Seven N.C. A&T Faculty Members Honored for Outstanding Research Contributions

By Staff Reports / 06/05/2020 Research and Economic Development

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (June 5, 2020) – The Division of Research and Economic Development (DORED) at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University recognized seven faculty members for research contributions to their respective fields. A panel of 15 faculty members considered 29 researchers and selected winners based on rigorous criteria. The winners will receive stipends and plaques to recognize their achievements.

"This year’s research award winners are an exceptional group of faculty,” said Eric Muth, Ph.D., vice chancellor for research and economic development. “Their work exemplifies the spirit of an 1890s land-grant university, impacting the health, safety and success of our region and nation. Along the way, they prepare their students to make our future brighter.”

Interdisciplinary Team Award

Sun Yi, Ph.D., Sameer Hamoush, Ph.D., and Younho Seong, Ph.D., represent three departments in the College of Engineering and collaborated on the Autonomous Robotic Non-Destructive Investigation (ARNDI) team. Non-destructive testing evaluates material properties and ensure structural integrity without causing damage. The team employs new algorithms based on artificial intelligence and uses advanced techniques and novel methods for structural modeling, analysis, robot control, testing, and system evaluation.

Award for Intellectual Property

Lifeng Zhang, Ph.D., a nanoengineering associate professor at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, received two U.S. patents in 2019 and filed three U.S. patent applications. He and his students participated in the National Science Foundation (NSF) i-Corps program, in which the core technology of the project used environmentally-friendly bio-binder to surface-modify nanofillers, mixing the bio-binder with a polymer matrix to enhance sustainability and properties of polymer matrix composite materials.

Zhang’s presentation on anti-fungal nanotechnologies at the 2019 Opportunity Meets Innovation: Reverse Pitch Challenge sponsored by the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce and Launch Greensboro, created an opportunity to connect with Core Technology Molding Corp., Hexcel Corp. and BNNano Inc. to promote invention-related new nanotechnologies and facilitate commercial applications.

Senior Researcher of the Year Award

Over the past 16 years, Salil Desai, Ph.D., an industrial and systems engineering professor in the College of Engineering, has stablished an interdisciplinary research program with active collaborations across many academic institutions, national laboratories and industry sectors. His research focuses on the investigation and development of novel advanced manufacturing processes with a diverse application base. Desai conceptualized a novel direct-write process, which can deposit droplets ranging from micro- to nano-scale based on laser modulation.

NSF recognized and funded his efforts through a prestigious CAREER award, enabling him to translate his conceptual idea into a viable nano/micro manufacturing process resulting in a U.S. patent. Through the university’s spin-off commercial venture efforts, the innovation formed a start-up company seeking to expand his platform technology in the fields of semiconductor electronics, sector and biomedical devices.

Young Investigator Award

Dongyang “Sunny” Deng, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Built Environment in the College of Science and Technology, studies wastewater treatment, focusing on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or a group of man-made chemicals, chemical remediation and agricultural wastewater treatment. She strives to raise public awareness about emerging contaminants and their impact on the environment and seeks to mitigate the effects of those contaminants, alleviating public concern and benefit millions of people in the United States with clean and safe water.

Deng’s research enterprise expanded successfully in only three years at the university. She received four grants and serves as the lead principal investigator for three of them and has three additional grant proposals pending. Deng published a book, has five publications in peer-reviewed journals, two accepted conference proceedings, 15 oral and 10 poster presentations at regional and national conferences among other notable achievements. She also served as a proposal reviewer for NSF and the U.S. Department of Defense and has been invited by the Environmental Protection Agency to review an emerging contaminant proposal regarding PFAS in agricultural wastewater.

Rookie of the Year Award

Arnab Bhowmik, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, studies stewardship of natural resources like soil to combat global issues including climate change, food security, human health and environmental health. His research adds to the understanding of soil, plant, and microbial interactions, and of nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems, and addresses grand challenges involving the nation's food security and environmental sustainability. One of Bhowmik’s key accomplishments is successfully using biological indicators of soil health as a metric to compare a range of management practices that enhance soil conservation and contribute to greenhouse gas mitigation.

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