Dr. Brian Zoellner, a University of North Florida associate professor in the Department of Foundations and Secondary Education within the College of Education and Human Services, and Dr. William Klostermeyer, a professor in the School of Computing and interim dean of the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction, were just awarded a grant totaling over $291,000 from the National Science Foundation to help better prepare local high school educators in teaching computer science. [Read more…] about UNF Receives Sizeable NSF Grant to Enhance Local Computer Science Teacher Readiness
National Science Foundation
Digital Infrastructure Will Allow Researchers to Share Diverse Scientific Information
Dr. Stuart Chalk, a University of North Florida chemistry professor, has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to test and improve upon his data science framework, SciData, which will help make the integration of scientific data more efficient for researchers. [Read more…] about Chemistry Professor Awarded NSF Grant to Improve Data Science Framework
University of Florida research spending reached a record $801.4 million in fiscal year 2017, according to a new report to the National Science Foundation.
UF’s response to NSF’s Higher Education Research and Development, or HERD, Survey showed a $10.1 million increase, or 1.3 percent, in total expenditures over 2016’s total of $791.3 million.
Research spending is fueled primarily through individual grants and contracts that are secured by UF faculty in a very competitive funding landscape. This increase reflects progress in the university’s efforts to enhance its impact and reputation.
Expenditures on projects supported with federal agency funding increased $20 million, or 6.6 percent, to $327.3 million while state projects increased $7.3 million, or 5.4 percent, to $142.5 million. Funding from non-profit organizations and foundations rose 15 percent to $42.3 million.
Life sciences research, including health and agricultural research, accounted for $589.8 million, or about 74 percent of the total. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health, is UF’s largest funding agency.
Engineering accounted for $97.8 million, while physical sciences – like astronomy, chemistry and physics – accounted for $28 million.
“UF’s research enterprise has been on a steady upward trend for many years,” said David Norton, UF’s vice president for research. “Surpassing this milestone of $800 million in research expenditures is testament to the thousands of faculty members who are helping to change the world with their science, and to the staff who guide these projects from proposal to completion.”
NSF collects expenditure data from universities around the country and compiles it into a report that will be released later this year. Last year, based on fiscal year 2016 data, UF ranked 24thamong all universities and 14th among public universities in research expenditures.
Among the largest projects under way in 2017 were a U.S. Department of Agriculture project to refine an inedible seed called Brassica carinata into a renewable jet fuel; a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project to keep Zika and other vector-borne diseases from gaining a foothold in the United States; and a U.S. Department of Defense project to study a type of heart disease that primarily effects women.
Florida Polytechnic University was awarded its first National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to sponsor a cutting-edge research project proposed by Computer Science professors Dr. Luis Jaimes and Dr. Ilhan Akbas.
The research on Cyber-Physical Systems applications focuses on crowd-sensing (CS) to leverage the power of crowds to monitor a variable of interest such as temperature, pollution or state of infrastructure in smart cities. CS systems rely on the willingness of crowds to participate in the collection and reporting of data using sensors either embedded in autonomous vehicles or integrated in participants’ cellphones.
“The chances of winning this NSF grant were very low, but Florida Poly beat the odds,” said Dr. Jaimes, principal investigator. “There were many projects presented in the area of Cyber-Physical Systems and only two percent won a grant.”
The potential of crowdsourcing has been proven in fields like environmental science, transportation systems, and social science. Well-known examples include the mobile applications for community-based traffic and navigation, which help drivers take the most efficient routes based on information provided by other drivers.
This project addresses the problem of spatial and temporal coverage, particularly in isolated sub-regions where participants’ density is very low. This problem is tackled by the development of incentive mechanisms that assigns compensation for data collection based on the density of a given region.
“This technology will help us get more accurate and more up-to-date information on weather, traffic, or even pollen,” said Dr. Akbas. “Then people can make better decisions based on their individual needs, like changing their daily commute to reduce stress or avoid environmental conditions that represent a health risk.”
The $166,000 grant will help explore other potential applications for this research including autonomous vehicle scheduling and navigation, smart robots navigation and smart utilization of transportation resources.
“It’s very exciting to have the opportunity to develop this project in the next two years and be able to hire students to help us with the process,” said Dr. Jaimes.
“We’re confident the models and simulators that we create in this project will lead to future research in this very hot field,” concluded Dr. Akbas.
The National Science Foundation recently awarded a grant to an Orlando-based company and UCF Incubator client that could help improve cancer patients’ quality of life and potentially reduce the number of times patients are readmitted to a hospital.
“It’s a great honor,” said Rodney Bosley, CEO and director of SegAna. “As we move forward in advancing the commercialization of SegAna’s real-time cloud-based treatment guidance software for radiation cancer treatment, grants like these are vital.”
The company was founded to bring together technology developed at the University of Central Florida and University of California at Los Angeles into a commercially available simulated lung. The software NSF is helping fund is linked to the original research started at UCF. The grant is a cooperative grant with UCLA’s Department of Radiation Oncology.
