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Research Alert

Research Prizes and Honors

[Have you or a colleague won a research-related prize or honor? Let the Research Alert know.]

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Research Prizes and Honors

[Have you or a colleague won a research-related prize or honor? Let the Research Alert know.]


Two chemical engineering professors from UT-Austin have been recognized by President George W. Bush as 2007 National Medal of Technology and Innovation laureates, the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement.

In a rare, if unprecedented, recognition of two honorees from the same institution and the same department for separate discoveries, Professors Adam Heller and C. Grant Willson were among eight national recipients announced this week.

“It’s sort of the American Nobel Prize,” says Richard Maulsby, spokesman for the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which administers the Medal program.

Heller, Research Professor and Professor Emeritus, was cited “for his contributions to electrochemistry and bioelectrochemistry which led to the development of products that have improved the quality of life of millions, particularly in the area of human health and well-being.” Heller’s work enabled the creation of the painless glucose monitor for diabetics.

Willson, who holds the Rashid Engineering Regents Chair at the Cockrell School of Engineering, was cited “for creating lithographic imaging materials and techniques that have enabled the manufacturing of smaller, faster and more efficient micro-electronic components.”

“With unprecedented consistency and creativity, these two engineers have spent careers continually besting their own breakthroughs,” said Ben Streetman, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. “Their pioneering ability to link disciplines taught a new generation of researchers the value of reaching outside of their knowledge base to solve problems. It has been a great privilege of my career to witness their simultaneous contribution to research, education and society.”


A research paper co-authored by two faculty members in the School of Social Work won the Charles C. Shepard Science Award, presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Mary Velasquez, director of the Health Behavior Research and Training Institute and director of the Center for Social Work Research, was principal investigator for the Texas site of the study. Dr. Kirk von Sternberg, associate director of the Health Behavior Research and Training Institute and assistant professor of social work, was co-investigator.

The paper, “Preventing Alcohol-exposed Pregnancies: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” was co-authored by a research team working with study participants in three states–Texas, Florida and Virginia.

The Shepard Science Awards recognize excellence in scientific achievement by identifying the most outstanding publications of CDC/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry scientists in peer-reviewed journals during the previous year. The paper was published in the January 2007 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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News and Information


The university has recently negotiated a new Facilities and Administrative Costs rate agreement resulting in a 2 percent increase from 50 percent to 52 percent for research in The University of Texas at Austin’s facilities effective Sept. 1, 2008. The Applied Research Laboratories rate increased from 12 percent to 13 percent. All other rates (Off-campus, Instruction and Other Sponsored Programs) remain the same.

The new rates should be used for proposals with a start date of Sept. 1, 2008 or later.

Questions should be addressed to Jason Richter at oa.jrichter@austin.utexas.edu or 471-6231.


Sept. 3, 2008
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
ACE 2.302 (Avaya Auditorium)

Join members of The University of Texas at Austin’s research community at the 2008-2009 Office of Sponsored Projects Town Hall meeting.

Dr. Susan Wyatt Sedwick, associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) will give a brief overview of changes that have been implemented in the past year and what is planned in the near future. She will share results of the recent user survey, and answer questions and take suggestions on how OSP can improve its services to help make research happen at the university.

The meeting is open to anyone involved in research and sponsored projects at The University of Texas at Austin.

For more information, contact Elena Mota at evmota@austin.utexas.edu or 232-1419.


The Office of Sponsored Projects will sponsor a seminar for junior faculty, professional research staff, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and research administrators interested in improving submissions to the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other funding agencies. Anyone interested in learning about the grant process in general are also welcome.

The seminar will be conducted by grant-writing consultant David C. Morrison. He is co-founder and a member of Grant Writers’ Seminars and Workshops LLC.

8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
ACE 2.302 (Avaya Auditorium)
Sept. 10, 2008

The fee is $35 for faculty members and $25 for postdoctoral professional research staff, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and research administrators. The fee covers registration, an extensive handout and a workbook.

For more information, contact Elena Mota at evmota@austin.utexas.edu or 232-1419.


Kay Ellis, associate director and export control officer in the Office of Sponsored Projects, will conduct a seminar that will provide an understanding of rules and regulations associated with export controls and their application at the university. Participants will gain an understanding of the federal environment that is driving the need for more stringent protection of information.

