Monthly Update From the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development


Davis Appointed Associate Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development

Ralph K. Davis (left) and Jim Rankin. Photos by University Relations

Ralph K. Davis has been appointed associate vice provost for research and economic development.

Davis, professor and chair of the Department of Geosciences, will retain his faculty appointment. He will report to Jim Rankin, vice provost for research and economic development.

“Dr. Davis is a greatly respected member of the University of Arkansas faculty who will strongly assist in building the campus’ research enterprise,” Rankin said.

Davis will help support faculty in research positions by identifying funding opportunities and working with them to develop grant proposals. He will also represent the U of A at state and federal agencies and consortiums.

“This is a wonderful opportunity,” Davis said. “I look forward to working with Dr. Rankin and his team to engage our faculty and research partners with an overall goal of enhancing and expanding our research and economic development footprint.”



Air Force Office of Scientific Research Awards $360,000 Grant to Physicist  

Quantum dots in a carbon nanotube. Courtesy Hugh Churchill

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research has awarded a $360,000 grant to physicist Hugh Churchill, who studies semiconducting nanomaterials that could power a new generation of electronic devices.

Churchill, an assistant professor of physics and director of the Quantum Device Laboratory, will use the grant to investigate two-dimensional semiconductor devices known as quantum dots.

“These 2-D atomic materials provide the ingredients to make a wide variety of electronic and optoelectronic devices,” Churchill said. “They are flexible and nearly transparent and also have interesting physical properties. Layering these 2-D materials on top of each other to create quantum effects gives us a new freedom in constructing materials.”

The two goals of Churchill’s project are to study the way electrons behave in 2-D materials, and to determine if a new property of electrons in these materials would be useful for quantum information processing.

The grant, spread over three years, was made through the Air Force’s Young Investigator Research Program.



National Science Foundation Awards $225,000 to Boston Mountain Biotech

U of A graduates McKinzie Fruchtl (left) and Ellen Brune form the core of Boston Mountain Biotech. Photo by Matt Reynolds, University of Arkansas.

The National Science Foundation has awarded a nearly $225,000 grant to Boston Mountain Biotech LLC, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company that uses patented technology developed at the University of Arkansas.

U of A graduate Ellen Brune founded Boston Mountain Biotech LLC, after helping develop a patented method to simplify the production of pharmaceutical proteins used in drugs that treat a variety of diseases and health conditions.
Boston Mountain Biotech – a Genesis Technology Incubator client at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park – holds the exclusive license to market the trademarked Lotus purification platform.

“It can cost half a billion to $1 billion in 10 years for pharmaceutical manufacturers to deliver a protein therapeutic from a lab to the manufacturing stage,” Brune said. “Our company uses genetic engineering to make the purification process more efficient. We’re trying to help large pharmaceutical companies get their drugs to market cheaper and faster.”




Min Zou Named One of Five 2016 Arkansas Research Alliance Fellows

Min Zou, Twenty-First Century Professor in Mechanical Engineering. Photo by Matt Reynolds, University of Arkansas.

The Arkansas Research Alliance named Min Zou, who holds the Twenty-First Century Professorship in Mechanical Engineering, one of five 2016 fellows for her research and development of nanoscale surfaces like anti-reflective coatings for solar panels, friction-reducing coatings in electronics and coatings that keep skillets slick.

Zou is the scientific lead on a new $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create a Center for Advanced Surface Engineering. The grant enables the U of A and nine other state universities to partner with industries and create new products for manufacturing, aerospace, defense, agriculture, oil and gas, food packaging and health care.

The new fellows “represent the exemplary research talent at Arkansas universities and the powerful potential that exists to positively impact economic development, innovation and advancement in our state,” said Jerry Adams, Arkansas Research Alliance president and CEO.




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

  • Gary Ritter, $240,426, The Walton Family Foundation
  • Jamie A. Hestekin, $119,530, Process Dynamics Inc.
  • Angela I. Fritz, $73,989, National Historical Publications and Records Commission
  • Vibha Srivastava, $31,068, Arkansas Economic Development Commission
  • Michelle A. Evans-White, $21,599, The Nature Conservancy