Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gallogly College biomedical doctoral alum Cortes Williams was among several Oklahomans recognized at the Biotechnology Innovation International Convention in San Diego. Along with recently completing his Ph.D., Williams was an inaugural recipient of the college's Pursuit of Excellence Award - presented by Jim Gallogly himself - and an alum of the college's Bridge to Doctorate Program. Learn more about the company he founded - NextGen Medical, providing an innovative approach to help medical professionals assess the effectiveness of cancer treatments.

Read more in two stories from newsok.com.


Published June 22: 
University of Oklahoma Venture Fellows test their market research mission at BIO show


Walden Elected Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education

A University of Oklahoma research associate professor and director, Susan E. Walden, has been elected to the Academy of Fellows for the American Society for Engineering Education. Walden, the first ASEE awardee from OU, has made significant individual contributions to her body of work related to diversity and inclusion in engineering education within the P-16 initiative. The fellow designation honors her scholarship and service for improving engineering education, especially in pre-college settings.

“Dr. Walden not only is a major force in enhancing diversity and inclusion of engineering students at OU, but she also is a national leader in STEM education and has published important papers that are helping other institutions drive positive change in diversity and related challenges,” said OU Vice President for Research Kelvin Droegemeier.

According to ASEE, the board of directors confers the grade of Fellow following a rigorous nomination process on members who exhibit outstanding and extraordinary qualifications and contributions to engineering and the society.

The ASEE Pre-College Engineering Education division sponsored Walden’s nomination as a fellow and also selected her to receive the Pre-College Engineering Education Meritorious Service Award at the society’s conference. The Meritorious Service Award is given to a member who has provided exemplary service in alignment with the division’s vision, mission and core beliefs and in support of pre-college engineering education efforts with the society.

“I am incredibly honored to receive these recognitions from my outstanding pre-college engineering colleagues. I gratefully acknowledge the opportunities that I have been able to pursue through the University of Oklahoma. These achievements would not have been possible without the collaboration of my current and former team members in the Research Institute for STEM Education, the Sooner Elementary Engineering and Science Clubs, and the Sooner Engineering Education Center,” Walden said.

Walden, research associate professor in the Gallogly College of Engineering at OU, also serves as director of the Research Institute for STEM Education; associate director of the Sooner Engineering Education Center; core affiliate faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, Women and Gender Studies Program; and director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, Office of the Vice President for Research on the Norman campus.
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

OU Receives Major Gift from Valero in Support of New Engineering Facility



University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren today announced a $1.5 million gift from Valero to support construction of Gallogly Hall, a new biomedical engineering building and research laboratory on OU’s Engineering Quadrangle that will house the Gallogly College of Engineering’s Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering and new engineering labs and learning spaces. The announcement was made at the June meeting of the OU Board of Regents.

“The university deeply appreciates this generous gift from Valero to such an important new academic facility and program,” Boren said.

In appreciation of the gift, Boren has recommended to the OU Board of Regents that the new building’s lecture hall, which will be prominently located on the first floor, be named to honor Valero.

The Valero Lecture Hall will be a reconfigurable multipurpose space that may also be used as a classroom or a space to host special events. The lecture hall will easily accommodate up to 100 people and will be equipped with advanced audiovisual equipment, including 70-inch display panels, projection screens and extensive internet accessibility.

“As an OU Alumnus, I am especially proud for Valero to support the new lecture hall which will be used by students and faculty at the University of Oklahoma,” said Lane Riggs, Executive Vice President – Refining Operations and Engineering. “Valero appreciates the opportunity to assist the university in providing world class facilities for its engineering students.”

Gallogly Hall, which is set to open in fall 2019, will be home to the new Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering. The 70,000-square-foot facility will feature classrooms, teaching and research labs, a lecture hall, collaborative learning spaces and a student project-making space. This world-class academic building and the Gallogly College of Engineering are named in honor of the leadership gift made to the college from Janet and Jim Gallogly of Houston in 2015. The School of Biomedical Engineering is named for Peggy and Charles Stephenson of Tulsa, whose resources are helping put OU in the forefront of the growing field of biomedical engineering. The school will enhance diversity in both the student and faculty ranks, increase enrollment and federal research funding and spur economic growth. It also will aid in the recruitment of top students and strengthen collaboration among OU’s three campuses.

