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College of Science

College of Science News

College’s expanding research profile is helping boost UTA’s rise to prominence

Research is a vital part of students’ learning experience in the College of Science.
Research is a vital part of students’ learning experience in the College of Science.

The University of Texas at Arlington has established itself as a top research institution, and the College of Science is a big part of that success.

In fiscal year (FY) 2018, UTA’s total research expenditures exceeded $100 million for the first time. That figure climbed to $118 million in FY 2019, when the College of Science garnered more than $25 million in research expenditures, an all-time high.

The College has posted significant increases in research expenditures in the past seven years, growing from $16.4 million in FY 2013 to $18.1 million in FY 2015, then to $23.2 million in FY 2017, before reaching $25 million in FY 2019. This success in securing research grants helped UTA earn R-1: Doctoral Universities-Highest Research Activity designation from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education in 2016.

The College’s steady rise in research funding has also helped UTA in its efforts to meet the criteria necessary to receive Texas Tier One University designation and funding from the state’s National Research University Fund.

In 2019 the University met all Tier One criteria, which in addition to research funding metrics also include awarding more than 200 Ph.D. degrees each year; being designated as a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society; demonstrating the ability to recruit a freshman class of high academic achievement; and meeting the metrics set for high-quality faculty. UTA must also meet the criteria in 2020 to be eligible to receive Tier One funds.

The research projects led by College of Science faculty have helped to greatly strengthen UTA’s impact in the areas of health and the human condition; sustainable urban communities; data-driven discovery; and global environmental impact. These four points of emphasis make up the main pillars of UTA’s Strategic Plan 2020.

The depth and breadth of research being done in the College is of great benefit to Maverick Science students, who learn through hands-on experience in the laboratory and utilize the latest in state-of-the-art equipment. The College encourages undergraduate students to become involved in research early in their college careers, so they can become experienced researchers even before they enroll in graduate school or enter the workforce.

“The success that our faculty members have had in receiving significant research grants is a testament to the breadth and depth of their abilities,” College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi said. “Our faculty and their students are making a major impact with their research, in a wide range of fields. One of the major benefits of this increase in funding is that it allows more of our students to participate in research, starting at the undergraduate level.

“The work they are doing, often in collaboration with colleagues from universities and laboratories around the world, is interdisciplinary in nature, and much of it has the potential to open doors to great advances in medical and pharmaceutical therapies, among other things.”

New research grants received by College of Science faculty members since the start of 2019 range from $1,000 to $938,256. Some of the funding comes as part of continuing projects awarded previously. The grants come from an array of federal and state agencies, private foundations, companies, and laboratories. These sources include the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), Robert A. Welch Foundation, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the National Cancer Institute, among others.

“The College of Science is doing excellent research and their grant numbers bear that out,” said James Grover, UTA interim vice president for research, dean of the Graduate School, distinguished professor of biology and former College of Science interim and associate dean. “In this era of tight federal and state budgets, competition among universities and laboratories for research grant money is extremely fierce. The fact that the College of Science has had such success boosting its research expenditures in this climate says a lot about the quality of the work the faculty and the students in their labs are doing.”

A sampling of the College’s recent grants includes:

Department of Biology

  • $834,418 to Piya Ghose, assistant professor, from CPRIT to establish her cancer research program at UTA (total grant is $2 million).
  • $758,777 to Sen Xu, assistant professor, from NIH for a project titled “Understanding the origin of parthenogenesis” (total grant is $1.89 million).
  • $684,719 to Clay Clark, professor and chair, NIH, “Evolution of effector caspase conformational landscapes” (total grant is $1.17 million).
  • $357,573 to Cara Boutte, assistant professor, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “Control of Cell Wall Synthesis and Antibiotic Tolerance in Mycobacteria”.
  • $200,000 to Matt Walsh, associate professor, NSF, “EAGER: Effects of radiation on life history in ‘resurrected’ Daphnia lineages exposed to fallout from 1950s atmospheric nuclear testing”.
  • $155,582 to Corey Roelke, assistant professor of instruction, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Assessing Taxonomic and Genetic Diversity in the Western Hognose Snake”.