Sept. 25, 2008
9 – 11 a.m.
ACE 2.402

The seminar is free, but seating is limited. Please send an e-mail to evmota@austin.utexas.edu to reserve a place. Learn more about the seminar on export controls.

QuotedUT Researchers in the News

Austin American-Statesman

Aug. 29, 2008
HEADLINE: UT’s new boast: world’s most powerful laser
$15 million device that can approximate conditions at center of star to be used in astrophysics, nuclear energy research

[Physics professor Todd Ditmire speaks about the dedication of the Texas Petawatt Laser on Aug. 28]

Ditmire, the 39-year-old director of the project, said it could help UT become a leader in laser-based physics research.

“We want to be the No. 1 university in this field of science,” Ditmire said. “That is what this laser is helping us do. We have the biggest, baddest boy on the block, so we can do things that nobody else can do. So we will have the place where people come to study this.”

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Research Opportunities

Important University Research Deadlines


Pre-Combustion Carbon Capture Technologies For Coal-Based Gasification Plants — Topic Area 1: High-Temperature, High-Pressure Membranes
Deadline: Oct. 14, 2008

Sandia National Laboratories
Harry S. Truman Fellowship in National Security Science and Engineering
Deadline: Dec. 5, 2008


National Risk Management Research Laboratory
Advanced Decentralized Water/Energy Network Design for Sustainable Infrastructure
Deadlines: Informal notice of an “Intent to Apply,” Sept. 22, 2008; Application, Oct. 7, 2008

Novel Approaches For Assessing Exposure For School-Aged Children In Longitudinal Studies
Deadline: Nov. 18, 2008


Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Deadline: Oct. 8, 2008

Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration (EUREKA)
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, Sept. 29, 2008; Application, Oct. 28, 2008

Metals in Medicine
Deadline: Oct. 5, 2008

Integration of Mouse Models into Human Cancer Research
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, Oct. 14, 2008; Application, Nov. 14, 2008

Etiology, Prevention and Treatment of Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Deadline: Oct. 16, 2008

Innovative Computational and Statistical Methodologies for the Design and Analysis of Multilevel Studies on Childhood Obesity
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, Oct. 28, 2008; Application, Nov. 28, 2008

Impact of Health Communication Strategies on Dietary Behaviors
Deadline: Oct. 5, 2008

National Cooperative Drug Discovery and Development Groups for the Treatment of Mental Disorders, Drug or Alcohol Addiction
Deadlines: Letters of Intent, Sept. 3, 2008, Jan. 24, 2009; Applications, Oct. 3, 2008, Feb. 24, 2009


Arctic Natural Sciences; Arctic Social Sciences; Arctic System Science; and Arctic Observing Networks
Deadline: Nov. 18, 2008CHE-DMR-DMS Solar Energy Initiative
Deadlines: Preliminary proposal, Dec. 16, 2008; Full proposal, March 9, 2009
Deadline: Jan. 15, 2009

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Fellowships for the Visiting Scholars Program
Deadline: Nov. 26, 2008

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Research Project

[Let Research Alert know about your research projects.]


FACULTY: Dean Neikirk, professor Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, principal investigator, and Sharon Wood, professor Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, co-principal investigator
AGENCY: National Science Foundation
AMOUNT: $340,000

The primary objective of this proposal is the development of a new low-cost, wireless, unpowered resonant sensor net that can be used to monitor large areas in civil infrastructure systems.

A critical new area of research relates to the coupling of individual elements in the net to produce collective, crystal-like behavior, allowing large area coverage with high sensitivity to damage. The buildings, bridges, dams and lifelines that comprise the civil infrastructure present unique challenges for sensor development due to their large size, unique designs, continuous exposure to the environment, infrequent inspections and long design life.For most real-time health monitoring systems that attempt to address all these concerns, the costs associated with the installation, maintenance and interpretation of the data are prohibitive for the overwhelming majority of infrastructure systems in the United States. In contrast, the proposed wireless sensor net should provide a cost-effective alternative to real-time health monitoring systems.The proposed sensor net will greatly enhance the type and quality of information that may be obtained about the condition of large areas of an infrastructure system during a routine inspection. Here particular emphasis on collective sensor nets suitable for diagnosis of problems encountered is placed in reinforced concrete structures.

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