Academic programs within the Gallogly College of Engineering’s eight areas of study are consistently ranked in the top third of engineering programs in the United States. For more information about the college, visit http://ou.edu/coehttp://ou.edu/coe/.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

OU Researchers Develop Radar Simulator to Characterize Scattering Mechanisms of Debris Particles in Tornadoes

A University of Oklahoma research team with the Advanced Radar Research Center has developed the first numerical polarimetric radar simulator to study and characterize scattering mechanisms of debris particles in tornadoes. Characterizing the debris field of a tornado is vital given flying debris cause most tornado fatalities. Tornado debris characteristics are poorly understood even though the upgrade of the nation’s radar network to dual polarimetric radar offers potentially valuable capabilities for improving tornado warnings and nowcasting.

“With this simulator, we can explain in great detail to the operational weather community the tornadic echo from the polarimetric radar,” said Robert Palmer, ARRC executive director. “The signal received by the dual polarimetric radar is not easily understood because rain is mixed with the debris. The knowledge we gain from this study will improve tornado detection and near real-time damage estimation.”

Numerous controlled anechoic chamber measurements of tornadic debris were conducted at the Radar Innovations Laboratory on the OU Research Campus to determine the scattering characteristics of several debris types—leaves, shingles and boards. Palmer, D.J. Bodine, B.L. Cheong, C.J. Fulton and S.M. Torres, the center, and the OU Schools of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Meteorology, developed the simulator to provide comparisons for actual polarimetric radar measurements.

Before this study, there were many unanswered questions related to tornado debris scattering, such as knowing how the size, concentration and shape of different debris types affect polarimetric variables. How the radar identifies the debris is equally as important. Orientation of debris makes a difference as well as how the debris falls through the atmosphere. Overall, understanding debris scattering characteristics aid in the discovery of the relationship between debris characteristics, such as losing and centrifuging, and tornado dynamics.

OU team members were responsible for various aspects of this study. Coordination of damage surveys and collection of debris samples were led by Bodine. Field experiments were designed by team members in collaboration with Howard Bluestein, OU School of Meteorology. Electromagnetic simulations and anechoic chamber experiments were led by Fulton. The signal processing algorithms were developed by Torres and his team. Cheong led the simulation development team.

The study, “SimRadar: A Polarimetric Radar Time-Series Simulator for Tornadic Debris Studies,” will be published in the May issue of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation with grant number AGS-1303685. There were significant results from the collaboration between the center and the Disaster Prevention Research Institute in Kyoto University.

An animation has been developed for the simulation of the three types of tornadic debris used in this study, which included leaves (green), shingles (pink) and boards (orange). The OU team has the ability, however, to simulate other types of debris.

Download the animation.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Vogel Selected as Director of Oklahoma Water Survey

  
The University of Oklahoma has selected Jason R. Vogel as the director of the Oklahoma Water Survey. Located on the University Research Campus, the Survey is the focal point and catalyst for OU’s expertise in research, outreach and education in water topics. The Survey’s mission is to study the state’s water resources and to collect, analyze, interpret and disseminate research-based information to industry professionals, researchers, students, teachers, citizens, governments and other organizations.

“We are very fortunate to have someone of Jason’s experience, energy, stature and vision joining the OU Family, especially at a time when water issues are of increasing importance to our State,” said Vice President for Research Kelvin Droegemeier. “The Oklahoma Water Survey, which he will lead, will play a major partnership role in a wide array of water issues that directly affect our citizens.”

In addition to his responsibilities as director of the Survey, Vogel will serve as associate professor in the OU School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science. For more than 20 years, Vogel has worked to facilitate and develop solutions for water issues throughout the Great Plains. Prior to joining the Survey, Vogel held faculty and research positions at Oklahoma State University in the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and the U.S. Geological Survey.

While at OSU, he developed an award-winning research and outreach program on stormwater and stream management and is recognized as one of the leading experts in low-impact development stormwater management systems in the region. In his role at OSU, Vogel presented and organized water-related educational programming to more than 10,000 individuals, including water-industry professionals, government officials, regulators, youth and the general public at more than 230 events.