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

  • $938,256 to Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, Hamish Small Chair in Ion Analysis, NASA, “Ion/Liquid Chromatography for Exploration of Solar System”.
  • $822,312 to Sherri McFarland, professor, National Cancer Institute, “Immunomodulating Ruthenium Metal Complexes for Melanoma Photodynamic Therapy”.
  • $495,000 to Rasika Dias, Distinguished University Professor, NSF, “Development of New Materials and Methods for Effective, Selective, and Energy-Efficient Olefin/Paraffin Separation and Ethylene Detection”.
  • $448,991 to Junha Jeon, professor, NIH, “Catalytic Reductive C-H and C-C Silylation with Silyl Acetals”.
  • $420,000 to Frank Foss, associate professor, NSF, “Single Molecule Fluorescent Indicators for Gas-Phase Sensing of Metals”.
  • $383,999 to Carl Lovely, professor, NSF, “New methods for heterocycle synthesis”.
  • $240,000 to Frank Foss, Robert Welch Foundation, “Ion Binding, Mobility, and Single Molecule Fluorescence Sensing at Molecularly Designed Gas-Solid Interfaces”.

Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences

  • $567,831 to Qinhong “Max” Hu, professor, U.S. DOE, “Reduced diffusion and enhanced retention of multiple radionuclides from pore structure characterization of barrier materials for enhanced repository performance”.
  • $174,000 to Nathan Brown, assistant professor, NSF, “Using noble gas techniques to benchmark feldspar thermoluminescence (TL) thermochronology”.
  • $35,239 to Majie Fan, associate professor, ConTex, “Rise of the Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico, and its impact on the North American Monsoon”.

Department of Mathematics

  • $290,135 to Li Wang, assistant professor, NSF, “Advanced Models and Algorithms for Large-scale High-dimensional Probabilistic Graph Structure Learning”.
  • $254,379 to Theresa Jorgensen, associate professor, NSF, “Integrating Geoscience to Engage Majors with Mathematics: iGEM2”.
  • $152,385 to Guojun Liao, professor, NIH, “Novel Construction of Unbiased Templates for Brain Morphometry”.

Department of Physics

  • $750,000 to Jonathan Asaadi, assistant professor, U.S. DOE, ““Discovery Science with New Multi-modal Pixel-based Noble Element Time Projection Chambers”.
  • $659,394 to Ramon Lopez, professor, NSF, “Extraction and Transport to the Magnetosphere of Solar Wind Energy during Periods of Low Mach Number Solar Wind Flow”.
  • $594,089 to Nevin Weinberg, assistant professor, NASA, “Influence of nonlinear wave dynamics on the astereoseismic properties of post-main-sequence stars”.
  • $571,437 to Dan Welling, assistant professor, NASA, “The Center for the Unified Study of Interhemispheric Asymmetries (CUSIA)”
  • $472,225 to Mingwu Jin, NIH, “Attenuation Correction Strategies for Myocardial Perfusion Imaging Using Dual-Gated SPECT”.
  • $249,582 to Haleh Hadavand, Columbia University, “MREFC: U.S. ATLAS HL-LHC Upgrade Project”.

Department of Psychology

  • $500,000 to Jared Kenworthy, associate professor, U.S. Army Research Office, “Facilitating the Survival and Development of Novel Ideas in Collaborative Innovation”.
  • $439,360 to Linda Perrotti, associate professor, NIH, “Histone methylase MLL2 in regulation of SR-BI expression and plasma cholesterol”.

Some of the College’s many ongoing projects include:

  • $2,421,807 to Yue Deng, professor of physics, U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, “Next Generation Advances in Ionosphere Thermosphere Coupling at Multiple Scales for Environmental Specification and Prediction”.
  • $1,995,705 to Kaushik De, professor of physics, Stony Brook University, “Tier 2 U.S. ATLAS Operations (Onsite): Discovery and Measurement at the Energy Frontier”.
  • $1,065,000 to Andrew White, professor of physics, U.S. DOE, “Research in Elementary Particle Physics”.
  • $1,043,000 to David Nygren, Presidential Distinguished Professor of physics, U.S. DOE, “Searching for Neutrinoless Double Beta Decay with High Pressure Xenon Gas”.
  • $707,335 to Mark Pellegrino, assistant professor of biology, NIH, “Mechanisms of host protection during infection via the mitochondrial unfolded protein response”.