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Research Alert

Read the research blog Further Findings.

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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Read the research blog Further Findings.

Research Prizes and Honors

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


Dr. Jennifer Duthie, a specialist in the Division of Statistics and Scientific Computation, and Dr. Travis Waller, an associate professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, received the Fred Burggraf Award for excellence in transportation research at the Transportation Research Board’s January meeting.

They were recognized for their paper titled “Incorporating Environmental Justice Measures into Equilibrium-Based Network Design.” The paper concludes that the results of numerical analysis suggest that pareto-optimal approaches can be successfully applied, and that the most effective formulations minimize the difference between the change in congestion or travel time across population groups due to the selected improvement projects.

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News and Information


At the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Sponsored Projects will host Special Agent Kevin Gounaud for a presentation on the case of Dr. J. Reece Roth, a retired University of Tennessee professor convicted of violating export controls regulations by illegally exporting military information to a citizen of the People’s Republic of China.

The session will be from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2009–a week after Roth’s scheduled sentencing–in ACES 2.302. The session is free and no registration is required.

For information about the session, send an e-mail to Elena Mota.

For information on export control issues at The University of Texas at Austin, contact Kay Ellis, OSP associate director/export controls officer.

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QuotedUT Researchers in the News

[A sampling of recent quotes by university faculty members and researchers. To be included in this section, let the Research Alert know when you or a colleague have been quoted.]

The New York Times
Feb. 9, 2009
HEADLINE: Crunching the Data for the Tree of Life

[Prof. David Hillis is quoted in an article about the challenges of assembling and portraying the tree of life.]

“What I’d really like is the entire tree of life on a small hand-held device,” Dr. Hillis said. Biologists would be able to put a tissue sample from a plant, animal or other organism in the machine, which would then scan its DNA and find its place in the tree of life, even if it’s a new species. The data could then be uploaded to a database, so that every biologist’s machine would get an updated tree. “It would be a ‘tricorder’-like device, able to identify any species on Earth in the field,” he said.

Education Week
Jan. 21, 2009
HEADLINE: Tech Literacy Confusion: What Should You Measure?

[From an article about teaching technology literacy.]

Technology literacy is prone to generating heated discussion, says Kathleen Tyner, the author of “Literacy in a Digital World.”

“There is sort of a turf war, so people can support their fields-library science, educational technology, and so on. You can see various aims and purposes. That’s why their definitions overlap,” says Tyner, a professor in the radio, television, and film program at The University of Texas at Austin.

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Research Opportunities

Important university research deadlines:
Awards and Grants
Limited Submissions

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency 2009 University Research Initiatives
Deadline: March 19, 2009

FY09 Prostate Cancer New Investigator Award
Deadline: May 20, 2009

Determine the Impact of Strategies to Vaccinate all Children for Influenza in a Practice Setting
Deadline: April 6, 2009

Pharmacogenomics Research Network
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, May 2, 2009; Application, June 2, 2009

Integrating Biobehavioral and Sociocultural Research to Prevent HIV Transmission and Infection
Deadline: June 5, 2009

Fragile X Pre-mutation and Ovarian Function
Deadline: June 5, 2009

Identifying and Reducing Diabetes and Obesity Related Health Disparities within Healthcare Systems
Deadline: June 5, 2009

Development of Animal Models and Related Biological Materials For Research
Deadline: June 16, 2009

NIDDK Multi-Center Clinical Study Implementation Planning Grants
Deadline: June 23, 2009

Researching Implementation and Change while Improving Quality
Deadline: May 25, 2009

Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education in Engineering
Deadline: April 29, 2009
[This is a Limited Submission. Please contact Courtney Frazier Swaney at OSP at limitedsub@austin.utexas.edu or 471-6424.]

Deadline: July 16, 2009

High-Risk Research in Anthropology
Deadline: Continuous

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
2009-2010 Kauffman Junior Faculty Fellowship in Entrepreneurship Research
Deadline: March 9, 2009

Royal Ontario Museum
Veronika Gervers: Research Fellowship in Textiles and Costume History
Deadline: March 31, 2009

American Society for Microbiology
Indo-U.S. Professorships in Microbiology
Deadline: April 15, 2009

Endangered Language Fund
Request for Proposals, 2009
Deadline: April 20, 2009

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, March 25, 2009; Invited Full Proposal, July 28, 2009

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Research Project

[Let the Research Alert know about your research projects.]


RESEARCHER: Alexis Kwasinski, assistant professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, principal investigator
AGENCY: National Science Foundation
AMOUNT: $400,000

The objective of this research is to understand the reliability behavior of microgrid-based ultra-reliable power systems in extreme conditions. This objective is part of a broader career plan that focuses on improving electric power supply availability through direct current microgrids. The approach involves an analytic methodology that estimates failure probability and expected failure duration during hurricanes and earthquakes by relating these events’ intensity with location-dependent infrastructure vulnerabilities. Results are verified through simulations and compared with past events’ outcomes. The analysis uses telecommunications power plants as a reference technology because of their similarities with direct current microgrids.

The intellectual merit resides in the introduction of a reliability framework that uses non-homogeneous Markov models. Transitions among states are characterized by the time varying failure and repair rates of each key element in microgrid energy supply infrastructures. The use of microgrids to achieve high availability constitutes a radical shift from the paradigm of relying on energy-based backup systems. This research also advances hurricane characterization by introducing a new measure of intensity.

The broader impacts extend into improving electric power supply resiliency and national security, potentially reducing the loss of lives after disasters, and creating interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities with scientists studying disasters. This project will leverage the interest in disasters to attract students into the electric power area and to support the development of a power electronics research and educational program with participation opportunities for minority students. Research dissemination and education plans involve outreach goals targeting a diverse audience, including peers, students, and the community.

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