Undergraduate Research

An Impressive Fellow

Originally from White Hall, Arkansas, Armin Mortazavi made a name for himself at the university with his impressive undergraduate research. Mortazavi began his research during his freshman year of college and published his work before he graduated. His work focused on an understanding of how proteins aggregate, which is a characteristic of some neurodegenerative diseases. He was named a Bodenhamer Fellow and received the Goldwater Scholarship during his time at the university and has since moved on to medical school at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Biomedical Optics and Imaging Research

University of Arkansas alumnus Kinan Alhallak began conducting research during his sophomore year. His mentor, professor Narasimhan Rajaram, called his research productivity “phenomenal.” Before he graduated in 2017, Alhallak completed three manuscripts, presented his work at four conferences and received a research grant, a travel award and the Biomedical Engineering Department’s Jean R. Ostermeier Memorial Cancer Research Award.

Most recently, Alhallak was the first author on a scientific paper published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics, along with Rajaram and another assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the university. Their paper reports on their use of the optical redox ratio, a label-free method, to identify early metabolic changes in radiation-resistant lung cancer cells.

Alhallak is now pursuing his doctorate in biomedical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis.

Water And The Environment

University of Arkansas students Andrew Stephens, Shelby Sidney and Logan Draper are the recipients of Steele-Croxton Memorial Scholarships, which provide support to qualified students within the university’s College of Engineering and College of Agriculture who are studying and exploring careers related to water. Sidney, a civil engineering major, wants to use her education to serve her community by designing or consulting on either a water treatment system, wastewater treatment plant or “natural” developments with the community. Draper, who is majoring in environmental science, focuses his efforts on water, because he believes that clean water is important – not only for public use, but for the flora and fauna that coexist in the community as well.


The quality of current and future research at our university is shaped not only by our faculty, but also by our students, who assist the faculty in their investigations or pursue their own research. Undergraduate scholarships and fellowships are critical to the university’s ability to recruit and retain the best students, which – in turn – boosts the university’s teaching and research missions.

You can make an impact by supporting student awards and scholarships for non-Honors students to engage in research experiences with faculty and industry.

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Interdisciplinary Research

Life On Mars

Vincent Chevrier, an assistant research professor in the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, is studying the concern of keeping Mars tidy. In fall 2015, Chevrier received a $465,000 NASA grant for a four-year project to study whether microbes from Earth can survive in Martian conditions. This is the fourth NASA grant Chevrier has received to study planetary environments. In all, the grants provide more than $1.6 million for research on the environments of Mars, Venus and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

Surface Research

Min Zou, professor and holder of the Twenty-First Century Professorship in Mechanical Engineering, specializes in using nanomaterials to texturize surfaces of commercial products and electro-mechanical systems to reduce friction and improve energy efficiency. In early 2015, Zou received a $438,317 grant from the National Science Foundation to identify the fundamental deformation mechanisms of a new type of nano-scale material discovered by her research team. Later in 2015, a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary team led by Zou received a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create a statewide Center for Advanced Surface Engineering.

Funding For Food Safety

Poultry researchers can promote an innovative, entrepreneurial, customer-focused mindset with a global view of food safety through the Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center in Beijing. In fall 2016, the university received a $2.3 million grant from the Walmart Foundation to fund non-competitive research focused on analyzing the causes and finding ways to prevent food-borne illness in the Chinese food supply chain. The Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, the Reliasoft Risk, Reliability and Maintainability Research Alliance in the Department of Industrial Engineering and the Supply Chain Management Research Center will work together with Chinese universities, research institutes in the Walton College and poultry industries.


Cutting-edge interdisciplinary research puts the University of Arkansas in the national spotlight and brings in critical research dollars. However, other universities sometimes try to lure away these talented individuals – often with the prospect of an endowed faculty position at their own institution.

To retain these key researchers, it is important to invest in our faculty, especially in the form of endowed chairs or fellowships. Faculty support endowments are another excellent way to ensure our faculty members have the resources needed for success.

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Strengthening Start-Ups

With the help of Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship and holder of the Cupp Applied Professorship in the Walton College, and Bob Beitle, chemical engineering professor and associate vice provost for research and economic development, alumna Ellen Brune commercialized a research discovery regarding Escherichia coli and laid the foundation for a new biotech company. That company, Boston Mountain Biotech LLC, continues to grow and has created opportunities for additional jobs and economic revenue. Brune and Beitle have brought in more than $1 million in research grants, including a National Science Foundation award of nearly $225,000.

Inspiring Innovation And Creativity

Alumna Janet Ryan Stegall and her husband, Bob, believe entrepreneurship inspires innovation and creativity. Their gift of $100,000 has created the Janet Ryan Stegall and Bob Stegall Entrepreneurship Fund to allow future entrepreneurs to dream big, by providing faculty and student support, program support and even facility support, particularly through the university’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Their gift is an important contribution that will help the university educate the next generation of entrepreneurs to lead in economic development.

Influencing The Future of Solar Power

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $679,413 to start-up company WattGlass to help commercialize the University of Arkansas’ patent-pending coating technology that makes glass anti-reflective, self-cleaning and highly transparent. The award was made through the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, and the company will use the award to work with leading solar panel manufacturers and integrate their coating with the glass currently used in panel production. Corey Thompson co-founded WattGlass to commercialize technology he developed through his doctoral research under Min Zou, professor of mechanical engineering at the U of A. The technology allows WattGlass to deposit a high performance antireflective coating using water-based chemistry that is cheaper than current alternatives, while also providing a self-cleaning and anti-fog surface that has applications in solar and other markets.


Innovation and entrepreneurship are key to the long-term development of our state and nation. Collaborations among faculty, students and Arkansas entrepreneurs give the university the fuel needed to develop a robust economic climate and feed the economic engine of Arkansas’ future.

Students involved in the entrepreneurship program at the university have become incredibly successful in creating their own businesses and adding jobs in our state.

Make an impact by contributing seed funding for students and faculty members who want to develop the commercial potential of their ideas or by providing support for business plan development and student travel to business plan competitions. You can also make a visible show of your support by investing in naming opportunities for the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub on the Fayetteville square, in collaboration with other campus units.

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UA Press

Writing the Next Chapter

The University of Arkansas Press was founded in 1980 as the book publishing division of the University of Arkansas. The UA Press utilizes private gift support to publish specific projects, such as individual books, or series. Examples include:

  • American Appetites, a lead book in the UA Press Food and Foodways series that is supported by a start-up grant from the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts;
  • Barns and Portrait Paintings, an art “catalog” of George Dombek’s barn series paintings;
  • United States District Courts and Judges of Arkansas, a history of the Arkansas judicial system as it grew from its beginnings in a frontier state to a modern institution.


The U of A Press relies on private gift support to publish innovative titles used in the classroom and for scholarly research, both at the University of Arkansas and across the country.

You can make an impact by supporting new and existing book series to help the U of A Press bring visibility to respected authors, who often win awards for their work. By investing in the digitization of the U of A Press’s historical catalog, you can provide access to currently out-of-print books for scholarly and personal use.

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