Once fully developed, the technology would allow radiation oncologists to plan and deliver patient-specific, advanced treatments quickly and modified to suit the current tumor location and motion. More importantly, it will only deliver radiation to the tumor and avoid normal tissues, the researchers say.
SegAna’s technology will be a software framework that provides treatment guidance for radiotherapy. The software provides near real-time computing performance, facilitating clinical decision-making for adaptive radiotherapy.
“We’ve been able to show in our research how this technology will improve radiation treatment, the patient’s quality of life, and ultimately, reduce the number of times a patient is readmitted to the hospital,” Bosley said.
UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professors Jihua Gou and Olusegun Ilegbusi provided the primary design of the printing materials and a 3-D printer to print a lung phantom with specific physical, radiological and mechanical properties. Gou’s expertise includes composite materials and structures, nanocomposite material and advanced manufacturing.
Ilegbusi is an expert on flow structure profiling of cardiovascular disease and image analysis, multifunctional nanocomposites and biosensors. They are cofounders of SegAna and said it was gratifying to see something they worked on make progress towards commercialization and helping improve lives.
The Small Business Innovation Research Phase 1 grant is valued at $225,000. SBIR is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in federal research/research and development that has the potential for commercialization. The mission of the SBIR program is to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy.
Conference focuses on high impact teaching and learning practices for molecular sciences
The National Science Foundation has granted The University of Tampa $31,625 to support a conference on transforming undergraduate education in the molecular life sciences.
Michael Carastro, associate professor of biochemistry and a conference organizer, applied for and received the funding. The funding will support 10 community college faculty members and 25 graduate students/postdoctoral fellows to attend the conference.
Carastro said he is pleased to have received the grant as “National Science Foundation funding is extremely competitive, and this is the first direct funding that UT has received from NSF in more than five years.”
The conference is being held at UT July 20–23 and is affiliated with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The meeting will focus on high-impact teaching and learning practices and mechanisms to facilitate student transitions from two-year colleges to four-year colleges and universities.
The conference will be in the Vaughn Center at UT, and media is welcome to attend all sessions. For more information about the conference, click here.
Florida A&M University (FAMU) has been awarded a four-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) to help broaden the participation of minority graduates in the nation’s science and technology workforce.
The grant, which was effective June 1, supports FAMU’s HBCU-UP project titled “Science Community of Active Learners to Enhance Achievement and Retention.” The program is designed to significantly increase student success rates in FAMU’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree programs.
Key areas of focus include:
- Improving the academic preparedness of freshman STEM students, so they are better equipped for the rigor of upper-division STEM major courses, graduate school and the global marketplace
- Increasing the retention, persistence and graduation rates of STEM students
- Increasing the number of students at the University pursuing STEM degrees
- Providing professional development opportunities for STEM faculty to study best teaching practices
Maurice Edington, Ph.D., vice president for Strategic Planning, Analysis and Institutional Effectiveness, serves as the principal investigator for the project. FAMU professors Lewis Johnson, Ph.D., Desmond Stephens, Ph.D., and Paulette Reneau, Ph.D., join him as co-investigators.
“I am tremendously excited about this program, which will support FAMU’s ongoing efforts to increase retention and graduation rates and enhance degree production in high-demand areas,” Edington said. “The grant also aligns with several of the priorities outlined in the new University strategic plan, which focuses heavily on providing exceptional student experiences and supporting faculty excellence.”
The grant marks the second NSF HBCU-UP award for Edington and his team. They are completing a four-year, $1.6 million award that was received in 2013 for a project entitled “Student Centered Active-Learning and Assessment Reform.”
Three Flagler College students have earned coveted internships at major research institutions this summer, thanks to National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Coastal Environmental Science majors Cody Burns, Madeline Musante and Alexis Morris will be heading to Oregon and Virginia for their highly-competitive research experiences.
“This is the pinnacle of all internships,” said Dr. Terri Seron, chair of the Natural Sciences Department.
The REU program funds opportunities for undergraduates, who work in research programs of the host institution. Students are associated with a specific research project, where they work closely with the faculty and other researchers. Students are granted stipends and, in many cases, assistance with housing and travel.
Burns will be traveling to Old Dominion University, where he will investigate the impacts of climate change on urban communities. Musante will be interning at the Hatfield Marine Science Center at Oregon State University, where she will work on a collaborative project between the Lab and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to study the early development of rockfish off the coast of the state. Morris will also travel to Oregon State, where she will study the effects of anthropogenic activities on marine communities found in underwater sediments.
Musante was thrilled to learn she secured an internship: “It’s the perfect fit for me because it builds on the knowledge and experience I have gained at Flagler,” she said.
Flagler alumni Kyle Jennette was awarded the prestigious internship in 2010, and Kassi Ferguson and Daphne Pariser in 2012; all students have since entered doctoral programs. Jennette is working on his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Ferguson at Florida State University and Pariser at New York University.
“This demonstrates how important undergraduate research here at Flagler really is, and how much work and time our Science faculty and students are putting in outside of regular classes,” Seron said. “I am so proud of the way research has grown here at Flagler.”