Tuesday, April 25, 2017

OU Student Receives Boren Award for International Study

University of Oklahoma junior Benjamin Korty of Denver has won the Boren Award for International Study, sponsored by the National Security Education Program. Korty is the 31st OU student to receive the award since the program began in 1994.

Boren Scholarships, named for David L. Boren, OU’s 13th president and former Oklahoma governor and U.S. senator, focus on geographic areas, languages and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security. The awards provide up to $20,000 in funding to undergraduate students to study abroad. This year, 791 undergraduate students applied for the Boren Scholarship and 194 received the award.

“I am thrilled that an outstanding OU student, Benjamin Korty, has won the national study abroad fellowship, which I worked to create while in the U.S. Senate,” said OU President David L. Boren. 

Korty is pursuing a major in electrical engineering with minors in physics and math. He will study from October 2017 to August 2018 at the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo, Japan. Before traveling to Japan, he will intern for L3 Mustang Technologies in Plano, Texas. His previous internships include Ball Aerospace and Karcher, North America, both in Boulder, Colorado.

At OU, Korty is a member of the Honors College and the OU chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. For the past year, he has been the research assistant for Jessica Ruyle, OU assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. A National Merit Scholar, he also has received a scholarship from the OU School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Korty plans to pursue a career with the U.S. Department of Defense in research and development of communications and intelligence systems.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

CS Student Places Second at Research Day at the State Capitol

The University of Oklahoma Computer Science Senior Taner Davis won second place for his research on a weather simulation video game, “Storm Lab,” at the 22nd Annual Research Day at the Capitol on March 27-28, 2017. Davis’ research was funded by the OU Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies.

Titled “Large-Scale Weather Simulation as an Education Video Game,” Davis’ presentation competed against 25 other Oklahoma undergraduate students in the annual event hosted by the Oklahoma Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. The Moore native was one of two students selected by OU’s Office of Undergraduate Research to represent the university at the Capitol.

Davis works with Associate Professor Amy McGovern in developing an educational game to teach middle school students how the motion of air masses in the atmosphere result in different weather experienced on the ground. The game’s goal is to help K-12 students learn an important earth science standard through observation and experiment.

Davis’ role in the project focuses on programming and optimization of the simulation. McGovern and OU CIMMS research and OU School of Meteorology PhD student Ryan Lagerquist participated in the research.

The OK EPSCoR competition included a three-minute oral presentation to a panel of EPSCoR-appointed judges on Monday. Later that evening during a poster session, judges visited with students about their research and asked follow-up questions. Awards presentations at the Oklahoma State Capitol and visits with legislators concluded the event the next day.

Biology and mathematics junior Casey Cai, of Bixby, Oklahoma, also represented OU at the event.

Research Day at the Capitol is sponsored by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, OK EPSCoR and the National Science Foundation.
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Thursday, March 9, 2017

OU Engineering Professor Receives National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award

Norman, Okla.—A University of Oklahoma Gallogly College of Engineering professor, Steven P. Crossley, is the recipient of a five-year, National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award in the amount of $548,829 for research that can be used to understand catalysts that are important for a broad range of chemical reactions ranging from the production of renewable fuels and chemicals for natural gas processing. The research will be integrated with educational and outreach programs intended for American Indian students, emphasizing the importance of sustainable energy.

“The NSF CAREER award is partly in recognition of the important work that Steve has already done in the field of catalysis. It is one of the highest honors a young faculty member can receive. We look forward to him doing great things in the future,” said Brian P. Grady, director of the OU School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering.

Crossley, an assistant professor in the OU School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, is also a faculty mentor for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. The project entitled, “SusChEM:CAREER:Using unique synthesis techniques and reaction kinetics to quantify and manipulate catalytically active sites in metal-reducible oxide systems,” will provide a detailed understanding of active sites and atom transfer processes involved in catalytic conversion of bio-oil molecules derived from biomass.

“We are proposing a new method to quantify the role of different catalytically active sites under harsh reaction conditions that are commonly challenging to decouple. Our findings should help to clarify confusion in the literature while providing valuable information necessary for improved catalyst design,” said Crossley.

Biomass conversion processes typically create a broad range of oxygenated intermediates that are treated further by catalytic processes to remove excess oxygen and build longer chain hydrocarbons attractive as fuel components and chemical intermediates. The efficient conversion requires multifunctional catalysts—typically composed of metal and metal oxide active sites—capable of several simultaneous or sequential reaction steps. While it is well understood that different types of active sites are required for different reactions, the exact nature of those sites and their ideal proximity is not known.

This study will examine those factors by decoupling metal sites from reducible metal oxide sites using carbon nanotube bridges as hydrogen shuttles. By eliminating direct contact between the metal and metal oxide components, and by varying the metal-metal oxide spacing along the carbon nanotubes, the study will provide an opportunity to examine independently two important aspects of bifunctional catalysis on reducible metal oxides: metal-support interactions and hydrogen spillover effects vary with different types of molecules common to biomass deconstruction processes. For more information on the study, contact Crossley at stevencrossley@ou.edu.

Monday, February 20, 2017

OU Professor Awarded Highest Recognition by Society for Mined Land Reclamation Work


University of Oklahoma Gallogly College of Engineering professor, Robert W. Nairn, is the recipient of the prestigious William T. Plass Award from the American Society of Mining and Reclamation. Nairn pioneered wetland technologies to rehabilitate contaminated water at the Tar Creek Superfund site where he has worked for almost 20 years. The award is the highest level of recognition given by the society in the field of mined land reclamation. Nairn transformed mine reclamation work at Tar Creek—one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s top abandoned hazardous waste sites.

“Professor Nairn’s scholarly work has had a huge impact in Oklahoma and around the world,” said OU President David L. Boren. “No one is more deserving of the Plass Award.”

Nairn, the Viersen Family Presidential Professor in the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science and the director of the Center for Restoration of Ecosystems and Watersheds, began working to clean up Tar Creek in the late nineties. In 2008, he and his team installed a full-scale passive water treatment system for the contaminated water discharging site near Commerce, Oklahoma. The system treats approximately 20 percent of mine drainage, rendering the treated water safe for discharge into the receiving stream. The success of this passive treatment system led to additional funding to extend the system to other discharge sites.

“It is with great pleasure that I share in the selection of Robert W. Nairn for the William T. Plass Award from the American Society of Mining and Reclamation. With this award, the society recognizes Nairn’s research, teaching and regional, national and international outreach. His career accomplishments in the field of mined land reclamation are huge and have impacted many people, including tribes, non-profits, regulatory agencies, industry and international governments,” said Randall L. Kolar, director of the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science.

Nairn’s work has received significant media attention over the years from local, state and national newspapers and broadcast news stations, as well as from the History Channel and Discovery Channel. In 2009, an award-winning documentary film featuring Nairn entitled “Tar Creek” was produced by Matt Myers and screened nationally and internationally. As testimony to his global impact, Nairn has expanded his mitigation work at one of the world’s oldest and largest silver mines in Potosi, Bolivia. His efforts have been widely recognized.

Previously, Nairn received the Richard I. and Lela M. Barnhisel Reclamation Researcher of the Year Award from the American Society of Mining and Reclamation for his work at Tar Creek in northeastern Oklahoma, the Arkoma Coal Basin of eastern Oklahoma, eastern Arkansas and Potosi, Bolivia. The award was given to individuals demonstrating substantive contributions to the advancement of reclamation science and technology through scientific research. Nairn was nominated for the award by his students and voted on by his peers in the society.

Contact: Jana Smith, Director
Strategic Communications for R&D
University of Oklahoma
405.325.1322; jana.smith@ou.edu
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