College of Engineering Awards Seed Funding Grants to Faculty Researchers

As part of the college's Engineering Research and Innovation Seed Funding Program, the College of Engineering Dean's Office — with guidance from the Engineering Research Council led by Heather Nachtmann, associate dean for research — began providing seed funding for new faculty research collaborations last year. The projects funded in fiscal year 2016 have been completed, yielding valuable proof-of-concept results that have strong potential for leveraging external funding, and seed funding program is pleased to announce funding for three new projects in fiscal year 2017.

The Engineering Research and Innovation Seed Funding Program encourages College of Engineering researchers to develop new research collaborations within the college and provides funds to assist researchers in developing proof of concept research outcomes that have strong potential for securing future external funding.

Program projects funded in fiscal year 2016:

  • "High Power Photoconductive Antenna in the Terahertz Band", by Magda El-Shenawee, professor of electrical engineering and Fisher Yu, associate professor of electrical engineering. This project was also funded in part by the Langston Endowment. Through inter-university collaboration, experimental testing for an enhanced terahertz antenna design was performed.
  • "A Deep Learning Approach for Training Robots by Example", by Michael Gashler, assistant professor of computer science and computer engineering and Harry Pierson, assistant professor of industrial engineering.  This project developed and validated a new technique for estimating the state of a robot based on observations from digital cameras.
  • "Towards a Fast Reconstruction Paradigm for Urban Environments in Developing Regions affected by Natural Disasters", by Gary Prinz, assistant professor of civil engineering, and Julian Fairey, associate professor of civil engineering. This study investigated a fast re construction paradigm for urban environments affected by natural disasters, which resulted in a new multi-story steel shelter concept with an integrated rooftop rainfall harvesting (RRH) water collection system.
  • "Identifying metabolic hallmarks of breast cancer metastases", by Narasimhan Rajaram, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and David Zaharoff, associate professor of biomedical engineering. This research identified differences in the metabolic response of metastatic and non-metastatic breast cancer cells to hypoxic stress.

Program projects funded in fiscal year 2017:

  • "Energy Generation from Ammonia and a Non-Precious Metal Nanocatalyst" by Lauren Greenlee, assistant professor and holder of the Louis Owen Professorship in Chemical Engineering; Ranil Wickramasinghe, professor of chemical engineering and holder of the Ross E. Martin Endowed Chair in Emerging Technologies; and Xianghong Qian, professor of biomedical engineering.  The researchers propose to demonstrate that a non-precious metal nanoparticle catalyst can electrochemically oxidize ammonia in simulated wastewater, establishing the basis for further development of ammonia fuel cell technology.
  • "Innovative Crop Evapotranspiration Measurements for Sustainable Water Use" by Benjamin Runkle, assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering, and Brian Haggard, professor of biological and agricultural engineering. The goal is to significantly improve the measurement of evapotranspiration from agricultural fields by using the "surface renewal" micrometeorological technique.  This project was partially funded by the Langston Foundation. The Carolyn Clark Langston and Dr. Harold D. Langston Endowment for Technical Outreach was established in 2012 to enhance the College of Engineering's ability to provide technical assistance to industries and companies throughout the state of Arkansas.
  • "Investigating Interactions between Engineered Nanoparticles and Biofilms" led by Wen Zhang, assistant professor of civil engineering, and Lauren Greenlee, chemical engineering. This research will reveal the capability of biofilms to retain and release engineered nanoparticles in bacteria species representative of various key environments.

About the College of Engineering: The University of Arkansas College of Engineering is the largest engineering program in the state of Arkansas. Over the past decade, the college has experienced unprecedented growth. Undergraduate enrollment has doubled since 2007, and total enrollment in the college is now over 4,000 students. The College of Engineering offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in nine engineering fields, as well as incorporating distance learning and interdisciplinary programs. Faculty in the college conduct research in many key areas, including electronics, energy, healthcare logistics, nanotechnology, transportation and logistics.




Camilla Shumaker, director of communications
College of Engineering


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