Monthly Update From the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development


New $15.5 Million Research Center Will Focus on Cybersecurity of Nation’s Power Grid

This digital controller board could be the target of cyber attacks. Photo by Matt Reynolds, University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas engineering researchers, focused on solid-state solutions to upgrade the U.S. power grid, will lead a new national center devoted to cybersecurity for electric power utilities. The center is made possible by a $12.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, augmented by $3.3 million in matching funds from the research partners.
“We’re proud to be recognized as a national leader in the area of power electronics research and security,” said Alan Mantooth, Distinguished Professor of electrical engineering. “The impact of this work is tremendous. All too frequently we are hearing of how foreign entities are hacking into U.S. computer systems. This center’s mission is directly focused on protecting America’s electric energy delivery system, and we are pleased to have a great team with which to approach these challenges.”

As principal investigator and director of the new center, Mantooth will lead a team of researchers who will identify and develop solutions for vulnerabilities across the U.S. power grid. Their goal is to protect hardware assets, make systems less susceptible to cyberattack and provide reliable delivery of electricity if such an attack were to occur.




National Institutes of Health Grant Will Advance Study of Chronic Wound Biomarkers

A 3-D reconstruction of skin was acquired through multi-photon microscopy. Courtesy Kyle Quinn, University of Arkansas

The National Institutes of Health awarded a University of Arkansas biomedical engineer a new $744,992 grant to improve imaging and early detection of chronic wounds and guide treatments.

Kyle Quinn, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, uses multi-photon microscopy to create 3-D, micro-scale images of chronic wounds to measure different wound properties. The images reveal the metabolism and structure of skin layers and wound regions so that physicians can diagnose chronic wounds and determine appropriate treatment.

Chronic, non-healing wounds are caused by poor circulation, neuropathy, immobility and other factors. They affect millions of Americans and require advanced care with annual costs in billions of dollars. Infection is often a problem, and mortality rates for people with chronic wounds can exceed that of many cancers. Clinicians struggle because there are not optimal methods to diagnose a wound or evaluate appropriate therapeutic interventions.

With multi-photon microscopy, Quinn can exploit the intrinsic fluorescence of NADH and FAD, two cellular metabolic cofactors found in chronic wounds. These cofactors are necessary for most metabolic pathways. Multi-photon microscopy allows Quinn to build images of wound sections so he and others can detect and assess metabolic changes.




Arkansas PROMISE Project Receives Additional $3.3 Million in Federal Funds

Perry Shaffer is participating in Arkansas PROMISE. Photo by Matt Reynolds, University of Arkansas

The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded an additional $3.3 million to the Arkansas PROMISE project that pays for paid work experiences for Arkansas teens with disabilities.

PROMISE is an acronym for “Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income.” In September 2013, the U.S. Department of Education awarded the initial five-year grant of $32.4 million to the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Department of Education to fund the Arkansas PROMISE project.
The award is believed to be the largest research grant received in University of Arkansas history.

The goal of the PROMISE project is to improve the career and education outcomes of low-income teenagers with disabilities. Last summer, 278 Arkansas youth worked a total of 44,817 hours, Arkansas PROMISE reported. A total of 324 employers participated at 202 unique worksites in 55 cities and 25 counties.




Physicists to Use DARPA Grant to Study Materials Considered Key to Energy

A diagram of bismuth ferrite. Courtesy Sergei Prokhorenko, University of Arkansas

Researchers at the University of Arkansas will use a $374,621 federal grant to investigate fundamental properties of materials that are considered key to advances in energy generation, storage and conversion.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which commissions advanced research for the U.S. Department of Defense, awarded the grant to an international research team led by Laurent Bellaiche, Distinguished Professor of physics.

The researchers will focus on developing, implementing and using predictive computational methods to advance the understanding of ferroelectric and multiferroic perovskite oxides, which are materials that convert one form of energy into another, said Sergei Prokhorenko, a postdoctoral research associate at the U of A and a lead researcher on the team.

Ferroelectric materials convert changes in mechanical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. These changes are known as a piezoelectric response and are used in a wide range of applications that include cell phones and heart implants.





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

  • Fisher Yu, $483,750, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Fred Limp, $254,606, U.S. Department of Interior
  • Shannon Wayne Dingman, $230,255, Arkansas Department of Education
  • Brent Smith, $198,573, University of Maryland
  • Lauren Greenlee, $109,950, Proton Energy Systems