Monthly Update From the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development


Faculty and Staff Grant Recipients Recognized at 'Top 15 in 2015 Ceremony

Chancellor Joseph E. Steinmetz speaks at the Top 15 in 2015 ceremony. Photo by Matt Reynolds, University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas recently honored its 'Top 15 in 2015" class of research award recipients in a ceremony in Sturgis Hall at the Janelle Y. Hembree Alumni House.

The offices of the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs and vice provost for research and economic development hosted the ceremony and reception, which recognized faculty and staff researchers who were the university’s most highly funded in fiscal year 2015.

As a group, the 15 faculty and staff researchers accounted for more than half of the University of Arkansas’ total external research funding of $63.7 million in fiscal 2015.

"You’re bringing distinction, you’re bringing prestige and you’re bringing critical research dollars to the university, and, even more important than the research dollars, you are advancing the knowledge base,” Chancellor Joseph E. Steinmetz told the group. “I want you to know how much you mean to the university and how important your work is in advancing our academic mission.”


U of A Researcher Links Mass Extinctions to Suspected Ninth Planet

An artistic rendering shows the distant view from Planet X back towards the sun. Courtesy Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)
Periodic mass extinctions on Earth, as indicated in the global fossil record, could be linked to a suspected ninth planet, according to research published by a faculty member in the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

Daniel Whitmire, a retired professor of astrophysics now working as a math instructor, published findings in the January issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society that the as yet undiscovered “Planet X” triggers comet showers linked to mass extinctions on Earth at intervals of approximately 27 million years.

Though scientists have been looking for Planet X for 100 years, the possibility that it’s real got a big boost recently when researchers from Caltech inferred its existence based on orbital anomalies seen in objects in the Kuiper Belt, a disc-shaped region of comets and other larger bodies beyond Neptune.

If the Caltech researchers are correct, Planet X is about 10 times the mass of Earth and could currently be up to 1,000 times more distant from the sun.

University Salutes Seven Faculty at Fourth Annual Inventors Appreciation Banquet

Faculty honored at the Inventors Appreciation Banquet are joined by U of A System President Donald R. Bobbitt (back row, from left), U of A Chancellor Joseph E. Steinmetz and Provost Ashok Saxena. Photo by Matt Reynolds, University of Arkansas
The U of A honored seven faculty inventors at the fourth annual Inventors Appreciation Banquet.

The event, held at the Innovation Center at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, saluted the accomplishments of inventors who have been issued recent patents. They were initiated into the National Academy of Inventors, a nonprofit organization that accepted the University of Arkansas as a charter member in 2012.

Faculty who were initiated into the academy were: Marty Matlock, professor, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering; Scott Osborn, associate professor, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering; Xianghong Qian, associate professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering; and Ranil Wickramasinghe, professor and Ross E. Martin Chair in Emerging Technologies, Department of Chemical Engineering.

Also honored were faculty members of the National Academy of Inventors who were awarded patents in the last year: Jia Di, professor and Twenty-First Century Research Leadership Chair, Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering; Ralph Henry, Distinguished Professor and W.M. Keck Professor, Department of Biological Sciences; and Hameed Naseem, professor, Department of Electrical Engineering.

Chemist Partners With UAMS to Create Nanodrug to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Infections

Jingyi Chen, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Photo by University Relations
A research team led by University of Arkansas chemist Jingyi Chen and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences microbiologist Mark Smeltzer has developed an alternative therapeutic approach to fighting antibiotic-resistant infections.

The novel method uses a targeted, light-activated nanodrug consisting of antibiotic-loaded nanoconstructs, which are nanoscale cages made of gold and coated with polydopamine. The antibiotic is loaded into the polydopamine coating. The gold nanocages convert laser irradiation to heat, resulting in the photothermal effect and simultaneously releasing the antibiotic from the polydopamine coating.

"We believe that this approach could facilitate the effective treatment of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including those associated with bacterial biofilms, which are involved in a wide variety of bacterial infections," said Chen, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.




Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development
205 Administration Building
1 University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701

The Office of Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development has added several electronic distribution lists relating to subjects of interest to the University of Arkansas research community. More information about the types of lists and registering for them can be found here.

The following is a sampling of the top grants awarded to faculty and staff in March, with the principal investigator, the award amount and the sponsor. An asterisk (*) indicates the continuation of a previous award.

  • Jeanne C. Miller, U.S. Department of Education, $1,673,547
  • Ashley Dowling, $775,765, National Science Foundation
  • Stavros Kavouras, $356,613, Danone Research
  • Bryan Hill, $292,965, Institute of International Education
  • Janie Hipp, $189,983, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Michael D. Glover, $173,912, Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies