UNT's Kristin Farmer Autism Center opened in 2012, providing families in the North Texas region and beyond with a resource for comprehensive autism spectrum disorders treatment, research and support.
Founded with the help of donor and alumna Kristin Farmer -- founder of Comprehensive Educational Services Inc., known as ACES -- the center brings UNT's interdisciplinary autism services and research together under one roof.
The high-quality services are designed and implemented by top researchers, professors and professionals in special education, applied behavior analysis, early childhood intervention, speech and hearing sciences, and other autism and disabilities intervention fields.
Services and programs provided at the center include diagnostic testing and evaluation; full-time intervention services; behavior analysis and therapy; and speech and language, occupational and physical therapy. Future programs at the center may include play, music and art therapy; psychological counseling for families, parents, siblings and individuals; nutritional services; and social skills training.
Experts from several UNT colleges are collaborating on programs and research, continuing UNT's history of expanding autism research and programs. Kevin Callahan, a former faculty member in the Department of Educational Psychology, is the center's executive director.
The logistics program in UNT's College of Business has been ranked the world's fifth best program for supply chain and logistics research productivity by the International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management.
Faculty have researched topics including professional drivers' safety decisions, risk and value in complicated supply chain systems, and performance-based contracting approaches for aircraft manufacturers' service models. They work with corporations including Transplace, Sysco, Pepsico, Southwest Airlines, Lockheed Martin, Hillwood Properties and JC Penney.
John M. Ruiz, assistant professor of psychology, was awarded a $1.63 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to examine how daily stress may contribute to heart disease. He will lead a team from five institutions during the three-year study, examining associations between social vigilance and atherosclerosis.
In fall 2012, Ruiz received UNT's Competitive Funding Award for the principal investigator responsible for the highest amount of new competitive research funding in the fiscal year. His research areas include cardiovascular behavioral medicine and psychophysiology, and Hispanic health and health disparities.
Jeffry Kelber, Regents Professor of chemistry, has launched Quantum Devices Corp. to develop devices that could improve the speed and efficiency of electronics.
He previously patented the process of depositing graphene, a form of carbon, directly on an electronically insulated substrate. The process can be used in the creation of semiconductors and other chips.
Kelber says graphene chips could lead to new types of computer architectures. Through Quantum Devices, which is licensing his patent from UNT, he will develop prototypes of several graphene-based devices. He and collaborator Peter Dowben from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln performed the initial research with funds from the Semiconductor Research Corp.
Several UNT faculty members received recent Fulbright honors.
Gerald Knezek, Regents Professor of learning technologies, was awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialist appointment to the University of Twente in the Netherlands in 2011-12. He conducted research and writing in technology diffusion, innovation and integration into educational environments. He also presented seminars in areas such as psychometric instrumentation and virtual environments. He extended work he began while co-chair of the 2011 International Summit on Information Technologies in Education at UNESCO.
Pankaj Jain, assistant professor of philosophy and religion studies, received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar research grant as a 2012-13 fellow in the Fulbright-Nehru Environmental Leadership Program.
He is assessing initiatives of the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization in areas such as indigenous technology, agriculture and women's empowerment. To develop a project to track the progress of such non-governmental organizations toward their goals, he interviewed residents in northern India about their sustainability projects, programs and aspirations.
Ami Moore, associate professor of sociology, received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar research grant to conduct AIDS-related research in Lome, Togo, through the end of 2012. She is studying the correlates of personal network characteristics and sexual risk behavior among men in Togo who have same-sex relations. She has studied other groups in Togo, including older people living with HIV/AIDS.
James Thurman, assistant professor of studio arts, was a Fulbright specialist at Kadir Has University in Turkey in the summer. He helped the university redesign curriculum for its 3-D design program. At UNT, he is 3-D design core coordinator and teaches metalsmithing and jewelry.
Tracy Everbach, an associate professor in the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism who has researched media coverage of female athletes since 2005, compared the coverage of male and female athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
She previously researched newspaper coverage of the 1908 Summer Olympics, which also were in London, and notes that female Olympic athletes have traditionally received more attention for sexuality and attractiveness than male athletes.
