We must work to solidify our standing as a comprehensive research university by enhancing our research productivity. To that aim, the offices of Academic Affairs and Research and Innovation are collaborating to provide a more supportive environment for our research community.
This year, we have several priorities and successes to report:
Grow research expenditures
A portion of faculty lines this year were allocated to support our existing research institutes and to build up areas of funded research, including biomedical engineering, computational science, learning science, logistics and psychology. Colleges are actively focused on strategically hiring replacement faculty in priority research areas such as advanced and additive manufacturing.
Several principal investigators have had significant success this summer and fall in earning large research grants. A few of these projects include:
- $2M for Novel Surface-Modified Bioresorbable Zinc-Based Stent Materials from the National Institutes of Health. Don Zhu, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, is the PI on this project.
- $800,000 for Observing Infrared Light from Distant Quasars from the National Science Foundation. Ohad Shemmer, Associate Professor of Physics.
- $516,000 for Access Controls in Cybersecurity from the National Science Foundation. Hassan Takabi, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering.
- $499,000 for Data Science and Analytics in Cybersecurity from the National Science Foundation. Eduardo Blanco, Assistant Professor, and Hassan Takabi, Assistant Professor, both in Computer Science and Engineering.
- $483,000 for Developing a High-Temperature Sensor to Aid in Biofuels from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sheldon Shi, Professor, and Haifeng Zhang, Associate Professor, both in Mechanical and Energy Engineering.
- $284,000 for Preserving Mankiyali, a Severely Endangered Language from the National Science Foundation. Sadaf Munshi, Associate Professor of Linguistics.
Increase research collaborations with national labs and industry
UNT has been emphasizing collaborations among researchers and academic units. A recent success includes the U.S. Army Research Lab and Temple University collaboration that garnered $11.8M in research funding to focus on materials development for advanced ballistic technology.
We currently are working on a proposal in response to an anticipated call from the Texas General Land Office (GLO) for the Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). The university proactively developed a cross-disciplinary and multi-institutional team that includes UNT, UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth, UT Arlington, Texas Woman’s University, Texas A&M University, Rice University, University of Delaware and Johns Hopkins University. UNT departments with faculty engaged in the proposal include: Economics, Public Administration, Emergency Management and Disaster Science, Geography and Environment, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Linguistics, Political Science, Information Science, Mathematics, and Environmental and Occupational Health.
UNT plans to embark upon many more such collaborative efforts.
Nominate faculty for major external awards and fellowships
We have nominated several faculty members for major awards this year. Our offices are working together to create a new workshop for faculty on creating successful nominations for national awards and fellowships. Stay tuned in the new year for details.
We certainly have a number of successes in this area to celebrate. So far this year, four of our faculty have been selected for major awards and fellowships.
- Liss LaFleur, Assistant Professor of Studio Art, was selected for an Immersive Scholar Residency, which was funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to produce digital art using data from the #MeToo movement.
- Dan Kim, Professor of Information Technology and Decision Sciences, was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to research how the creation of online technologies is affected by cultural norms.
- Darrell Hull, Professor of Educational Psychology, was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to research young people in Jamaica who are unemployed and are not in school or training programs.
- Tao Yang, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, earned a prestigious Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award to develop an innovative distributed paradigm for reliable and resilient microgrid operations.
Invest strategically in institutes
This is the third year for our four Institutes of Research Excellence (AERI, AMMPI, BDI, JMI). Each institute is undergoing a review to determine the best opportunities for advancing research excellence. Some of these institutes have shown promise for sustained growth and gaining national prominence in research, while supporting our mission of developing students for their careers.
In addition, the NetDragon Digital Research Centre launched under the leadership of Tom Parsons, Professor of Learning Technologies, last spring and is dedicated to sponsoring research projects across multiple disciplines, technology development and deployment of online courses to further enrich student learning experiences and student internships.
Increase doctoral graduation rates
Support for graduate students is a serious challenge for UNT. We are taking an incremental approach to addressing graduate stipends and tuition benefit plan support. In the coming year, we will be able to increase stipends in the colleges of Science, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and Visual Arts and Design. In addition, we are evaluating opportunities to enhance the tuition benefit plan.
As many of you know, we, along with key staff from the Office of Research and Innovation, conducted listening tours through several colleges and departments during the last several months. We met faculty, administrators and research administrative staff individually and/or in groups. The purpose was to listen and learn more about the difficulties, inconveniences and misunderstandings associated with the services and procedures within ORI. We will use the information we learned to improve and expand our services for our research community.
We also know that many of you have ideas for how we can continue to improve the research culture at UNT. We welcome your feedback as we continue to solidify our standing as a comprehensive research university. We encourage you to join us for an informal brown bag lunch this spring. You bring your lunch, and we will provide the drinks. Contact Joanna Hussey at Joanna.Hussey@unt.edu.
- Feb. 19, 2019: noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Provost’s Office
- March 27, 2019: noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Provost’s Office
- April 15, 2019: noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Provost’s Office