February 2013

Supercomputing Network Awards

Grants to Researchers

Doug Spearot (left), associate professor of mechanical engineering, and doctoral student Shawn Coleman.


Douglas Spearot, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, and doctoral student Shawn Coleman are working to solve a computational problem in nanoscale material behavior. They are conducting research with the aid of supercomputers located in San Diego and Austin, Texas.

Their project was among three major awards of supercomputer time recently allocated to U of A researchers by the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment, a collection of facilities that scientists can use to interactively share computing resources, data and expertise.

The awards to the university total 3.6 million “service units” on supercomputers at sites ranging from California to Tennessee. The units, equivalent to core computing hours, are worth approximately $288,000 based on estimates by the National Science Foundation and XSEDE, according to Jeff Pummill, manager of cyberinfrastructure enablement at the university’s Arkansas High Performance Computing Center. The center helped prepare the supercomputer time-grant proposals.

In addition to Spearot and Coleman, Douglas Rhoads, professor of biological sciences, and Xuan Shi, an assistant professor of geosciences, received awards of supercomputer time. Shi was awarded time at supercomputers at the National Institute for Computational Sciences in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to accelerate computations centering on crime data and urban sprawl simulations. Rhoads is working with Pummill on assembling the complete genome for the timber rattlesnake. A better understanding of the reptile genome has implications for human health, among other things. They were awarded time on supercomputers in San Diego, Austin and Pittsburgh.


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Chemist Receives NSF Early Career Award

Colin Heyes, left, and research collaborator Nela Durisic.

Colin Heyes, an assistant professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Arkansas, has received a $650,000 Faculty Early Career Development Program award from the National Science Foundation.

The award was given to further his investigation of the interfaces between the core and shell of colloidal quantum dots.

Colloidal quantum dots are microscopic semiconductor crystals that are grown in solution. Adding a shell to the core quantum dot provides a way to control the functionality of these crystals, which can be used to emit light for biomedical imaging, LEDs and spectroscopy or photocurrents for solar cells and chemical sensors. The research will help scientists better understand the relationship between the structure of the quantum dot and its functionality.

“All of these modern applications rely on the same fundamental electronic processes within quantum dots,” Heyes said. “Our work will provide a better understanding of how to control these crystals to eventually build brighter, faster, longer-lasting and more efficient products.”

The grant will support Heyes’ research in this area for the next five years and will encourage and promote the participation of graduate, undergraduate and minority students. As part of the grant, a two-week, hands-on workshop will be held each summer on the U of A campus.

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Blair-Clinton School Poll Provides National Public Opinion

Americans believe higher education institutions and the federal government share almost equal responsibility for student loan debt in the country. This is one preliminary result from a comprehensive national research survey sponsored by two entities of the University of Arkansas System.

The nonpartisan academic poll was conducted by the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock. An early look at the results shows public opinion regarding issues such as student loan debt, the killing of Osama bin Laden and the 2012 presidential election.

This is the Blair Center’s second election year to administer the national poll and the first time it was conducted in partnership with the Clinton School. The project was founded by an interdisciplinary group of scholars from the Blair Center including Todd Shields, Angie Maxwell, Pearl Ford Dowe and Rafael Jimeno.

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Faculty, Students Solve Biochemistry Problem

Denise Greathouse, University of Arkansas

After years of experimentation, researchers at the University of Arkansas have solved a complex, decades-old problem in membrane biochemistry.

The consequence of their work will give scientists more information about the function and structure of proteins.

“Historically, lysine and arginine, both basic amino acids, were considered to have very similar properties and therefore to be essentially interchangeable,” said Denise Greathouse, a research associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry. “Our results demonstrate that despite their similarities, the differences in their behavior in membrane environments provide important clues for understanding membrane protein function.”

The findings appeared in the January issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Greathouse, former doctoral students Nicholas Gleason and Vitaly Vostrikov, and Roger Koeppe II, Distinguished Professor of chemistry and biochemistry, wrote the article, “Buried lysine, but not arginine, titrates and alters transmembrane helix tilt.”


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Supercomputing Networks Awards Grants to Researchers

Chemist Receives NSF Early Career Award

Blair-Clinton School Poll Provides National Public Opinion

Faculty, Students Solve Biochemistry Problem


Engineering Professor Receives NSF CAREER Award

U of A Doctoral Student First to Identify Nature of Historic Meteorite

In Global Trade, Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be a Bad Thing


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Award Winners

The following is a sampling of faculty awards in February, with the principal investigator, the award amount and the sponsor. An asterisk (*) indicates the continuation of a previous award.

- Sean Mulvenon, $3,098,365, The Corporation for Developing Awareness of World Need Inc.
- Denise Airola, $194,300, Arkansas Department of Education
- Jackson Cothren, $30,074, Endeavor Foundation
- Feng Wang, $24,602, National Science Foundation
- Tyrone Washington, $20,000, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences


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