Monthly Update From the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development


McComas Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

William F. McComas directs the Project to Advance Science Education at the U of A. Courtesy photo
University of Arkansas Professor William F. McComas has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The honor is bestowed by peers in recognition of work deemed scientifically or socially significant.

McComas is the inaugural holder of the Parks Family Endowed Professorship in Science Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education and Health Professions. McComas directs the Project to Advance Science Education.

“Being elected a Fellow in a major scientific society such as AAAS is a wonderful honor for an educator, and is particularly appropriate as it recognizes that scientific discovery and education are inexorably intertwined,” McComas said. “We in science education are charged with translating the work of those engaged in scientific research to inform classroom teachers at all levels, help prepare the next generation of scientists, and assist in communicating the results of science to enlighten the public and inform decision-makers.”


U of A Launches New Podcast From Research Frontiers

Tune in now to Short Talks From the Hill, a new podcast from the University of Arkansas.

This podcast features stories of discovery across the U of A campus — from renowned historian and Distinguished Professor Randall Woods discussing his new book on Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society to a graduate student who discovered the re-emergence of the northern saw-whet owl in Arkansas.

A new podcast will air every three weeks and can be heard on or

Scheduled programming includes: “How we feel about spending our bottom dollar,” Robin Soster, assistant professor of marketing; “Searching for the saw-whet owl,” Mitchell Pruitt, graduate student; “Understanding the Federal Reserve and stress testing community banks,” Tim Yeager, professor of finance; and “Food scarcity in Northwest Arkansas,” Kevin Fitzpatrick, professor of sociology.

Future broadcasts also include: “LBJ and the Great Society,” Randall Woods, Distinguished Professor of history; “The dreaded earworm,” Elizabeth Margulis, professor of music; “Graphene, a two-dimensional powerhouse,” Paul Thibado, professor of physics; and “Teeth, a very short introduction” – Peter Ungar, Distinguished Professor of anthropology.

NSF Awards Scholar in Residence Grant to U of A Bioanalytical Chemist

Julie Stenken is a professor in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. Photo by Russell Cothren
The National Science Foundation has awarded a one-year, $100,000 grant to bioanalytical chemist Julie Stenken to serve as a scholar in residence at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The project will focus on monitoring chemical communication called “quorum sensing” arising from thin films of bacteria that adhere to medical implants such as catheters, ventilators – even artificial joints. About 60 percent of healthcare-associated infections are caused by infection of medical devices, leading to about 100,000 deaths annually. The Food and Drug Administration regulates medical devices.

Stenken, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is a leading expert in the technique of microdialysis sampling. Stenken, will work with Dr. Steven Wood, an immunologist at the Food and Drug Administration who has experience with medical devices. A microdialysis is a probe that is placed under the skin to mimic medical implants.

“We will use microdialysis sampling to monitor the chemical communication between bacteria in a biofilm and extend this to complex systems involving biofilms and macrophages,” Stenken said.

Researchers Find Potential Therapy for Brain Swelling During Concussion

Kartik Balachandran (left) and Nasya Sturdivant pose in Balachandran's lab. Photo by University Relations
A team of biomedical engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have identified a cause of fluid swelling of the brain, or cellular edema, that occurs during a concussion.
The researchers discovered that pre-treating the cells with an existing, FDA-approved drug used for epilepsy and altitude sickness reduces the expression of a specific protein that causes swelling.

Their findings were published in a recent issue of Nature’s Scientific Reports.

“Our study found that mild traumatic brain injury resulted in increased expression of a protein called aquaporin-4, which caused a massive cellular influx of fluid, leading to increased astrocyte cell volume and injury,” said Kartik Balachandran, assistant professor of biomedical engineering.

In addition to Balachandran, who led the study, the research was conducted by Nasya Sturdivant, biomedical-engineering doctoral candidate; Jeffrey Wolchok, assistant professor of biomedical engineering; and partners at the FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas.




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

  • Michael R. Thomsen, $338,868, National Institutes of Health
  • Shelley M. Aschliman, $250,000, Arkansas Department of Education
  • Lindsey M. Swagerty, $170,725, Arkansas Department of Education
  • Chenguang Fan, $136,540, National Institutes of Health
  • Jackson Cothren, $127,693, National Science Foundation
  • Lauren Greenlee, $110,000, The Petroleum Research Fund, American Chemical Society