Monthly Update From the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development


University to Lead New $20 Million NSF Center With Focus on Industrial Solutions

Min Zou, Twenty-First Century Professor in Mechanical Engineering, will direct the new Center for Advanced Surface Engineering. Photo by Matt Reynolds, University of Arkansas

A new federally funded research center led by the University of Arkansas will partner with Arkansas industries and create new products for use in manufacturing, aerospace and defense, agriculture, forestry, oil and gas, food packaging and health care.

The Center for Advanced Surface Engineering will be funded with a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation through its Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which promotes scientific progress nationwide by establishing partnerships with government, higher education and industry.

Min Zou, who holds the endowed Twenty-First Century Professorship in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Arkansas, will serve as the center’s director.

The center will comprise four interdisciplinary research teams made up of about 40 faculty members from 10 Arkansas institutions.

Plans include establishing start-up companies to commercialize technologies developed by the center, creating new products and new jobs to bolster the knowledge-based economy in Arkansas while also creating a workforce with the specialized skill-sets necessary to sustain industries that can utilize the center’s research.




University Part of New National Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems Center

Alan Mantooth will serve as deputy director of the new Power optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems center. Photo by Matt Reynolds, University of Arkansas

Researchers at the University of Arkansas will help lead a new $18.5 million engineering research center to design and develop vehicle electrical systems that are more powerful, efficient and heat-resistant.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems center, or P.O.E.T.S., will focus on improving current thermal and electrical limits in vehicle designs to make cars more fuel-efficient and extend the range of electric cars. 

Alan Mantooth, Distinguished Professor of electrical engineering at U of A, will serve as deputy director of the research center.

“P.O.E.T.S. has assembled a great team of engineers and scientists poised to have a substantial impact on power electronics technology, transportation systems, the workforce and the economy,” said Mantooth, who holds the Twenty-First Century Research Leadership Chair in the College of Engineering.

The center will integrate multiple disciplines and multiple institutions. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will serve as the lead institution.



Nursing School Receives $1 Million to Help Meet Needs of Underserved Populations

The $1 million grant will be used to increase the number of advanced practice registered nurses in Arkansas. Photo by Heidi Stambuck, University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas Eleanor Mann School of Nursing has received a federal grant of $1 million to increase the number of advanced practice registered nurses. The program is aimed at helping meet the health and wellness needs of Arkansas’ medically underserved populations.

The grant of $1,081,735 from the Health Resources and Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be paid over three years. Anna Jarrett, assistant professor of nursing, is the principal investigator and will oversee the grant project.

The grant enables the nursing school to prepare preceptors who will support the clinical education of Doctor of Nursing Practice students. Preceptors supervise clinical hours of graduate students and ensure that students complete work satisfactorily at the clinical site. The nursing school approves the selection of preceptors to participate in the academic programs.

Jarrett said mutually beneficial clinical partnerships formed as part of the project will implement an innovative, collaborative plan to enhance the educational experience of both clinical preceptors and D.N.P. students.


Patent Awarded to Researcher for Drug Developed to Treat Hair Loss, Other Disorders

Joshua Sakon is one of four co-inventors of the pharmaceutical protein now known as BMD-2341. Photo by Russell Cothren, University of Arkansas

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a patent to the University of Arkansas for a drug developed through research at the university for treatment of hair loss and other disorders.

Joshua Sakon, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the U of A, is one of four co-inventors of the pharmaceutical protein now known as BMD-2341. The patent, titled “Fusion Proteins of Collagen Binding-Domain and Parathyroid Hormone,” was issued June 23 to the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees, the Ochsner Clinic Foundation and the National University Corporation Kagawa University in Japan.

BiologicsMD, a drug discovery firm headquartered at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, holds the exclusive license to the patented technology and is developing a line of protein therapeutics and drug/device combination products to treat hair loss and baldness.

This is the second U.S. patent awarded to Sakon and his co-inventors for the family of discoveries. In 2013, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded a composition of matter patent for the protein therapeutics for the treatment of osteoporosis and other bone maladies. BiologicsMD also holds the exclusive license for these patents.





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 June, with the principal investigator, the award amount and the sponsor. An asterisk (*) indicates the continuation of a previous award.

  • Debra Hurd, $3,030,390, Arkansas Department of Human Services
  • Anna Jarrett, $1,081,736, Health Resources and Service Administration
  • Roger Koeppe, $347,981, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • Christa Hestekin, $300,000, National Science Foundation
  • Alan Mantooth, $198,355, National Science Foundation