However, female athletes also receive much more media coverage during the two weeks that the Olympics are televised than many college or professional female athletes.
In a recent study, Everbach interviewed female athletes ages 18 to 22 about their thoughts on the media's focus on the sexuality of professional female athletes and pressure on those athletes to pose for sexualized photos. Most were not happy with the images, while a few said they were empowering.
Everbach's research interests also include gender and race in news reporting and newsroom management. She worked as a newspaper reporter for 14 years, including 12 years at the Dallas Morning News.
Dornith Doherty, professor of photography, was awarded a prestigious fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The 181 fellows -- representing the U.S. and Canada -- were chosen from about 3,000 applicants.
Doherty plans to use the fellowship to complete her Archiving Eden project, in which she uses X-ray machines at international seed banks to photograph seeds and cloned plants. She then incorporates the X-ray images into digital collages.
Doherty began Archiving Eden in 2008, inspired by the construction of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to secure the world's seed collections. In 2010, she was one of only a few people allowed to visit the vault. With the Guggenheim Fellowship, she plans to photograph seed banks in Australia, Brazil and Russia.
Three merchandising and digital retailing faculty members were named distinguished scholars by the Korean Society of Clothing and Textiles at its April 2012 conference in Seoul -- more faculty members than any other university.
JiYoung Kim and Kiseol Yang, assistant professors, and HaeJung Maria Kim, associate professor, were among 20 scholars of Korean origin from universities in China, Japan and the U.S. acknowledged for their contributions to the Korean and global clothing and textiles industries and educational societies. This is the first time the society extended the honor to international scholars.
Kim, Yang and Kim are members of UNT's Consumer Experiences in Digital Environments research cluster. HaeJung Maria Kim studies digital influences on the global retailing and merchandising industry, and sustainable consumption.
JiYoung Kim researches consumer behavior in online retailing, particularly consumer loyalty and purchase intentions. Yang's research interests include smartphone shopping applications and other mobile shopping services.
George Maxey, lecturer in geography, has been identifying specimens at UNT's Meteorite, Rock, Mineral and Fossil Identification Lab since it opened in 2010. Fossils found by residents and identified there include predatory fish that lived between 65 and 100 million years ago -- the skull of an Enchodus, known as the "saber-toothed herring"; the lower jaw of a Saurodon, which had a spear-like snout; and the 250-pound head and a flipper of the Xiphactinus Audex, which had fang-like teeth and an upturned jaw.
Maxey says the lab receives calls from across the Southwest, and specimens arrive for identification several times a week. He ranks the Xiphactinus Audex as among the most exceptional finds brought to the lab.
Robert L. 'Bob' Bland, professor and chair of the Department of Public Administration, was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration in fall 2012 for his professional accomplishments in teaching, research and public service. NAPA and the National Academy of Sciences are the only two national academies chartered by Congress to support and advance America's interests through scholarly and applied expertise. Through standing and special panels, NAPA advises Congress and federal agencies on matters of public policy and management.
Bland, an expert in governmental finance, is the author of three books and numerous articles on public budgeting, finance and revenue generation. His book A Budgeting Guide for Local Government, going into its third edition, is one of the pillars of professional reading for local government managers and graduate students. He is the founding chair of the Department of Public Administration and is the director of the Center for Public Management.
The Net-Centric Software and Systems Center, a National Science Foundation-sponsored Industry/University Cooperative Research Center based at UNT, was selected as the university-level 2012 Tech Titan of the Future by the Metroplex Technology Business Council.
The award recognizes higher education institutions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that support students in choosing engineering and technology-related disciplines as a preferred path. Krishna Kavi, professor of computer science and engineering, is director of the center.
A joint venture between academic, government and commercial institutions, it focuses on fundamental research needed for the development and deployment of software and applications into cloud and net-centric environments -- software and information available over a network or in a central location rather than on individual computers.
Rossana Boyd, director of the bilingual/ESL teacher certification programs and principal lecturer in teacher education and administration, is a national leader in bilingual education. She directs the Future Bilingual Teachers Academy, a summer program jointly hosted by UNT's College of Education and the Fort Worth ISD to introduce bilingual high school students to the field of teaching and encourage them to consider a career in bilingual education.
Academy administrators hope to alleviate the bilingual teacher shortage by providing a pre-college experience designed to motivate and inspire the students to become teachers of English language learners. The project includes funding from the Sid W. Richardson Foundation.
Boyd is a member of the National Association for Bilingual Education and served as the association's president in 2011-12.
Researchers at UNT, which has an estimated 1,200 former and active military members among its students, are investigating the challenges veterans encounter when they return to college or enroll for the first time. Areas of study include strategies veterans use to cope with stress from deployment experiences and how that may impact their academic progress. Shelley Riggs, associate professor of psychology, and four student researchers are recruiting 200 veterans from all military branches for the project in the Family Attachment Lab.
Riggs says past research has shown that nontraditional students often are more disciplined about studying and attending class than younger students. She says student veterans may have some of these same strengths and other values learned in the military that contribute to academic success despite possible challenges. The goal is to learn about risk and resilience factors to inform academic and clinical programming on campuses.
Priscilla Connors, associate professor of hospitality and tourism management, was the principal investigator on a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant designed to combat childhood obesity by encouraging middle school students to choose more nutritious items from school cafeteria lunch menus.
Connors and an interdisciplinary team -- including students in art and applied anthropology -- collected data on menus, food choice, consumption and plate waste in several Texas middle school cafeterias. They then identified low-cost strategies to encourage nutritious choices.
Connors says the study confirmed that most children ate the main dish item but were less likely to finish vegetables, and a quarter selected no fruit. Suggested strategies for the cafeterias included more colorful presentations, more variety, and convenient packaging and portions.
Shobhana Chelliah, professor of linguistics, was selected as a rotator program director in the National Science Foundation's Documenting Endangered Languages Program.
Documenting Endangered Languages is a joint funding program of the NSF and the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop and advance scientific and scholarly knowledge about endangered human languages.
On the UNT faculty since 1992, Chelliah has received Documenting Endangered Languages funding in support of her research on Lamkang, spoken primarily in a region of Manipur in northeastern India. She is creating a searchable computer archive of texts in Lamkang and assisting native speakers to determine a standard writing system.
Two Center of Academic Excellence designations recognize UNT as a leader in cyber security education and research. The university was one of only seven U.S. institutions to be designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security for 2012.
UNT also reapplied successfully for the designation of National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education, which it originally earned in 2004.
The installation of a 15,000-pound, 3 million-volt particle accelerator expands the capabilities of UNT's Ion Beam Modification and Analysis Laboratory, one of the top ion beam labs at any university in the country.
The National Electrostatic Corp. 9SH Linear particle accelerator was originally given to UNT by Texas Instruments. A number of different ions can be produced and accelerated in the lab and then used to characterize materials. The researchers implant ions into existing materials to alter the structure, and subsequently the properties, of the materials. The lab has worked with the National Institutes of Health to analyze the elemental composition of cancer cells.
The researchers also measure the composition of silicon wafers used in semiconductors to identify ways to produce more pure materials, and they are studying how to create materials that can absorb and emit light for use in renewable energy applications.
Yan Wan, assistant professor of electrical engineering, says managing air traffic flow is a combination of art and science. She is developing an analytical model that would account for the uncertainty of weather and traffic demand and would allow for greater automation in air traffic flow management, which would mean more efficiency and fewer delays. She is developing and testing her model with the support of the National Science Foundation and MITRE Corp.
Wan also received an NSF EAGER grant to examine broader issues related to dynamic decision-making in infrastructure systems under uncertainty. Her research into large-scale networks may eventually help computer scientists predict and understand the spread of computer viruses. Her recent work has been published in the International Journal of Robust and Nonlinear Control and IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technologies.
Pam Harrell and Colleen Eddy, associate professors of teacher education and administration, were awarded a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board grant for their Xtreem Science and Mathematics Institute.
The institute provides professional development to Fort Worth and Dallas ISD teachers in algebra I, geometry and middle school science and biology. It is designed to develop teachers who engage students with math and science content to enhance their learning experience.