Vogel has served the water sector in leadership positions and on committees at the national, state and local levels for a variety of groups, including the Water Environment Federation, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, the American Ecological Engineering Society, the Oklahoma Clean Lakes and Watersheds Association, the Disaster Resilience Network of Tulsa, the Green Country Sustainability Forum and the Stillwater Drainage Appeals Board.

Vogel begins his new position as director of the Oklahoma Water Survey on July 1, 2017. He and his wife, Stephanie, and twin daughters will be moving to Norman soon.

OU and Mercy Test New Models in Largest Breast Cancer Clinical Trial in Oklahoma

A University of Oklahoma and Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City research team is set to begin the largest breast cancer clinical trial ever performed in Oklahoma. The team has developed new breast cancer risk prediction models based on a computer-aided image feature analysis scheme to identify patients who might have cancers that are not visible on mammography. After review of 2,000 imaging studies performed at Mercy over the past two years and refinement of the image analysis system, the clinical trial begins July 1, 2017, at the Mercy Breast Center.

Bin Zheng and Hong Liu, professors in the Gallogly College of Engineering, affiliates of the Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering and members of the Stephenson Cancer Center, teamed with Dr. Alan Hollingsworth, medical director of the Mercy Breast Center, to develop and validate this unique breast cancer risk model for identifying women who are excluded from current breast magnetic resonance imaging guidelines, but have a higher risk of developing mammography-occult or hidden cancers that can be detected by MRI. At the same time, the study will evaluate women with elevated lifetime cancer risk, but who are in no imminent risk of developing image-detectable cancers.

“The goal is to significantly increase cancer detection of breast MRI screenings based on the quantitative imaging markers rather than the existing epidemiology-based risk assessment approaches,” said Zheng.

Over the next three years, the clinical trial will enroll 4,000 women with mammograms interpreted as normal according to best practice guidelines. These mammograms will be de-identified and sent electronically to Zheng and Liu at the OU Advanced Cancer Imaging Laboratory for analysis. The women with higher scores predicted by the risk model will qualify for the additional breast screening. Hollingsworth anticipates between 200 and 400 patients of the original 4,000 will qualify for a breast MRI.

“If we can demonstrate cancer detection rates of even five percent in this population, then we will have achieved a higher yield than any other method of selecting patients for breast MRI screening. Five percent is 10-fold the cancer detection rate of screening mammography. At five percent or greater, we have the potential to alter how we screen for breast cancer. Unlike research projects that might take a decade or longer from ‘bench-to-bedside,’ if we’re successful, this study will have practice-changing implications,” said Hollingsworth.

Participants in this study will be those women who routinely have their mammograms performed at Mercy Breast Center. If you are interested in learning more about the clinical trial, call 405.936.5455.

The National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute funded this research with a five-year, $2.5 million grant.



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Monday, June 12, 2017

Rogers Named Regents' Alumni Award Recipient


Lisa M. Rogers of Houston, Texas, chemical engineer at ExxonMobil and mentor to OU engineering students, has been named one of eleven 2017 Regents' Alumni Award recipients. Rogers has been an active supporter of her alma mater since earning her Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in 2002.

Her leadership has played a vital role in the Gallogly College of Engineering. Through her service on the Chemical Engineering Advisory Board, she has made it a priority to serve and also has become an honorary recruiter for OU. As an OU alumna, she knows firsthand the impact the university has on students, and she is dedicated to seeing programs prosper.

During her time at OU, Rogers’ Sooner Spirit was evident through her student roles and her honors and awards. As an honors student and an active member of the Student Chemical Engineering Society, she was on the Dean’s Honor Roll each semester and was an Oklahoma Scholar, an SAE Scholar and a Lawrence Reid Gas Conditioning Conference Scholar. Selected as Outstanding Sophomore and Outstanding Senior for Chemical Engineering, she was part of a chemical engineering team that placed first in the School of Chemical Engineering Senior Design Awards.

Dedicated to guiding and encouraging students through their pursuit of an engineering degree, she has spent countless hours mentoring and coaching OU students. In addition to her services as a mentor, she is one of the youngest alumni to join the J.H. Felgar Society – a program that supports the Gallogly College of Engineering. An Alpha Sigma Kappa sorority alumna, her support also has extended to the Women in Engineering Thousands Strong campaign, for which she was a major contributor.

An IRONMAN Triathlon competitor, she supports numerous causes outside of OU. Currently, she is product optimizer for ExxonMobil.

Presented by the OU Board of Regents and OU Alumni Association, the Regents’ Alumni Award honors the important roles of OU alumni and supporters to the life of the university. A committee formed by the Alumni Association selects the award recipients from nominations made by alumni, friends, and OU faculty and staff. Each year’s recipients receive a plaque, and their names are engraved on a permanent plaque in the Oklahoma Memorial Union.

Introducing the 2017 Class of Distinguished Graduates Society Inductees

Robert Purgason, Michael Miller, Dean Tom Landers and Pam Tucker at the May 13 Engineering Convocation Ceremony.
In 1990, the the Gallogly College of Engineering established the Distinguished Graduates Society to honor our most accomplished alumni. Selection is based upon prominent and distinguished professional or technical achievement, notable public service, outstanding contribution to and support of education, honors of election in organizations, and other contributions to the engineering profession.

Introducing the DGS Class of 2017: Michael Miller, Robert Purgason and Pam Tucker. These newest members of the DGS were inducted during the engineering convocation on May 13 at the Lloyd Noble Center.

Michael Miller was born in Norman, Okla., and graduated from Norman High School. He attended the University of Oklahoma, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 1987.

Miller began his career as a design engineer and second employee at Monitronics Inc.While at Monitronics, Miller completed many contract-engineering projects for Banctec, Seagate Inc., the NCR Corporation and the IBM Corporation.

In 1992, Miller co-founded Advanced Financial Solutions, Inc. Under his direction as vice president of engineering, AFS developed more than 30 software products and became a world leader in payment processing. AFS transformed paper-based payment systems to image-based electronic clearing. AFS was recognized by Inc. 500 Magazine as one of the fastest-growing companies four years in a row. In addition to installing their software in more than 25 countries ‒ including Bank of China, Bank of Mexico and the Monetary Authority of Singapore ‒ AFS software ran more than half of the banks and credit unions in the United States.

He is active on the Gallogly College of Engineering Board of Visitors and the OU School of Electrical and Computer Engineering Advisory Board.

Since selling AFS, Miller and his wife, Barbara, have embraced the idea of becoming life-long learners. They have spent years learning the French Language, receiving instruction both in the U.S. and in France. Additionally, they have become accomplished coastal and offshore sailors, traversing the U.S. East coast multiple times and spending extended time sailing the waters of the Bahamas.

Miller considers his greatest accomplishment raising three outstanding children ‒ Jordan, Elise and Albert.

Robert S. Purgason is the chief executive officer of Kayne Anderson Acquisition Corp. and senior managing director of Kayne Anderson. He has more than 35 years of experience in the energy industry, most recently serving as senior vice president, Access at Williams Companies, Inc. He was responsible for the central operation area and operational excellence for the entire enterprise.

Purgason has deep operational and commercial knowledge of midstream companies and has previously served as chief operating officer of Chesapeake Midstream Partners, L.L.C. and Crosstex Energy, L.P.

He has served on the Board of Directors and is the past chairman of the Texas Pipeline Association, the Board of Visitors at the Gallogly College of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma, and advisory board for the School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering at The University of Oklahoma. Additionally, Purgason is the past program chair and director of GPA Midstream Association, where he authored numerous technical and marketing papers. He is currently a member of the Dallas Wildcat Committee and the National Association of Corporate Directors. Purgason also serves on the board of L.B. Foster Company, a manufacturing company specializing in rail, construction and energy-related products. Mr. Purgason’s strong leadership abilities, deep technical knowledge and energy-related M&A expertise make him an asset in the industry.

Purgason began his career at Perry Gas Companies in Odessa, Texas, working in all facets of the natural gas treating business.

He and his wife, Cyndy, live in Tulsa, Okla.

Pam Tucker is the chief operating officer of Utility Composites, Inc., a manufacturing company she co-founded in 1993. With Utility Composites, she was a member of the Austin Technology Incubator from 1994 – 1996. Prior to that, Tucker worked as a product development engineer for 3M for six years. She also served for six years as a part-time lecturer for the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and for two years as an adjunct professor for Park College.

Tucker holds 16 U.S. patents, two Canadian patents and two patents pending. She has published four articles in refereed journals.

Committed to community service, Tucker has served as member and chair of the national Younger Chemists Committee of the American Chemical Society, an officer for the 3M Technical Forum, a member of the Gallogly College of Engineering Board of Visitors, a member of the Board of Directors of Fixeon, and, currently as an advisory board member of the OU School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering. She has mentored several up-and-coming entrepreneurs and business owners.

Tucker grew up in Kansas and attended McPherson College for a liberal arts education before transferring to the University of Oklahoma. She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from The University of Oklahoma in 1983 and her master’s and doctorate degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Texas.

She lives in Austin, Texas, and has two children, Savanna and Harrison. She currently serves as financial secretary and trustee for the Congregational Church of Austin and is past chair of the Board of Trustees. She has been a private pilot since 1978 and enjoys traveling.

OU Boeing Engineering Days Civil and Biomedical Engineering Disciplines Featured by News9

View News9 video.
OU Civil Engineering and Environmental Science was featured on News9 for their efforts as part of the OU Boeing Engineering Days - a day where high school students learn more about engineering disciplines. Friday afternoon's focus, presented by Dr. Keith Strevett, focused on building a wind turbine.

View News9 video.
OU Biomedical Engineering was featured on News9 for their efforts as part of the OU Boeing Engineering Days - a day where high school students learn more about engineering disciplines. Saturday's focus, presented by Dr. Rachel Childers, focused on building prosthetic hands.

OU Boeing Engineering Days are a summer day camp for rising high school juniors and seniors on Fridays and Saturdays in the month of June. Each day offers hands-on activities that highlight a different school in engineering. Learn more at our website

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Phillips 66 Makes $1 Million Gift in Support of New Engineering Facility at OU


NORMAN – University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren today announced a $1 million gift from Phillips 66 to support construction of a new academic building and research laboratory on OU’s Engineering Quadrangle that will house the Gallogly College of Engineering’s Diversity and Inclusion Program offices, the Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering, and new engineering labs and learning spaces. The announcement was made at the May meeting of the OU Board of Regents.

“The university is grateful to Phillips 66 for providing this innovative space in the Biomedical Research facility,” said OU President David L. Boren. “The new space provided by Phillips 66 will encourage students to work across disciplines and to collaborate cooperatively. It will stimulate creative thinking.”

In appreciation of the gift, Boren has recommended to the OU Board of Regents that the Diversity and Inclusion Learning Space, which will be prominently located on the first floor of the new building, be named to honor Phillips 66.

The Phillips 66 Diversity and Inclusion Learning Space will house the Gallogly College of Engineering’s nationally recognized program that is designed to cultivate diversity of thought and an inclusive environment for all students, faculty and staff, as well as enhance the recruitment, retention and graduation of a diverse workforce. The offices for the college’s Diversity and Inclusion Program will be easily accessible to students, allowing staff members to regularly engage with students and mentors involved in the peer-to-peer tutoring program.

In addition, the learning space will feature a 70-inch monitor for project viewing, student printers and two small study rooms. The space will include reconfigurable furniture that will allow students to create the study environment best suited for current projects. It also will help facilitate student and faculty interaction and collaboration.

“At Phillips 66, we value a diverse and inclusive culture because it promotes a high-performing organization that excels at collaboration, problem solving and innovation,” said Paula Johnson, executive vice president, Legal and Government Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Phillips 66. “We’re proud to support OU’s new Diversity and Inclusion Learning Space.”

Gallogly Hall, which is set to open in fall 2019, will be home to the new Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering. The 70,000-square-foot facility will feature classrooms, teaching and research labs, a lecture hall, collaborative learning spaces and a student project-making space. This world-class academic building and the Gallogly College of Engineering are named in honor of the leadership gift made to the college from Janet and Jim Gallogly of Houston in 2015. The School of Biomedical Engineering is named for Peggy and Charles Stephenson of Tulsa, whose resources are helping put OU in the forefront of the growing field of biomedical engineering. The school will enhance diversity in both the student and faculty ranks, increase enrollment and federal research funding and spur economic growth. It will also aid in the recruitment of top students and strengthen collaboration among OU’s three campuses.

Academic programs within the Gallogly College of Engineering’s eight areas of study are consistently ranked in the top third of engineering programs in the United States. For more information about the college, visit www.ou.edu/coe.

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
Follow on Twitter @OUResearch