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Department of Biology News

Four UTA professors named finalists for Tech Titan Awards

Tech Titan finalists from UTA include, clockwise from top left: Sandy Dasgupta, Liping Tang, Laura Mydlarz and Kevin Schug.

Tech Titans has named four University of Texas at Arlington professors finalists for the 2016 Tech Titans awards. The prestigious honor recognizes the educators’ outstanding innovations in science and engineering, and for developing successful new educational models supporting undergraduate research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Finalists are:

  • Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, Hamish Small Chair in Ion Analysis and James Garrett Professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, for the Tech Titans Technology Inventors Award;
  • Kevin Schug, professor and Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry; and Laura Mydlarz, associate professor and associate chair of biology, for the Tech Titans of the Future University Level Award;
  • Liping Tang, professor of bioengineering, for the Tech Titans Technology Inventors award.

The Tech Titans Awards were launched in 2001 by the Metroplex Technology Business Council, which is North Texas’s largest technology trade association, representing a quarter of a million employees through more than 300 member companies. MTBC changed its name to Tech Titans in August 2015.

The prestigious annual contest recognizes the elite in North Texas technology — individuals currently transforming the high-tech industry or giving companies a competitive edge, as well as companies leading the way. The final awards will be announced August 19 at a gala event at the InterContinental Dallas.

“I’m extremely proud of our exceptional faculty whose research and innovation is being recognized by their nomination for the prestigious Tech Titans Awards,” UTA President Vistasp M. Karbhari said. “These are outstanding faculty whose work is not only defining new frontiers in science and technology and whose interactions with students are preparing the current and future generations of leaders for the metroplex and beyond but whose innovations are impacting the globe.

“All four embody the unprecedented excellence in research, teaching and community engagement that is powering UTA’s drive to pre-eminence through our Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact.

Dasgupta is being recognized for his contributions to the broad area of chemical and environmental analysis in general and chromatographic analysis in particular. Many of Dasgupta's inventions already have been successfully commercialized and he continues to be awarded new patents for his work. One recent invention is a small inexpensive, portable, totally green arsenic analyzer that is capable of measuring arsenic in water at sub-parts per billion levels in a very short period of time. This inexpensive instrument holds promise in widespread monitoring of arsenic contamination in groundwater, a widespread problem in much of South Asia as well in other countries.

Schug and Mydlarz established the Achieving Success in Science through Undergraduate Research and Engagement (ASSURE) program to transform undergraduate research experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. ASSURE replaces the traditional freshman science laboratory with research methods and research stream laboratory courses. Students in groups of three or four work collaboratively to design scientific experiments, conduct research, and submit full reports, much as graduate students do. Out of the first two cohorts totaling 48 students, more than 90 percent have remained in the program with a science, technology, engineering or mathematics major.

Tang has made tremendous contributions using techniques of tissue engineering and nanotechnology in clinical therapies. His recent work has led to the creation of a cancer trap, a potentially groundbreaking technology for treating metastatic cancer. Tang’s cancer trap can be implanted under the skin to attract circulating cancer cells by releasing cancer cell-attracting biomolecules. Cancer traps also can be incorporated with chemotherapy drugs or immunotherapy agents to locally eliminate cancer cells with minimal systemic toxicity. This new device could revolutionize cancer therapy and diagnosis.