Monthly Update From the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development


Researchers Awarded Early Career Grants by Department of Energy

Salvador-Barraza-Lopez (left) and John B. Shaw.
Salvador Barraza-Lopez, assistant professor of physics, and John B. Shaw, assistant professor of geosciences, have each been awarded $750,000 Early Career Research grants by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Barraza-Lopez will use his grant to further research two-dimensional materials that are being investigated as candidates to power the next generation of electronic devices. He recently led an international research team that found black phosphorous and monochalcogenide monolayers act differently than any other known 2-D materials at any given temperature.

Shaw will use his grant to further his study of sedimentary basins, which have a complicated architecture of sandy channel deposits and muddy floodplain deposits. His project is designed to improve the understanding of how water, hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide move through the Earth’s subsurface. 

The Early Career Research Program, now in its seventh year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during their crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work.

Evolutionary Biologist Selected as Simons Early Career Investigator

Andrew Alverson looks at marine diatoms growing in a bioreactor in his lab. Photo by Russell Cothren, University of Arkansas
The Simons Foundation has awarded $540,000 to U of A biologist Andrew Alverson to study the evolution of microscopic marine algae in the Baltic Sea.

Alverson is one of four researchers across the United States selected as a 2016 Simons Early Career Investigator in Marine Microbial Ecology and Evolution.

Alverson studies diatoms, one of the world’s most diverse groups of microalgae, also known as phytoplankton. Diatoms are single-celled algae that are found in oceans, lakes and rivers – practically anywhere there is sunlight and moisture. They are prolific photosynthesizers, producing one-fifth of the world’s oxygen, and are a key primary producer for ocean food webs.

This project will be heavily computational, relying on resources available through the Arkansas High Performance Computing Center at the U of A.

Alverson is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. His research is also currently funded by the National Science Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Arkansas Biosciences Institute.

NSF Grant Will Help Researchers Improve Wear Resistance of Teflon

Min Zou (right) discusses her research with postdoctoral research associate Samuel Beckford. Photo by University Relations
U of A researchers will receive a $450,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to further their study of a novel approach that significantly improves wear resistance of polytetrafluoroethylene coatings. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is better known by its trademarked brand name: Teflon.

The funding will support the work of Zou and Jingyi Chen, assistant professor of chemistry in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. Zou and Chen are investigating a novel approach to improve wear resistance of PTFE coatings by incorporating polydopamine as an adhesive under layer.

Zou, who holds the Twenty-First Century Professorship in mechanical engineering, serves as director of the statewide Center for Advanced Surface Engineering, which was created last summer with a $20 million NSF/EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) grant and an additional $4 million matching funds from the state.

University Establishes Service Center to Manufacture Proteins for Research

Suresh Thallapuranam, professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Photo by University Relations
The U of A has established a center to create research-grade proteins, providing a source for research materials developed in campus laboratories.

The University of Arkansas Biologics Service Center is a research collaboration between David Zaharoff, who holds the Twenty-First Century Professorship in Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering, and Suresh Thallapuranam, professor of biochemistry. 

The center will manufacture research-grade proteins related to ongoing projects in the researchers’ respective laboratories.

“Some of the materials – proteins and reagents – we use in our research are extremely expensive,” said Zaharoff, associate professor of biomedical engineering. “We have developed techniques to make some of the material ourselves. Not only does this save us money, but, because we have become quite efficient at making it, we can make excess material available to the research community for their own projects.”




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

  • Alan Mantooth, National Science Foundation, $3,083,332
  • Janie Hipp, $902,400, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Stavros Kavouras, $647,347, Danone Research
  • Benton M. Brown, $150,000, Windgate Foundation
  • Marty D. Matlock, $95,000, Hawaii Department of Agriculture
  • Curt Rom, $88,344, Walmart Foundation