmer first developed while earning his doctoral degree at Tel Aviv University. The results were reported in The Astrophysical Journal.
Four researchers received a National Science Foundation Partnership for Innovation program grant to study how to create sustainable, natural bioproducts for construction purposes to replace fiberglass and other non-biodegradable materials. Led by Nandika D'Souza, professor of mechanical and energy engineering and materials science, the team will use plant fibers — specifically, kenaf — instead of glass fibers for composite materials in cars, construction and aircraft. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will help provide the plants, and composite manufacturers in Texas and Florida also are contributing to the two-year project.
The interdisciplinary team includes Michael Allen, assistant professor of biological sciences; Vish Prasad, vice president for research and economic development; and Yong Tao, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering and PACCAR Professor of Engineering.
With a grant from the National Science Foundation, Thomas Scharf, associate professor of materials science and engineering, is developing high temperature solid lubricants that would minimize the effects of friction and wear in complex moving mechanical systems.
He and Jincheng Du, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, are working on the three-year project to study how changes in the structure and chemistry of the lubricants can influence their high temperature properties. They are especially examining systems that operate under extreme conditions, such as jet engines. Scharf, who directs UNT's Laboratory for Moving Mechanical Assemblies and is a key member of the Institute for Science and Engineering Simulation, also is part of a national team awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop solid lubricants to coat bearings used in high temperature environments, specifically in the aerospace industry.
A $22 million pledged gift from Charn Uswachoke — the largest ever for the university — will create endowed professorships, scholarships and other opportunities for students studying music, engineering and business. Uswachoke, a businessman and former senator in his native country of Thailand, earned his M.B.A. from the university in 1973.
The College of Music will use $10 million to fund scholarships, professorships, chairs, and touring and recording opportunities for students. With $6.5 million, the College of Engineering will endow professorships and create the Charn Uswachoke Center for Energy Efficient Materials to study energy-related materials research. The College of Business will use $5.5 million to fund Charn Uswachoke Scholarships for Study Abroad and the Charn Uswachoke Graduate Suite in the Business Leadership Building. Uswachoke also has given the university previous history-making gifts supporting music, business and international endeavors.
The colleges of music, arts and sciences, and visual arts and design will benefit from an $8 million bequest from Denton philanthropist Paul Voertman, whose family once owned and operated the famed Voertman's bookstore near campus.
All three colleges will use a portion of the money for scholarships. The funds also will support opera productions, student travel and recording in the College of Music and a College of Arts and Sciences Excellence Fund to recruit and retain faculty.
The College of Visual Arts and Design also will create an Ardoin-Voertman Artist-in-Residence teaching position for a nationally recognized artist, support a visiting artist and printmaker program in the Print Research Institute of North Texas and fund student grants.
Voertman supported the $1.5 million installation of the Richard Ardoin-Paul Voertman Concert Organ in 2008 and is the namesake of Voertman Hall.
The nationally recognized collection of father and son photographers Joe and Junebug Clark has been donated to UNT. The UNT Libraries will curate, digitize and archive the 2 million photos, as well as film and ads, for educational purposes. The collection will provide opportunities for students in photography, advertising, public relations and other fields in the Mayborn School of Journalism.
The photographs have been featured in Life, National Geographic, Look and Newsweek magazines and also are known from the Jack Daniel's Distillery advertising campaign that depicted life in Appalachia and Lynchburg, Tenn., for four decades beginning in the mid 1950s.
The collection was donated by Junebug Clark and his wife, Kay Clark, and former Jack Daniel's vice president Art Hancock and his wife, Charlotte Hancock. A long-term goal is for an exhibit based on the collection to be permanently displayed in Lynchburg and to serve as an impetus for partnerships across the nation to teach students.
The American Harp Society's ninth Summer Institute and 19th National Competition visited UNT in 2011, bringing 500 harpists from around the country to hone their craft. UNT was the first Texas university to host the institute, which takes place every two years at college campuses. Jaymee Haefner, lecturer in harp and director of undergraduate studies in the College of Music, was the institute chair.
