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UTA receives $1.5 million to increase Ph.D.s in areas of national need

The University of Texas at Arlington departments of Mathematics and Computer Science and Engineering have been awarded a total of $1.5 million for two U.S. Department of Education grants to help students earn doctoral degrees in areas of national need.

The highly competitive Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need, or GAANN, grants will provide fellowships over the next three years to assist graduate students of superior ability who demonstrate financial need. UTA was the only Texas school awarded funding during the 2015 GAANN grant cycle.

The Mathematics grant will serve graduate students in disciplines ranging from applied and computational mathematics to mathematics education, probability and statistics. The Computer Science and Engineering grant will benefit graduate students specializing in sustainable computing at UTA.

Tuncay Aktosun, professor of mathematics and an expert in inverse problems and wave propagation, is the principal investigator on the $923,000 mathematics GAANN grant. His co-principal investigators are professor and department Chair Jianzhong Su, David Jorgensen, Ruth Gornet and Hristo Kojouharov.

Speaking on behalf of the team, Dr. Su said, “The GAANN award recognizes the excellent work that our faculty members do to prepare more mathematics doctoral students – particularly women and minorities – to become future leaders in this important field.”

Ishfaq Ahmad, professor of computer science and engineering and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, is an expert in high-performance parallel and distributed computing, multicore processors, optimization algorithms and in developing energy-ware "green" high-performance computing systems and data centers. He is the principal investigator on a $600,000 grant to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the department’s second GAANN award. Co-principal investigators on the current grant are Hao Che, Gautam Das, Ramez Elmasri, Leo Fegaras, Bahram Khalili and Carter Tiernan.

Hong Jiang, the Wendell H. Nedderman Endowed Professor and Chair of the UTA Department of Computer Science and Engineering, said his department’s GAANN award is the latest in a series of significant awards won by CSE faculty and students in recent years. The department offers a highly competitive program in Ph.D. education, he said.

“The GAANN award signals that the University and the CSE Department’s research strength in general, and in sustainable computing in particular, is recognized at the national level,” said Dr. Jiang, a former program director for the National Science Foundation and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. “It further signifies the strong track record and capability of CSE’s faculty in mentoring and producing high-quality Ph.D. students to meet the national demand for a competitive IT workforce.”   

Mathematics excellence

The UTA Department of Mathematics is housed within the College of Science and has won four consecutive, multi-year GAANN grants since 2006, successfully supporting 42 doctoral students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, Dr. Su said. Twenty-six of those students have completed their Ph.Ds. in mathematics; 12 are women and nine are underrepresented minorities.

The department is a major hub of mathematics research and education in North Texas and beyond, serving more than 10,000 students a year and featuring nationally recognized faculty with outstanding accomplishments in teaching, research and service.

In 2013, the American Mathematical Society named UT Arlington the winner of its AMS Award for an Exemplary Program or Achievement in a Mathematics Department, citing UTA’s success in more than doubling its number of full-time, funded doctoral students and substantially increasing its percentage of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, women and minorities in its doctoral program.

Computer Science and Engineering studies

With more than 1,800 students, UTA’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering represents one of the largest programs within the College of Engineering, and one of the first in the nation to have an undergraduate program accredited by both the Engineering Accreditation Commission and the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the UTA computer science and engineering graduate program No. 83 of 183 similar programs on its 2015 Best Engineering Schools list. In the past seven years, CSE has seen its enrollment increase by more than 70 percent.

About the GAANN Awards

Administered through the Teacher and Student Development Programs Service of the U.S. Department of Education, GAANN awards support graduate education in areas of national need, which include biology, chemistry, computer and information sciences, engineering, geological and related sciences, mathematics, nursing, and physics. Graduate students with excellent records who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue the highest degree available in one of these fields may apply to their departments for GAANN fellowship support. Visit the Department of Education at to learn more.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. Overall, UTA conferred a record 10,585 degrees during the 2014-15 academic year with 216 graduates earning doctoral degrees. Nine of the doctoral degrees went to GAANN fellows. Last year marked the second consecutive year that the University has surpassed 200 Ph.D.s, one of the key Texas metrics for Tier 1 research universities.

The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a “Best for Vets” college by Military Times magazine. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at