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SRAIS Funding Awarded to UMBC Faculty to Advance Research

November 10, 2015 8:43 AM
For the current academic year, ten UMBC faculty received a financial boost to advance their innovative research through funding from the Special Research Assistantship/Initiative Support (SRAIS) program. SRAIS awards provide up to $20,000 to enable UMBC faculty to more effectively compete for external support and pursue their areas of inquiry.

A brief description of each project that was awarded SRAIS funding is below. The call for proposals for next academic year will be released soon.

Chris Hennigan, assistant professor of chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering, was awarded funding to study the sources and formation of particulate matter (aerosols) in urban Baltimore during the winter months. Aerosols are ubiquitous in the atmosphere and, as air pollutants, can have severe health effects. 

Colin Studds, assistant professor of geography and environmental systems, was awarded SRAIS funding to study migratory connectivity in American redstarts.  Traditional DNA sequencing will help determine the wintering range of the American redstart population in the Newfoundland region, and to explore how next-generation RAD-sequencing can address weaknesses in determining how different populations are connected throughout the year.

Elsa Garcin, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will use SRAIS funding to determine the biological consequences of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase binding to tumor necrosis factor-α mRNA, and to identify the structural determinants for RNA binding to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase. Diseases associated with tumor necrosis factor-α include rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.

Fan Yang, assistant professor of media and communication studies, was awarded SRAIS funding for “Chimerica: A Transnational Cultural Production.” The project is an exploration of the critical relationship between China and the United States, examining cultural, economic, and political factors. 

Matthew Pelton, assistant professor of physics, was awarded funding for a project to demonstrate that metal and semiconductor nanoparticles can generate new optical particles when brought together to interact. The properties of the nanoparticles can be controlled by passing short laser pulses through to excite the system.

Michael Lane, assistant professor of ancient studies, received funding to test the initial chronometry of a system of levees and channels to determine whether carbon isotopes from local organic matter caused deviations in the proportion of radiocarbon isotopes typical of the Glas region. 

Minjoung Kyoung, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will develop a microscopic tool that uses highly time sensitive methods for measuring molecular interactions, which will be crucial to determine roles of signaling regulators in cancer cell growth and survival.

S. Andrew Gadsden, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, was awarded funding to develop autonomous UAV systems to do atmospheric sampling, which will be used for weather prediction and other atmospheric studies. 

Qian Zhu, assistant professor of information systems, was awarded SRAIS funding to discover new ways to use existing Alzheimer’s disease drugs that offer better risk-versus-reward trade-offs. 

Shimei Pan, assistant professor of information systems, was awarded SRAIS funding to develop a universal recommender system for social media that not only determines “what a user likes” but also “why a user likes an item,” allowing social media sites to dig deeper into the human decision-making process. 

For information about SRAIS, visit the program website.

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