The program included workshops and concerts, with musicians playing jazz and rock in addition to the traditional classic pieces for the harp. Performers included well-known harpist Emily Mitchell. Participants attended a workshop on performance excellence by renowned composer Michael Colgrass, an exhibition of historic harps, and sessions on how to arrange music for rock and jazz harp. Also as part of the institute, harpists up to age 30 took part in the national competition for prizes at Voertman Hall.
The College of Information and the UNT Libraries received grants for two projects that will support new courses and carry out a national study on research data management in academic libraries. The grants come from the Institute of Museum and Library Services' Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, which funds library education research and recruits librarians and faculty.
The first grant supports the development of four graduate courses for a planned Graduate Academic Certificate in Digital Curation and Data Management. The courses are aimed at library professionals, but graduate students in other departments will be encouraged to take them to gain new skills and knowledge about data management. William Moen, associate dean for research in the College of Information, will lead the project.
The second grant, supplemented by funds from the Council on Library and Information Resources and the Sloan Foundation, will allow the UNT Libraries to survey stakeholders throughout the academic world about what new skills are needed to curate and manage the vast amounts of research data now being generated by federal grants. Martin Halbert, dean of the UNT Libraries, will lead the survey.
Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell, Regents Professor of history, was named the first Lone Star Professor of Texas History in 2011. The position is co-funded by UNT and the Texas State Historical Association.
Campbell serves as chief historian for the association and editor for the Handbook of Texas Online, a website with more than 25,000 articles on Texas history. He also is the editor of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, a journal devoted to Texas and Southwest history.
He began his career researching Southern history and has written many books including Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State and An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821-1865, which received the Tullis Memorial Prize, among others.
The TSHA moved to campus in 2008, drawn by UNT's extensive library resources and the reputation of the history department.
Six new areas addressing the world's social and economic problems have been added to UNT's research cluster program. Four new clusters are Hazards and Disaster Research to Respond to Global Crises, which examines various approaches in disaster response and recovery; Human Security, Democracy and Global Development, which will develop peace strategies; Consumer Experiences in Digital Environments, which studies trends in digital information networks; and Complex Logistics Systems, which looks at marketing and logistics, with an emphasis on supply chain management.
Two new areas of strategic investment, which have the potential to become research clusters, are Entrepreneurship and South Asian Media, Culture and Arts. The cluster programs began in 2008 as a way to solve complex issues through innovative partnerships and research.
Students in UNT's College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism are gaining valuable industry experience from two new donations. Merchandising students are creating layouts and plans for store concepts with the same software used by international retailers, and hospitality management students work in a state-of-the-art, professional kitchen.
The new merchandising software is a gift from vrSoftware Ltd., a leading provider of software for visual retailing. The college signed a software licensing agreement for Mockshop, the company's three-dimensional program to create merchandise layouts for retail stores. The Mockshop donation and licensing agreement, which includes annual software updates for the next 10 years, is equivalent to $1.22 million.
Thanks to a donation from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and money from the state's Higher Education Fund, the newly renovated kitchen includes space for 32 students. Now called the Marriott Culinary Lab, it accommodates a wider variety of cooking techniques and provides a professional dishwasher, stainless steel cabinets and tables, mixers and broilers.
Hospitality management majors work as managers in all areas of the industry, from restaurants, hotels and resorts to cruise ships, bed-and-breakfasts and school and hospital food service.
Transformative research and education
Student research and sustainability
Timoshenko Medal, ACS awards, international leadership
I-Corps, black holes, new clusters, Lone Star Professor
Experts in engineering, computer science, poetry, environmental studies, instrumental studies
Mercury legislation, math algorithms, library education, media ethics, neuroscience, consumer behavior
Politics, natural language processing, sociology
Research momentum and support
Web page last updated or revised: March 15, 2012
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