Monthly Update From the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development


U of A Sets Research Funding Record With $101.7 Million in Fiscal 2016

Photo by Russell Cothren
University of Arkansas research funding topped $100 million in fiscal year 2016, the highest level of research funding in the university’s history.

The total of $101.7 million, which included research funding for the University of Arkansas System’s Division of Agriculture, represented a 27 percent increase over 2015. Fiscal 2016 ended June 30. The university also set a record with $145 million in research expenditures in fiscal 2016.

“This is a significant milestone for the university as a comprehensive research institution and remarkable growth in a difficult funding environment,” said Jim Rankin, vice provost for research and economic development. “Our faculty and staff are collaborating across departments and colleges more than ever, resulting in research that impacts Arkansas, the nation and the world.”

The funding breakdown was: $64.7 million in federal support, $14.3 million in state support, $7.7 million from industry partners, $7 million from foundations, and $7.9 million from other sources.


DOE Award Supports Research on New Method of Making Ammonia

Lauren Greenlee, the Lewis Owen Professor of Chemical Engineering, poses with U of A Chancellor Joe Steinmetz at a faculty luncheon. Photo by Whit Pruitt, University Relations
Engineering Professor Lauren Greenlee and her colleagues at Case Western Reserve and Pennsylvania State universities have received a $599,373 award from the U.S. Department of Energy to study an alternative method for making ammonia.

Ammonia, a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, is a colorless gas used as fertilizer in agricultural and food production. It is also used in many commercial cleaning products and as a building block for the synthesis of pharmaceutical products.

Greenlee will focus on developing synthetic electrocatalysts that can reduce nitrogen gas to ammonia at temperatures below 100 degrees Celsius. They will try to develop a better understanding of how nitrogen and water interact with catalyst surfaces.

“Much is still unknown about this electrochemical reaction,” Greenlee said. “While the end goal of this work is to develop synthetic electrocatalysts for ammonia production, we will first take a huge step back and simply try to understand reactant transport to the catalyst surface.”


DARPA Award Will Help Researchers Build Single-Photon Detector

Greg Salamo, Distinguished Professor of physics. Photo by Russell Cothren, University Relations
U of A researchers have received a $595,000 award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to help build a single-photon detector using quantum dots. Their work is part of a multi-institutional project that seeks the fundamental limits of quantum semiconductor photon detectors.

A photon detector, or photodetector, is a device that absorbs optical energy and converts it to an electrical signal. These devices are used widely in optical communications systems, computing systems and various sensors. A quantum dot is a piece of semiconducting material on the scale of a few nanometers.

The U of A researchers, Shui-Qing “Fisher” Yu, associate professor of electrical engineering, and Greg Salamo, Distinguished Professor of physics, were chosen because of their expertise with quantum dots, semiconductor optoelectronics and molecular-beam epitaxy, the last of which is a method of depositing nanocrystals to create quantum dots. 

“This is an extremely competitive project, and we are very proud to be selected for the award,” said Yu.

An agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, DARPA is responsible for developing emerging technologies.


Political Scientist Publishes Book on LBJ and the Democratic Party

President Lyndon Johnson greets one of the residents of Appalachia on a poverty tour in 1964. Photo by Cecil Stoughton, courtesy of LBJ Library
Pearl K. Dowe, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and interim director of the African and African American Studies Program at the U of A, has published a book on the reshaping of one of the U.S.'s major political parties.

Remaking the Democratic Party: Lyndon B. Johnson as a Native-Son Presidential Candidate focuses on the elections of Lyndon B. Johnson to Congress and the presidency, as well as his success in furthering a more liberal agenda while in office.  

Dowe co-wrote the book with the late Hanes Walton Jr., professor at the University of Michigan, and Josephine A.V. Allen, professor emerita at Cornell University and Binghamton University.

The book analyzes the concept of the native-son phenomenon, stating that a Southern native-son, like Johnson, can be elected president even without the localism that was evident in both Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter's presidencies.

Remaking the Democratic Party also examines the notion that Johnson played a huge role in the transformation of the Democratic Party during his campaigns for Congress and Senate, beginning in 1937 when he campaigned for African American and Mexican American votes in Texas.




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

  • Shilpa Iyer, $1,477,559, U.S. Department of Defense
  • *Fiona Goggin, $1,059,521, National Science Foundation
  • Michael Ceballos, $500,000, National Science Foundation
  • Christophe Bobda, $477,870, National Science Foundation
  • *Janet Penner-Williams, $318,251, U.S. Department of Education
  • Jie Xiao, $202,429, Ormco Corp.