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Foreword: Pushing the Boundaries of Knowledge

As a rising research powerhouse, The University of Texas at Arlington advances the economy by fostering discovery and cultivating entrepreneurship. Our researchers relentlessly pursue answers to seemingly impossible-to-solve problems, creating knowledge that evolves into the next generation of inventions.

These cutting-edge explorations helped UT Arlington’s research expenditures more than triple in 10 years to a record $66 million in 2010-11. Our faculty members received 14 patents last year, and an additional 52 are up for consideration.

Electrical engineering Professor J.-C. Chiao received one of the patents for a device aimed at saving babies’ lives through rapid detection of breathing problems, including sudden infant death syndrome. Attachable to cribs and car seats, the wireless sensor system detects the carbon dioxide babies exhale as they sleep.

Dr. Chiao and research partners Hung Cao and Heather Beardsley will use a Texas Medical Research Collaborative grant to test, design, and manufacture a commercial prototype.

This issue of Inquiry is full of similar innovations with the potential to enhance and save lives. Another child-focused project involves a robot with hazel eyes and lifelike skin that can walk, gesture, and exhibit facial expressions. Scientists in the UT Arlington Research Institute are reprogramming the robot to diagnose and treat children with autism spectrum disorders.

Combating cancer is a major emphasis for our researchers. Bioengineers are developing optical technology that can detect malignant tumors in deep tissue, leading to earlier diagnoses of breast, prostate, thyroid, and other cancers. In the Genomics Translational Research Laboratory, nursing professors examine why some breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy get so tired that they can hardly function.

Beyond the cancer arena, a research team is collaborating with the U.S. Army and Northwestern University to perfect a high-tech mask that can help rebuild the faces of badly burned soldiers. Microbiologists are testing a novel method to destroy a deadly bacterium that often strikes the elderly and others who have compromised immune systems. Psychologists are working to better understand drug abuse and addiction.

Women lead many of UT Arlington’s explorations, including efforts to minimize the devastation of major earthquakes and investigate the genomic structure of fruit flies for clues to how our own reproductive functions evolve. They’re also studying the impact of family-friendly work policies on employees and how children with coordination difficulties can become more confident in their abilities.

The University’s expanding research endeavors serve as an ever-increasing catalyst for individual opportunity and economic development. By asking—and answering—complex questions about the universe and our role in it, UT Arlington researchers push the boundaries of knowledge and contribute to a healthier and more productive society.