Chancellor's Innovation and Collaboration Fund Awards 10 Faculty Research Projects

Office of Research and Innovation

In a continuous effort to promote research activity, ten faculty research projects have been awarded grants from the Chancellor's Innovation and Collaboration Fund.

Since its establishment in 2016, the Chancellor's Fund has invested up to $1 million annually in seed funding. Faculty pursuing interdisciplinary studies in the university's signature research areas are encouraged to apply for the Collaboration and Innovation Fund. The three signature areas identified by the U of A are Advancing the Data Revolution, Improving Human Health and Community Vibrancy, and Innovating a Resilient and Sustainable Future.

Thirty-four proposals contended for funding this year. The selection process was conducted in a similar fashion to that of the National Science Foundation. Three reviewers were assigned to examine a proposal prior to the panel review meeting. Each proposal was then discussed by the entire panel--comprised of faculty members across campus and chaired by Bob Beitle, associate vice chancellor for research and innovation.

The selected projects consist of more than 30 faculty members representing 18 academic departments from Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life SciencesFulbright College of Arts and SciencesCollege of EngineeringCollege of Education and Health Professions, and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Research Teams

Below are the research teams that will be awarded Chancellor's Fund grants, listed in alphabetical order by primary investigator. A few projects feature researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, furthering U of A and UAMS partnership efforts.

Jin Hu, assistant professor of physics. Shui-Qing "Fisher" Yu, associate professor of electrical engineering, has partnered with Hu to initiate a study on the novel phenomena of light-matter interaction in topological quantum materials and the corresponding device applications.

David Huitink, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. The research team includes Lauren Greenlee, associate professor of chemical engineering; and Robert Griffin, professor of radiation oncology at UAMS. Their research will focus on investigating a new approach to nanoparticle cancer therapy.

Wayne J. Kuenzel, physiologist in poultry science. His research partner is David Fredrick, associate professor of game design and world languages, literatures and cultures. They will be converting 2- and 3-dimesnsional visual data into a virtual environment to facilitate research and learning on the topic of avian neural organization.

Khoa Luu, computer science and computer engineering. His research partner is Ashley Dowling, professor of entomology and plant pathology. Their study involves developing an artificial intelligence system for the imaging, quantification, and identification of insects.

Brendon P. McDermott, associate professor of health, human performance, and recreation. The research team includes Luke Howard, professor of food chemistry; Jamie Baum, associate professor of nutrition; and Han-Seok Seo, associate professor of sensory science. Their research study will examine the effects of consuming water infused with natural bioactive berry volatile compounds and anti-inflammatory capabilities.

Suman Kumar Mitra, assistant professor of civil engineering. The research team is comprised of Jennifer D. Webb, associate professor of interior design; Alishia Ferguson, clinical associate professor of social work; and Michelle Gray, associate professor of exercise science. This project will observe the relationship between transportation mobility and the well-being of elderly Arkansans.

Young Hye Song, assistant professor of biomedical engineering. Sun-Ok Lee, associate professor of nutrition, has partnered with Song to study the role of vitamin B12 in breast tumor innervation.

Ronna Turner, professor of educational statistics and research methods. Turner has partnered with Elizabeth Keiffer, assistant professor of information systems, to foster interdisciplinary, graduate level research on web-based data collections for business, psychometric, and statistical purposes.

Shengfan Zhang, assistant professor of industrial engineering. The research team includes Amir Mian, assistant professor of pediatrics at UAMS; and Lu Zhang, assistant professor of computer science and computer engineering. Their project will explore ways to improve outcomes of hospitalized pediatric patients using artificial intelligence technologies.

Min Zou, professor of mechanical engineering. Zou has partnered with Mark Smeltzer, professor of microbiology and immunology at UAMS, to develop surface engineering for durable and antibacterial orthopedic implants.

To learn more about seed funding opportunities, visit the Chancellor's Fund webpage or the Research and Innovation website. The 2020 Chancellor's Innovation and Collaboration Fund is made possible the VCRI strategic fund, provided by the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation.


Sarah Brown, communications assistant
Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation


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