Research News

UT, ORNL Scientists’ Discoveries Could Help Neutralize Chemical Weapons

Nerve agent sarin bound to bioscavenger enzyme.

Researchers at UT are a step closer to creating a prophylactic drug that would neutralize the deadly effects of the chemical weapons used in Syria and elsewhere. Jeremy Smith, UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair and an expert in computational biology, is part of the team that is trying to engineer enzymes—called bioscavengers—so they work more efficiently against chemical weapons.

II-VI Foundation’s Support of College of Engineering Nears $700,000

From left to right, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science students Lakshmi Gopi Reddy, Zhiqiang Wang, and Zheyu Zhang, talk to Richard Hopkins and John Spitznagel of the II-VI Foundation.

A multiyear series of projects in the College of Engineering has been extended again for the 2014­–2015 cycle through a grant provided by the II-VI Foundation, which recently signed its third annually reviewable three-year grant to UT. The foundation was started in 2007 with the mission of “encouraging and enabling students to pursue a career in engineering, science and/or mathematics while maintaining a standard of excellence in that pursuit.”

Nelson Named Associate Vice Chancellor for Research

Nelson

Janet Nelson has been named the new associate vice chancellor for research, focusing on research development, effective July 1. Nelson joins UT’s Office of Research and Engagement from her position as director of business development for the URS Corporation. She replaces Greg Reed, who has served as associate vice chancellor for research since 2007.

Kraken Refining Earthquake Models

Californian and Swiss researchers have been using the Kraken supercomputer to model what would happen if a major earthquake hit the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault. The entire fault extends more than 800 miles, from San Francisco to Southern California. What makes these researchers’ work different from previous studies is that they’ve factored in “nonlinear behavior of rocks”—a phenomenon that could reduce the velocity of ground motion predicted by previous computer models.

Professor’s Research Into Droplets Could Lead to Breakthroughs in Detection, Clean Water

assistant professor Andy Sarles and researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a method to create air-stable water droplet networks that are valuable for applications in biological sensing and membrane research. Photo by Kyle Kuykendall

The ability to pull water out of fog is just one of many possibilities made real by research involving assistant professor Andy Sarles of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering. The project Sarles took part in—Air-Stable Droplet Interface Bilayers on Oil-Infused Surfaces—was published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

EcoCAR 2 Team Departs for Final Competition in Series

Members of UT's EcoCAR 2 team—made up of students and faculty from the College of Engineering, College of Communication and Information, and College of Business Administration—gather with the vehicle in front of Ayres Hall for its official sendoff to the national competition.

Students and faculty were on hand Friday morning at Ayres Hall to send off the university’s EcoCAR 2 team for its final-round competitions in Milford, Michigan, and Washington, DC, where the cars will be put through a series of tests to determine which one best meets the competition’s goals of reduced emissions and increased fuel economy and safety. The competition will wrap up mid-June.

DOE Looks to Dongarra for Input on Computing Advances

Dongarra

The US Department of Energy recently released a report through its Office of Science detailing the top ten research challenges in reaching the level of exascale computing, once again calling on Jack Dongarra for input. Dongarra, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, director of the Innovative Computing Laboratory and one of five National Academy of Engineering members at UT, has long been at the forefront of exascale computing, or computing at roughly a thousand times the capability of recent supercomputers.

Doctoral Candidate Finalist in Prestigious International Competition

Nastaran_Simarasl

Nastaran Simarasl, a UT management doctoral candidate, is one of three finalists in the prestigious Global Development Awards and Medals Competition. The competition is sponsored by the Global Development Network, an international organization funded by the Japanese government.

Solar House Moving Saturday, Donated to Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge

Living-Light_300

The university is donating Living Light, its award-winning solar-powered house, to the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge. Living Light will move to its permanent home on Saturday, May 17. Starting at 7:00 a.m., the 750-square-foot, zero-energy structure will be transported from the UT Gardens to the Oak Ridge museum at 461 West Outer Drive. The move is expected to take several hours.