Eddy studies teacher preparation and quality. Her research has been supported by grants of more than $5 million, including the NSF Robert Noyce Scholarship grant for which she is the principal investigator.
Harrell's research explores teacher quality variables such as teacher content knowledge and the impact of pedagogical content knowledge on student learning. Her research has been supported by more than $8.5 million in grant funding.
A collection of original manuscripts, letters and photographs of famed composer Arnold Schoenberg, who created the revolutionary 12-tone technique of composition, was donated to the UNT Libraries.
The composer's oldest living grandson, Arnold Greissle-Schoenberg, and his wife, Nancy Bogen, donated the works and attended a performance of Mein Lebenslauf, composed by Arnold Schoenberg's son Georg, and performed by UNT students, alumni and faculty. The collection gives insight into one of the 20th century's most innovative composers. It includes such items as errata sheets from Arnold Schoenberg's famously difficult violin concerto.
UNT's College of Music received a $1.5 million gift in spring 2012 from the estate of the late philanthropist and honorary UNT alumnus Bill Winspear. With the gift, the university established the endowed Margot and Bill Winspear Chair in Opera Studies, named in honor of Winspear and his wife, Margot. Paula Homer, director of the UNT opera program, was selected as the first person to hold the chair.
The endowed fund will be used for opera production costs, financial support for voice students in opera and other opera-related expenses.
The opera program offers intensive training and performance opportunities to talented undergraduate and graduate music students through the College of Music.
A $2.5 million anonymous estate gift will support students, faculty and programs in the College of Visual Arts and Design and lead to a name change for one of UNT's outstanding programs. When the gift is in place, it will produce more than $100,000 a year in scholarships and other student and faculty support and the communication design program will bear the name Jack Sprague Communication Design Program.
Sprague, a Professor Emeritus, taught at UNT for 20 years, including 14 years as director of the program, before retiring in 2009. He is now the education director at the Smart Center Santa Fe.
The Department of Library and Information Sciences' PEARL Project is enhancing the role of the public library in targeted rural communities in Texas.
Funded by the Robert and Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust, the project focuses on the small rural library as a community resource, a gathering place for people and a facilitator for community partnerships. It also provides library training and peer interaction for rural library staff.
Researchers are assessing how this collaborative model enhances the effectiveness of rural library service in Texas. Yunfei Du, associate professor, is the principal investigator for the project.
Visual and performance artist Nick Cave finished his appointment as 2011-12 artist-in-residence of UNT's Institute for the Advancement of the Arts with a collaborative performance piece, Heard. The piece featured horse-like Soundsuits -- wearable sculptures that make sound when the materials brush together -- made with the help of students in the sculpture, fibers and costume design programs. Cave's Soundsuits have been lauded internationally.
Heard, featuring UNT student dancers corralled by UNT percussionists, was performed on campus in spring 2012. UNT's Institute for the Advancement of the Arts advances excellence in the visual, performing and creative literary arts at UNT.
UNT received a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to train and educate future leaders of special education programs. The program, Project TELL – Training Effective Leaders for High-Needs Schools through Local Partnerships, offers a doctoral program in special education within the Department of Educational Psychology.
Bertina Combes, program director, is working with fellow educational psychology faculty Smita Mehta and Endia Lindo on the project. Ten scholars, minoring in mild/moderate disabilities or autism, began the program as a group in summer 2012, receiving full scholarship funding and stipends through the grant.
Researchers at the University of North Texas can do more complex calculations and work with larger data sets thanks to the Talon High-Performance Computing System. Th e supercomputer, with 200 terabytes of storage and an operating speed of 20 terafl ops, has helped UNT expand its reach in computation-based research. Faculty members in computational chemistry, computational epidemiology, bioinformatics, physics, mathematics, biology, materials science, and mechanical and energy engineering -- as well as experimental music and art -- are among its many users.
At the forefront of new ideas
Excellence in plant science, decade-long partnership
Autism research, Fulbright winners, new NSF funding
Police in Rome, endangered languages, zooarchaeology
Computer algorithms, postpartum depression, sustainable tourism, novel solar cells
Titanium alloys, machine learning, new media, immune suppression, systems maturity assessment
Collaborative research and new facilities